Almost everything you do in your personal life is useful, even if it's just relaxing or spending time with your family. But if you have a white collar job, almost everything you do for your so-called work will end up being a waste of time in the long run. Obviously if you are a carpenter, most of your nails serve a good purpose. But white collar jobs are mostly about wasting time, with the hope that sometimes, rarely, something good will happen.

If you have a white collar job, leave a comment telling me two things:
  • (1) What is the next WORK item you expect to do.
  • (2) Tell me why it's probably going to be a waste of time.

Resist the urge to say "Eat a donut" or "read Dilbert comics." Tell me the actual work item and why it probably makes no difference in the long run.

This will either be sad or funny. I'm not sure.

[My blogging software doesn't allow me to do numbered lists that don't look stupid.]

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Mar 26, 2009
My boyfriend is posting this for me because I'm a gov't employee and, apparently, a coward.

My next task today is to go back into our electronic timesheet system and change 48 days' worth of electronic timesheets. I will, line by line/day by day, alter the jobcode I used on my timesheets because I was informed today that I charged too many days to one of the 5 jobcodes I use to divide up my time so that no one jobcode from my department is burdened with the full year's cost of me. Each timesheet, consisting of 10 work days, will have to be edited, saved, emailed to my supervisor for electronic approval, and printed out/signed/filed. Because my supervisor works in a different state than I do, I will then sign my hardcopy version, fax it to him, and wait for him to fax back a version with his signature. I will then paperclip that return-faxed timesheet to the printed timesheet that bears my original, ink signature and place it in a folder until my supervisor makes it back to the office (approx. 6 months from now) and we sit down so he can add his original signature next to my original signature on my original hardcopy, and I can at last put all the original, fully-signed timesheets in the box for HR and shred all the fax copies.

This is a waste of time because....you're not really going to make me say it out loud, are you?
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I have a meeting -or is it "I'll have a meeting?". Never got hold of your english continuous tenses and futures- in the morning with my boys and the sales team to get everyone informed of the new tasks distribution between the remaining headcount after the wednesday layoffs.

It will be longer than neccesary but extremely useful.

It's strange that I've always thought the same: white collar jobs are pointless. Somehow the rest of the commenters -and me- have missed the point altogether. We're all telling how our procedures are a waste of time in a company workflow, but no one is acknolewdging the world wouldn't be a tad better if their jobs just didn't exist -which is my feeling about your post and my job, the trendy mags publishing-. At the same time, I realize most of my worktime is quite productive. Maybe you just got me on an exceptional time. ask me next time i've got a 2 hour waste with the sales guy over his new "idea".

Sidenote: Why do I keep getting only "get rid of your disgusting belly" ads on Dilbert.com. I'm actually quite fit even for an european. I thought this adthingies could almost read our mind.
Mar 26, 2009
My doctor just told me that my blood test showed I have a bacterial infection in my blood. In medical school, they taught him that, if untreated, this is fatal in less than an hour. My blood test was done 3 months ago. (He was not allowed to tell me the test results at the time because of some health care law that requires informing patients of test results to be done by the primary care physician, and the PCP dropped the ball.)

He said that he's seen an increasing number of patients with persistent blood infections, and that nobody understands why they aren't dead, and that it's a disgrace that nobody has yet sequenced the DNA of these microorganisms to find out what they are.

Coincidentally, I work for one of the genomic research centers that has part of the government grant to sequence the DNA of microorganisms found in the human body.

So I'm going to talk to the program's manager and try to convince her to get a sample and sequence it, and possibly save my life, because it needs to be done and we have the grant that it's supposed to be done under.

And she's very likely going to tell me that they can't because blood is not one of the environmental niches listed in the project, so they wouldn't be able to get a charge code for it; and because I'm not listed in the contract as a sample provider.
Mar 26, 2009
I work in a call center, and will be monitoring calls, while providing feedback to agents to improve their customer service skills.

A good number of these agents won't be here in 2 weeks, due to a project failing and some agents being cut.
Mar 26, 2009
My next work item is to virtualize an old Novell server, so we don't have to worry about hardware failing. We have to keep it because A) we have some old software that is tied to the Novell license number, and B) because we have some old software that only networks over Novell's IPX.

Since very few people use these programs any more, yeah, it's basically worthless. But not to me, because this "accomplishment" will figure in my raise.
Mar 26, 2009
It's the end of the day (which is why I thought it was okay to check blogs) and the next thing I'm doing is filling out my timecard.

It's useless in large part because a) it doesn't affect my income at all, b) basically, nobody cares except the auditors, and c) the definition of "work time" is so pointless my head may explode.

