Friday, April 16, 2021

The Slough Of Despond, Work Edition

 I have been struggling a bit at work lately.

No, not from having too much do.  By not feeling that I have enough to do.

I have had one solid project which was bequeathed to me when the previous holder left, which (ironically) I had been working on since I started here almost 5 years ago.  It was something that was rush, rush, rush - right up to the point that they decided to cancel it.  Completely cancel it.

I have been on almost other projects as well, things that I started on but either ended up not being moved forward or passed on to others - my standing joke is that if a project needs to be killed, state you are going to give it to me.  Guaranteed with a month, it will be called off.

I still have a cycle of meetings I sit in, but really only as an observer or a backup.  My actual role will be very little in 90% of them.  For the others, I take minutes and post them.  

But it certainly does not feel like enough.

My main assignment now will be closing out the project I was associated with.

It is fairly unexciting, in case you are wondering.  One starts with a list of open purchase orders for work, and then marches down them, seeing what can be closed.  One co-ordinates with other departments to close down the various aspects of a biopharmaceutical product - stability studies, documents, clinical storage sites, reports.   And for those few purchase orders that will remain open (a few always do), one keeps asking the Subject Matter Experts if things are done yet.

A lot of e-mails.  And frankly, a lot of seemingly empty time.

I feel as if I am the proverbial third wheel of a date: present, not offering a lot of a value unless the date has gone bad (in which case I am the one keeping the conversation going); if the date is going well, the the only role the third wheel plays is an interruption (as in "This is going well.  How soon can you leave?").  And in a very real way, feeling like I am struggling to do enough work to justify my job.

I hate it.  I just hate feeling this way.

It is not just as easy as talking to your boss (I can read some of your minds from here).  Projects, especially if they are in flight, are fragile things:  just turning one over to someone else can be the death of it (I have seen it happen).  And I certainly do not want to be the reason something fails.

That said, there is a certain lack of importance that I feel as I sit down to man the computer every day.  Frankly, I feel a bit bored.  And not performing at my peak.

Yes, I know that part of my value at this point is the memories that I continue to hold in my head about certain decisions or the way certain things are done.  But functioning as a memory bank and managing the closeout of a project are not very engaging and certainly do not make me feel like I am growing in my career.

Of course, I am also mindful of my first rule:  "Never draw attention to yourself".  And in that, taking notes and and sending e-mails and remembering things make for a convenient way to pass the workday.


  1. I haven't been in your situation but I know many that have. What worries me is that during the first economic downturn in a company, they are the first ones walking out the door with boxes in their hands. My goal has always been to make myself indispensable within a company, either with knowledge of special software or skills. It still doesn't work as I have been let go twice in my career. Both I chalk up to just being a random resource number on a spread sheet by those making the cuts and not to any rational thinking.

    1. Ed - Even now, being indispensable is not what it use to be. Dat systems back up knowledge; videos provide instruction, etc. etc. And to some extent (as you mention) no matter how indispensable your management may find you, you are only a number on the Finance sheet.

      To be completely frank with you, I feel I am on borrowed time.

    2. Then TB, if you feel that you are on "borrowed time" (and may very well be) now is the time to make preparations for that eventuality. I suspect that you have been doing so, and know what type of things to do, based on your past writings.

  2. Revolt. Let them pay you to write and meet minimum work requirements. Just a thought but why reward and endeavour which only has monetary rewards? Just a thought!

    1. I am, in small ways EGB. I am certainly making sure I have more time for such things as workouts and gardening. I struggle to break out of the "time" mode of work versus completing the work I need to do (and then doing other things). I have to remind myself I am paid for results, not hours served.


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