Work. Fewer incessant meetings. At least this past week. I plan to email my manager(s) next week about not attending certain meetings to focus on being more productive in other areas. Excessive meetings are the bane of work. They offer the illusion of productivity. They are the enemy of focus. And yet we can’t say no. We accept every invite. People work after-hours when work should be done. But they can’t. Because they’re tied to meetings.
Even though everyone was bleary-eyed limp-tailed bright-voiced on camera, I dialed in these past few days. Turned my camera off, muted myself. Oh, she must be having a bad hair day! they chuckle. Yes, I am, I chuckle back. I just cannot not conform to appease others socially, not when it leads to hours of headaches and simmering irritation.
Quick Lu-pro tips to myself, shhh. Mild passive-aggression may be detected:
- Hide your calendar. You can decline or accept invites based on your willingness, not on others gauging your calendar and deciding you are available.
- Turn your status to ‘Busy’ so that people must ask you first if you are available. And if they don’t, and they call whenever, you are ‘Busy.’
- If you have nothing to contribute to the meeting, don’t go.
- If you have nothing to contribute to the meeting, but you are fine with attending, keep your video and audio off.
- On days you do not want your camera on, don’t turn it on. Nobody can pry the sticker off your camera. Literally. You’re all remote. They can laugh and probe, and you can chuckle right back.
- Decline sudden phone calls and meetings, if need be. Ping afterwards to say you’re unavailable.
- Only send thoughtful text-responses at the very end of the day. People have a tendency to not use their words to read and write and just call all willy-nilly. If I wanted a call, I would have called.
- The moment the clock hits 5 PM, turn the status to ‘Offline.’ Send the last email and promptly log off.
- You’re a 40 hour/week gal. Stick to it. Remember what your mentor said:
A job is where you get paid a certain amount of money to do a certain number of tasks for a certain organization.
I’ve carved out boundaries in regards to time. I’ve tested and poked around in leading and delegating. Delegating means less work for me. Teamwork means more time for us, overall.
But if the work ever ended, we would be out of jobs. The constant nature of projects, work and deadlines is paradoxical. Constancy binds us to the work, causes us grief, and yet, without the incessant work, we wouldn’t have work at all. It is, at once, obvious, and not.
This sobering realization, as I embark on this first month and a half of work, helps me take a step back. I’m happy to do what I can, within reason. I’m happy to push out good work. I’m happy to collaborate, so long as it isn’t mindless. And on a more personal level, work gives me something to do – a sense of accomplishment. On a professional level, it offers learning and development.
But I’m probably not going to change myself at a drop of a hat because of work. I’m probably not going to put in more than the allocated 40 hours because I just have to get it all done. I’m probably not going to marry myself to the organization, emotionally or mentally, because at the end of the day, I’m just headcount. On a fundamental level, on a personality level, I prefer to keep to myself, find one or two people I like.
I prefer writing over talking, so stop calling. I brainstorm on my own, not in a staticky room of 10 other people, so expect a page of written feedback, not spoken. I focus on tasks, not people. I could be more balanced, and I’m aware of that, but when I’m seeing red from all the unnecessary meetings, that’s when I reflect on ways to set boundaries.
Regardless of where I am, or who I work for, I am who I am. And there are things about myself that, at this point, I’m not willing to change. I’m not going to like team-building. I’m not going to gab my opinions in front of twenty people. I’m not going to pick up my phone to answer all the questions that could have been an email. I’m so introverted it hurts. It does.
People will look at you all funny for being introverted, but really, it’s okay to stand your ground. You do you. Even if it’s in your turtle shell, even if it’s in your corner, even if it’s in the quiet declined room of yours that’s not echoing with video calls.