What can I do to seem like I care about my job during my last month?
May 14, 2021 4:55 PM   Subscribe

So, I asked a question long ago about what I could do to make the last three months of my job bearable. Well, I'm almost there but I had a situation and I'm finding it very hard to keep pretending like I care about this anymore.

For starters, working at home all day long during the pandemic is pretty terrible. I'm afraid that I'm getting burned out. This concerns me a lot, because I'm leaving for Canada to go to grad school and I don't want to get there completely exhausted. I plan to stop working for this particular startup at the end of June. May is pretty much done. I'm only going to be working three days next week and the week after that is the last one in the month. All I have left to go is June.

To be clear this is a tech startup, but it is terribly managed, and it is falling apart. Their products have all kinds of security holes that simply cannot be patched. They need to tear it apart and start it from scratch. I know that's not something that's usual, but in this case it's necessary. Once again everyone's discussing how to fix it, only for things to end up going nowhere.

It's the same again, a new guy comes in promising the world. My boss, as naive as he thinks they alone can do it, but he's been here two months, and he has shifted towards three different projects already. He's working overtime at incredible hours, he's probably working 24/7 and nothing is really getting done. I know where this is going because I've been in that position within this company as well.

I just don't care about anything at this company anymore. Today, my boss told me he didn't think I was ready to lead a team. My answer was to tell him I really had nothing to say about that. The truth is that I don't care. I don't want the headache of that position at this company. I know what it entails, and I don't really get paid that much or even have any stake whatsoever in this company. I set my limits very clearly about what I'm willing to do and what I'm not. Working overtime to the point of exhaustion and destroying my health is not something I'm going to do for a company that I do not own.

So, what should I do? Just appear somewhat interested? Do whatever? I'm only really staying until July for the money, I don't really don't care much about this anymore.
posted by Tarsonis10 to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One thing that's not clear in this question is what's currently keeping you at the company. How dependent are you on the income?
posted by sagc at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2021

Response by poster: One thing that's not clear in this question is what's currently keeping you at the company. How dependent are you on the income?

Not much really, I'm a month away from being able to claim I have 3 years of experience and I also want the money to go to Canada. I have a sizable boatload, but I want more.

I'm not dependent on the income, and they know that too, my boss was scared that I might quit after today, and he did everything possible to reassure me things would be better, but they won't be. I've heard that story too many times.

I already made it this far, it's just one more month.
posted by Tarsonis10 at 5:03 PM on May 14, 2021

Best answer: Write documentation. You are actively doing something that will promote the company after you leave. It is time well spent. It is not your concern if the company fails to take advantage of the valuable materials that you provide.
posted by SPrintF at 5:14 PM on May 14, 2021 [26 favorites]

OK, I favorited SPrintF, but I've decided I agree strongly enough to make a comment saying so:

Writing docs is under-appreciated, under-resourced, and also a super-important part of being a "good citizen" (so to speak) in a software org. You'll be useful, you may even look a bit heroic, and it can take huuuuuge blocks of time. Great idea IMHO.
posted by aramaic at 5:43 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: All of these things are the company's problems, not your problems:

> it is terribly managed, and it is falling apart
> products have all kinds of security holes that simply cannot be patched
> new guy comes in promising the world [...] He's working overtime at incredible hours
> my boss told me he didn't think I was ready to lead a team

Don't tie yourself in knots thinking about the company's problems. Not your circus, not your monkeys.

Sounds like you've set your boundaries, e.g. not working unpaid overtime or whatnot. Maintain those boundaries. Be civil and professional.

> working at home all day long during the pandemic is pretty terrible. I'm afraid that I'm getting burned out

Maybe that's an angle to focus on. What can you do in your life outside of work to make life more enjoyable for the next month or two? Can you take a 1 hour lunch every work day to e.g. go for a jog outside or walk in the sunshine and listen to podcasts/birds? Can you set up more opportunities to catch up & talk things through with friends (alas, probably through some layer of video call)?
posted by are-coral-made at 5:52 PM on May 14, 2021 [8 favorites]

Sorry if I missed it, but did you give notice at this place? It kind of sounds like you haven't, but are you worried that you will give away the fact that you are leaving by appearing to be disinterested in the future and be fired (and thus lose out on that one month of income?)

(I really do not think that there is a real difference or benefit between claiming 2 years 11 months and 3 years, btw.)
posted by sm1tten at 5:54 PM on May 14, 2021 [6 favorites]

In this situation in my past I have leaned on spy novel audiobooks by John le Carré.

The mental anguish of agents fitting in their roles seems... appropriate.
posted by nickggully at 6:02 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I once read an entire book online at work, chapter by chapter, keeping some work-like program (maybe excel) open on so I could appear to be working if someone came by. I liked the job fine, it was just a slow period and my bosses were just tired of me asking if there was anything I could do.

