Last weekend, I put in somewhere around 12 hours on my sorority alumnae group's website, 8 of those on Sunday alone. Kellen and I woke up, got dressed, went out for brunch, then I came home and for 8 whopping hours and did serious work on a project that is, for all intents and purposes, optional. I didn't look at my gmail every 30 seconds, or my tumblr, or my twitter, or my flickr, or my google reader. Granted, I've been saying I would do this site since July and it needed to get done, but it was still something that I had no hard deadlines on and which no one would absolutely shit bricks if I never did at all.
I was kind of proud of myself. And then I started thinking, "Why am I not like this at work?"
I think approximately 500 times a day during the work week, "I seriously need to stop cycling through my frequently-browsed social networking sites and do the job I'm being paid to do." You know this routine: gmail, tumblr, twitter, flickr, google reader, gmail, tumblr, twitter, flickr, google reader. I seriously do it all freaking day. Every day. Even when I have an assignment due, one that's important, sometimes I still find myself not doing my work and instead flipping through all those other websites...even when I've read all the updates and am just staring at the same old crap I've been staring at for the last 2 hours.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe I've got a serious case of ADHD or internet addiction or something. That's how difficult it is for me to focus. But then a day like Sunday comes along, and I realize that I have a crazy ability to focus...when I'm doing something I actually want to do.
I think my I'll-look-at-everything-on-the-internet-except-what-I'm-supposed-to-be-looking-at habit is borne partly out of the fact that I'm passive aggressively acting out my frustrations with my job on the assignments I'm given by procrastinating, and partly borne out of the fact that I'm just plain bored with the work and could do most of it in my sleep. (Some days, I'm not entirely positive I'm not asleep when I do a lot of this stuff.)
Part of the reason my direct supervisor was so adamant on shifting me to another team is that I was bored out of my skull on my old one, and the quality of my work was suffering as a result. (The degree to which it suffered, by comparison to my coworkers, actually put me about on par with a sizable chunk of the people I work with. But it was a notable departure from my usual omigodsoanalretentivethisallhastobeperfectorillhaveastrokeomg-quality work.) I can't say so far the change has been very beneficial, because in two weeks, I've had maybe 10 hours worth of work to do, and I get incredibly frustrated when I have so much open time that I have to figure out how to occupy. I don't like having to dig up menial busy work to fill the hours, and that's precisely what the suggested applications of my downtime are. I feel like that's just so many wasted hours of my life.
The problem is clearly motivation. And while yes, "This pays the bills, so I'd better do a good job," is sufficient reason to make me do passable work, it's certainly not inspiration to do my best work. I want work that I find exciting and interesting, that I see value in. I want something that makes me want to work, and that I get enough out of that I feel like my time has been well invested and my energies rewarded, if not in terms of praise from my supervisors (however rarely that happens anyhow), then at least in the sense that I did something that has value.
I want to be inspired. I want to be excited by what I'm contributing, and I want to be proud of what I've accomplished. I don't like thinking, "Yeah, I did some things....meh," at the end of the day. Maybe it's a lot to ask to be fulfilled by what you do, but that's precisely what I want.