Meeting fatigue

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This week isn’t all that different from any other week, as far as work goes. I realize meetings are part of my job, but I didn’t realize that going to meetings IS my job. At least it feels that way many days.

I was looking back at my work calendar for this week and I added up the time scheduled for me to attend one sort of meeting or another. Altogether, I will have spent 8.5 hours of my 40 hour work week in a meeting. Granted, the week isn’t over so more could be added (or some, please please please, removed).

Do my supervisors understand that attending meetings keep from doing my ACTUAL job? You know, the areas and tasks and functions where I have expertise? That for every hour of time scheduled for attending a meeting that it probably (I’m estimating here) sets me back about two hours of productive time (provided I actually feel like being productive…see recent posts…I am doing effort less…)?

Do other jobs require this much time in meetings? I mean, jobs that aren’t a supervisory type job. We all know supervisors spend lots of time in meetings because they don’t actually have a job or job functions. But that is neither here nor there.

My point is, how much time do you spend in meetings each week? Is this normal, to spend the equivalent of an entire work day in meetings each week?

Least productive

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What day of the week do you find you are the least productive at work?

I am finding that my least productive day is not one that I would expect. After a crazy busy week (most weeks) and I finally get a day to be productive that happens to fall on a Friday…yeah, that’s my least productive day.

Not because I am thinking of the weekend plans or trying to give myself that stupid buzz-word, “self-care.” I am just out of motivation.

By the end of the week, I could care less if I get anything done.

I am sure my employer would hate to hear that. I actually don’t like to hear it because I really have a ton to do (catch up on email, start projects, complete unfinished projects, etc). But, I just can’t get myself to do any of it. I look at what I have to do, my list of things to do, and all the other stuff sitting on my desk and I just can’t.

Is this normal? To just run out of productive steam at the end of the week?

Flavored coffee

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Why oh why?

Let me clarify, if you want to put flavored creamer into your coffee I think that is perfectly acceptable. However, flavoring the actual coffee grounds seems like weird practice. Mostly because I have now seen some of the strangest combinations of flavors in the office I work in.

I have co-workers who apparently like to try different kinds of flavored coffee. I have mentioned one of these in the past. I have yet come across another completely weird and out of character coffee flavor, at least I think so.

When you think of Death Wish Coffee Company’s coffee you envision an ultra-strong, no frills, no nonsense kind of coffee (at least I do). I have had their original coffee and it was strong and hit the spot. I liked it because it lived up to it’s name.

But, the other day I was at the office coffee maker when I saw someone had use a coffee pod that was a Death Wish Coffee Company’s Pumpkin Chai flavored coffee.

Image. Destoyed. Busted. Deflated.

Frilly, trend-following, wimpy coffee. At least that was what suddenly came across my mind.

I know because I said something to someone about it and magically a pod appeared on my desk later in the day with a note saying to “Try it.”

I did. Opinion not changed. Thankfully the chai flavor was stronger than the pumpkin, but overall wasn’t impressed.

I went out to their website and see that this appears to be the only flavored offereing. Sure, they have other “flavors” but they are more like the original with variations on strength and blends.

Anyway, have you seen this stuff? Tried it? Do you think it holds with the percieved image of the company?

Cheaped out

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“Tradition” has been (or will be) broken. Actually, I am not sure how much of a tradition it is but I do know it is an annual occurrence that has taken place for at least as long as I have been with this organization. I am sure it started way before I became employed here.

The annual company/department picnic is today. Only it isn’t going to be a picnic today…

The picnic hasn’t really happened, of course, over the last several years because, ya know, covid. People freak out if you’re in too close proximity even when outdoors so it didn’t happen. But this year, the powers that be decided it was alright to have it again. As such, we will be headed to the park later this afternoon.

But, here’s the thing. It isn’t really going to be a picnic.

In the past, the managers have provided all the spread for a picnic lunch. Sandwiches, fruit, veggies, chips, drinks, etc. were all included with this time away from the office and official duties. People brought chairs and hung out in a relaxing atmostphere and got to know each other in a different setting.

This year, the managers have cheaped out. This year it isn’t a lunch so much as a snack time. Chips and cookies are the highlight of the menu this year. So, for most people, they will have to have a lunch of some kind before heading to the picnic.

