Working hard at working hard
A few years ago a colleague from an Australian newspaper asked me a serious question.
"Whenever I am at work I see you doing no work," she said.
"But the thing is, I know you work because I see your name in the paper. So tell me... When do you actually work"
Sadly, I couldn't stroke my beard and give her a cryptic answer.
I told her the truth instead.
"When you are at home having dinner," I said.
I have always had a problem with efficiency.
My parents thought the reason I rarely finished puzzles and never built a skyscraping Lego building (my Lego city was Muscat to my friend's Dubai) was because I simply wasn't interested.
Actually no; even at six years old I learnt to put off finishing things.
At school, my tactics bordered on negligence as I would conveniently "forget" my books in order to avoid doing class work.
However, my inconveniently caring teacher ruined my scam and called my parents to express concern at my frequent bouts of amnesia.
As a result, my parents would check my bags daily before I scooted off to school.
I grew out of my laziness at high school, but it was replaced by the more sinister trait of disorganisation.
This was part of the reason I began studying the craft of writing.
I thought being a scribe would finally stop people from measuring my productivity. Writers need to be left alone while working, and our furrowed brows can easily be mistaken for deep contemplation as opposed to day-dreaming.
But every story needs an end and assignments have to be submitted.
So years ago I began studying the art of working hard.
I read self-help manuals, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, even articles on Oprah Winfrey's website. and was prescribed initiatives such as the to-do list, a diary, placing reminders on phones and refraining from carb-filled meals.
Upon further self-reflection, I realised throughout all these years of manual and psychological toil there was one thing that helped me succeed in the fields of academia and work: a deadline.
Some people produce their best work in a Zen-like state of organisation, while others need the fear of the axe falling.
You don't need to guess which category I fall into.
I know this will probably become impractical once my responsibilities grow to include such things as having my own family.
This is why I am still working hard to work better, and not waiting for a crisis to arrive to get me moving.