How My Working “Vacation” Made My Job Exciting Again
Rodney, when do you think you need to be in Shreveport?
It wasn’t even clear if I was even going to go. We were on an impossible deadline and I really needed to be both in Louisiana and in Salt Lake City at the same time. The person who was my backup wasn’t available to cover for me if anything came up. The stress was pretty high.
Finally, we decided I’d be gone for 8 days; fly out on a Monday, fly back the following Tuesday. The trip was full of long hours and a million and one issues that I needed to deal with. On Wednesday night, I got to sleep at 4:30am only to get up at 6:30 to prepare for a client meeting.
Even after we passed our audit on Thursday, we still had numerous things that had to be followed up on. Saturday and Sunday were spent working only 4-5 hours each. Monday was the start of our training class. Now, people were using our systems and we found some spots that were not quite done. Even Tuesday morning, before my flight, I was making trips to pick up computer hardware and working on fixing even more issues. All the while, I had to keep up on email and deal with any outages.
It was exhausting.
It was just what I needed.
I realized about half way through the trip that while I was tired and I missed my family, I was having a good time. No, I was having a great time. I didn’t see much of Shreveport. We did go out to eat a bunch, but mostly we were in our call center the entire time.
But, what made the trip satisfying was a combination of two very important situations. First, I was so busy that I didn’t have time to think what I should do next. It’s said if you want something done, ask someone who is already busy. I dealt with whatever was most pressing at the time. I had an oil can and my world was filled with squeaky wheels. It helps me focus when I know what needs to happen next.
And I was the one making the decisions. I didn’t have to worry about someone else second guessing my priorities. I’ve helped launch four call centers now. I have a good idea of what needs to be done and when. Even if someone had wanted to second guess me, by the time they objected, I would be done and moving on to the next crisis. It was very clarifying to be able to work like that.
Secondly, I was accomplishing things. My job is a combination of maintenance and project management. Maintenance work means that when you get to the end of the day, your “work area” looks like it did at the beginning. It’s one of the drawbacks of computer work. Your desk looks the same at the end of the day as it did at the beginning .
But, last week, we were building stuff. We started with a room that was concrete and unpainted walls. We ended with a training room that had not only carpet and paint, but tables, monitors, computers, mice, keyboards, headsets and a bunch of other pieces. There is something very satisfying to get to the end of a long day and say, “I helped build that!”
As I flew home on Tuesday, I realized that I had a new appreciation for my job. I was excited to get back to the office on Wednesday. My tasks would be largely the same, now that this phase of our project is done, but a week away had rejuvenated me, almost like a vacation would.
Not every business trip gets me back to being excited, but this one was just what I needed.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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