Flipping Context

At work I’ve spent the last couple of weeks mired in planning spreadsheets, shuffling chunks of information around from here to there, from that to this. It’s the kind of work that needs to get done whilst in the full realisation that it’s a bit of a drag. But, as my Mother says “You can’t always get what you want”, well should have had my mother been Mick Jagger and, let’s be honest, if Mick Jagger was my mother then it’s unlikely that I’d be blogging about spreadsheets.

Instead I’d be blogging about the fact that I was a medical marvel, having been given birth to by a man.

That’s not to say I’m NOT a medical marvel, just that I choose not to talk about THAT THING that makes me SPECIAL (you mere mortals wouldn’t understand, so don’t ask).

So there I am, sitting at my desk, an endless series of spreadsheets full of words and numbers in front of, watching as they spin and float off the screen just like they would in a big Hollywood movie full of special effects.

But hey, it needs to get done.

And then, at home, I’m busy being creative, having just finished off a website for a client and in the midst of reworking design mockups for another.

It’s a bit of a head fuck to be honest, and I find myself taking far longer than usual to get my mindset to change.

However, that’s nothing new, I always have had a bit of an issue switching context and know that it takes me a few moments for my brain to re-engage and have tried several strategies in the past, none of which work.

Until now.

Believe it or not, the noise and chatter of Twitter really does help me make that switch. Going from a rote, line by line, formulaic piece of work, to the small and digestable chunks of randomness that is my Twitter channel, allows my brain to break away from the previous context and very soon I’m able to tackle something more creative. I’ve not tried it in reverse mind you, but certainly the effect of checking in with Twitter seems to allow my brain to relax.

Does that mean I don’t value Twitter, that I pay less attention there? Perhaps, or perhaps it’s the fact that the cognitive load on my brain is different, and the switch to reading 140 character tweets helps reduce that load and allow other areas of my brain to kick in. Sort of like shifting to neutral before picking a lower gear in your car so you can accelerate past a car.

Anyone else use Twitter the same way? As a stop gap between different types of work or task?

And, whilst I’m asking, why DO you use Twitter?

P.S. My Mother is not on Twitter, neither is Mick Jagger.
P.P.S. If you really want to know about why I’m a medical marvel, ask. I’m sure I can come up with something…

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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I use Twitter primarily for fucking about – it’s nowt special, and I don’t use it for marketing etc.

I do have an account for another site I run, which updates daily – but so far while the auto-update is sweet as anything, the site idea itself is proving spectacularly unsuccessful.

Ah well, them’s the breaks…

Why are you a medical marvel?

(I’m still not sure why I use it, but I’m starting to prefer to ‘chat’ with people in it rather than in the comments box, which I never really did much anyway – it just seems a bit more transient and therefore appropriate for that.)

I got into Twitter at about the same time that I got into meditation & mindfulness. Twitter has persisted for longer, mainly because I realised that the things I was looking for in meditation were things I was already getting out of swimming.

However, my own use of Twitter is still firmly based in the notion of mindfulness, prompted by that question: What are you doing? It makes me stop and think for a second, analyse what’s in my head and then document it, building up an archive.

I’m making no great claims of profundity; my Twitter stream contains a fairly average amount of trivia. But I do find it useful to look back over a few months’ worth every now and then, to spot patterns that weren’t obvious at the time.

As for reading other people’s updates, generally I prefer pithy “primary” content. I hate the term “microblogging”, but I suppose that’s what “status” is, in a way. I dislike endless @messages, RTs, #hashtags and posting of links.

I think the Twitter posts that annoy me the most are the ones saying “I’ve added a new blogpost”. I’d love to be able to block just those messages in Twitter, so I don’t have to see them.

I don’t mind that @ replies – I use them a lot myself, ad while I agree they’re probably annoying to a significant number of people, it does become more like a quickfire(ish) conversation at that point. More so than a direct message, anyway.

Additionally, I’ve found that the @ replies of others let me find/follow certain people I hadn’t realised were on there in the first place.

Mind you, I’d also be quite happy if it hadn’t become so celeb-centric over the last few weeks/months too. That drives me potty – but then, I’ve never really been into the celeb-following stuff anyway.

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