Not sure why there has been a change from what was done in the past, but this is rather anticlimatic. Are we supposed to look forward to this? Doesn’t really seem like a celebration of another support year completed before moving into another school year support cycle. It almost seems more like an obligatory afterthought.

I guess I should just temper the complaint with the fact that I won’t have to be working during that time. But I would be much happier if they would feed me a regular lunch like in the past…

Trust the process

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Such a damn cliche. I get tired of hearing it thrown out there when stuff doesn’t go right and it hits the fan….

For me, I trust that the process is screwed and someone is going to have to fix or clean all this crap up.

Can you really trust the process when you saw and predicted the train wreck that follows?

I don’t hate being right, but damn if my track record isn’t near perfect.

Don’t use this phrase. Ever. Seriously.

Paper jam

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I’d really like to thank whichever co-worker(s) continually jams the paper towel dispenser in the bathroom. It takes talent to do it on a regular basis and make it so others can’t use it.

Pulling the paper out and away from the dispenser has proven time and again to be the most effective way to use the dispenser. The cutter inside the machine works best that way. It cuts the paper towels just like it supposed to.

But whomever is doing this jamming thing, consistently pulls the paper towels sideways thus gathing all the paper in the corner, bunching the paper into a wad and rendering the cutter ineffective because it isn’t in that part of the dispenser. The next time the autofeed runs (because it is a sensor) it rolls the paper up into a tangle inside the machine, further jamming the dispenser even more.

It’s a pretty simple design and the function is also pretty simple. So, making it complicated can only mean that the person doing this is a moron. Continually a moron.

Thanks, moron.

Perhaps they need to have a paper towel dispenser orientation in the bathroom during the building tour given to new hires. It seems silly but is likely the only solution to this problem.

Just mediocre

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I have a meeting with my supervisor, or manager, later today. It’s kind of a “check-in” and not an evaluation or anything like that. It’s a time to just chat about how things are going, visit, and a time to voice concerns, suggestions, etc.

So, the meeting usually starts with the same question, or the same line of questions – “How’s it going? How are you feeling?”

Over the last several years, it been getting harder and harder to answer those questions. Do I really (I mean REALLY) tell the truth or do I just minimize what or how I am feeling and fudge the truth? In the past, it never felt like I needed to hedge the truth (much). I felt like I could be honest. But, as time has gone on, there isn’t the same feeling with my manager, isn’t the same feeling in the team, and isn’t the same feeling in the organization. It’s hard to pinpoint the change, but much of it stems from the feeling that management is no longer listening to what we need or want, isn’t willing to be work with people, and then really that translates to they don’t really care what the employees telling them. Granted, it’s a government job of sorts, so that hasn’t ever really been totally true but over the last several years it has not gone in a positive direction.

What do I say this afternoon?

Well, for one thing I will say that I don’t feel like I am doing the best job I possibly can. It has become increasingly difficult to do a good job.

Part of the reason is because our team has shrunk over the last year and it has been an incredibly slow process of bringing on people to replace those we have lost. There have been three new hires since the beginning of the year, but it takes time to get them up to speed (they have three years to be “proficient”) so they don’t contribute to an even distribution of the workload. Their knowledge base just doesn’t afford for that to happen. Additionally, because everyone has had to pick up extra slack, the projects we need to work on and the new knowledge we need to develop as experience software analysts can’t be done. Everything gets put on hold.

Another part of the problem is that we are supporting two different versions of the software at the same time. The migration process that was originally thought to take three years has turned into a disappointingly difficult process because of the poor development from the software creator. As such, there have been so many hurdles to overcome, software issues in the newer version of the software, that the process is now running on five years and there is at least another 3-5 to go before everyone is back to using the same software again. Learning and troubleshooting the newer version is slow, tedious, and unpredictable because when there are issues we are never sure if that is the way it was designed and supposed to work or if it is broken and needs fixed. Then trying to get the creator to make it work like schools need it to work (or at least similarly as the current software they already know and use) has been frustrating and tiring.

Needless to say, I don’t feel like I can give the clients the best of my efforts. I am spread too thin, can’t focus on much of anything without getting more duties, additional tasks, or trying to learn something new in either software. The best I can do is just mediocre.

Anyone feel like mediocre is a good thing?

