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Doing what it takes

Posted Oct 23 2010 12:00am

Another weekend with some office work in the cards for me. I got slammed with some surprise projects that had to be done ASAP, this week, so the time I had allotted to doing some extended thinking about overdue projects once again got pushed off. And that’s not good.


At work or at home, you too can experience the joy of excessive paperwork


This keeps happening, week after week. I have my time planned out, then my boss declares that the top priority is this other collection of things… or it turns out that one of the other projects I’m trying to nail down hit a snag, and I need to pitch in and help clear the way for folks who need more information. The Must-Do things keep piling up, backing up. Ugh.

I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. But asking around, other folks in my group are in the same boat we’re all struggling awfully with meeting our dates. Part of the problem is that the system for estimating delivery dates is broken. Actually, it doesn’t exist. There is no system. Just arbitrary wishes from either business partners or the programming group or, worst of all, the VP of Marketing, who has a way of striking fear in the hearts of everyone around them with their demands, their yelling, their intimidation. I’m not the only one running from here to there, constantly playing catch-up. People around me are in various states of melt-down over how things are being run.

I am so sick and tired of playing catch-up. I need some dedicated time to do a “deep dive” into my work, so I can better understand it and get back to enjoying it. Careening from one task to another with no time to think about what I’m doing… that’s no way to live.

So, I did what everybody at work has been telling me not to do I brought the work home with me. I have a short-list of things I had at the top of my priority list that I need to get done, so I can get on with the rest of my life at work, and so I can get more of my projects rolling in the right directoin.

A lot of people I work with adamantly refuse to do this. They hold out for family time, or personal time. Some of them flatly refuse to spend more than 7 hours at the office, and of that time, I know for a fact not all of it is actually spent working. There are few things more maddening than having to chase people down, day after day, week after week, only to find them checking sports scores or reading personal email during the time when they actually are in their office/cubicle.

Maybe I’m a little overly committed to my work(?) but I’m not the sort of person who can afford to take for granted anything that I know (or think I know) or do (or think I can do). I’ve had to work incredibly hard to get to this point in my life, overcome significant obstacles, and compensate for invisible issues that nobody outside my head has been able to help me with until about 3 years ago, when I found my current neuropsych. And now that I am in this place in my life, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it slip away because of time management issues.

On the one hand, part of me thinks it’s my TBI’s acting up and making my life more difficult. Why do I have to work so hard and so much? It hardly seems fair. Other people I work with are able to come and go and do what they please without a lot of apparent guilt or regret. They seem so happy, and they have no apparent trouble leaving stuff undone for indefinite periods of time.

But on the other hand, maybe it’s also me being intensely motivated and driven to be the best at what I do. Maybe it’s not just compensation for my weaknesses that’s driving this behavior. Maybe it’s the drive to do better, be better, to be the best that I can possibly be. And maybe just maybe people who are as driven as I am, just take work home and don’t think twice about it.

Via the WordPress landing page, I found a post about work-life balance that references this post Why we decided to offer unlimited vacation at Social Media Group

And it gives me hope. Because there is someone else out there besides me who makes the connection between working long, hard hours, and being the best. Social Media Group says:

Our business is extremely fast-paced, and while we are relatively small, we are mighty – working with huge organizations . . . and one of the top three global banks. We’re playing with the “big boys” and our incredible team has to deliver their A+ game – Every. Single. Day. (and sometimes after the day is technically over). . . . we are not interested in the adequate – our team is made up of exceptional, hard-working individuals because that’s what it takes to be the best.

There we have it. Hard work translates into being the best. Now, granted, it does help to work smart, as well as hard, but it’s nice to hear someone extolling the virtues of hard work, these days. Time was, when a lot of people treated hard work like a sign of mental incompetence. If you had to work hard, it meant you didn’t have the smarts to do the job properly. Well, I’ve got news for those folks (who, by the way, went out of business and were forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy) hard work is sometimes the only thing that will haul your ass out of the fire.

And my own ass has been setting off the smoke alarm for a few weeks running, now.

So, it’s time to do what it takes and get down to work. I worked over the weekend a few weeks ago, and while I was utterly wiped out by Sunday night, it still felt great to have gotten everything done. I actually really love what I do and the work I’m doing this weekend is much more autonomous, challenging, and stimulating than the grunt work I did several weeks back so it’s not a terrible hardship. The main hardship is in the minds of others who don’t particularly like their jobs and don’t see a connection between what they do at work all day and how the rest of their lives are constructed.

With me, it’s all connected. The things I learn in the course of doing my job help to  strengthen my brain and refine my coping skills. These aspects of my life can use some help and I’m sure lots of other people, TBI or no, will say the same thing. I can’t even begin to tell you how much work has rehabilitated me. Socially, cognitively, personally, it’s been a saving grace. I’ve had a lot of missteps through the years, a lot of botched jobs, a lot of needing to move on, but each time I learned a ton, and while I do have plenty of regrets, I am not worse for all those experiences. I am better.

So, now that I’m at this job (which is arguably the best job I’ve ever had at one of the best companies I’ve ever found), I need to put all that experience to work and dig in, do what it takes, and get my ship righted, so I can get on with my work on Monday, not looking over my shoulder about what didn’t get done by Friday.

Excellence doesn’t take time off. Accomplishment doesn’t go on vacation. If I want to improve and I do want that I need to work at it, and do what it takes to move forward. So I spend extra time on the weekend squaring away work… that’s time I’m investing in my future and my present skills and abilities. It’s not a waste of time. It’s an investment which is bound to pay off.

So long as I get ample sleep. That’s a hard-and-fast requirement. All this learning takes a ton of energy, and if I’m not rested, it’s that much harder for me to function.

It’s all a balancing act, of course. A constant learning experience. The more I learn, the more my brain develops and heals and becomes the brain I’ve always wanted. The more I push my limits and take time to recover from my slip-ups and shortfalls, the better and more capable I become, all across the board. Taking work home isn’t a terrible thing, when it’s for a good cause. And improving myself, my skills and my abilities, is about the best cause I can think of.

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