The short week…

Ok, it’s a short week. That’s at least one small detail working in its favor. I’m not over here trying to wish my life away or anything, but how fake would I have to be to pretend that I enjoyed these weekdays anywhere near as much as I do Saturdays and Sundays?

Telework Tuesday lets me ease back into the week without the commute and open bay cubicles adding insult to injury. That makes it hard to complain too much about the week so far. I’m sure Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will more than make up for that, though. As always, my inner pessimist is ensuring that my expectations, even for a short week, don’t fly wildly out of hand.

As usual, coming off a long weekend there just isn’t all that much on my mind. Spending the majority of four days ignoring the news, buying up some books, cooking, reading, and spending quality time with the resident animals doesn’t lend itself to great storming posts. If you think I’m going to issue an apology for that then you’re stark raving, right out of your tree mad.

Maybe it’s time to branch out a little in order to head off these inevitable lull in material. Then again, I question how often anyone wants to read about just how many ear scratches were dispensed to the dogs or my opinions on the cathartic value of lawn mowing. Maybe we should just let short weeks be what they are, because soon enough something will agitate the hell out of me and we’ll be off to the races again.

Survey says…

My organization historically loves to send out surveys. They can be focused information grabs or more broad scoped “climate surveys” that try to suss out everything that happens to be on an employee’s mind. If you manage to get more than 10% of the people to send back anything at all your response rate is excellent. Getting those people to actually tell you anything you want to know, though, is another thing altogether.

Even under the veil of promised anonymity, most people I’ve run into have a difficult time of it when it comes time to tell truth to power. People like to fit in. They don’t want to make waves. Some don’t want to risk drawing undue attention to themselves for any reason. Those are all fine and valid reasons for keeping your mouth shut if you’re intent is simply to ride it out and avoid all conflict.

Now I’m a peace-loving kind of guy and you generally won’t find me spoiling for a fight – especially with those elite who sit six or seven steps above me on the org chart. I might not have started the day looking for a fight, but when someone gives me a free and clear opportunity to tell them what sucks and why, you can best believe I’ll avail myself of it with both vim and vigor. I’ll do it professionally and using my best grammar and punctuation, but I’ll definitely participate in the airing of the grievances.

I’d never be able to live with myself if I were given an official avenue to bitch and complain and I failed to take full advantage. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

I usually keep a running list of these things. It’s a rare Thursday when I don’t have nearly a page full to pick from. It’s a rarity, but it does happen from time to time. In fact it’s almost always the hallmark of it being an incredibly dull week.

Some people would look at that term as a negative. They’re the kind of people who jump out of perfectly serviceable airplanes or wrestle alligators. I’m not one of them. I’m just pleased as punch when things run on time and to standard. I’m happy not to bitch and complain when the universe gives me no reason to call it out.

It’s been an easy week with no work-related crises, a reasonably low instances of interaction with stupid people (or people in general, really), and the chance to knock down one of the first big projects on my “Want to Do” list instead of ticking off another one of the “Need to Do” items. There’s plenty of time yet for the wheels to come off, of course, but just now I’m not feeling very annoyed about this week at all.

Sorry to disappoint you.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Because I keep track of such things, I can tell you that this is the 150th weekly edition of What Annoys Jeff this Week. I have no idea whether I should be proud of that fact or horrified by it. Regardless, I’d have felt terrible in letting it pass without noting this small monument to one man’s ability to bitch and complain constantly and at length over long periods of time. As much as I’d like to just let this be a self-congratulatory post that feels like it would be something of a cop out… With that foremost in my mind, here are the three things that top my list of annoyances this week:

1. Forgetting. My memory has never been all that strong. Names? Forget it. I’ll forget a new person’s name before they’ve even left the room. There’s just something off with that part of my brain. I’ve learned to work around it without it usually being obvious. Forgetting the plastic pass that lets me into the building in the morning is something more problematic. That’s happened twice now in the last three weeks – both times because my pass was just a little off where where it normally sits. Apparently deviating from the morning routine even by as little as six inches one way or another is enough to mean I’ll end up driving 40 minutes to work, going home, and then trying the morning commute for the second time. If it happens again, I’m just going to staple the damned thing to my forehead and be done with it.

