I remember reading, when I was a child, the Doctor Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting, about the Victorian vet who could talk to animals.
One of the characters that stuck with me was a strange animal from Peru. It was a two-headed llama called Push Me-Pull You.
I recall that it did not seem to make any difference whether you pushed or pulled the animal: the result seemed to be the same. So what was the big deal?
Now I know better. It does make a difference; especially, when you're dealing with your daily e-mail load.
Psychology of pushing
Due to those kind people at RIM (makers of BlackBerry devices) and also at Malaysian mobile service provider Maxis, I've had the opportunity to live the BlackBerry lifestyle for the past few months, 24 by 7.
First impressions were the speed and efficiency of keeping my work and personal e-mail under control, anytime, regardless of location. The ability to do some kind of work on the move was an added bonus.
At times, it was a bit of a challenge to do full Word documents on it; a necessity for me as I have to file daily news stories. So, as usual, I resorted to my trusty legacy device, the Psion Netbook - 10 years old, zero reboots, and an outstanding keyboard - to the actual work and then go through a tortuous process of moving the file, using infra red and Bluetooth. The BlackBerry was for the final transmission of the news story. But, hey, it worked.
To iterate: the best part was keeping those e-mail boxes under control. It was quite a heady mix at first.
I could also file my daily news stories and not be chained to the office: it was how it should be. But then I noticed my brain never seemed to switch off. I was pulling out that BlackBerry all over the place, even at the dead of night. Something, somewhere, had gone astray.
Happiness lies in pulling?
While researching another project, I made good friends with a psychologist studying different types of stress. "The psychology of work says that pulling is better for your health," he said. "Control is one of the core ways to manage stress. Stress is good, when taken in right doses and under your control."
I am not on another trial. Back to my own Nokia E90 with a plan that requires me to log in and check e-mail. True, sometimes I don't get the connection but I noticed my brain was a little happier.
Some semblance of sanity has returned. The brain has started to channel fresh ideas to me about all sorts of projects.
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