Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


It’s About Control

Most descriptions of INTJs mention we’re "thoroughgoing pragmatists." We’re open to almost anything, but only if it can pass the "Does it work?" test. Also important in what follows, as the Compleat Idiot’s Guide to the INTJ states so well, is one of our pet peeves: "We hate having decisions made for us. We’re INTJs; nobody is more qualified to make decisions than us."

I bring this up in the context of technology. I can be an early adopter of new technologies or I can be a resister, depending on whether I can see a pragmatic use for it and whether it allows me to maintain the decision making control I like. I was quick to jump on email, but slow to come around to both blogging and Facebook until I found a way to make them meaningful to me. And even now I’m still bothered by the fact that I don’t host my Blogger and Facebook content in a way that I can completely control, constantly irked by the fact that I may try to log in one day to find it all inaccessible or gone.

But those are just my thoughts I’ve decided to share, and I can take a chance that I might lose those. Even more important to me and still a hang-up is my schedule. My time is my own and I want complete control of it and constant, immediate access to it. This post is my reflection on a conversation with my manager today about why I’m still using a paper planner instead of the Outlook email calendar like most people at work. The conversation was about how, I’m assuming, it must be frustrating for people to schedule things with me since they can’t see my calendar the way they can with everyone else and how, she tried to convince me, much more efficient it is scheduling things when you can pull up everyone’s schedules all at once. One of the reasons I gave for resisting the change is that it’s more important for me to be able to keep track of myself than it is for other people to keep track of me. I think it all goes back to feeling like I’m doing what is most pragmatic and being able to make my own decisions. Some of what follows struck me during our conversation and some in reflection after. Let me elaborate.

First, I have complete control over and ownership of some bound pieces of paper. I can take them with me wherever I go and know they will always be available. I don’t have to depend on having an accessible computer/device with network service that is functioning to give me access to a site/service that is not down. So many "ifs" that can fail with an online schedule. My planner goes to meetings with me, goes home with me, even goes to bars to meet friends with me. It’s always there and not dependent on technology or anyone but myself. And even when sitting in front of a computer, I generally find it faster and easier—more pragmatic—to flip through a few pages of paper than pull up a website, sign in, and click through the necessary links to get to what I need. For a purely private schedule that doesn’t need to be shared, it’s no contest to me—paper wins hands down.

Secondly, I feel I have better control of paper regarding context. A shared Outlook work calendar is about scheduled work time. In my planner I keep my programs and meetings, but I also keep social engagements that wouldn’t be appropriate to share at work. And since I’m part of a team and accountable for seeing that it all gets done even when it’s not “my” thing, I keep track of my colleagues’ programs and events in case they’re sick or suddenly unavailable so I know I need to fill in. It wouldn’t make sense to put that in my Outlook calendar. I also list special promotions and events taking place that I’m responsible for but don’t need to necessarily be present at the entire time, like day-long or week-long drop-in activities; they aren’t really calendar events but I need to keep track of them and know when they’re happening. These kinds of things are easy for me to scribble into my planner and carry with me so I’m always aware of them, but don’t make so much sense with the online calendar; Outlook allows me less ability to adapt it to all of my needs.

No, the only advantage I see to keeping the online calendar is the social aspect—so that others can see when I’m available if they need to schedule something with me. But I’m not willing to give up my paper planner, so accomplishing that means duplicating work. The pragmatist in me asks, Why? Is it really worth it to keep two calendars and take the time to enter everything twice just so others know what I’m up to? So far I’ve easily and consistently answered that, No. That’s just a waste of time and work, as I don’t get that many meeting invitations anyway.

But I’m increasingly faced with more requests to see my calendar as more people adopt Outlook as their primary way of organizing themselves. It’s getting to be a problem. Yet still I resist, and here I think I’ve discovered my third reason. I want people to have to ask me when/if I’m available instead of looking it up through Outlook, because that gives me more control to decide what response they get. Even if I could come up with a system that allowed me to enter meetings, colleagues’ meetings, soft promotions, social events, and etc, the open spaces that would imply I’m free may not actually be time I’d be willing to part with. I may have other work planned then that either isn’t worthy of a calendar or is still a tentative plan in my head. I may feel the need to remain flexible and able to adapt; if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it, so each thing shared with others through an online calendar is something I feel I have to honor regardless of changing circumstances. The more directly others can interact with an online schedule I’ve created the less they have to interact with me to make decisions about my time, and I don’t want to give up that control; I want to decide for myself when I’m free and I don’t want anyone else assuming anything based on what they see in Outlook.

I’ll probably soon start the hugely irksome task of duplicating some of my planner events in the online calendar since I want to be a team player and improve communication, but I won’t like it because I feel like it’s inefficient and it imposes upon my instinctive desire to be fully self-determining.


At 11/10/2010 11:31 AM, Blogger Leelu said...

As someone who understands and is completely on board with what you've said, I have an argument for using Outlook that will likely make sense.

Tracking you down to ask may allow you control over your schedule, but tracking down five or six people, then tracking them down again when somebody can't make a time to check on another, is a massive time-waster that can be avoided if you only spend a couple of moments to put your (work-related) obligations into your Outlook calendar. Don't think of it as duplicating work for yourself, think of it as saving a lot more work for others.

At 11/10/2010 12:08 PM, Blogger Degolar said...

I do understand. This little rant was my way of admitting my reasons are selfish and that I need to get over it.


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