I don’t take a lot to be happy. I’ve got my Cherry Coke Zero, my Peanutbutter crackers, and even a clicky eraser! It’s pretty easy for me to come into work and go, yeah, this is pretty great. I might not have a fancy office or an expensive bottle of brandy in my desk drawer, but I’m feeling pretty good about being a cube lettuce. Yes, Lettuce, I know this, I took a quiz. For the most part, you give me a project to work on and a deadline and I’m off like a happy little bunny, working away at things like spreadsheets and emails.
There are some things, though, that can trigger the opposite in me. Instead of sending me spinning off like a productive little tornado of work, they’ll leave me in a foggy haze of Zuma Blitz and checking my email ever 32.3 seconds.
3 Ways to Shut Me Down
1) Don’t Actually Tell Me to Do Anything
I’m not talking about having nothing to do. I understand the basic function of my job, and I complete that… in like 5 minutes a day. I will go actively look for new work to do after that, but if I can’t find anything, I’ll give up and it will be hours of wasted time staring at the internet later before I realize I should try again. Really I have this problem outside of work, too. I lack the part of the brain that says, “Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, You should be doing something right now.” Instead I have a part of the brain that says, “Hehe…. legos.”
I need a clear list of everything you want me to do. When I finish that list, I want to be able to say, I’m done. If there is anything you think of later that you need me to do, add it to my list. If it isn’t on the list, don’t expect me to do it. I might be able to convince myself to go the extra mile, but when I can do that that, it’s usually just a happy bonus for you.
Side note: I will consider myself done when I finish the list. If the list is done, don’t bitch that I’m playing Zuma.
Yes, I keep a to-do list for personal things at all times.
2) Don’t Give me a Deadline.
I’m a chronic procrastinator with the attention span of a drunk toddler. Worse, I have a really good ability for knowing how long something is going to take me to do. When I do have a deadline, I usually push everything off until I only have enough time left to do the work. If I don’t have a deadline, it’s not going to ever even be started, let alone get done. I need a good solid structure for me to follow or else I just wander around, both metaphorically, and if the weather is nice, physically.
There are times when I get bored of staring at the internet. They aren’t very common, but they exist. In these times, I will go through the things I have in my in-box hell and assign them all an arbitrary deadline, like, “I’ll have this pile of stuffs done by exactly 1:37 PM!” Of course these deadlines are meaningless, so sometimes I just go back to looking at pictures of kittens.
3) Tell me to Do Something Meaningless
Busy work is a stupid waste of my time. If you don’t want me sitting here doing nothing, send me home. I would probably feel differently about that if I was paid hourly, but this is where we’re at. I have a defined job to do, and I do it well. Asking me to create a report about machine run hours that no one is going to read isn’t just going to make it look like I’m doing work, it’s going to waste resources like paper, ink, and bandwidth. You would be much better off just letting me sit here with my recycled scratch pad doodling pictures of ninjas fighting zombie gorillas.
If you ask me to do enough busy work, I’ll just start pretending to be working whenever you come around. Then you won’t even have my signal for, “I’m available to do things you need done.” Which of course is any time you see me twiddling my thumbs or shooting marbles out of a frog’s mouth.
I guess, what I’m really saying is give me a little structure and respect my intelligence as something more than a trained monkey, and I’ll do amazing things for you. Isn’t that what we all really want anyway?