Help me not care so much about work?
November 15, 2012 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Help me not care so much about work?

I have a job where my security isn't in jeopardy, I'm well liked and will always get good marks in performance reviews no matter how my projects go. However, I worry about things in my projects, mostly because of what other people are doing (or more accurately, not doing). I'm not the project manager (I even worry about what he's doing/not doing).

I just don't want to care about work that much so I'm not thinking about it all the time (out of work), but I'm not slacking all the time either. How do you strike that balance?
posted by sandmanwv to Work & Money (9 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I think that in order to tackle this worry, you need to figure out what the worry actually is. That is, why are you worried? When an anxious though pops into your head, what are the actual words of it?

You've told us that you're not worried about your performance reviews, collegiality with your coworkers, or losing your job. Are you worried that your work isn't up to snuff, and that the end result won't be any good? Are you worried about getting yelled at or blamed for others' mistakes? Are you worried about missing something important? Are you worried that you're doing too much or too little work compared to your colleagues, and that it won't be fair? Is it just a free-floating bad feeling with no actual words to it?

I think that if you can clarify for yourself what the worry is, you'll be better able to figure out how to deal with it. And if you can clarify it for us, we might be better able to help.
posted by decathecting at 7:31 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

You sound like a happy worker bee, so I'm going to strike what may seem as a sour note, but it will certainly help you to care less.
Remember that you are not the direct beneficiary of your hard work. There is at least one person above you who is taking a cut, salary-wise. Also, The Company does not have your best interests at heart, and never will.
Those thoughts should help you step back into a more neutral zone.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:34 AM on November 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

You don't say anything about your life outside of work, but do you have any personal pursuits that you feel passionate about? Since you seem to have reached a comfortable position at work, perhaps what you're feeling is a restlessness from unfocused energies. Are there any mountains you can be climbing outside of your job?
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 7:53 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I keep a reflective journal - sometimes written, sometimes in my head - about what I could have done better that day/on that project. I'm my biggest critic. It helps to put those feelings of concern into one place where you can look back (though I only rarely do) and look for patterns and things to change, if need be. I don't keep this thing at work, by the way - it's my own personal document.
posted by mdonley at 8:34 AM on November 15, 2012

Do you talk about your job a lot? I find that so much as mentioning my job can get my brain into worry-about-work overdrive, so a few work-related topics are pretty much off limits most of the time.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 8:43 AM on November 15, 2012

I know you say you are well-liked and get good reviews at work personally, but what is the larger culture of your workplace like? If mistakes are made is there a lot of blame-shifting and throwing others under the bus? Lots of arbitrary write-ups and firings? Because you can be doing a great job but if your workplace is toxic that will rub off on you no matter what.

Journaling is good, so is having relationships and hobbies outside of work - if work is your main or only outlet for people to see and things to do, it will consume you.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:51 AM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you care about the project and that's great! A lot of people don't care, and with that comes the brutal disappointment of grinding and feeling like you don't matter.

I think you should, every time you worry about something or someone, force yourself to look for something about it that is being done/ doing things right. When you only pay attention to what's wrong, that's all you see.

I also think you should try for a promotion, because it doesn't sound like your work is challenging you, and because with your attitude you would be a good candidate -- attention to detail and what people are doing -- and then you would have a new challenge of figuring out how to bring a team project together with a lot of good spirit and without micromanaging.

Other than that, take a class at community college, or for fun (pottery!), or find some new hobbies to take up your time and attention.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2012

I would say that most important thing is not to identify with your company so much.

You are not your job, and your job is not the company. You don't have control of the world, or even your little part of it.

Do your job well. Continue to be friendly and pleasant to co-workers. Don't offer unsolicited opinions and never get too comfortable. Don't work for the company, work for yourself.

I can't stress this enough.

Your boss may like you and appreciate your work, but if the mandate comes down from HQ, your department can disappear faster than a fart in a whirlwind and it won't matter how much work you did or how great you did it. You'll be out on the street with everyone else.

Everything works if you let it, and as long as your work is unimpeachable, don't pay too much attention to what others are doing.

Don't take on responsibility that isn't yours. Your manager can handle everyone, and has been doing so for quite some time.

The attitude of "I'm the only one here who's working and doing it right" is rather self-centered and condescending. There's a scale and as long as your co-workers are within the parameters of it, no one will complain. The difference between a 100% perfect job and an 85% good-enough job is 0%.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:02 AM on November 15, 2012 [19 favorites]

Come up with a ritual you can perform, as soon as possible after work, to mark precisely when you make the transition from Work Sandmanwv to Non-Work Sandmanwv. For instance, I have a collection of idiotic T-shirts that I wear under my business-appropriate collared shirts. When I get to my car to go home, the collared shirt comes off and goes in the trunk, and my awesome Calvin-and-Hobbes-as-Han-Solo-and-Chewbacca shirt is revealed, and I am no longer Work Etrigan. Poof. Work is gone.
posted by Etrigan at 9:58 AM on November 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

« Older NYC this weekend, storm impact I should know about...   |   I have no frame of reference here, Donny. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.