Archive: The Usual Things – April 7, 2006
We all have parts of our job that we dislike. For me, this week has been a succession of re-installing Windows on crashed computers. As I write, the 5th machine is on the tech bench here in my office, slowly re-gathering its software brains. While I would much rather be helping my clients make the most of their computers, the computers have to be functioning first. So I sit and stare at slowly moving thermometer bars, waiting to insert the next disk. All this tedium does serve one purpose, though. It reminds me to look for ways to relieve the boredom that such work brings. Otherwise, a job, and more importantly a career, can turn into an endless march of drudgery from one day to the next.
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While we often talk about having one, monolithic, Reputation – with a capital R — I believe that there are a series of reputations that combine to create the whole. It is often said you can’t “do” projects, you can only do the individual tasks that make up the project. The same can be said for reputation. You don’t build your reputation as a whole, you cultivate the smaller reputations that create it. Each individual action builds your reputation in unique ways and each requires some thought as to how they relate to the whole. Cultivating Your Career Reputations examines each of these reputations in detail and helps you find specific areas where you can improve your work, your actions and your thoughts so that your overall professional reputation can grow
Break it up
One of the easiest ways to combat repetitive or demanding work is to split it up with other easier or more enjoyable work. Sure, you may have 10 machines to setup for your department, but it doesn’t mean you have to do them all at once. Break them into groups and make sure to include some other activities between installs. Unless you have a rapidly approaching firm deadline, balance out the work so that it doesn’t drive you crazy. Sure, there will be times when you have to “soldier on” through a long succession of tedious work, but whenever you have the opportunity to control your own timeline, take advantage of it.
If you are lucky, you might be able to delegate some of your least favorite work to other staff members. If you do this, though, remember to be considerate. Do you need to delegate all of the work or can you keep some manageable part for yourself? In this way, no one person has to feel the full brunt of the tedium, but the project still is done on time. If you need to install 10 machines, keep 3 or 4 for yourself. You won’t feel overburdened, nor will others in your department.
Finally, if you find that your current job is filled with tedious work and yet you want to grow your career, you must find some way of regularly rewarding yourself. These rewards need not be expensive or dramatic. They just need to be something special to you. If you like movies, reward yourself with a night at the local theater or a new DVD when you complete some portion of your work. Promise yourself a nice meal at your favorite restaurant when you finish the first 10 computers of the 40 you need to install. Make your rewards special to you, something you wouldn’t do on a regular basis. Don’t put them off, either. Regularly reward yourself for the work you have accomplished, especially if it wasn’t much fun.
So, what is the reason for all this avoidance, delegating and rewarding? Simply, it is one way of ensuring that your job and your career remain as fulfilling as possible. Jobs filled with unrelenting drudgery will grind down even the best worker unless ways are found to relieve it. The fact is, work needs to be accomplished, but it doesn’t mean it has to be destructive to the work force. Companies that make it so are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. They are using and discarding their people, confident that there will always be more people to take their place. A shortsighted plan for any company. Instead, companies need to find ways of relieving the tedium while still accomplishing the work and if your company isn’t finding these ways, you need to do it yourself. It is simple self-preservation. Find a way to survive the boredom until you can move up and out to the next level in your career.
Early in your career, you are sure to be faced with work that is less than enthralling. You will slog through each day, doing your best to keep moving. How you manage these days, though, can mean the difference between a successful career and a career that you dread. Every step you take today is one more step on the road to a great high-tech career.