I realize sometimes you just hang on and hope that things get better. It might. But how long do you hang on?

If my manager asks if I was looking for a different job, I probably would have to say that I am not actively looking but my eyes are open to other opportunities. I don’t have any at the moment, but if the right one came along I can’t say that I wouldn’t seriously consider it and jump ship if it was right for me. It’s not that I am unhappy, it’s just that I am not happy either.

Make sense? Probably not.

Mediocre.

I hate that.

Overly distracted

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It’s hard to focus today. There are so many things going on in the office today that it doesn’t help. They have been shuffling, reimagining, rearranging, moving, reorganizing, whatever you want to call it, the office space. Cubes are moving people are shifting noise is being made. Besides all that distraction, there is more going on inside me.

It seems like there are a hundred different things going on in my head at any one time.

I can think of 30 other places I’d like to be other than at work.

I have 50 things I’d rather be doing than working.

I can think of probably 5 (maybe more) people I’d rather be spending time with.

Can’t say that I am the ideal employee today.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Retirement envy

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It hit me this week that I am having a serious case of retirement envy. I don’t think there is an official diagnosis for this sort of thing, but I have found as I have co-workers retiring or coming up on retirement (one retired this month, one coming at the end of the year, and at least two in the next two years) that I am extremely envious of the life they are entering or going to be entering.

Having turned 50 near the start of the year, it has gotten me thinking about the future and what I want that future to look like. I have heard talk of those who are (or have) retiring that they hit the 30/62 threshold (30 years, age 62) and it made sense for them to step away from the work world. Immediately I have started thinking, “Is that an option for me? Could I really have only 12 years left if done right? Or, am I a 15-17 year person?”

There is, of course, a trade off with retirement. The obvious one is that you are trading age for income, unless you are extremely successful or independently wealthy. To retire earlier, you need money that will support your current lifestyle and last. To retire later, you have to age (get older) to a point where enjoying the retirement years could be jeopardized by the uncertainty of health. There is no perfect answer here.

I am just finding I want the life they are about to get. Envy. The life I would like to lead right now and enjoy seems so far off and I want to be young enough and healthy enough to really enjoy it!

I know I need to set up a meeting with a financial advisor and actually get a better, more complete picture of what needs to be done to make the picture in my head a reality. It is on the agenda for this month. The envy is causing me to get anxious to see what really needs to be done at this point.

Anyone with some experience have some helpful tips or tricks? Advice that would suddenly make the picture more clear and the path forward easier?

Suddenly sucks

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Work.

There is too much of it, so I write a blog post about it instead.

Seems fair.

I am actually procrastinating because I don’t really want to dive into the overwhelming list of things that needs to get done. It seems the list continues to grow every day and I am not taking many things off of it.

Work suddenly sucks. I never really thought it would get this way. Don’t get me wrong, I still like what I do and the people I work with, but there is generally a feeling of dread each morning before I go to work…and I am exhausted when I am done with it.

Our normal team of 17 is down to 14. Well, 14 and a quarter.

I say a quarter because we recently hired someone to replace a co-worker that left back in October. But, he thing with this hire is that the management went with someone who has no background, no history, no knowledge of the software at all. The new hire has a lot of technical skill from their time in the military, but no skills that actually help the team at the moment, and likely won’t really contribute to the team in a meaningful sense for probably a year. The new hire will be great once up to speed, but in the meantime it will be painful for the rest of us.

The reason we are so far behind in hiring is that we had two co-workers leave to go to other jobs in the same field at about the same time. One of those people had 18 years of experience and knowledge go with them and the other had about two years of direct knowledge and many years of ancillary knowledge go with them. We have only replaced one of them.

We also had a co-worker die recently from an extended battle with lung cancer. Again, there was many years of experience and knowledge lost as a result. We all felt this loss in different ways and we are all trying to pick up the slack since it happened. The co-worker had actually been working all the way up to two weeks before their death.

So, if you are keeping track, we are down two (basically three) positions and there is also an impending retirement coming up in the next several months. Then we will be down three (basically four) positions. They have just posted the position for one of the jobs…and we’re all hoping for some really outstanding, qualified, and experience candidates. The problem is that they are only going to be replacing one at this point.

I’m just tired. And overwhelmed.

It has to get better soon.