I Always Knew I’d Grow Up to be a Fire Fighter

24 Feb

It’s been a pretty overwhelming week at work, and we’re only on Wednesday. After weeks of “light” occupation, it seems that everything is funneling and ending up on my plate all at once. Not that I am complaining, or anything, because I like being busy and feeling useful here at work. However, I hate being so busy that all I seem to be doing is spinning my wheels. Today was one of those days, when at noon I had realized that half the week was over and I had barely accomplished anything. Just a lot of back and forth on this semi-big website development project I am managing, and still no real tangible progress achieved. We are supposed to go live on Monday. Granted, we had been given all of 3.5 weeks from concept to deployment, so relatively speaking, we are in pretty decent shape. There are a million moving parts, and a big team to manage, not to mention having to manage the client and their expectations.

So while this whole project is needing my attention and pulling me in different directions between the developer, my designers and the clients, I’ve got other shit that needs to be done. I’ve got 6 other projects for which I need to prepare estimates and plan time lines, kind of all required at once for some reason. One of these clients is a pretty huge one, that I’ve got to keep happy, and requires a high level of maintenance. I mean, if she gives me three big estimates to draft on Friday at 4.30, which she did, she expects it all to be pulled together in a day or two. If I had little else to do, totally achievable. However, I’ve got other clients and projects that I am working on at the same time. This is the source of much of my anxiety, the need to keep her happy and satisfied knowing that I am working to keep her happy and satisfied. If I don’t meet these expectations or have the gall to push back on her at all, she calls my boss to tattle on me! And then I’ve got him and her both looking at me like I am inadequate.

I am sorry, but I am only one person and can only do so much at one time.

I like to make lists of things I need to do, and beside each item in those lists, I draw a little box in which I put a check mark once that task is finished. When that list is created on Monday morning, and if by Wednesday afternoon I see no check marks because I’ve been in a state of high alert all week just reacting and responding, my level of anxiety is sky-high and I can’t help but feeling like I am a bit of a failure. My job is characterised by series of milestones, and my feeling of accomplishment is tied to reaching these milestones. This week, I have not gotten any closer to these milestones. The minute I try to focus on getting something done, it seems that I am interrupted by someone looking to me for some sort of solution. OK fine, that’s is a huge part of my job and that’s what I’m supposed to do. I get it. But it’s for that reason that I say at times that my title should be changed to “Fire Fighter,” because I spent the majority of my day putting fires out. I do wish I handled stressful days like this a little better and didn’t become so frenzied and agitated as I had, because days like this happen pretty often for me. It’s pretty much part of my job description.

I became a bit of a monster today, keeping my head low and trying to minimize unnecessary contact with anyone I worked with. Anytime anyone would come to my desk or call me to ask me a question, I would demand that they get to their point or question quickly. If I needed something from someone, I would be equally as short. The different personalities in my company grated on my nerves. And the constant (some pointless) interruptions were aggravating beyond belief.

  • If you’re going to call me from your desk to ask me something, please don’t draw out your “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,” and spend the next 10 seconds um-ing and ah-ing and whatchamacallit-ing and clearing your throat. You’d better be ready to speak and tell me what you need from me when I pick up the phone.
  • If you come into my office and you see me frantically typing out an email, I would think that you would get that I am trying to get some form of important communication out. Why do you need to interrupt my process to show me something that you found in a book?
  • Do not look to me for an answer to an easy question that you can easily answer for yourself. It’s just downright lazy when you aren’t willing to find the answer for yourself.
  • It’s also downright lazy of you to not retain something that you’ve been shown how to do countless times. Don’t come to me again to ask how to do something that I showed you how to do yesterday, and the day before that.
  • If I am in a meeting, even if it seems informal at someone’s desk, don’t bust into the middle of the conversation to talk to me about something irrelevant to what I am dealing with. It can wait a few minutes.
  • If I am across the room from you, do not yell across to talk to me or get my attention. It is rude to do so, and we are in a professional environment. Get off your ass. and walk over if you need to address me.

Needless to say, I’m glad the day is over. At the end of it all, I did manage to prepare 2 estimates before wrapping for the day. I have 2 check marks on that list now and really hope to add more to that tomorrow. I remind myself again that I am only one person, and can only do so much. Above that, I also need to remind myself that I really am not more important than anyone else, and that we all are just trying to get our jobs done there. Though, please just stay out of my way when I’m trying to get something done and then we can talk. Maybe.


4 Responses to “I Always Knew I’d Grow Up to be a Fire Fighter”

  1. Leesh February 25, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Hey – I had the same type of day as you. I have a national competition I am organizing for law students for the weekend of March 12 and 13. I am doing all the admin work myself but I still have to do the day to day stuff that my department handles. I know that I should stay late to get everything done but I don’t get paid enough to be working past my regular hours.

    I do the same thing as you..I write down what needs to be done and put a box beside it in blue pen. When I have completed that task, I check the box with a red pen. If a couple of days have passed, I draw a big red box around that task so it flags my attention that it’s still outstanding.

    It’s good to be organized and you have to develop a system that works for you. My boss is not that organized and therefore it makes us unorganized. I hate it but what can I do. As long as I get my stuff done, it’s all that matters.

  2. Kat February 25, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    i either work from home or hide in a conference room on a different floor. people just talk too much shit if you’re around them and always gets you out of your groove!

    if people want to talk, they can email me and i will take a quick look at the email and skim for key words pertaining to the projects that i’m on. if it’s long and drawn out as some emails can be, i don’t even bother reading it rather i will respond with a “so what exactly is the problem here?” or “can you just summarize this for me?”. if someone can’t articulate their needs in 5 sentences or less, then they should talk to you in person.

    i also do the same thing as you (list out priorities) and always tackle those at the top of the list. things that are most imporant are circled with a highlighter so i have a bunch of highlighters lying around the desk 🙂

    if they’re all at the top of the list, then i go by biggest ass kick if one of them fails. OR i ask the boss which one he thinks is top priority and then get that in writing so i know what to focus on. btw, i’ve also learned that everyone will say: “this is urgent! i need it asap!!” when really it’s not so i’ve learned to 1) take note of these cry-wolfers and ignore their requests until i can get to it 2) judge based on my knowledge whether it’s truly important or not. if it’s not, i say so and ask them why they need it asap or in X hours. usually they can’t come up with a good reason so i ignore it.

  3. Steph S C-O February 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm #

    ugh. people are so rude.
    I got angry reading your post. I feel for you. now back to me….I miss my email buddy….now back to you….I think you are more important and they should all know that. 🙂

    sorry for the less-than-informative post, but, since you can’t email, I thought I’d comment….
    I’m on horse.


  4. Kat February 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    wait… what do mean you can’t email?

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