This evening I pushed myself to finish something that has been on my plate for far too many days. I procrastinated in a very self-defeating manner on this project, engaging in what a shrink might call enabling behavior: I was preventing myself from leaving work at the office and creating a serene space for myself at home.
This doesn’t mean I will never work from home again; that would be unreasonable. There will be the few occasions when the demands of a particular day outstrip the hours available in the office, and there will be the days when I have dental work done and am too sore and grumpy to be around other humans for any length of time, and there will be those rotten nights when the telephone rings at 2 am-ish and I will be one of the team assembling to address a Production issue. There will be evenings when I might choose to do a bit of coding for fun, and there will be the times when I realize I ought to send an email to someone or set myself a calendar reminder so an important task is not neglected. These are all fine and legitimate reasons for a bit of working from home.
What is not fine and legitimate is taking on critical path work. My excuse was a manager who was on vacation. Instead of telling Upstairs that the project could not be delivered due to the vacation planned, approved and partially paid for before this project was assigned to this manager (meaning, no way in hell would I allow her to be bullied into canceling vacation just for a silly project), I valiantly (translation: foolishly) decided that I could complete the work.
I am perfectly capable of this type of coding work. It is straightforward and clean. It required the type of analysis I truly enjoy. There were some modifications too required to the test plan, and I am a good enough writer to translate technical requirements into non-technical terms. All of this work is within my area of experience, and most of it is enjoyable.
The problem is that the project has a deployment target date, rapidly approaching. My three teams have 5 other grand-scale projects with similar target dates. In the queue we have about 70 other projects, and half are classified as ‘high priority’. I receive emails from my boss and his boss and even sometimes the boss’ boss’ boss asking about status, inquiring about technical feasibility, requesting my teams to accept new work (answer = No), and asking why I haven’t yet responded to the previous email asking for the thing they are bugging me about.
What am I supposed to be doing? I am supposed to be managing these teams, helping the managers lead, removing the obstacles that appear in their way, placating the bosses and whisking the troublesome or bitchy employees out of the way so that the work environment is serene enough to stimulate productivity. In my spare time (and I do intend to have spare time at work), I can dabble and experiment and code as much as I please – but not again in this manner.
My new leaf is doing a backflip.