A while back, I started a new job with a tight turnaround of my own making. Because I was working on a news site that I basically invented the editorial direction for, it was my goal to have the site publish a lot of content on a daily basis. It was what I was used to, and I approached the job accordingly.
To manage the cognitive load, I eventually came up with an idea to make the time manageable when doing all this heavy lifting: I would go around the corner to a nearby coffee shop, an environment I found more mentally stimulating than the office, and keep writing.
Eventually the HR person, who was totally well-meaning, noticed this and said something. She had concerns, which were understandable. Here I was, this guy who just got to the organization three or four months ago, and I was deciding to step out of the office for two or more hours a day, and just not be at my desk, so that I could more productively work.
It meant that (in theory) my employer couldn’t figure out where I was, and that my desk sat empty in case someone wanted to spontaneously bug me. In practice, odds are that my employer was never actually looking for me.
She asked the higher-up folks whether or not this was okay, and they basically agreed that it was. After all, it wasn’t like I was skipping out on the job—just trying to find a way to mentally handle it a little bit better.
Given the past year and a half, that all sounds so quaint now, doesn’t it?