So help me, if you answered the above question by saying, "I caught up on a bunch of work," I'm going to personally come to your home, office, apartment, workspace, street corner, condo, cubicle, cardboard box, park, gym, or panic room and slap you silly.
Why's that? Well, let me start a very roundabout explanation by telling you what I did last night.
I watched the national tour version of Broadway's "Finding Neverland," a musical based on the movie of the same name, which tells the story of how playwright J. M. Barrie created Peter Pan.
Among other things, the play is about reconnecting with our childhood. And, as I watched the play, I was reminded of some things I had recently read on why we stop skipping when we become adults. But, this post is not going to be about the loss of childlike behaviors and the resulting impact on our approaches to our jobs and our lives. (Feel free to do your own Google search on the subject.)
Nor is this going to be a review of "Finding Neverland," which, while it doesn't quite seem to know when to end, is a perfectly fine musical with a decent plot and good, if not memorable, music. (Go see the play and make your own assessment.)
And I'm not here to tell you that you should go to a musical or play or concert or other live performance, because your tastes are most assuredly different than mine and this is not about forcing you to experience things you don't want to experience. (Although, I would say you should continue to try all of the above because if you give up too easily you may be deprived of an experience that will have an important impact on your life. Heck, I might even give opera another try in the future … well, the very distant future.)
In fact, I'm not even here to tell you that, at the very least, you just need to get out of your house/condo/apartment/storage locker/habitat and unshutter your life, breathing a little close-to-fresh air. (Of course, it might be a good idea to start now since spring has just arrived — in fact, here in Phoenix, spring seems to have just run right past us and been replaced by summer since we've been experiencing temperatures in the mid-90s.)
I could pontificate about any and all of the above — and much, much more. But, no, I've only got one real message.
You better be doing something more than just working.
The surprising thing is that, at some point, the more you work, the worse you will be at it. There is even scientific evidence (not fake scientific evidence) that supports this idea. One reference you could check out is Creativity & Innovation: Theory, Research, and Practice, edited by Jonathan A. Plucker. It occasionally gets a bit academic, but has some great information on how people think, create, and innovate.
But rather than bore you with statistics, I'll go with some completely anecdotal support.
I love asking people when they get their best ideas. Never, never, never, never, never has anyone ever, ever, ever, ever, ever answered, "When I was working real hard."
Hard work is important in getting things done. But stepping away from work is important in getting things done better.
A constant immersion in day-to-day work will trap you in a mind-set that eventually works only for the past. If you are not getting experiences from outside your normal workspace, you will not be finding better solutions. And, for internal audit, that means better solutions for our problems as well as the problems we identify during our audit work.
(Again, if you want real live, scientific proof for all this, check out Plucker's book.)
Yes, I know we all occasionally have to work in the evenings. But take a good, hard look and determine if the exception has become the rule.
And, just one more thought. For the last few months, Tom Peters' web page has included this quote from Mary Oliver. "What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
So, what are you going to do tonight?