Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Please Let Me Work

An amazing thing happened at work today: I sat in my cubicle for eight hours, working quietly on technical problems, with minimal interruptions. At the end of the day, I felt pretty good.

This mind-blowing experience helped me understand exactly what it is that has been making me so miserable over the past few months. I am a software developer, and I want to develop software. That's my talent. It's what I enjoy doing. It's what makes me feel like a valuable contributor to my employer and to the world as a whole. It's what gives me pride in myself. I don't get to do it much any more. That's what makes me sad.

It's not simply a matter of being "promoted" in higher-level less-hands-on positions. In theory, as a technical lead I am supposed to be making technical decisions and staying in touch with technical work. Instead, I spend most of my time in meetings or answering e-mail. My project has been stuck in idle for about six months while the higher-ups decide what the next step is, so there is no technical work to do. I've really just been twiddling my thumbs, fixing a little bug here and there. I'd be just as productive if I only went into the office about two hours per week. I'm doing everything I can to disengage from this frozen project, but unfortunately I can't get away until we finish the current stage, and with no progress being made, that's not going to happen for a while.

So, what can I do to get back to doing more "real work" more often? Well, I've asked my boss for new assignments, but he still wants to give me a rest. He can't understand why I am so angry and depressed about the fact that nobody is giving me work to do. He thinks he's doing me a favor by keeping me away from the busy people. But he's not. I feel best when I have lots to do, and when I am working with other people who have lots to do, and when I think the world is going to come to an end without Kris Johnson there to keep it all going.

I know I'm a workaholic and a prima donna, and I suspect that I overrate my skills and contributions. I don't care if I delude myself. Practicing my craft makes me happy, and I think it can be beneficial to others as well, if they will just let me do it.

If there's really nothing for me to do, I'd be glad to take a vacation or a leave of absence. But if I have to go into the office, I really want to work.

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