Making Light of Things

December 2010 Archives


We’re always told “do what you love, so it won’t feel like work” and for the most part, it is extremely sound advice. But I’ve come to realise that I’m most productive when I’m doing stuff that isn’t work. The best ideas I’ve generated come to me when I’m reading a book or watching a movie. It’s something to do with the cross-pollination of ideas; identifying patterns within a sphere or knowledge and finding an application in another sphere. To put it simply, I do my best work when I’m inspired by the work of others.

And I absolutely love being inspired.

I also have the nagging feeling many of you are the same way.

But here we are, sitting at our desks, cracking our heads at problems, searching for inspired solutions, yet doing it in the most uninspired way possible - hunched over a screen that interrupts you constantly which is placed on a nondescript mass-produced piece of office furniture sitting in the middle of a cubicle isolated from external stimuli.

The office cubicle is good for certain type of tasks: doling out instructions or making sure the minutiae in documents are in order, but not for broad-level thinking when you need space to envision frameworks and identify patterns. But for so much of my career I’ve sat there because it is the “right thing” to do - work needs to look like pain.

For 2011 I’m going to be a little more shameless and create working environments in which I can be more productive, and worry a little less about what people think. My organisation deserves my best work, and I’ve successfully made my work something I love. And doing something I love looks fun. I will not slack off because it looks a little more acceptable.

Transit Story

For some odd reason, everyone looks at the hustle and bustle of the city like it’s a good thing. Everyone coming out of the train dressed in designer or pseudo-designer clothing, walking at breakneck speeds, all looking extremely focused. Or lost.

It’s my first time ever working in the city centre. Like many young aspiring Singaporeans I’ve always wondered, and perhaps envied these people who seemed to be going somewhere. It’s not an explicit desire or envy, it’s an unexplainable what-if. And here I am, for a week now, in the crowd, headed at breakneck speed to a sliver of workspace high up in the air.

It feels like I’m being herded some place alien, and in the first few minutes I yearn for the safety of my 15 kilometre bike ride by the sea to my old workplace. Here I am an automaton, a robot, a zombie. Feels like it anyway.

But after a few years of work under my belt, I remember a wonderful piece of advice I’ve been given: that I have a choice. I can choose not to stare blankly ahead, or march to the beat of the crowd. So I opened my camera bag, took out my beloved camera and walked. Forget the crowded train. I am free, and there are so many ways to get home, many more interesting avenues to discover. Every option a new story.


And I could always choose to step behind my viewfinder and rediscover it.

Esplanade Bridge, Singapore

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