Drive, Motivation and Restlessness

“You described them as teenagers.”
“But I don’t think teenagers are the way they are because of their age. It’s because they have nothing to lose. They simultaneously have a lot of time on their hands and yet are very impatient to get on with their lives.”

Quote: Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon

This is an odd thing to post about online, especially considering that this is a public blog and that I know at least two of my co-workers read this site on a semi-regular basis, but I need to get this off my chest and see where it leads me; and it’s my site dammit! I’ve recently been suffering from a lack of motivation, while I’ve still been working my way through the daily task list I seem to have lost the ability to get ‘in the zone’ and clear a weeks worth of simple work in a day and a half. I can’t even remember the last time I looked up from my desk, found it was nine thirty and thought “just another hour and then I’ll leave.”

I’ve spent a fair bit of time on the tube (for the foreign readers – a moving torture chamber you share with hundreds of other people while travelling underground with the heating on) thinking about the reason behind this and I’m not sure I’ve found the problem. I’m actually working in a team of nothing but seriously clued people for the first time in ages and so I should be too busy learning new stuff to actually notice how un-motivated I am; but it never seems to work that way.

Is it the fact that I’m not really learning anything new? While I am learning how the new place does things and how the systems work I’m learning more about their conventions and habits rather than anything really new and shiny. Again I can’t even remember the last time I worked on something original inside of work or out.

That leads me to another point, I always considered myself lucky to get paid to do what amounted to my hobby. From my early days in IT as a developer to my more recent roles as a systems administrator I’ve always tinkered with the same kind of technology at home as I did at work (although typically a generation or so ahead) but the downside is now becoming apparent; what do you do at home when your hobby gets dull?

So now the whiny bit is over where to from here? Firstly I’m going to try and recapture some of the enjoyment of what I do and lose some of my preconceptions and change my perception a little, the Stephenson quote at the top of this entry appealed to me when I re-read it for pretty much that reason. Secondly I’m going to try and get involved in projects that actually have an end. It’s nowt but a hunch but I suspect working on open-ended projects that never seem to finish or have any real milestones has a negative effect on me. Thirdly I’m going to start playing with unfinished hacks, script and projects. Just not on the production system; honest!