Work is going to kill you if you don't enjoy spending time at the office. If your work-day is keeping you focused on "time left until the lunch-break" or "how many days there are until Friday" you're very likely not to be enjoying your job.
Why does that happen? Is the problem in you? Is it the job itself? Should you get a new one?
Let's see what the typical problems are, and get a better picture.
- Personal factors
- Endless optimization - dissatisfaction with your own results forces you to re-do something that you did earlier in an attempt to get closer to perfection
- Postponing something multiple times until it becomes critical. Now you feel additional pressure, and frustration increases as deadlines are getting closer
- Unable to focus on a task
- Wasting time in the office, then working at home to compensate
- Distracted by colleagues ('urgent' matters, matters that don't really concern you, phonecalls, etc)
- Lack of sleep
- External factors
- Doing other people's work
- Others don't do their assignments on time
- They don't do things right unless monitored
- Doing the work of employees who don't exist (since there is no one to do it, but it has to be done - someone has to)
- Things that contradict your mentality and beliefs, forcing you to lower the quality of your output (ex: SEO vs. grammar and style)
- Arguing with people who promote this
- Ending up doing it against your will
- Colleagues' lack of discipline
- Not showing up on time
- Leaving earlier
- Not finishing their tasks on time, or handling them improperly
- Inappropriate working conditions
- Bad tea or coffee
- No air-conditioning or heating
- No running water, absence of user-friendly toilets
- Social factors
- Envious, aggressive, logically incompatible colleagues
The personal factors are the ones that depend on no one but you. The solutions in this case are simple, and can be derived from the description of the problem. All you have to do is get serious, make a list of problems that apply to you, and monitor your behaviour. In this case the solutions are:
- Lower your quality thresholds a bit. No one does it perfect the first time; there is always room for improvement, and you will get to try out new tools and techniques next time. This is pretty close to the difference between the Waterfall model and the Spiral model. When you know there will be other iterations in the future, you can afford to offer a sub-perfect version during the first phase, and improve it later.
- Do not postpone.
- Minimize the level of multi-tasking, tell your colleagues you are working on an important task and they should not disturb you unless the world is falling apart. Note: a separate study dedicated to this point will be published soon.
- Organize your sleeping habits.
External factors are outside interventions which don't depend on you. That's what makes dealing with them more difficult. There are problems such as lack of authority, the absence of clear policies - solving them is not in your competency, unless you are somewhere in the high layers of the hierarchy. Most of these problems are difficult or impossible to cope with, because they require a major effort in order to implement a solution (ex: change office, hire new people, fire all the bad people and hire new and good people, etc). Most managers will choose not to do so because that poses a serious threat to the business, or is too expensive to implement.
Even though external factors seem to be a major show-stopper, this is not the end of the world; a set of recommendations will be provided soon.
Note: this is a draft, the list of factors can (and will be) extended, feel free to suggest your own; indicating your job and pointing out what your duties are.
How about writing a howto teach yourself not to postpone :)
Comment from: gr8dude [Member]
I will write it later :-)
But on a serious note, I am planning to write about that too, because it is a major problem I am dealing with. Currently I have several draft articles that are related to this subject, and in the end I will probably summarize them in a brochure. Until then I am still collecting feedback from readers and making experiments on myself.
A possible addition to the personal factors list:
Frustration with previous results / Low self-esteem – you abandon a task at the smallest bump in the road (because you’re convinced you are going to fail) and focus on other, trivial tasks (like organizing files) which guarantee success. Then the end of the day is there and you’ve done nothing.
A possible solution: find some fairly difficult task to work on, but its deadline must not be near. Then it won’t be a problem if you spend a lot of time on it (trial & error) and finally come to the desired result.
Comment from: gr8dude [Member]
Your comment is spot on! I am dealing with one such problem for 1+ year(!), it is a very complex task which is probably exceeding my current capabilities. It is a permanent logical issue for me (keeps me up at night all the time), which is why I am now researching this.
The nice side-effect is that the trivial tasks I use to lie to myself and create an illusion of neural activity, start getting more and more complex. In fact, many pet-projects I started working on to distract my attention from this monster-project, ended up being more complex, more serious, more useful, more entertaining and more important than the monster-project.
I then started looking for more efficient ways to manage my schedule, so now I have enough time to work on pet-projects, make small steps in the monster-project, as well as read everything I need on Slashdot :-)
In other words, the good news is that although there is little progress in the monster-project itself, break-throughs were made in other fields. To extend your analogy, I “invented a fully automatic file organizer while working on my faster-than-light engine” :-)
Comment from: Asia [Visitor]
I guess one of kee factors that work as incentive (or vice-versa) is … your income which you get from your company… I mean you may like your job, do it quite well, try to learn more in the process, but if the stimulation is not enough and does not sufficiently grow with the growth of your experience, then the working process becomes less pleasant…and fridays most adorable :) the feeling of resentment is not healthy at all, and it’s very degrading! By the way, very important incentives are not only the salary and bonuses you get, but also the possibilities which help you improve your skills, trainings, conferences, team buildings, travels, the “windows” to the “wide world” :) So, the stimulation thing may be considered as external factor…in my opinion ;)
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