I eat the same take-out lunch every weekday when I’m editing. Come lunch hour, I pick up the phone and order what everyone at Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill knows as The Usual: a half-sized Power Plate with chicken and a double serving of grilled vegetables.
Oh, Power Plate. How I love thee.
Some folks say, “Jeff, how on earth can you stand to eat the same food every day?” Easy – it keeps me mentally sharp. It’s protein and veggies with almost no processed carbohydrates… which means that nasty mid-afternoon crash that happens all the time to everyone else doesn’t happen to me.
At least not anymore… eat tortilla chips with that Power Plate, and it’s a different story – 2:30 rolls around, and I’m about to fall off my chair in the bay from sleepiness.
But eating the same lunch every day is about more than avoiding the Afternoon Carb Crash – and here’s where Steve Jobs jumps into the picture, more on him in a bit – it’s about preserving my mental willpower and the ability to focus on the thousands of decisions I make every day as a professional editor.
Research from Columbia University (expertly discussed in this post by James Clear) confirms something we can all observe in ourselves – did you know that our ability to focus and make decisions is not an innate character trait? It’s actually a lot more like the the battery in your cell phone – you start the day with a full charge. You use it during the day, maybe even getting a quick recharge. But depending on how much you use your phone, by the end of the day you’re done.
Go home, sleep, recharge… it happens over and over.
We editors – who make literally thousands of choices every day doing what we do – must protect our limited mental energy for the choices that actually matter.
(It’s not just editors, by the way – that same research from Columbia University talks about the effects of eating schedules on the rulings of parole judges. It’s a little nuts.)
In light of all the daily choices and life elements I’m juggling, the last thing I want to do is waste my mental energy on meaningless choices or distractions… like what should I do for lunch? What should I order?
It’s just like Steve Jobs and his uniform of blue jeans and black turtleneck. He was running Apple, for crying out loud. He didn’t want to lose his focus by even something as simple as choosing what to wear. So he stuck with what worked and turned his considerable attention to the stuff that really mattered.
So in editing, what is it that “really matters”?
Well, that would be a whole bunch of things. Worse, it’s a whole bunch of things that rarely gets talked about in detail outside of the occasional class in film school, and often not even there.
And tutorial videos are rarely any help either… everyone on the face of the planet will throw up a tutorial on “how to push the buttons on your software”, but very few will talk about the real meat of editing.
Well, here’s some meat for your editing brain:
They’ll help you nail your editorial decision-making any time of the day, whether you’ve had lunch or not.
Oh, you think it’s not possible to pick the perfect edit point every time?
I beg to differ.