Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Interview with David Powlison

C.J. Mahaney has a fascinating interview here with David Powlison:
Perhaps most interesting is part 3, where he describes why being "efficient" and "task oriented" doesn't work well for him.

Here's part of his answer. Read the whole thing to see the rest:
I’ve had to learn how I work best, and it’s not the cultural ideal of tightly scheduled efficiency. For me, effective and productive often operate in ways that seem quite “inefficient.” I’m more “third-world” in my use of time: event-oriented and person-oriented, rather than time-conscious and to-do-list-conscious. I operate with an inner gyroscope tuned to whether or not any particular experience or interaction is complete – not to how long it takes or whether it fits the schedule. I’m attuned to whether or not any particular thought is actually finished thinking, rather than whether the product is done on time. So I tend to take the time it takes to get something right—whether that “something” is the close attentiveness of getting fully engaged in this conversation of consequence, or how to craft this sentence and paragraph, or whether I’m stopping and actually noticing the hawk flying overhead right now.

My way of working—of living—means that I’m not very “efficient” in my use of time because I tend to take the time. I am the world’s worst when it comes to multi-tasking and to checking off to-do list items. It can be a fault for which I must repent; it’s my greatest strength, because I’m fully engaged. I usually forget the clock and the list when I’m working best because I become absorbed in free-form exploration and in qualitative aspects of work-in-progress. We seek to compensate for the shortcomings in my way of operating by getting support from more organized and efficient people who can field incoming requests and help me prioritize.

I admire people who seem able to use every moment productively. But I’ve found that I simply do not work well that way. A certain kind of “wasting time” has proven to be absolutely essential to my fruitfulness. (I’m not recommending my way to others, but simply describing what I’ve learned about how I work. Perhaps some readers also work this way, and can find freedom from trying to live up to an ideal—the so-called “Protestant ethic”—that ill suits how God has made them to function.)