This is the other reason I don’t like to give 110%. Whereas yesterday’s post was a little more philosophical in approach, I’m going to let this one get as ranty as it wants.
Let’s go back to my morning work routine. I often have to prioritize what tasks to do, how much I think I can accomplish. What products need to be stocked or moved, and which ones can just be faked up to make it through one more day. Sometimes I overestimate, scrambling until the last minute and the doors open. Other times I underestimate and finish early, either because someone came over to help me or the tasks I planned simply took less time than I thought. Do you know what thanks I get? I get a manager coming up to me and saying “Hey, could you go help so-and-so?” Not so much as a word of encouragement, or a congratulations on a job well done. Just a heartless, thankless shuffling of to the next task.
(Non-rant: Yes, I know that I’ve benefited from people who finish early to come help me, and that this is a way of paying it forward. But that’s not the point of this post.)
School could be this way too, although I was more of an overachiever back then (pre-college) and didn’t mind nearly as much. Finish an assignment early? Here’s another one! After all, if you’re not busy doing something, you might wander off task and start distracting other students. Maybe you finished so early because you didn’t fully understand the assignment (I usually did). Even if it’s clear you understood the work, we can’t have you doing something else. That might make the people still working or struggling feel bad. So here’s another worksheet!
Is it any wonder a lot of people have a habit of letting/making a task expand into whatever amount of time they’ve allotted?
Like I said, I didn’t mind this so much in school; I had a drafting class that I loved spending time in, so more drafting projects to work on weren’t a burden (except when I lost my floppy disk with all my extra credit). It’s only in the workplace, and especially at my current job, that I’ve really started to be bothered by this. After all, even if I finish early, I’ve already been working hard; it’s not like I spend my time lollygagging or taking cigarette-and-coffee breaks all the time. So I’ve taken to working hard but not too hard, as I talked about yesterday. If I find myself finishing early, I’ll try to take more time on some of the smaller details, even if those details involve meticulously sweeping or carefully straightening up product. On the really bad days I’ll even cultivate a “I’m going somewhere and have stuff to do” walk to fend off predatory managers. Even if it won’t help me in a case of direct observation, it might let me slip into the background.
It’s like I’ve said about grad school: “I’m learning a lesson. I don’t think it’s the one you want me to learn, but I am learning.”