Thursday, June 11, 2009

Daily Life: 7.5 Minutes

Today at work I spent the day in small things. It was not a deliberate choice, but rather the result of circumstances. My manager is on vacation, so I was filling in for her. One of my analysts was on vacation so that redistributed some of the daily work load. My lead analyst was in the final stages of a block deployment, so I was taking her daily calls as well.

It the space of a normal work day I dealt with 67 unrelated items. They ranged in complexity from writing a complex data analysis string for a strategic partner to explaining to someone where they could find a document they were looking for. At the end of the day it turned out that I had dealt with a different subject once every 7.5 minutes.

The day passed in one long blur. About midway through it I realized I was probably not going to get anything complex accomplished, so I just settled in and rode the shallow choppy waves. My work is often split between three distinct areas and that is one of the things that can make it so challenging. There are the short choppy waves like today, there are the deep cyclic waves of projects, and there are the items related to managing personnel. I have great folks who work for me and we have worked together in different iterations for years now, so many of the personnel issues that other managers have to deal with (the internal bickering, the pettiness, the small minded meaness) simply do not exist in my organization, for which I am thankful, but there are still the daily issues of managing personnel - coordinating workload, coordinating schedules, assisting with priorities, change management, etc.

As long as the three forms of my work have a divider it is manageable. When the dividers evaporate and I am having to deal simultaneously with all three forms, then it can become highly stressful - steer a project, answer a detailed time sensitive question, and deal with personnel issues all at once, well that is a challenge. I am thankful that this year has been busy but manageable. I actually came out of the short choppy day today in a good mood, energized rather than exhausted by the flow of the day. Tomorrow should be relatively quiet - is the A Friday, so most folks will be out and I can, hopefully, focus on a couple of the "deep cycle" things I have on my plate.

Stress is relative of course. I went to lunch today with my friend Don. Don has a fairly stressful job himself, but when he joined me he made the comment that he had rented the movie Defiance (with Daniel Craig and Leiv Schreiber) and that quite obviously stress was a relative thing. If you haven't seen the movie I would recommend it, it is a good drama. Here is a link to the IMDB entry for Defiance. Don is right of course, all stress is relative. We might have work stress, but at the end of the day we shut down the computer, drive home into the beautiful California evening, and enjoy the lives we live here in this small slice of paradise.

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