Firemen & Vacation Days

One of early members of child was wanting to be President of the United States. Then, I wanted to be President of NBC. Then a DJ. Then a center for the Atlanta Hawks. Somewhere along the way I ended up going to college to be study to be an engineer, and ended up being an Air Force Acquisitions Officer, to give it all up to become a DJ.

Never once did the thought of becoming a fireman cross my mind. But that is main role with my company, despite every effort I take to make it otherwise. This becomes more apparent every time I take a true day off like I did Tuesday…then came back to mass insanity of half-projects yesterday…which lead to me working about 6 hours (so far) on work related project on this supposed day off…and will drive probably drive me insane as I am slated to take off every Tuesday and Thursday in the month of December to burn my vacation days.

Because the real reason I hate taking the day off and being to myself: I can effectively schedule a productive day for myself. I can also be flexible enough for interruptions and emergencies. In fact, I found I could make a list of things to do for the day, and then could chose to blow off every activity on the entire list, and would have found some way to accomplish something.

At work, I often begin with a long list of things to get done, and find myself quickly confronted with various ‘emergencies’ that take me away from my list that after completion didn’t pan out to be exactly emergencies. And I always end the day by leaving work late, and always leaving work frustrated from not making any actual progress in the job.

Unfortunately, I can not change my fate at work (oh, have I tried…) at this moment, and as I choose to continue showing up every morning, I am stuck with the weary and tireless (yes, I know they mean the same thing) life of a fireman, keeping a corporation from coming down on itself.

But for you, I offer some advice. If you find yourself stressed out at work by maximum effort but minimum, if any, progress, steal a moment to yourself and think about what your workday might be missing:

A Routine: the act of following a ritualistic daily routine will help you easily gage your progress in your daily tasks…unless you routinely never get anything done.

Proper Focus: the ability to focus on a single goal as you move toward it, or even focus on a single task as you try to finish it, will do wonders for your sanity and productivity.

A Score Card: I might not have mastered getting anything checked off my daily master list, but I still attempt it. Your to do list becomes your roadmap to success, or at least a way to gauge when you have finished something.

A System To Keep People Away: If you don’t plan out what you are going to do with your time, someone else will easily fill that time up for you. But if you have bosses that respect what you do for you company and themselves personally, they will find ways to divert some of the problem children and their problem projects far enough away from their office aces (you are an office ace, right?) to minimize distractions. If the boss can’t help, partner up with a co-worker to work a little misdirection for each other. And if you are lucky enough to be a supervisor, make sure you take good care of that assistant who is able to say “no” in just the right manner to get the point across.


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  1. Helen

    You just summed up perfectly why I quit my job several years ago. Try as I might, I couldn’t keep the ‘problem children’ away from me, nor get any help controlling them. In fact, the office I worked for was specifically designated to put out fires, so no matter the routines and procedures we put in place, someone always came along to screw things up. We eventually designed an office logo showing two people running across an open field, one with their hair on fire and the other carrying an extinguisher. The motto for the logo? “Non plaudite. Modo pecuniam jacite.” Don’t applaud, just throw money. Too bad no one ever did.




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