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The Undue Focus on Work About Work

The Undue Focus on Work About Work

It's been a rough year, so you'll have to forgive the potential hyperbole, but this might be my favorite quote of 2020:

In truth the problem with work is not the tools or the physical location, but the obsession with leadership , an undue focus on work about work, an overbearing hierarchy and the lack of true digitisation of the enterprise.

For some context, I'll re-share this Twitter poll from a few weeks ago:

I really enjoy working for my current employer, but since we went remote in March, the number of video meetings had exploded. My schedule was so jam-packed at the end of August that I had about 6 hours of time to do my actual work every week. And that number was before the "can I throw something on your schedule?" meetings that cropped up most days throughout the week.

This focus on "work about work" really clicks with me because I found myself largely talking about the things that I theoretically would be working on. Instead, I felt like a scientist who's suddenly on TV all the time: I was talking a lot about work, but I didn't have time to actually do much work anymore. I was being paid more to talk about work than to do work.

Since then, I've been brutal with cutting meetings from my schedule. Daily stand ups: now I go 2x a week. "Office hours" meetings: I'm down to 1, maybe 2. The "can I throw something on your calendar?" requests: all get a "can you Slack me the question?" response, and it turns out every single one has worked great in a short message, no 30-60 minute meeting required.

The difference in my productivty, and more importantly to me, my sanity, has been huge and my only regret is not doing this sooner.

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