Archive for the ‘Work Ethic’ Category

Dog On LaptopAs I post this, it’s after 2:00 a.m. Thursday and I’ve already put in 38 hours for work this week.  That is due in part to working from home Wednesday where I sat on my keester in my recliner for at least 14 hours cranking out tasks, nearly emptying my inbox, and getting more done than I could in 2-3 days in the office.  It makes for a long day, but there is great satisfaction in what gets accomplished when working from a quiet place where the only interruption is the dog’s occasional request to go outside, crawl in my lap, or throw a ball across the room.

On days like this, I waver between stopping at some reasonable number of hours versus going on and on to get as much done as possible.  In the end, I usually keep going.

Is it healthy to put in nearly 40 hours before you even go in to work Thursday-Friday (and some on Saturday)?  Not if it’s an every-week occurrence.  But as I’ve shared before, I love what I do and it is certainly not an imposition to sit in the comfort of my ugly lounge pants and t-shirt with my favorite beverage and man’s best friend curled up beside me, even if it is for 14 hours of nearly non-stop work.  Scratching another task off the list every few hours makes it worth the time.

The day has gone so well, in fact, that I decided my final task for the night would be to schedule every Wednesday as a work-at-home day for the next couple of months to try to get in the habit of a mid-week work-fest to stay on top of things.  The long hours are offset by the pleasure and comfort of being home and the fact that I will not be in the office more than two days in a row for a good while to come.  My thanks to a very understanding manager who allows me this flexibility and who does the same when he knows he has a lot on his plate and needs a respite from office distractions.

Leap year lesson #339 is Working at home can be time-intensive, but satisfying.

I had the unpleasant realization Saturday that I was already a day late in completing a quiz for a training class I’m halfway through.  Knowing there was no way I could get to it over my busy weekend, I asked for and received permission to complete it today.  That threw off the plans I had for my day off today which was to prepare and rehearse a presentation I’m giving tomorrow.  So much for casual weekends and lazy days off.

So my first order of business today was to review all the previous training sessions that were to be covered on the quiz, and then complete it.  With no thanks to excessive IT security restrictions on my work laptop, I finally (after three hours) had the material I needed to study.  Then I reviewed it and completed the quiz about 7:15 p.m.  Since I had attended all the sessions relevant to the quiz, paying attention and participating, I likely could have completed the quiz successfully without spending as much time prepping as I did.  However, I like to know beyond all doubt that I’m prepared for something.  I was.

After writing this post, I’ll turn to my planned task for the day of prepping and rehearsing a presentation I’m giving tomorrow night.  I’ve presented on the subject before, so it isn’t new material, but it will be organized in a different manner than I’ve presented before.  I always like to rehearse numerous times out loud before a public speaking engagement, so my evening and much of tomorrow will be given to doing so.  I want to know when I stand before those present tomorrow night that I am giving them my best.

When I think back to my January 4 post about my three words, the second word was “stretch” which means I want to do more than what is required of me.  That isn’t just to please others, but to live up to my own expectations and potential.  It can make for long days and hours doing things that I could probably get by with on less effort.  But I would know the difference even if others might not.

Leap year lesson #282 is It’s better to over-prepare.

Since this is a holiday week in the U.S. with Independence Day on Wednesday, there is a noticeable slowdown in the number of meetings on my calendar for the week.  That’s always a welcome change from the norm of way too many meetings.  The same thing happens to the extreme for the week in between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

While many colleagues choose to take these holiday weeks off from work, I prefer to do the opposite and work during the slow times.  I get a lot more accomplished, get caught up on things that have been on the back burner for a while, and feel like it is time well spent.  Having worked near the holidays, I’m then free to escape and use my vacation days at other times of the year, even if they are very busy times for us.

I realize that not everyone will prefer my approach, and that’s their call to make.  But it works for me.

Parents of young children who have to work around the school year for vacations don’t have much flexibility on this matter.  Still, I suggest that those who have always taken off during the less busy times at work give consideration to a trial run of working those days instead.  You may just find that working with fewer distractions, fewer meetings and the possibility of greater focus bring a great deal of satisfaction.

Leap year lesson #181 is Work when others don’t.

I had to take a quiz today to wrap up a series of training sessions on community management.  It was fairly easy and painless, but still not without some stress.  The quiz covered the content of the last five course sessions, so I spent time reviewing the content of those sessions prior to the quiz.

The good thing about a quiz is that it holds you accountable for what you should know at some point in the educational process.  If all you have to do is show up, get marked as present, but never be held accountable, the system is flawed.

I wish there were more accountability procedures in the workplace.  I’ve had several people ask me to be an accountability buddy through the years and I’m always glad to oblige.  Such informal, peer relationships can be very effective.  Of course, there are also the formal annual reviews as well between employee and manager ingrained into many workplaces.

Sadly, I don’t have to look too far to find folks who don’t appear to be held accountable for actually getting something meaningful accomplished.  When that happens, it is bad for business as well as a disincentive to others who wonder why they have to work hard while others do not.

Fortunately, my work ethic isn’t negatively impacted by such people – I’ll give it my all in whatever I do because I am intrinsically motivated to do so.  But not everyone shares that sentiment.

In my ideal business world, employees would have regular check-ups with their supervisors to answer the questions of what they’ve accomplished since the last check-up, what they plan to accomplish before the next one, and what obstacles they may need leader assistance in overcoming.  For me, the every-other-week schedule my manager and I have for such discussions works, but each employee and supervisor should set the frequency to suit themselves, making sure the check-ups are frequent enough to head off any concerns early rather than later in the process.

Like passing the quiz I took today, having accountability discussions makes sure we’re on track with what we should know and do.

Leap year lesson #174 is It’s good to be held accountable.

I do well under pressure.  Not much gets me out of sorts or frazzled.  In the midst of a crisis I’ll be a calming influence and, if possible, interject a little humor along the way to lighten the mood.

In academic study, the ability to do much over a short period of time has served me well.  In work situations, I can churn out a lot into the wee hours of the morning night after night if needed until the work is done.  Granted, I can’t keep at a lightning pace indefinitely, but it is possible when I know there is an end in sight.

This past weekend was an example of a lot of pressure on me over a short period of 48 hours.  It was all good pressure of places to be with other people, prepping for and officiating at a wedding, and prepping and teaching a class for a friend.  Individually, any of them would have made for a pleasant, enjoyable weekend, but together they made for quite a challenge.

I don’t take public speaking lightly.  I’m not about to wing it for a class I teach, much less a wedding I officiate.   So especially for the wedding, I wanted everything said and done to be perfect for the couple’s sake.  When it comes to my part, therefore, I script every word, rehearse it aloud dozens of times, and make constant edits up until the last possible moment to craft each word and be able to speak it as naturally as possible without relying heavily on notes.  I want to look into the couple’s eyes as I speak and reassure them with a smile and a comforting word and voice.

There were moments in preparation for the weekend’s events when I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to come together, but I have traveled this road too many times to doubt that it would.

And it did.

Depending on the source of the quote, today’s lesson title comes either from Scottish Victorian-era writer Thomas Carlyle or indie film screenwriter Mary Case, but whichever first wrote it, I can attest to it’s truth.

Leap year lesson #171 is No pressure, no diamonds.