Interpreting policy memos, white papers, and more informal summaries are my bread and butter. I’ve got a bit of a knack for distilling ten pages of official-ese into a one or two paragraph overview. I may not be an expert on whatever topics are dropped in front of me, but I’ve cultivated a skill at seeing through extraneous bullshit and identifying what someone needs to know versus what’s actually written on the page. Sometimes that’s a skill that’s more trouble than it’s worth.

At 10:00 yesterday morning I was given a couple of dozen pages and told to gin up a two page summary by 3:00. No problem there. That’s plenty of time to get the job done and still manage a leisurely lunch. The real issue is boss who drops by at 2:45 to provide some helpful insight on the areas he wants to highlight. While that guidance might have been helpful at some point, it wasn’t particularly useful after spending four hours developing my own salient points.

So today, I’ll spend another three or four hours covering the same ground, but putting a slightly different spin on it. Any chance I had of feeling productive this week is officially dead.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

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