Recently, work became a frenzied flurry of files and folders as we made final tweaks to a project, trying to keep the files flying at a pace that would guarantee meeting the big deadline. My teammates and I received comments like:
Wow! You’re on fire!
That felt nice. But the feeling was a little iced when I realized:
This is normal for me. I always work this fast and furious.
Although this truth is annoying, it will never change the “visibility” of the quiet work I do during most of any project.
In Praise of Quiet Work
What is the quiet work? For “job” work, it’s excel spreadsheets, PhotoFixes, file sorting, data logging, or whatever drudgery your job includes. You might be on fire, getting it done at a sharp clip, catching and resolving the slipperiest of problems, but few see that fire. Not because it’s unworthy, but because it lacks the flashy that excites. You’ll miss out on the dopamine that comes with praise and a sense of accomplishment, but the quiet work is arguably the more important part of a project, and makes those Wow! You’re on fire! moments possible. The quiet work is the ground work.
For creators, the quiet work begins with staring at your screen, canvas, wheel, loom, or whatever tool you use to create. It includes organizing your workspace, sorting your beads or yarn, sitting alone with your words, tubes of paint, or tubs of clay. The quiet might be interrupted by flurries of discomfort and restlessness. Before I’m truly quiet, I get up to grab a handful of nuts or water the plants. I pace around the room, rearrange the furniture. I might even do a little housework (gads!). But then I sit down and I sink into the quiet work of creating. The attention (yes, we’re vain, but that makes for better creations) will come later.
Remuneration for work and the satisfaction of finishing will do most days, but, I won’t lie, that little dopaminic shot of appreciation (Wow! You’re on fire!) is delightful. It makes the quiet work less lonely.
©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.