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How do you know when you’re done?

For the first time on this blog, I am writing from my Blackberry. Now that the full internet is always in my pocket, I have no excuse for not writing everday on this blog. The formatting may not be pretty, but I hope to keep the wit and insight constant despite this very tiny keyboard. Luckily I have tiny fingers. What I would really love is a peripheral full-size foldable keyboard that plugs right into my Blackberry. Maybe I need to contact the innovation head honcho at Blackberry and make that request.Now onto the topic of the day: knowing when you’re done.

With all of the demands placed on employees at work these days, it’s easy to understand how they are staying at work longer, physically and or virtually. In this economy, endless preparation is the name of the game for many. However, similar to student exam preparation, there is a point of diminishing returns. It’s similar to that old pithy line of “How can I ever miss you if you never go away?” Too much of a good thing is, well, no longer a good thing. This is true of almost everything in life, work included.

But with employees being pushed by managers in so many ways, how are we supposed to know when to call it quits? We could always do more, so how do we judge that fine line where more is less?

My dear friend, Ben, is a successful defense attorney. And because his expertise is criminal defense, he must be 100% prepared for every argument that could get thrown his way by the prosecution. Despite the fact that we recite the principle “innocent until proven guilty”, we rarely live it. I mean did anyone for a single moment believe that the “masterminds” at Bear Stearns were innocent before tried? I certainly didn’t, though I am a self-admitted hopeful cynic.

Ben has a very cool barometer of knowing when he’s done prepping for a case. It’s so good I considered stealing it as my own original thought for a very brief moment. Then I remembered I would be stealing from a highly-educated, best in class attorney who’s truly one of the most brilliant people I have ever met. Despite his humility and generosity, stealing IP from him seems unwise. And on occassion he reads this blog, so I would surely be caught. So please consider him fully-credited for this idea: prepare until your nervousness gives way to bordem. That’s the point at which all of your best thinking and lightbulb moments are exhausted.

So for today here is my own version of Letterman’s top 10 list – the top signs that I’m bored (aka – how I know when I’m just over it all):
10.) I begin to think about when I’m going to eat next
9.) I begin making multiple to-do lists in my head that have nothing to do with what’s in front of me
8.) I start humming audibly
7.) I start looking at my watch every 30 seconds
6.) I start thinking about how spot-on Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin is
5.) I begin to wonder about the opportunity cost of doing what’s in front of me rather than doing something more “fun”
4.) I feel a nap coming on (even though I have chronic insomnia)
3.) Watching cartoons seems like a better use of my time
2.) Thinking I’d rather clean my bathroom than do the work in front of me.
1.) I realize I haven’t been paying attention to anything that the person in front of me has said for the past 10 minutes.