Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quickly and efficiently

My greatest asset is also my fiercest adversary. I am impatient.

For some, impatience means getting frustrated easily. I guess that's true of me too. But that's not the problem I'm talking about here. The fact that I'm impatient is first and foremost a good thing. It makes me ultra-vigilant about getting work done quickly and efficiently. I'm able to complete a task that takes most people a couple of hours in less than 30 minutes. And all because I can't stand to work on a single task for much longer than that. Maybe that's why I type over 100 words per minute and stop reading books that take me more than a minute per page to read (I hate this about myself).

But the absolute worst thing about being impatient and getting work done quickly - besides the fact that it means everyone within earshot of your cubicle or laptop or library computer station mentions how you type so fast - is that it gives people expectations. Just because you get work done quickly does not mean you will be done with work. In fact, it ensures the exact opposite.

This has become a problem for me more than once. At every job or internship I have had, I've found myself getting an assignment and finishing it about twice as fast as a normal human would. Then, instead of getting to reap the rewards of being so efficient by taking a few minutes off, I'm handed a new project that will take even longer than the first was supposed to.

But I can't help myself.

The feeling of getting work done is like a drug. Actually, no, bad analogy. Because, unlike a drug, I don't actually want more of the feeling. I'd rather have the feeling of not needing to get any work done than experience tacking on assignment after assignment.

Unfortunately, that's not how the world works.

At my internship today, I had one project that took up the entire morning and early afternoon. Sifting through wardrobe from a photoshoot for the new CBS drama Elementary, I managed to - for once - take my time at a task and do it jut as efficiently without losing my mind.

But as soon as I was done, I was given a menial task that despite being mindless (and thus pleasant for the archival assistant in me who enjoys going through stacks of papers) and lengthy, took me only about 20 minutes to finish up. The person who had given me the assignment had allotted as much time as I needed. "You can take the rest of the week if you need to," she said.

When I was done with the work, my supervisor walked into the room and the person who had given me the assignment went on for a few minutes about how fast a worker I was. To which he replied sarcastically, "She never sleeps. After this she goes to an evening job. Then she finishes up with a midnight shift."

I laughed, but in my heart I felt kind of disappointed in myself for warranting this kind of comment. Not because it was insulting, but because it described something about me that I've never been quite proud of.

I may be diligent and hardworking, but it's really all a symptom of intense laziness. Even the activities I enjoy the most become chores after a long time. I can't sit still for longer than a couple of hours, which means the work I do is contingent on whether I can finish it before I go insane.

I wonder if many other people have this problem.

It's odd to think that your greatest virtue - in my case the adherence to accuracy (not taking into account this blog, which I am not spell or grammar checking anymore due to time constraints) - can also be connected to the thing you most hate about yourself - a love for idleness that warrants impatience.

For me, at least, this is an issue constantly worth tackling. I search for situations that make me feel less antsy. I read a book on a park bench instead of in my room (where I have internet access). I finish projects quickly, but then give myself a break before turning them in so that I don't overwork myself.

Maybe I'm not doing this the right way, though. Because instead of actually addressing the problem, I'm just cheating it by altering the situation rather than the issue itself.

Sadly, I think I've already fallen into the "wow, that girl works fast" hole at my internship. And it's only day two.

I guess we'll see how the rest of the summer works out, but using my devotion to this blog as a prime example, I have a feeling this is a worthless cause. I'm much too involved with simple projects that I can crank out quickly and efficiently. Quickly and efficiently. That's my problem.

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