On Saturday morning, I spent three hours working. I don’t mean mowing the lawn or some other domestic chore. I spent three hours doing the job I get paid for. And it wasn’t so bad. I’m an executroid, so I have to put in extra hours on a regular basis. Most of the time, those extra hours happen at the office, Monday through Friday. I go in early, stay late. But logging hours on the weekend is typically an anxiety-ridden experience. The weekend is my time away from work – thank you, organized labor – and I treasure it. But last Saturday I had breakfast, worked on a crossword puzzle, and then fired up my computer and got to work on government business with a slight smile on my face.
My calm demeanor was a result of how my Friday at the office ended. Last week at work, by all measures, should have made a work-free weekend all the more desirable. I spent Monday and Tuesday at a “retreat” with the executive team discussing our vision and goals for the next 5 years. Well, five and a half; we were planning for 2020. We talked about it for two days and nobody noticed the clear “20-20 vision” reference. Apparently we need a better marketing department. It was a good discussion, but it didn’t really get me excited, and two days away from my desk didn’t help me get my “real” work done. Wednesday’s lack of productivity was my own fault as I went to a baseball game with my mom. Thursday was pretty good, but I had a medical appointment in the afternoon, so I fell further behind. Friday was somewhat productive, back in the office with only four meetings on my calendar. I had five meetings scheduled, but I canceled one of them. Four may seem like a lot, but they were spread out, and it felt like I had some time to catch up on email in between. Of course, it never works out perfectly, and by 4:15 p.m., I was feeling overwhelmed. My pile of unprocessed paperwork was reaching critical mass, my email box was jammed full, and my to-do list was buried somewhere at the bottom of it all.
Rather than stare at the computer screen and sink into a deeper digital depression, I decided to engage in human interaction. I went to a co-worker’s desk to ask a question, and we ended up having a lengthy conversation. She shared some recent work-related frustrations as well as a potential job opportunity that has her excited. She told me about changes she’s been making to her work processes to make things run more smoothly. She was proud of herself and enthusiastic about her job. As a boss-type guy, it’s always cool to hear from someone who’s fervent about his or her job, but the part that really got to me is that this is a person with whom I have struggled. I have been told that she has disparaged me in the company of others – though I can’t confirm it – and she has generated some anger and frustration in some of her peers. Honestly, she gets mixed reviews.
But here she was confiding in me about the bad stuff as well as the good things going on at work, and she was excited for the possibilities of what lay ahead. I found myself excited for her, and it got me thinking that maybe I should stop pouting about my workload so much. As I walked out of the building I thought, maybe I could get even get excited about possibilities, too. Maybe there really is some cool stuff that we could accomplish by 2020. It won’t all go smoothly, of course. We won’t accomplish everything, and there will be bad days, but it might be worth putting in a little unpaid overtime on Saturday to get through some emails and start to work on those long-term plans. And I still had time to mow the lawn and grill up a feast. Not bad at all.
On a side note, I want to share this prayer for the lost…
May The Lord keep you safe and warm
May He protect you
May He guide you and provide for you
May he show you the way back home Where you are loved
We love you, Joe.