From Ask a Manager:
By all accounts, I’m reasonably successful. At 29, I’m on the director level at a small nonprofit and have been in nonprofit leadership roles for several years now. I get great reviews, exceeded my performance measures for this year, and got a promotion and a title change within my first year at this job. My question, though, is that some of my work habits are generally considered to be bad ones, and I’m not sure whether it’s a problem or not.
From reading your blog, I know that you disapprove of distractions like Facebook or gchat at work. For as long as I can remember, including in school, I’ve worked with multiple tabs open, gchatting with friends, checking my feedly, Facebook, etc. while working. Sometimes I do waste a fair amount of time, and on occasional bad days I don’t get much done at all. I’ve never missed a deadline and am fully capable of focusing on one thing when I need to, but it’s not my default working style.
I guess my overall question is, am I normal? I read so much about productivity, etc., but I don’t feel like I have a clear sense of what other people’s productivity actually looks like, and so I spend a fair amount of time feeling guilty about my work habits despite my overall success. Part of me thinks that if I were to start being laser-focused on work, then my success would be off the charts … but the thought of doing that is really depressing. I love my work but a lot of it is grants and spreadsheets, and looking only at those all day feels like it would leave me bored and under stimulated — interspersing it with other things keeps it from getting dreary. Should I try to change, or try to relax and feel confident in my work?
Wow this looks troublesome. You’re 29 and only a director at someone else’s company. You should be an entrepreneur by now running your own nonprofit. Or several. You may want to get your microprocessor serviced.
That said, you’re playing the work game. You want to get the most benefit with the least amount of work. Half-assing your work got you a promotion, a great review, and a title that you don’t really morally deserve. You’re right that this is wrong. Companies need automation. You need to be turning cogs, plugging in data, and feeling nothing.
A positive review means that you meet the company’s criteria and goals for your work. Why would you allow corporate nonprofit America to decide whether you’re doing well? A person with good work habits owns their work integrity as a personal value. You’re okay with having no values by objective standards. Write your own review. Give yourself an F. The positive review is a trap to make you complacent. Once you’re complacent, you’ll be fired or in corporate terms: deactivated.
Some people like you think Facebook and Gchat are normal. Yet you’re aware that others disagree with you. They think it’s too distracting. Both of these can’t be true. One person can’t want something while another dislikes it. One of you must be right. It’s your life, job and culture. Therefore, I’ll be the best one to know the path forward.
You’re not normal. Productivity is normal, good, and just. I’m aghast at the time you’re spending writing a letter about work. Talking about work isn’t work. Why aren’t you doing your job now? Or now? Or now. If what you’re doing is working, then change it. Or now.
Neither relax nor feel confident. That’s a false choice and I’m not falling for it. Continue the cycle of stress and dislike. Compare yourself with others. Submit a self-review to your boss urging to be graded on Facebook use and not business needs.
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