Monday, August 1, 2011


I got word from my boss late last week, in the form of a team-wide communication, that everyone needs to be more mindful of submitting status reports, weekly bulletized lists that inform the government lead of what everyone is working on and/or had accomplished, copied to my contracting boss as well. I’m sure that of all the people who got that message, some have better than others about staying on top of their status reports all along, but I admit I am probably among the worst offenders.

I do keep track of the actual work-related work I do every day, but that’s mostly because every so often someone slightly above me in the contracting chain of command gets tasked with putting together a quarterly deliverables report or somesuch, and I hate that panicky feeling of not being able to remember what (if anything) I got done and/or have to show for myself going back three months (or, more likely, going back five months and covering one 90 day period that ended 50-some days ago). But breaking down my job performance week by week is a trickier thing. Some weeks I’m really busy, and other weeks not so much. It all balances out in the long run but any given set of five days can be fairly slim pickings for bragging points.

And of course now I am overthinking myself in circles, because although I had pretty much blown off status reports for quite a long time (I seriously don’t think I made an official one since before I went on paternity leave) I hadn’t heard boo about it until last week. So clearly my government boss did not think this was a big deal. I like to think that’s because of the mystique I’ve managed to cultivate: I work with computer systems, and nobody else here knows exactly what that means, so they're just as happy with me not submitting status reports because those kinds of reports wouldn't mean much to them anyway. Do I risk pulling back the curtain and describing what I do, which might create an opportunity for someone to say “Um, I’m not terribly tech-proficient but that doesn’t sound like 40 hours worth of work …” (Because it’s not.) Or do I leave the curtain where it is and make sure no one ever thinks to look behind it because I give them the giant floating-flaming head of Oz to gaze upon?

In all seriousness, I’m not going to opt for the latter because that would boil down to “lying to the government” and I have no desire to try my luck there and pay the price at any point down the road. In all likelihood, my slacking off at work will just have to take the hit and I’ll probably resurrect some old projects that are boring busywork but simultaneously low-hanging fruit for accomplishment metrics. So it goes!

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