There has been a recurring message in some of the movies I've watched recently and it has me wondering if this is something I've subconsciously picked up on as a result of recent distractions at the day job. Over the past two weeks I've caught myself wondering whether the tasks being performed, while important, were the most important things that needed to be done. With schools across the globe shutting down on account of the COVID-19 issue, thousands of my colleagues are struggling to make the transition from working in a classroom to working in front of a camera. The tools are sub-optimal. The training was rushed. The hardware consistency has devolved to an unchecked BYOD1 mess. People are doing the best they can with what they have, but the tools! The tools ….
So I've been working on some of those issues in an effort to reduce some of the friction teachers are having when delivering their lessons over a video call. Based on the feedback, there's still a long way to go. However, despite the urgency that exists for this matter, there are other things of similar priority that have been sitting to the side for weeks while teams coordinate and confirm requirements for what is arguably one of the next "big" things for the company. Even without specific marching orders, there is nothing stopping me from jumping on some of the low-hanging fruit that needs to be done before the big tasks begin.
Would this be the better place to put my energy? On "the next thing" rather than "the current thing"? It's because of questions like this that we have managers who we can ask for guidance and clarity. Perhaps I should have done so.
Instead a full five days of work were used to resolve some issue that were preventing teachers across Japan and in some parts of Europe from delivering their classes online effectively and efficiently. In my mind, this was the higher priority; get teachers teaching and students practicing. The next thing officially kicks off its tight-deadline schedule this coming Wednesday, after all. Make sure the basic needs of the team are met, then use the rest of the time to fix things.
Sometimes I think this makes me a "poor member of the team" as I'm not seen worrying as much about something as others. Other times I think the lack of anxiety over some things2 is better for the people in the company who might not otherwise get a timely solution.
Bring Your Own Device
I have a lot of anxiety to begin with. I try to minimise taking on more.