Updated: Apr 27
As the day closed out Friday and I prepared to thankfully leave work until Monday I collected the leftover lunches in my mini fridge, told a few stalwart managers goodbye and happily packed up my computer knowing that I would finally have a bit of time to sleep in and hang out with the wife, or frau as I call her. Peak is like that, where an extra hour of sleep is the panacea for any and all ailments. Well, I also know that I can plug in at anytime and do everything from a cursory look at department operations to a deep dive of lagging metrics. I could, if I managed to remember my newly issued two-step authentication key that I left at work in lieu of bringing 3-day old fried noodles home…! In days of old I would have good-guyed the frau and went straight back to work to get it. These days though, the 70-minute drive gives me all the pause I need before doing that craziness. So, what I did do was commit to a low-tech weekend, grab a book and work on my woefully ignored blog which I found utterly and completely lacking.
This article, as a matter of fact, is a first installment in keeping the two or three of you out there that are still interested in my transition, fully engaged in my travails as a former leader of warriors and new manager in the high-paced tech world that is Amazon. To understand why the fruitfulness of the blog ebbs and flows you would have to know a bit about the cycle of the company. Excuses that I am freely willing to give, but are also just that - excuses. Long hours, exhausted material and the holiday season that we call Peak definitely play a role, but in general are really only minor impediments compared to my inability to make time.
My failure to prioritize time to write is an issue that I will rectify. Thankfully I have people in my life that are supportive and recognize the lack of balance that I have experienced over the last few months. The frau knows when I have entered the zone and somehow realizes when I need to quietly reflect. In addition to Michelle, my general manager assistant (GMA) on her own volition blocked time on my calendar to prevent meetings from popping up. And remember the 100 straight days of walking and vlogging about my transition prior to my military retirement…? Well you probably don’t – they are in YouTube’s basement somewhere, but I am walking again and the creative juices are absolutely flowing…!!!
The book that I chose to read this weekend is a page-turner called Deep Work, by Cal Newport. The premise outlines our willingness and ability to engage in undistracted effort to complete meaningful and consistent work. Sounds easy, but when was the last time that you sat down for more than an hour and did something without interruption, use of your phone or getting on the internet? Deep Work highlights how successful leaders in their field have used the premises of the book to succeed. My own failure to consistently find time to work undistracted has definitely contributed to my mediocre efforts at blogging.
My GMA, without having read the book recognized one of its chief theses; that you have to block time to organize, think and do what energizes you to recharge and realize the success that you are hoping for. Consistently blocking time throughout your day to conduct deep work or in my case blog or decompress will make you better for the remaining part of your day. I have yet to really organize or even use the blocked time on my calendar, but starting Monday it will be a closely guarded, door closed, smart phone down period that I cannot wait to mechanize.
And finally, I realized that my walking was way more than exercise. It was always the place where I was the most creative and where I fueled my ideas. To not walk was to give up on the ease in which my thoughts flowed and the clear access to the impending deepish work that always ensued. I can honestly say that 90% of my blog ideas came to me as I was walking. There is something about the open space and rhythmic footfalls that helps me think. How I could give this up for any length of time is beyond comprehension.
If you missed it – I have committed to doing the thing that genuinely makes me happy, write. I will consistently blog undistracted, find time on my calendar to do so and I will walk to reenergize and jumpstart my creativity. I am pretty sure that there are other reasons why my blog sucks, but they all have root in what I have stated above. Revelations? Nope, but hopefully the truth helps me over the hurdle and results in more material for the three of you.
Lee Flemming is a retired Army Colonel currently working at Austin 2 (AUS2) Fulfillment Center in Pflugerville, Texas as an Assistant General Manager. Lee is a 28-year Army Veteran with extensive operations and management experience. The Boots to Amazon series include regular installments meant to inform and educate Service Members and the public about life after the military and transitioning into employment at Amazon.