What Annoys Jeff this Week?



1. Performance appraisal. I’ve spent more time than I want to admit this week dicking around with the required “self assessment” section of my annual performance appraisal. It feels like a monumental waste of time. The “old” evaluation system was a pain in the ass too, but at least it was consistent. You could copy and paste big chunks of content from year to year, change some dates and key words and then move on with a minimum amount of fuss and trouble. Since the system we’re now under is “new to us” if not exactly new, it’s starting from a blank page… which translates into more time fiddling. Look, when you’ve been told, albeit in a roundabout way, that the system is designed to drive people to the middle and prevent too many from being way out in high performer land, the incentive to make the end product immaculate is pretty low. Instead of the time and effort going into this new evaluation, it feels like we could have been just as well served by accepting that if we were fucks ups, someone would have told us by now, and that our raise will in all likelihood be within a hair’s breadth of the average unless you’ve done something breathtakingly good or bad in the last 356 days. Going though all the added motions really just adds insult to injury.

2. “Upgrading” software. I don’t mind software upgrades that improve the function of my equipment or make it somehow more secure. I do mind software upgrades that fail to install on the first attempt and then run in the background indefinitely consuming system resources while providing no way to stop them from the user side. Sadly there is absolutely nothing I’m empowered to do about the low bidder equipment or substandard tech support we’re saddled with other than bitch and complain about it at each and every opportunity. So I guess I’ll either limp along as is until the aborted update grinds my system to a complete halt or the admins throw my machine off the network for not having received the update. If only there were a great big organization in change of electronic communications I could call on for help in these situations. You can’t see it but I’ve rolled my eyes so hard I’m currently staring at the inside of my head.

3. Thursday. Well, not just Thursday. I’m just really kind of over weekdays in general. I’m tired of dealing with people. I’m tired of the same bureaucratic and administrative Groundhog Day experience every five out of seven days. I want to sit on the living room floor dispensing ear rubs and playing tug with the dogs, drinking coffee, and reading books… and I’d like for that to happen without finding myself quickly driven into bankruptcy. The dogs have become accustomed to a certain level of lifestyle (and medical care) and I need an ever increasing amount of space for book storage, so that pretty much precludes any radical changes to how I spend the average weekday. Most of the time, the week goes by with a dull “meh,” but this week it’s more of a roaring angsty rage. Good times. Im glad we’ve had this chance to talk.

Annual history…

It’s that magical time of year where you get to distill the essence of your professional accomplishments down to less than 1000 words and then try not to slit your wrists as you realize how you’ve spent the last 365 days. Whether you’re compiling the annual unit history report or creating a list of accomplishments for your yearly performance appraisal, the one thing they serve to remind you of is how much time you’ve spent working on stuff that you have no actual interest in doing.

I’m the last person on earth to recommend that you need to find personal fulfillment in your profession. As I discovered with my ill-fated sojourn as a history teacher, having a deep and profound love for a subject doesn’t a fulfilling career make. For as much as I love all things historical, I despised most other elements of the job. Still, I’d like to think I’m doing more than writing reports, enduring meetings, and building the world’s most complex PowerPoint briefings.

The beauty part of these brief moments of professional clarity is that they only come on once a year, so for the other 11.5 months I can maintain a blissful level of willful ignorance on the topic. I think in the end, everyone is better served when I’m ignoring just how much time I’m spending on mundane, routine tasks and just keep churning out reams of paperwork on demand… because really, if I were stop and think about it for any sustained length of time, I’d be tempted to run off and join the damned circus.

I’m glad a have a job that keeps me employed (almost) full time… but I’m even more glad I don’t mistakenly identify what I do with who I am.