I go to a networking evening with a friend. Straightway on arriving, she decides the whole thing is a no-no. But I keep an open mind, a woman there befriends me, and calls next day to arrange a meet. She can use my expertise, she says. By now, I’ve discovered she’s a web safety expert for kids, notorious for scaremongering. I wriggle out of the meeting.
This gets me thinking about:
Perceivers and Judges
Well-known personality test Myers-Briggs measures this distinction, along with 3 others. It describes how some of us have a perceiving (P) orientation to the world and some of us are more judging (J). In a restaurant, as a perceiver, you will enquire how certain dishes are made and deliberate for some time about your choice. As a judge, you will decide immediately or have the same as the person before you has ordered – to conserve brain activity.
Whether we are Ps or Js, online there is huge scope for mental wandering, taking black runs and ending up several hours later somewhere we had never intended. Some doomsayers believe our brains are being rewired by the activity, with damage to concentration and depth of thinking. Others think that web surfing is a natural extension of what the brain does already.
In collaboration, too much J activity early on can kill creativity. When the producers of the The Simpsons took the show to Fox TV at the end of the 1980s, a clause in the contract prevented Fox executives influencing the content. The creatives were left alone to set their own standards. History has judged this a good call.
Divs and Cons
Another way psychology uses to divide up thinking is by describing it as divergent, springing off in lots of different directions or convergent, focussing in towards an end point. Most of us do both; but we may have preferences.
In blogs, it’s a difference between the fabulously divergent Brazen Careerist and the admirably convergent Copyblogger. With the first , we do not know where Penelope Trunk will take us next. In the second, Brian Clark takes us on a well-hewn path towards better blogging.
But I diverge.
Your Inner Bill and Hillary
Recognize yourself as a perceiving, diverging kind of wanderer? Then too much surfing, in sabotaging what you produce, may be making you work stupid. To work smart, you may find it helpful to imagine yourself as having two inner sub personalities – for instance an inner diverging Bill, and a focused, converging Hillary.
Here’s how this idea could work:
-start your day with your inner Hillary in charge: cleaning up your desktop, dealing efficiently with messages, maybe scanning headlines in your online news of choice to return to later. Analyse and organize within a time frame before you meander through anything.
-you may want to revisit your inner Hillary at lunchtime and at the end of the day. Get her to check in on efficiency and effectiveness of your work flow.
-if you’ve come across something inspiring which is distracting you with visionary potential, then focus on a sequence of Hillary type questions.
+how would you start a project like this?
+what steps were taken to achieve it?
+how does it fit with what I already do well?
+what would I need to learn to do this?
+who might be able to help me?
And Wear a Trench Coat
As well as an inner Bill and Hillary, regard yourself as a scientist or a sleuth. Remember all great art has truth in it. And truth is what we think about facts. The difference in emphasis between a scientist and an artist is this. The scientist is making judgements based mainly on what they observe. The artist is making interpretations based mainly on how they feel.
So apply forensic attention to what you observe .Remember marketing anything is about observing who will want what you create, where will it fit and what facts are known about the market.
And after our inner Hillary has been cracking her whip and keeping us focussed: reward time. If you fancy, strip off under that trench coat, ready to perceive and diverge and ask yourself: what the heck would Bill do now?….