Getting up…

I’ve started getting up early. Maybe I should say I’ve started getting up earlier. My standard wake up time at 5am seems to have been early enough to make most people a little twitchy. A morning that starts at 4-something would likely send them ranging completing around the bend.

I don’t hate my slightly early wake up time though. I’ve always had something of a fondness for the early hours of the morning, before the rest of the world wakes up and tries to ruin the day. I generally resent the fact that the human mind and body require sleep at all. Laying there in the darkness for hours at a time doing nothing of note feels like a tragic waste of more than a quarter of the available hours in the day. That’s fertile enough ground that I’ve covered here before.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve consciously made the effort to be out of bed no later than 4:30. Some people would use that time for working out or making breakfast. It’s what I should do. Of course what I’m really doing is using the extra thirty minutes to read another chapter or two and giving the critters some extra ear rubs before leaving for work.

It’s been good having a reminder first thing in the morning of why there’s value in tolerating monumental levels of fuckery during the day ahead. It helps stifle the quiet inner voice that tells me to load up the truck and just keep driving instead of turning into the parking lot. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would rather get that extra thirty minutes of sleep in the morning, but I’m finding those few extra minutes spent actually doing things I enjoy to be almost invaluable.

It’s whatever gets you through the day, I guess.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Waiting. Some people, God bless them, are able to sit all day waiting on something to happen. Me? Not so much. Blame it on computerization, the Internet, youth or whatever else you blame such things on, but the bottom line is I’m not a patient person. When something is supposed to happen, I want it to happen right the hell now. Maybe that’s something I should work on, buti don’t think I have the patience for that.

2. Alarm clocks. On any given weekday morning, the alarm built into my phone goes off twice. I don’t remember the last time that work me up. About ten minutes later, my normal alarm clock sounds. That one might wake me half the time. The third and last line of defense is the rediculously loud alarm I picked up from Amazon. That one is still getting me up, but it’s taking longer and longer to get my attention. Another month or two and I’ll probably be immune to that end too. What I’d really like is an alarm that wakes me consistently without needing to set three or four different clocks. Sure, it seems like overkill, but it’s barely getting the job done. Surely there’s a better way.

3. Parking garages. This is America. We drive big vehicles here. Many of us have full sized cars, trucks, and SUV’s that are not only tall, but also wide. While I completely respect your efforts to cram as many parking spaces as possible into that fancy seven story garage you built, what I’m going to need you to do is widen up those spaces a bit so I don’t have to use two of them, every time I come visit or leave a big chunk of my vehicle hanging precipitously far into the travel lane. This is really something that I shouldn’t need to mention in the country that decided the Hummer would be a good ride for in and around town.

4. Bad coffee. If you’re going to charge almost $3 for a 20 ounce cup of regular, no frills drip coffee, there’s no reason you can’t make it from legitimately good grounds. Whatever you lose in the margin will be more than made up for by people who don’t go seek out your competition for the next cup.

40 hours…

The 40-hour work week where everyone arrives and departs at the same time each day probably made eminent sense when it was instituted for a country with a massive manufacturing sector committed to assembly line methodologies. When you’re living in an electronic age and the output product of your efforts live in a storage device as a series of ones and zeros, a fully regimented work schedule is a little harder to understand. In a plant where they build cars, you can expect X number of frames to roll by a given point on the line each eight hour shift every day of the week. OK, a standard 8-hour day makes sense there. In the information sector, Wednesdays might be the heavy volume day and represent 11 hours of required work while Monday only requires five hours of work. Even though the requirements have shifted, we largely cling to that magic eight hours a day, five days a week concept.

If I were king for a day, I’d propose a new standard for information workers. In this system, you’re paid your base salary for 2080 hours a year. On days when you get the work done in 5 hours, feel free to go on home. On days when workload is high, plan on staying a little longer to get it done. All things being equal, I’d be willing to bet that in most cases, the time would even itself out over the long term.

Of course we know that all things are not equal. Some people are going to abuse a system based on them being honest about their workload. Some people will work half days every day and others will put in 12 hours every day. So yeah, I intellectually understand that there are pretty high barriers to getting away from the standard work week. I get that my new system is a managerial nightmare and completely impractical, but on those days when I blow through my assignments in 4 hours, it sure would be nice to have the option of punching out for the day rather than sitting around watching the clock tick on towards the end of the day…. because let’s face it, when their actual work is done, no one is sitting around dreaming about what other great things they can do for the overlords, right?

Clock watching…

Some supervisors live and die by the clock. I’m not one of them. If you get your job done, why should I care if it takes you five hours or eight? Of course if I know it takes you five, I’m going to find something else for you to do, but if you’re quiet about it and don’t draw attention to yourself, what’s it to me if you check in on Facebook or look up the afternoon’s scores on ESPN?

I’ve never understood the people who live to catch someone taking a long lunch or coming in a handful of minutes after their scheduled start time. If the work is getting done, who’s being hurt? Seriously, if you have nothing better to do than run a stopwatch on your colleagues, maybe it’s time to take a look at your own workload and see if you’re doing all you can. More importantly, if you want to continue keeping the official shot clock for the office, remember that it’s very likely someone just might start watching you and waiting for an excuse to follow your example.

Payback is what it is, so don’t be surprised when you get got.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of previously de-published blogs appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.