Some people are wired to care too much at work. They’re “Type A” people, the type that often get things done and keep their workplaces afloat at, it seems, tremendous personal cost.
They don’t have the option to care less; it’s not in their DNA. Too bad, because they should, The Guardian’s Lauren Bravo writes today in a thought-provoking column.
She says she envies what she calls the Johnny That’ll-Dos and Susan Shrugs-a-lots, people who just don’t care that much about work.
“While muting our devices, streamlining our social lives and shaking off the haters have fast become new ambitions for the 21st century, can we also shrug off our once-steely work ethic and say ‘pfft … that’s good enough’?” she writes.
Dr Jessamy advises: “Rather than caring about everything, choose what’s most important and let go of the pressure on the things that don’t matter to you so much.” And so for the past week I have tried to let go of a list that includes: sounding pleasant in emails; sounding clever in meetings; how many retweets I get; whether I offer to make people tea enough; whether subeditors hate me; whether I should be trying to write a book, or at least trying to read one; whether I write too little about serious issues that matter and too much about custard and 90s pop culture. But everyone’s list will be different.
Knight advocates ducking out of professional life’s more pointless rituals, like conference calls. “I have never been on a conference call where something actually got decided or accomplished,” she says. So during the last year or so of her corporate life, she has simply said she can’t make it and will catch up with the people on the call later. She hasn’t missed anything important and has gained hours of productivity.
“If you can free up your mental clutter from the less important things, you’re bound to have more time and energy for the kinds of accomplishments and relationships that lead to greater success,” says Knight.“But I’ve stopped caring quite so much about what other people perceive as success anyway.”
She’s giving it a go, but the chances are she’ll go back to caring too much. For many people, it’s simply not a choice; it’s who they are.
Discussion point: How much is “too much” at your workplace?
(h/t: Vince Tuss)