Too Available

I have been too busy to post! I feel like such a cad.

But actually, this is good news, since it means I have been doing actual work.

But truthfully, I want to write about a comment I have heard repeatedly in the past few weeks:

“I am going to work on [Christmas Eve]. Everyone will be gone, I might actually get some work done.”

This type of offhanded yet all to frequent comment chills me, because it means we have all actually become so available to our colleagues, collaborators and managers that we don’t have enough time to do our work.

This is a problem. This is the same problem as “too many meetings.” This is also a real problem. We spend so much time talking and not enough time implementing. Obviously, this means that in meetings where we set the agenda, we need to be mindful of the consequences of our ideas and brainstorms. I had this moment today, when I realized I was asking too many things of a great colleague who was trying to leave the office. I just shut my mouth and then insisted that she leave the office. I was being too needy.

But I think that when we are in the subordinate/implementor position, we have to speak up and say “enough” sometimes. We can’t always say yes, without a thought for workflow, timeframes and implementation. We have to also care about how well and when we can do the work. This means US, hourly workers, freelancers and consultants! Truly.

But how do we do this while still remaining open to new opportunities? How do we make implementation part of the conversation, part of the brainstorming process, part of the crucial and often overlooked end of the meeting? How do we make time for the work part of work?

I say this because I am an “implementor” by nature and by experience. I always want to think about the big picture and I love to talk about ideas, but I also want to make sure that I am not signing myself up for hell in a small, time constrained handbasket by expressing my ideas.

Anyway, it’s something to think about, and to consider our role within. I ran into a great friend at a bar tonight, and though I monopolized her time and conversation, as I left I was concerned that I had overrun her time with her kind and patient boyfriend. It’s kind of the same problem, isn’t it?

I am headed home for the holidays, and I hope to be able to write about the work I will do at home. Not the day-to-day work I have been trying to master over the last 3 week, but the strategic, long-term work of running an organization. Also, my first ever annual appeal (e-appeal) goes out tomorrow. I am so nervous.

1 comment
  1. I think that this can certainly be a problem with most office-based jobs. I experienced something similar when working as a temporary secretary. Main job: Type up letters as given by the doctor by the end of the day. Constant interruptions from post, telephone enquiries, appointment scheduling… of course, all of these things are necessary to make the place work, but I’m not sure all managers/co-workers take this into account when deciding how much “work” there is to do. Luckily enough mine did! Slightly related – 30 minute chats in the office about how there’s no time to get everything done today. 😉

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