I struggle with my new promotion – both with the politics and expectations. I’ve posted a smidge before on the lack of clarity regarding my allowances vs. responsibilities and the unfortunate clash between the two. What I haven’t written about is the personal expectations.
My boss works very hard. He really does, and I don’t think anyone can deny that. He’s there early in the morning and stays until late at night. He is accustomed to the 12 hour days, but often works longer hours than that. I understand why he does as well, and I respect and (unfortunately sometimes agree) with that choice. I have a deep sense of ownership and responsibility for meeting deadlines. The workflow waxes, the workforce wanes, and the deadlines remain the same. Someone has to help.
I’ve always been the person to do overtime. I hate it. The only thing I hate more than overtime is the nagging feeling of the out-of-control pile of work waiting for me the next morning. I continue to do it to lessen that burden, but there comes a point where no matter how hard Sisyphus pushes the boulder up the hill, you’ve got to know it’s going to roll right back down again. Back to the drawing board.
Sometimes, when you go in and work overtime, you get gold stars and promotions. Isn’t that peachy? Who doesn’t like gold stars?
Sometimes, when you go in and work overtime, it becomes normal. Six months down the line, you’re still doing it, and the boulder keeps getting away from you, and you can count more work hours than sleep in a week. Easily. Worse, when you don’t people think you’ve stopped caring. That you’re slacking off. That the work you used to do is now part of their burden. That’s the place where your sense of urgency and hard work is no longer a virtue, but a crushing expectation.
Are you working any less diligently than before? No, of course not. Just a couple less hours a day.
That’s where I’m at right now.
For health-related reasons, I’ve been advised by my doctor to slow down a bit at work. It’s something I struggle with personally, as I feel guilty for reassigning the work to someone else (retail trained me, and has ruined me). I’ve spoken with my supervisor and co-team lead about my condition, and both understand, and yet… there is a burden to walking in at my normal time and hearing people complain (less subtly than perhaps intended) that work isn’t being done. It feels like a jab at my own commitment and productivity. It stresses me out, feeling like my attempt to return to normalcy is inconvenient. I don’t believe there is any intent to make me feel that way, but I feel it nonetheless.
In addition to all that, of course, there is a heavier workload each day for myself as well as others. It’s truly incredible how an hour uninterrupted can make such a big difference.
There are certainly moments where I wonder if going back to working overtime and skipping all (instead of most) my lunches would be less stressful than the guilt and added work of trying to sleep a little more and (ironically) stress a little less.