I mean... could you leave? You sound like you're in a tiny prison, and you could just leave and go outside and not have to deal with any of these people or their politics or their ineptitude and this place and these people could be tiny dots in your rearview mirror.
posted by Vatnesine at 6:34 PM on May 14, 2021

Best answer: What is your question? How do I suck it up for one more month for the money? Are you actually producing work? If they have not fired you, then just keep doing what you are doing until June is over or until they catch on that you don't give a shit and are just taking their money. That is what sucking it up for the money is. Grin and bear it. I do not understand this magical 3 year mark on your resume. June 2018 to May 2021 will look and sound the same as 3 years to anyone. Unless you get a 3 year retention bonus or vest some options that sound worthless by your description of the direction the company is heading in, 2 years and 11 months is 3 years for resume purposes.

The weight will be off your shoulders when you give then notice. If it were me, When I can back from Memorial Day break, I would give then 4 weeks notice and start the conversation with them about how you can best help the company transition to, essentially, life without you. Writing documentation as per above sounds like a good way to help you both. Find a project that you know will never work and work on it. No one will be expecting anything great. They will leave you alone to, what they think is banging your head against the wall while you know you are just biding your time.

If they fire you immediately after giving them notice, collect unemployment until you go to grad school. You have made it this far. You're working from home. Just slow your work pace to just above the getting fired line.
posted by AugustWest at 6:50 PM on May 14, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Write documentation.

yup. I've done this twice in the past. Didn't just give me something worthwhile to do. It also left them with a good impression of me. In fact one of those institutions (a radio station) still uses a lot of the non-tech stuff I wrote in the manual they give all new members.
posted by philip-random at 6:54 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'm a month away from being able to claim I have 3 years of experience

In other words, you have three years of experience.

If you give notice now, I promise nobody will ever say "wait, you said you had three years of experience but you actually only have 154 weeks."
posted by babelfish at 8:16 PM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Have you given notice? You do assigned tasks and don't do overtime. Are you asking for psychological tricks? Remind yourself of the nearing exit, if you're working from home and you don't have enough work to fill your hours, read, cook exercise whatever. It's nearly over, this is the home stretch! Good luck with grad school!!
posted by whatdoyouthink? at 9:47 PM on May 14, 2021

The standard psychological trick I use to cope with being in the thick of a difficult slog: whenever I notice that I've stopped paying attention to the task at hand in order to perseverate on internal stories about how dreadful everything is and what a terrible time I'm having with it, I deliberately switch to imagining, in as much detail as possible, myself having just completed whatever the task is.

This pretty reliably yields misery relief within a minute or two and the relief generally lasts at least an hour.
posted by flabdablet at 11:11 PM on May 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

As far as circumstances go, they seem well in your favour. It sounds like what’s in conflict is your thoughts about how you will spend your final days.

Your question is ‘what can I do to seem like I care...?’ But you actually do care! You want to be there for the last month. You want the money. You want to technically fill out those remaining days to make it an even three years.

All those things are perfectly possible.

It sounds like the situation and what your boss said about leadership (are these the same thing?) either angered and or upset you. Resulting in the thought, “I don’t care about this anymore.” Which is fine, but it may not be accurate. You have to care at least a bit for these circumstances to garner these feelings (anger, upset) and the rejection response. And that’s ok.

Perhaps the real question is, how can I care less? How can I remain present yet detached?

And guess what, the circumstances are totally in your favour! Everything everyone said above, put your month’s notice in and be a minimally viable employee, letting go of anything that’s not your immediate responsibility and taking all the increasing extra time back for yourself. If you focus on that, you’ll seem like you care the exact right amount, for you and them.

Enjoy grad school! This is the best time to get the most excited about it.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:19 AM on May 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh man, you are so close to freedom! Can you focus on the mounting excitement of getting to leave, instead of feeling dread at the remaining days? Are there things you can do to feel super excited about your move to Canada and/or your new grad program? Even, like, googling pictures of the campus helps you shift your focus from "I hate my life right now" to "only X weeks until I get to do THIS new thing!"

I love the anticipation of a countdown. Can you hang a calendar on the wall and mark off the days as they roll by?

I might also shift your mindset a little bit to, "What are they gonna do, FIRE ME?" I mean, don't embezzle money from the company or anything, but as long as you're doing the bare minimum and no one calls out out for not completing required tasks, can you take your foot off the gas pedal and just coast until the end of June? When I'm having a hard time focusing or feeling motivated, I've found it helpful to write down 5 concrete goals for the day, and as long as I get those done and respond to any urgent emails, I can let myself off the hook. You might break up your days by running an errand at 10 am to beat the crowds, cooking a complicated lunch, taking a cat nap on the couch if tired, etc. This might help with your burnout issue, too.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 4:40 PM on May 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

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