My friend Maggie tells me I’m an introvert. Not because I’m shy, or because large groups make me nervous, but because I don’t get my energy from being around people. I was surprised by this, because I guess I’ve always considered myself to be extroverted and so I asked another close friend and he said that was nonsense because I’m happy to be the center of attention and the life of a party.
It doesn’t really matter which of them is right – introvert, extrovert – it’s is just a label. Thinking about it, I’ve decided that I need to be both. Too much time alone makes me angsty, but I don’t think someone who was truly an extrovert would love living alone as much as I do.
When my life is very social, though, I do get to these points where I desperately need to be alone. Too much stuff going on, too many people makes me stressed. When I get to about a week without any “Cate-time” I will literally block off time in my calendar to make sure I get it. I got to that point last week.
Perhaps it’s not really about introvert vs. extrovert. Perhaps the real problem I’m having, is being a maker living on a manager schedule. Hour by hour blocks and lots of meetings and jamming about pitches and posters might be manageable, but then my personal life is on manager-time as well… and it’s too much. It means that I get to the point where it’s mid-afternoon on a day when we’ve spent all that day working on our pitch and I feel strongly that if I have about half an hour before I’m going to crack from too many people, too much talking. From the article linked above (emphasis mine):
I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you’re a maker, think of your own case. Don’t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don’t. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.
My whole team was overloaded like this, and so we called it quits and I escaped and – bliss – had a whole evening of maker time, which I spent coding. It’s interesting that most of the technical people find the pitching stressful.
I would have thought I would be OK, since I do a fair amount of public speaking. However, there are two things that make giving talks by myself different:
- It’s one aspect of what I do where I do my best at the time and try and improve for next time, sure, but good enough is fine. Because I won’t teach that exact same class again any time soon, or give that same talk.
- The talks I give alone are either are made in maker time – in fact, require maker time to create because it’s all about connecting the dots and inspiring.
In what we’re working on, we give the same pitch nearly every day. Each time we have something new to work on. We have thrown out my section and started over on it more times that I can count. It’s exhausting. The idea might need maker time, but the pitching and the discussions and the hammering away at it until it shines – that’s manager time.
So I’m going to make a conscious decision that as my work-schedule moves to manager-time, I’m going to shift my personal life to maker-time. It satisfies my need to be alone, and my need for unstructured time in which to create. Coding distracts me from the stress of pitch-pitch-pitch.
Strange that the final stretch and living on manager-time is the biggest stress I have. But good to know.
How about you? Do you live on maker-time or manager-time? How do you cope when you’re on the wrong one?