What! More Work?

There was a time of my life when I absolutely dreaded being called into someone’s office, because it generally meant one of three things:

  1. I was going to be given more work to do (I already had too much to do and not enough time to do it).
  2. I was going to sit through a meeting that wasn’t going to do anything for me other than take time away from my other tasks.
  3. I was going to be “yelled at” for something falling through the cracks because I was working on other higher priority issues and now this thing was the high priority.

No option was something I wanted to spend my time on.

In this and the next two posts I’ll go through one option and review how I reacted and an alternate that might have made me (and the people around me happier).

1. I was going to be given more work to do (and I already had too much to do and not enough time to do it).

How I reacted:
My outward reaction depended on who was giving me the task. If it was someone I felt fairly comfortable with I might let them know that I was frustrated I was getting additional projects or tasks. If it wasn’t someone I felt comfortable with I’d say “Ok”, get any details I needed and head back to my cube. In either case I was annoyed and frustrated that something else was being “dumped” on me.

I also wondered if anyone actually appreciated the work I got done, because it felt like as soon as I got something done I got two or three more things to do. I felt punished for getting work done in a timely manner sometimes.

An alternate:
Instead of being upset and complaining to myself that things were being “dumped” on me. I could have made a request to that something else be taken of my plate or a deadline be moved. I was extremely reluctant to speak up for myself because I was sure I would be shot down. The biggest problem with thinking like this is that I never tried so I can’t actually say what would have happened.

This also ties into not complaining. Complaining lowers your energy, both mentally and physically. I spent so much time complaining about what I was doing and what I had left to do that I wasn’t putting as much attention into what I was working on.

Also, take a look at the language I was using. I felt “dumped” on. Of course I wasn’t going to be happy doing whatever task was just assigned to me! Changing my language to a more neutral tone would have made a difference. Instead of saying a task got dumped on me, I could have just as easily said I have a new task.

As for being appreciated, I found very little of what I was doing to be “fun,” so I wanted to be appreciated for all the “not fun” things I was doing. Well, no one was going to pat me on the head and say good job every time I did something that was my job to do. I don’t mean that harshly, it’s just the truth. Another truth is if you go into something dreading it and thinking about all the other things you’d rather be doing (things like not being at work), then you’re not going to enjoy what you’re doing.

The ironic thing is that I wasn’t appreciating what I was accomplishing each day. If I’m not appreciating what I’m getting done, why would someone else? Taking 30 seconds after completing a task to allow myself to feel a sense of accomplishment could have made a big difference.

What would you recommend someone do in a situation like this? Let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Just working with some…FRUSTRATION! by [ jeremy ] via flickr

Is Control an Illusion?

I was thinking about control the other day and how we don’t have control over a lot of things that happen in our lives.  We can’t control the weather, our friends and family or the other drivers.  Sometimes this can be rather frustrating for me.  Where is spring?  Why is it still chilly here? Why is that person tailgating me?  Who’s going to be nice and let me change lanes?

So, last weekend when I heard someone say that being in control of our lives is just an illusion, I immediately nodded my head in agreement.  After all, just look at the list of things I can’t control.  The list of things I can’t control is infinite.

Then I remembered the one thing I do have control of in all situations.  I am in control of how I choose to react in each situation I’m in or observe.  I get to choose whether the guy tailgating me annoys the heck out of me or not.  I get to choose if I complain about the cold day or enjoy the fact that the sun is out.  You get to make those same decisions in your life.

So, is control an illusion?  I guess it depends on what you’re trying to control.  Are you trying to control the situation or your reaction to the situation?  I find it’s less stressful for me when I make the decision to control my reaction, rather than the situation.

What do you think?