My Day Job is Not Trying to Kill Me

Almost 10 years ago, I wrote about how Walkadoo was trying to kill me. I don’t know if Walkadoo is still a thing or not. The post I just linked received more clicks from searches than any of my other posts, probably because people were searching for “Walkadoo” and only a handful of us weirdos were writing about it.

In that post, I talk about how the goal kept increasing, and I kept rising to meet the challenge. As I predicted back then, the step goal reached a point I could no longer match. When the service routinely asked me to walk 25,000 steps a day, I was defeated. I wound up uninstalling the app and unsubscribing from the service altogether.

The app asked too much from me, and I quit.

If the app had backed off at a certain point, or asked me for a cap on the number of steps it should demand, I might still be using the service. I like walking. I like completing goals. It was a good thing until it became terrible.

The app wasn’t made that way, though. My freakish brain chemistry could not see a middle space between total success or total failure. When I met the goal, I felt accomplished and proud of myself. When I fell short, it devastated me. I took it as a personal failure on my part. If I just worked a little harder, sacrificed a little bit more, I should have been able to walk nearly 12 miles every day.

You can probably see where this is going.

At work, we’re doing 2 week sprints. I routinely take on and commit to more than anyone else is doing every single sprint. Not only am I doing what I committed to, I’m also helping other people get their work done. Sometimes I spend so much time helping other people, I run out of time to do my own tasks, so I wind up working late and on the weekends to meet my commitments.

The difference between success and failure for me is the difference between joy and despair. I’m not sure that my boss fully realizes this, or how much I’m doing. His measuring stick is Azure DevOps, which I find to be a clumsy and cumbersome tool. It’s not easy for me to justify taking 2 minutes to record impromptu, 15 minute phone call, even when those 15 minute phone calls turn into 30 or 45 minute troubleshooting sessions, multiple times a day.

Ten years ago, Walkadoo started asking me to do more than I could do, and it reached a breaking point and I quit. Now, my Day Job is asking me to do more than I can do, and two things are happening simultaneously. One, my boss doesn’t think what I’m being asked to do is unreasonable and two, my boss doesn’t have a clue how much extra I’m doing.

There are things I can do to fix this.

  1. Quit and find a different job. There are a couple of problems with this. I’m fiercely loyal to my company, and I’m not sure I’ll be as satisfied going anywhere else. I should look into it, but that kind of change is extremely difficult.
  2. Make my boss aware of what is going on. There are a few problems with this, too. I’ve already had multiple conversations with him about how clumsy ADO time recording is. I think this route is going to be unproductive, but it’s something I should ultimately try.
  3. Do less. Accept what my heart tells me is “failure.” This is, I think, what normal, rational people do in situations where too much is being asked of them. This is my kryptonite.

I have to do something. In the mean time, I’m at a Starbucks with my work laptop in front of me. I’m going to try and make up the 12 or 16 hours I’ve lost during this week, helping other people. I’ve identified the problems. I’m apparently not ready to do anything about them.

One thought on “My Day Job is Not Trying to Kill Me

  1. Seems like a lot of people who have worked somewhere a long time (and gotten truly good at what they do, vs just resumé-perfect for the next jump to lightspeed) are in this boat right now, thanks to the switch to electronic metrics and then recording tools that waste more time than they’re worth. (Manual recording wasn’t great either, but was less obviously intrusive/ surveillance-y.)

    My solution is to be the squeaky wheel, because only a handful of us in the organization will, the organization matters to customers (who are regular folks), and I’m dog tired of documenting the work we do just to be told every possible solution is not possible for various goalpost-moving reasons. (Too much “soft skills work for middle management and above, where right now all they have to do is track metrics and scold or fire, and take their next raise or promotion.)

    So far, it’s marginally effective. Sucking it up or finally leaving is probably in the cards. But I’ll feel better about that knowing I tried (again) to push back on the inertia that wastes everyone’s precious, skilled, customer-facing time below the metric-watching level… Almost makes me feel human.

    Don’t drive yourself into the ground… I hope you find a time- and energy-efficient way to get your concerns and needs addressed. And get more time and brain space to write.

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