2. Realizing your own (lack of) importance. Most people don’t know this about me, but I have a long history of tilting at windmills. I’ve made staking myself to lost causes almost my life’s work. You could almost call me a patron of futility. It’s probably some kind of deep character flaw, but it’s been my mode of operation for so long that I’m not sure I’d know how to proceed any other way. Because of my windmill tilting tendencies I get to enjoy that awkward moment when you’re forced to admit that you’re nowhere nearly as important to someone as they’ve been to you. It’s a roundhouse kick to the ol’ ego. Fortunately I’ve got that in spades, although that still doesn’t make an distasteful truth any more palatable.

3. Missing deadlines. For the first time possibly ever, I’m facing a major project that in all likelihood I won’t be able to bring in on time. That’s made all the more problematic because there’s no option but to bring it in on time. There’s no rain date and the thing is going to happen no matter how many bits and pieces I’m still holding when the time comes. It’s infuriating because there was plenty of time to get everything in formation – right up until the point we (collectively) started getting sloppy and letting sloppy be ok. My inner perfectionist is aghast at the possibility.

Those days…

Today was another one of those days. You know, the kind you spend dashing from Very Important Thing to Very Important Thing without ever slowing down to do any kind of analysis about what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Those days are becoming more and more common lately. My read of the future is that they’ll probably become the norm rather than the exception and that it’ll happen sooner rather than later.

I’m not saying I want to be one of those occasional government employees I ran across in DC who unfolded the Post when they got in and proceeded to spend the day reading it from cover to cover, but it would be nice to be able to do more than race from one meeting to the next until they all start bleeding together into one great endless timesuck. I’m a little envious of the people who seem to be able to sit through meetings and digest all the information on the fly, compiling it into some intra-cranial database with perfect recall of how it fits in with all the other information from all the other meetings they’ve sat in. My brain, of course, doesn’t work like that. I process information best when I have time to think on it, write things out, and then aggregate it into a comprehensive whole. That’s why given the choice I’d be better served sticking with PowerPoints and information papers and distilling big ideas down into their essential elements. Needing to do it on the wing quite literally makes my head hurt.

Based on the way the last couple of weeks have gone, I’m projecting the need to lay on a bulk supply of aspirin. As “those days” become the new normal, I’m going to need them. There are a number of management philosophies that apply here – some say do more with less, some say do less with less, the one that seems to be in play at the moment is “do more and quit your bitching.”

Rest assured as long as I have a blog and an internet connection they may be able to make me do more, but I will never, ever quit my bitching.

A distinct lack of motivation…

Usually I spring from bed in the early hours of the morning and hit the ground moving at the quickstep if not actually running. There’s always a shit ton to do and only two days to cram it into. Today, though, what we have here in the north eastern corner of the north eastern part of Maryland is a distinct lack of motivation. Sure, there’s still a shit ton to do, but I can’t quite bring myself to actually want to do any of them. I have no idea what’s going on with that, so I’m choosing to ignore it. And by ignore it, I clearly mean get on my blog and complain about it to anyone who happens to be listening.

Yeah, I’m going to drag myself from my favored writing position in the kitchen and get on with the day, but just know that I’m doing it under duress. Hopefully somewhere between here and the couple of things I absolutely have to get to this morning whether I want to or not, some motivation will shake itself loose. Otherwise this is going to look a lot like a lost weekend.

Two rooms…

Having been back for almost a day, I have exactly two clean-ish rooms to show for it. I say clean-ish because with Maggie and Winston around nothing is really ever what some might call actually clean. At best, you can say they majority of the hair, dust, and random crud has been removed… but that’s not really the point of this post.

The point? It’s simply that after less than a week away from the office I’ve been reduced to bitching and complaining about household dust and dirt. I have no idea what’s going on in the world – and what’s more, for the most part I really don’t care. I wouldn’t have known it was even Sunday today if my phone hadn’t made a point of telling me that when I woke up this morning. Maybe I’m too much the cynic, but I think there might be a life lesson in there somewhere.

I’m sure some people have a hard time adjusting to the unstructured life of not punching a clock twice a day. As I’ve long suspected, that’s not going to be a problem I’ll suffer when the time comes. For some reason a clean kitchen fills me with a greater sense of accomplishment than all the powerpoint briefings I’ve ever built. That’s one of those fun facts I’ll file away in the “good to know” file.