50 Percent

I think I’m doing about 50 percent of what needs to be done at work. I work 45+ hours per week (not exactly setting a record, I know) and I can’t get more than half the work done. It’s frustrating. I am constantly interrupted from my list of priorities, and I am constantly distracted by the emails and hallway conversations that point out something else that needs to be done. There is just so much to do. Important stuff and lots of it.

Most frustrating to me: My staff needs my attention, and I give them less than they deserve. I should be helping them develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities, but I don’t have enough time. I’m grateful that they are really smart and capable, but they deserve more of my attention. It’s because they are so talented that I feel I can focus on other matters. That sucks.

I have many projects that I need to work on. Some of them are not well defined, yet, because it’s up to me to figure out. That figuring out takes a lot of time and it’s hard to commit time to that work when there is always another email to read. Plus, there are “emergencies” that come up almost every day. These emergencies may not seem all that important, but they demand my immediate attention because of the person that added them to my list. For that person, my boss or his boss or The Boss (or one of his minions), the emergencies are things that cannot be ignored or their train will go off the tracks. Annoying, but unavoidable.

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The job is something like cooking a big meal. I’ve got three pots on the stove and two things on the grill. It’s a dance, and it’s easy to get the steps wrong. I might burn that pot of soup because I was tending to the flare up on the grill. Even worse, I might spend a lot of time adding spices to the soup to get it perfect while the meat sits on the counter uncooked because I forgot to start a batch of charcoal. It’s incredibly difficult to get all the dishes properly seasoned, cooked to perfection, and ready for service at the same time. Not to mention proper plating. Ugh.

Ultimately, to entail the metaphor, the work meal never gets served. I feel like, at best, I’m serving breadsticks and trying to keep the guests’ glasses filled while I keep cooking in the kitchen. I’m trying to keep them happy and lulled into a sense that everything is o.k., but rarely do I get the full meal on the table.

I spent an hour working on work today (which I hate to do on a Sunday) trying to sort through the recipes and plan the menu for the week. After I packed up the pile of work, I baked cookies for my staff; snickerdoodles. I hope they enjoy them and don’t notice all the stuff I still haven’t done.

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One thought on “50 Percent

  1. Having just finished a year in my own “work kitchen,” I get you on this. We worked on a project for over a year, which shouldn’t have been a year but some people (minions) kept adding new things to the project, so the “cooking” continued. To torture the metaphor a bit, we weren’t even serving breadsticks; we were just saying “Gee, doesn’t that aroma from the kitchen smell delicious?” We deployed our work this past weekend, and now we’re clearing the table and doing the dishes.

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