I have a confession about my new job: I’m not “busy”.
I’m one of seven people who do my job and the other six veterans are allegedly “busy”. They run to and fro, I hear them talking about the horrible days they’re having and how fried their brains are. And here I sit, writing a blog post.
So why aren’t I busy?
Well, I’m new, and thus have a relatively small portfolio of projects to manage compared to my colleagues. Also, my projects are relatively simple as I work to learn the job and its processes. So, there’s a part of me that’s OK with all this down time, knowing that as the months and years progress, more responsibility will come my way.
But there’s also a part of me that’s beginning to realize that my colleagues and I may have differing opinions on what “busy” really means. And if that’s the case, I have the sinking feeling that this job may never offer the level of work that I need to feel successful. Sure, I may have a crazy week here or there, but for the most part, my job is very cyclical, and once that crazy month or two passes, there won’t be anything to do. For anyone.*
My last job was “busy”. I once sat on a team that planned and executed a job expo for 10,000 people in 28 days. I was part of a team that launched a national brand in a local market, and was tasked with launching that brand at a local event with only about a month of planning time. I’ve planned and executed press conferences within a week. I constantly had to shift priorities and directions because that was how my organization worked. One week, we cared about X, the next week, we were all about Y. And then there were the weeks when each colleague felt their thing should be a priority, and no two things were alike. Those were fun weeks.
Yet, I bitched about that job. A lot. I bitched about the lack of planning on the part of my colleagues. I bitched when I couldn’t do something well because I had too many other things going on. I bitched about the crazed work hours I kept.
So, an astute reader might ask why the hell I’m bitching about this new job. I’m able to accomplish everything I need to every day, all activities of the organization are planned out with little deviation, and my work hours are sane. I’m even able to do personal things during the work day, like pay bills or write a blog, leaving even more time after 5 p.m. for other personal pursuits.
That astute reader makes a good point that I’m struggling to answer. I’m not bitching about the new job, because when there is work to do, I enjoy doing it. I’m just shocked to learn that I miss the pace of my old job. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss the internal politics and I don’t miss the unrealistic demands I had to attempt to meet day in and day out. But I miss having work to do and I miss being able to influence the work I was in charge of.
When I took this job, I made a career change and moved to a strictly project management function. So, the majority of my time is spent waiting for my client to send me information that I can then act on, whereas my old job entailed not only managing the project, but often creating the information for it as well. The “hurry up and wait” syndrome is a downside I knew I’d be taking on when I planted myself firmly in project management land, and it was the one thing I was genuinely concerned about. But, I hoped I’d be wrong and that there’d be more to it than prodding clients and watching deadlines.
So far, there’s not.
Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe things will really pick up and I’ll find myself happily complaining about how fried I am like my colleagues. But what if I don’t? Will I be able to embrace this new definition of “busy”?
*That’s an exaggeration. There will always be something to do, but I doubt it will require a 40 hour work week.