I think I'm why teachers give busywork...

Ugh, I hate admitting this, but I need to break this habit.

I have a really horrible attention span and have trouble working for 8 hours in a row. This comes from my youth - when I was in elementary school, I’d hurry to get all my work done and then the teacher would let me go on the computers and do something fun because my marks were high. Fast forward to high school, where I realized that I could put 2 hours into a project and get a 90, but if I put in another 2 hours to polish it, I could get a 95. But then I would weigh the options and see that having the those extra two hours to myself was more important than a few extra marks when I already had a good mark. I’m not a perfectionist at all.

Of course, now that I’m in the working world this doesn’t apply at all. You’re supposed to strive for that 100 percent all the time. But I just can’t hold my attention that long. Giving me an active Internet connection at work is a bad thing, I tend to stray.

How can I start giving a damn about that extra little bit and get rid of the ‘I got the job done satisfactorily, now I can go play!’ attitude? I really don’t want to learn this the hard way…I know someone will come in here and say I’m acting like a little entitled baby, and maybe I am, but I see that and I want to stop it.

I’m the same way (witness me answering this during work hours). I solve it by being task oriented. For me at least, this job doesn’t need 100% effort all the time. They need 100% effort on the task that I’m doing. So I’ll complete a task, then drift off to something pretty for a while, then come back and complete another task. I don’t try and force myself to do nothing but work for the time I’m here, rather I try and work within my own little limitations. I finish this task, I get to play for 30 to 45 minutes.

Depends on your work situation. I’m a blue collar worker (sort of - something between that and white collar, but more blue). I work in a “team” (to use the jargon). I’m no blowhard, but I’m easily the best worker in the team. Not because I’m morally superior, but because I take a different attitude to the others - I make no distinction between working hard or slacking off as far as a potential “win” to me goes. I base it on the idea that it’s not so much that I want to slack off but that I want to be at home in my socks with a beer, and given that I’m at work, I may as well work hard and let the time fly by that much faster.

Most of my supervisors are good guys who recognise me as their “A” worker, and don’t ask questions - if I fuck off from the working floor without telling them, I’ve probably got reason. I am given a lot of slack - but I work for it.

There are a few supervisors who insist on the old style “presenteeism”. I watch out for those.

But by and large, I think you’ll find a lot of bosses will let you have slack days if you do well on other days. Most - but not all - of mine do. Those few that don’t end up getting less productivity out of me overall.

I think I have a bit of guilt in this job. We have a small team and I can handle my stuff fine and on time and my bosses seem to have no trouble with my work, but there’s someone who works his arse off to do his job and has to put in extra hours and is still behind, because there’s so much work for him to do, but I can’t help him because I’m not good at his job and don’t know as much as him. I feel guilty I slack a bit while he’s still working so much.

kushiel, I’ve recognized that tendency in myself. Given a pile of homework to do (as I have right now), and a fast internet connection (as I also have), I’ve learned to manage as follows:

  1. Set a clear time by which to start work, giving plenty of time to do all of it and have time left over at the end. If I’m not sure how long something will take, allow considerably more time at the end.
  2. If I’m doing something really unpalatable, plan for breaks during the worktime, and allow treats for getting it done. For example, after finishing a project for Latin next week, I might go get some sushi.
  3. Know when you’re in the groove, and taking a break would only make it harder for you to finish, and when you’re just plodding along, and a mental respite would give you a little refreshment.

And now, to do some Greek and Latin translation, since I’ve finished this post.

Not to be an ass about it, but so? I’m not sure how old you are, or how long you’ve been working, but trust me there are always going to be people that just can’t get their stuff done. Sometimes it’s not their fault, they really are give too much to do. Sometimes they’re working harder, not smarter (#1 cause in my experience), and sometimes they’re just not that good at what they do, so it takes them longer. Some people also have a martyr complex…I work with a guy like that. We’re on the same team, and have almost the same skill set. But he’s the senior guy, so people come to him with a lot of “make work” type of stuff. I’ve offered several times to take some of it off of his plate, and he doesn’t pass it along. shrug, fine…suffer in silence then buddy.

Bottom line is that if you offer to help and can do the job, then the guy is going to start giving you everything that he can’t handle. You’re paid to do your job, not his. If the situation is such that you can influence the powers that be into hiring someone to help him out because he really does have too much to do, then giving him a hand until they can get all the HR stuff worked out is ok. But unless you know he’s going to either get perminant help, or get better at doing his job, you’re setting yourself up for a situation in which you’re always behind, and he’s going to have extra time to post online.

I had a huge problem with this in college. Papers that would normally take me a few hours to write would end up taking infinitely longer just for the fact that I had access to fast internet. Even if I knew there wouldn’t be anything new for me to check on, I would surf a whole bunch of pages just because I could. I have horrible attention span issues.

Luckily, my job isn’t anywhere near a computer so it won’t affect my work habits. Now I just need to curb my imagination and stop letting my mind wander all the time.

It’s important to set limits on slacking off, but you have to realize that no one at work works constantly. I’ve had jobs where the more I worked the more work they’d give me, so I put a stop to any high levels of efficiency and just did what they told me to do at the get-go.

Though I agree with TheLoadedDog on this one. Generally speaking, if you do the work your bos(ses) give you efficiently and well, no one really cares if they catch you fuckin around a bit. I do my job and I do it damn well, as I have with any of my previous positions of employement, so if I manager comes along and gives me shit I can feel every justification for blowing him off (though occasionally you get the “why aren’t you doing the X thing I told you to do?” “I finished it” “then why aren’t you doing Y?!” “I finished it” “then… why aren’t you looking busy?!” “I’m on break?”)