A Foot of Jade

A great official came to the master Takuan asking for help in passing his days more eventfully. All day long, he explained, he sat receiving supplications and reports, and he found it all very dull. Takuan took brush and paper, and wrote eight Chinese characters. Translated, they said:

No day comes back again:
One inch of time is worth
A foot of jade.

A technical writer’s work life is not work always. If there are periods of frenzied activity, there are also periods of no activity at all. This can, sometimes, lead to boredom and monotony. Never allow this feeling to seize you!

The periods of little or no work are the greatest opportunities to learn. The moment you get to know that you have a little extra time, seize it! Seize it with all the enthusiasm that you can conjure up. Read, learn, try out new things. Do not sit idle even for a moment.

Enquire about the domain in which you are working, learn new skills, download a new authoring tool and explore the same, learn a new foreign language, read other manuals, online-help, collect User Guides or Manuals of different products and observe how they have been written.

Make copious notes of how a certain manual or online-help may have been written better and remember to implement it in your next project. Also note down how a particular manual or online-help has not been written well and remember to avoid the mistakes they have made in your next project.

There is so much that you can do! So much to learn! Do not waste a single moment, because as Takuan has said, it more precious than a foot of jade!