For how many hours can you work continuously – whether it’s writing or designing or managing or marketing – and be at your optimal best? For how long can you be focused and sharp-witted and open and imaginative and fully “on”? Probably not as long as you might think your heroic self can muster.
Most of us can listen with focus for about twenty minutes if that long. Most of our bodies function optimally for about 90 minutes. Then what? We usually push through, or we distract ourselves with other work or an email or an online article about Lady Gaga and David Letterman (guilty) or another errand or something else on our to-do list.
This afternoon, I took a break. After five hours of erratic sometimes productive work behind my desk, I felt beat. Out the window, I saw a bird hover like a helicopter above the pond and then lift back to a willow limb, flush out its wings, and dip back into the pond, its breast splashing the water lip. Like a child who finds a good thing and can’t get enough, it repeated the circle of refreshment five more times.
I grabbed my binoculars to make out a white chest and dark scruffy head and clearly marked white and black fanned tail. I grabbed a bird guide but couldn’t find its kin in the pages. I grabbed a second guide and opened it right to the matching photo – an Eastern Kingbird, tyrannus tyrannus, a sort of king of kings (and apparently a bit of a tyrant that can push away much bigger birds). I made a note in my personal almanac.
That was a good break. And then I realized I had a narrow frame of rainless sunshine to mow the back area. So, t-shirt and sneakers later, for the next hour and a half I mowed the too-tall grass and a few stones and at least one tree stump. When I retired the mower to the shed for the week, I remembered the tyrannus tyrannus, stripped down to my underwear, and slid into the cool – okay, cold – pond and felt my muscles tense themselves awake.
It’s good to be king.
What were your day’s three highlights? Share them below – and let us know where you’re writing from.
See you in the woods (or pond),
The 3 Highlights Guy