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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Unsettling Unproductivity

So I've mentioned I've been stuck working from home for the past few days on account of the weather.  All I'm working on now is a training course that I'm technically not even enrolled in at the moment but will enroll in when I can.  It takes up a tremendous amount of time so I am trying to work my way through it and do the assignments now while we're not very busy so that when the time comes around that I can enroll and of course we're suddenly insanely busy I'll have most everything done and ready to submit.

I am interested in the subject matter and I enjoy the work (mostly MATLAB coding, something I definitely want to get better at), I just can't stay on target.  I close all my twenty other open tabs to focus on the video lecture and somehow find new ones to open within minutes.  I keep losing focus and glancing around, looking for something, anything, else to do.

I just find it incredibly hard to stay motivated when what I'm working on doesn't have an urgent need to be done ASAP.  I like deadlines, I like pressure; this is so open ended and I guess I figure since it doesn't really need to be done why do I need to do it right now?

I always thought that life would be so much more rewarding after graduating from college.  I would be doing work and getting fulfillment from that without the stress of weekends spent at the library studying for tests I was sure I'd never pass and weeknights up late with a cup of coffee and "Quantum Mechanics for Dummies" (I swear, this exists), desperately trying to make sense of a textbook that seemed to be written in a different language.

skating penguins that should be helping me focus
the penguins around my desk aren't helping keep me motivated

Well, once again, I was wrong.  I miss that feeling of doing practice problems and getting in a full day of studying like you couldn't even imagine.  There were so many more short term rewards in school; getting back a midterm that I did awesome on would be closely followed by receiving a quiz grade and then spending a day doing problems and comparing them to the answers, getting an adrenaline rush when my answer turned out to be right.

With work, these rewards never come.  No one grades your work, no one gives you feedback to give you that adrenaline rush, and even when you do complete something, the excitement is short-lived because it's never exaaaactly what your client wanted.  Projects take years, not semesters, and by the time their over you're so burnt out from never knowing what the right answer is that you don't even want to start something else.

So you sit there and you do training, busy work that has a purpose but not necessarily a reason.  And you try and get your brain to focus, you pray that today will be the day you can actually get shit done the whole time, but then, again, it's not.  You chug coffee hoping that the caffeine will give you that familiar desire to do work that got you out of bed and into the library at 7:30 AM when your peers had just gone to bed a few hours before, but it doesn't come.

Stress is what gets me out of bed.  Stress is what keeps me going, it keeps me focused with my eye on the prize and it keeps me interested and engaged in what I'm doing.  And now there's none.  And I'm fucking bored and unmotivated and I'm hating myself for it everyday.

So how do I get out of the rut before I lose all the excitement I had when I started this job, when I felt like I was doing interesting things that really mattered?  My higher up bosses have spoken to me about their feelings that I have potential in the business to maybe do something more than what I'm doing now (after all, I "have a different skill set") but what do I do in the meantime?  I can't keep going on everyday like this, bored and with nothing to do and sitting at my desk all day just to come home and sit some more.  I need something to keep me going, and as much as I know it could be studying for the GRE or any of those things, I know that it needs to be related to my actual current job because otherwise my lack of motivation is going to start being outwardly visible.  That's something I can't have happen, something I don't want to happen.  I've been working from home for a week now though, so maybe this notion is too little too late.

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