I’m obsessed. “Stop checking that damn phone,” is the advice I get from my wife on off days. Each hour I get an automatic email with a sales update, and sometimes I stare at my phone for a minute waiting for the email to pop up. I check that phone several times each minute, sometimes even when the new email indicator isn’t even flashing.
I’ve said “yes” to every extra project that has come my way. My days off are filled with conference calls. The adult contemporary easy listening Muzak songs that play incessantly in the background at work now play incessantly in my head during my days off. My jaw is clenched, I nibble at at own lips and fingers. How else can I move the needle today?
And then there’s the dreams. Some seem real, like I’m addressing an issue I will actually address the next day, or I’m thinking through real work problems in my sleep. Some are out there, like I’m in a big meeting, but my clothes are missing. I check my emails the instant I wake up – did I miss something while I was sleeping? Did someone wake up and start working before me?
The weeks are melting away, passing faster and faster. I put my head down and sprint for a while, and before I look up another week has gone by. I’m so hyper task-focused that I’m losing touch with the news and pop culture. I haven’t watched a Yankee game, don’t know who won the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and couldn’t tell you who my favorite football team the Browns picked up in the draft.
My obsession has spread to some. One of my directs found her husband yelling at her – she was spending too much time at work and too much of her day off on remote access. Am I creating monsters? I worry other directs may not be able to keep up with my pace for long. Are my standards and expectations becoming too high?
If I don’t do it, someone else might. The only way to get ahead as a middle manager is to put in CEO leveleffort, I tell myself. Of course, I have been toldhow this will end. I will wake up tomorrow and I will be eighty. Will I ever be satisfied with what I got in return for this obsession?