The Rhythm of Work


Recently I received an early Christmas gift; it was a desktop drum set. Do I play the drums? No. Will I ever be able to rock out on them like this? I’m guessing that answer is also a resounding no. However, I love it. It’s just ridiculous enough to make me smile every time I see it. And not only does it bring me joy, it makes my coworkers smile; that might not be true once I start practicing but for now they love it.

Just like their love of my drum set will ebb and flow, there is a rhythm to everything, including my own feelings towards what I do. There have been times when I’m so excited to go to work the next day that I have trouble sleeping; and then there are times when I’m dreading it so much that I have trouble sleeping. (My poor sleep schedule!) Once I noticed that there is a pattern to the excitement and dread, I decided to investigate what is causing the highs so I can pull myself out of the lows.

I am excited about work when:

  • I am busy. This does not mean I like busy work, just that I like to be busy at work. And there is a difference. I don’t want to be busy collating copies or cleaning up my inbox. I want to be working on projects and coming up with creative solutions to problems with my teammates.
  • I am connected with the agency mission that drives what I do. I applied for my job because of my belief in the good work the agency strives to do. I love helping people and when I feel like I’m doing that, I can put up with added stress, longer hours, and the loathsome busywork. When I start to feel detached, that is a huge red flag that I’m headed for a low point.
  • I don’t have unanswered questions for my supervisor. After talking with some friends from other agencies we realized we are more stressed when our supervisors ignore our questions. Supervisors are busy people. My best strategy to ensure my questions are answered is to compile 4-5 of them and take those to my supervisor. Of course he doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear but at least I know something and can move forward accordingly, even if that’s just a mental move forward.
  • I am making healthy choices. This is true in my life inside and outside of work.

When I’m in the doldrums it is because of more than the opposite of the things listed above but now that I’m on my way to figuring it out, hopefully soon I’ll be able to make my own rhythm at work, kind of like this guy did.

What do you need to feel excited about your work?

Jocelyn is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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David Barton

Jocelyn, I definitely identify with what you’ve posted. I also get motivated by working on a variety of different kinds of tasks and interacting with multiple teams to get work done.