Tim Brown

April 1, 2021

Working modes

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A while back, on Twitter, I shared some thoughts about how I spend time working.

For years I’ve noticed distinct periods of time when I am either “focusing” (concentrating hard on one project) or “fielding” (coming up for air, assessing the landscape of needs). Today I decided to name them.

Names might help me be more intentional in treating these time periods as working modes. Both modes are extremely valuable, but the tools & systems that support them are very different.

Since then, I have noticed two additional modes. I’ve been calling them “fogging” and “freeing”. Fogging is when, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to get into any work. Freeing is when I allow my mind to do what it wants, feeding impulses to learn and create.

These modes are real. Because I started naming and noticing them, I can take a pulse whenever I want and know how I’m most likely to succeed at spending my time.

Lately I’ve been trying to notice patterns of change and identify catalysts. Like, how do I get out of fog? How do I start focusing? When I feel very good about working, what modes have I been in? How do things outside of my control affect the mode I’m in, and my success, and how I feel about working?