Last Saturday I spent about half a day at work, finishing one of those “urgent” projects needed for Monday.
Although I wasn’t happy about having to go in, once there I made a lot of progress. I suspect the same task would have taken a full day’s effort had the office not been empty.
Two things contributed to my productivity. One was of course the absence of interruptions. It’s not even the actual interruptions that are so distracting: it’s equally the chatter, ringing phones, bursts of laughter, the raised voice as someone calls across the desks, and That Guy with the really penetrating voice.
The other reason I was productive was that I knew what needed doing, and could plan my work and follow my plan. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I work like this, and a real sense of satisfaction and mastery. Both are fundamental to my enjoyment of work.
It really is a shame I mostly get to experience this on weekends. I did manage to get through a lot this week, and I did manage to carry over some of that concentration and focus to the rest of the week. So it is possible. The challenge is to make it the rule rather than the exception.
Incidentally, that Monday morning meeting? It was rescheduled for Thursday. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened, with my having to work late or weekends only to have the urgently urgent thing be postponed. Every time it happens I want to remind them of the story of the boy who cried wolf. But there’s no point. It’s not their fault that the meetings get rescheduled and they can’t complain because those calling the meetings are politicians and when you’re in public service you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Which is why my personal satisfaction from a job well done has to be my number one priority. Working in a way that gives me satisfaction and professional pride is the only way to rise above the frustration and cynicism that could otherwise corrode my working life.