Thursday, 4 February 2016


Wow, it is so much harder to do post series building up systems from scratch when you actually have enough work to keep you busy at your day job.

I'm still working on the Travelogues (although discussion with my mate suggests I've aimed too small-scale for what he had in mind) but my brain is pretty frazzled from concentrating and task-switching all the time. Although I'm not going to complain about a job that actually keeps me busy, an advantage of my previous job was not having to concentrate a lot of the time, so I could design game stuff in my head while moving books around or whatever. Here my workflow looks more like this (looks like an exaggeration, actually a simplified summary):

  1. Pick up stack of forms. Start processing forms using client file A.
  2. Get asked question about something I did yesterday. Spend five minutes talking it over.
  3. Come back to desk, see important email. Start drafting reply to email using client file B.
  4. Go to ask someone about tricky point in email.
  5. During discussion of tricky point, client arrives. Break off to talk to client for several minutes. Close client file B and open current client C's file.
  6. Client leaves. Look down and spot unfinished form (1). Resume processing form, opening client file A. Update half of file A and produce one of two necessary letters.
  7. Telephone rings with query about client D. Close client file A and open file D to check details. Call ends.
  8. Remember important email (3). Resume drafting reply.
  9. Client E arrives to deliver work. Switch to client file E. Spend ten minutes discussing work, update first half of record and fill in first half of receipt, give to client. Client leaves.
  10. Continue working on Client E paperwork and file. Complete 80% before...
  11. Client F arrives. Rinse and repeat.
  12. Breathe.
  13. Complete Client F paperwork.
  14. Department Q phones to chase vital paperwork. Assure them that it has definitely not arrived yet. Check desks of all colleagues to confirm this as serious consequences for Client X.
  15. Remember important email. Remember unfinished discussion. Colleague has gone to meeting for four hours.
  16. Abandon email. Spot new important email. Answer emails.
  17. Notice name of Client G in email, remember half-overheard discussion between two colleagues about Client G. Inform them about email, leading to ten-minute conversation.
  18. Remember to check secondary and tertiary accounts. Discover email from three days ago not yet dealt with. Answer emails, using a number of different client files in the process.
  19. Colleague announces that work from three clients can be processed today. Go to collect work so I don't forget about it and miss the daily deadline.
  20. Remember Client E paperwork was not completed. Open Client E file and complete.
  21. Go to collect printout. Discover two things I sent to print earlier that still need dealing with.
  22. Move paperwork, discover form from yesterday with sticky note: "Ring Other Department". Ring other department to chase up. Write new sticky note.
  23. Lose track. Check email. Discover urgent emails, answer.
  24. Realise I desperately need a cup of tea. Go to make tea.
  25. Look for somewhere to put tea. Start moving paper, discover client form (1) for client A. Wonder why it's there. Search letters pile to work out how far I got with processing it.
  26. Member of another team passes by to hand over post, including paperwork for Client X. Urgent phone call to Department Q to avert disaster.

I'm being deliberately vague, so this might seem even more confusing than it actually is.

Basically, my job involves several steady background tasks, plus sets of important and fiddly work that has to meet strict daily deadlines, plus being constantly interrupted. Unfortunately this means there's no opportunity to make a note of what I was doing or where I got up to, so it's often quite hard to remember by the time the interruption's over, and I usually end up juggling multiple loops of work.

What this means is my brain is nowadays generally full of .tmp files trying to keep track of where I was with a dozen different tasks and things I need to tell people, which leaves almost no space for modelling game mechanics.

I'm still trying to work out how I make time for this blog, basically. I don't want it to stop, but I don't want to be producing complete dross either.


  1. Be interrupted by someone asking how to do the same thing he asks about every single time, which isn't even in your area of competence, but you made the mistake of answering him once ten years ago and now you are his long-term memory.

    1. Ah yes, that's always fun. I'm doing a fair bit of interrupting myself, but I'm still new.

      Luckily someone else here fills the "knows everything that happened in the last forty years" role. I have however resumed my traditional post as Restorer of Lost Toolbars and Settings Tweaker.