Official example: Standing in the shower, figuring out how to build the hardware that will restore the optical quality of Hubble: Not work. Paging through Cosmo while sitting on hold for tech support: Work. I think you've done a comic that my colleague swears he inspired, when he related it to you at a DECUS meeting you keynoted.

Perhaps more interesting is what I just finished doing. I just updated my staffing plan to identify resources for some testing we are planning. This is very important testing, so identifying just the right person to do it, and making sure that person is trained and ready is also important.

The reason it's pointless: This is for work in March of 2011. I don't know if my tester will still be working here in 2011. Heck, I don't know if *I* will be working here in 2011. And the test dates will probably change - by six months to a year - anyway.

Mar 26, 2009
End of the day - time to enter my timesheet.

Pointless because:
(a) I'm salaried, and so would get paid the same whether I work 40, 80 or zero hours (at least, in theory. The 80 = 40 is proven true. I've never had the courage to put down less than 40, even if it was true.)
(b) No one compares the hours that I charge to a project with the project's budget. We only know if we are making a profit by comparing accounts receivable to accounts payable, company-wide.
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I work for a consulting engineering firm designing electrical systems in buildings.

1) My next hour (and the following weeks), I have to circuit a bunch of electrical receptacles to each other in AutoCAD. This "work" consists of drawing arcs between the symbols of each receptacle.

2) It is useless because there is already software called Revit made by the same company as AutoCAD (Autodesk) that handles this process automatically. We have this software installed on our computers. We began this project in AutoCAD, so we have no choice but to continue with the ancient methods. It is also useless because the electrical contractor will end up circuiting most of this stuff how he wants anyway.

The facility we are designing is government-owned, so I am getting paid by the taxpayers indirectly to draw these arcs. And read this blog.
Mar 26, 2009
Well, I am 16 years old and i am learning a certain niche in real estate which will help alot of people and generate over $100,000 this year, and probably 10x that next year.

After that I have a plan to start several companies.
Then I am going to provide all of Africa with clean drinking water.

If you don't want to believe me, you don't have to. All I can say is, have a big dream and stick to it.
Mar 26, 2009
next thing: finish testing a software fix for a specific customer on a sunsetted product.

useless because: the product will no longer be offered soon, the customer is preparing to upgrade to a better package, and the functionality added will probably never be called upon between now and then. it took so long to make it through the herd of buffalo... I mean, management... and then the project managers, and dev... that it's now so late the customer will never get to use it.

and schwehmdog- that sounds like my day, too. stupid incremental builds.
Mar 26, 2009
Finish up coding an installer for an important software product.

Working in a tiny company with sane people has its benefits.
Mar 26, 2009
I am scanning life-critical medical systems (Windows-based) for viruses. Either I'll find one and be able to eradicate it, or I won't find any and the customer and I will be reassured. Life would be much better if viruses don't exist, but since they do, keeping the machines that hospitals count on for patient care clear of them seems like anything but a waste of time.
Mar 26, 2009
Next work item: Enhance and extend a highly-specialised internal developer framework used only by our team.

Why it's pointless: The entire team has been laid off as of April 30.
Mar 26, 2009
I work in a large hospital in the UK. We have to introduce new software that the doctors hate, the consultants hate and delays the patients from going home. Our manager likes the software. Duuuuuh!
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
My next task is to debug some features in my software project that no one will ever use. Then I need to move some database processes from the file server to the database server, because it is a "best practice". I've learned over the years that "best practice" generally translates to "waste of time".
Mar 26, 2009
Education biz: I have to scan a textbook, and check the resulting word doc for typos (the scans are inevitably garbled) so that the administration can print their own version. Identical word-for-word, just their own. They're not happy with the textbook coming from a third party because all textbooks must now come from the school's own bookstore.

The class? Sex and Morality. I quit a different white collar job so I could do this, hoping to contribute something philosophical to society.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
well, let's see, i'm reading your blog at work- so you win!
i can't reveal what i do, but let's just say the taxpayers wouldn't be happy.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
My next task: Write formulas in Excel to extract data from an existing business document so that it can be loaded into a new program ... to print the business document in the exact same format. Yah, I don't get it either.
Mar 26, 2009
I work as an account rep for an emplyee owned e-commerce company that sells lighting supplies b-to-b all. We have been in business for 10 years, and 2008 was our most profitable year ever.
My next work activity is going to be to make "warm" calls and emails to existing customers who have not ordered anything in a while. 95% of my efforts will be wasted. The other 5% will earn me enough money to keep myself, my wife, and my four children fed, clothed, and housed. I have absolutely NO IDEA ahead of time which efforts will be productive and which will be wasted. If I knew how to seperate the two out a head of time, I would write a book about it and retire.
Mar 26, 2009
I'm being told to write a new Market Requirements Document for one of the products I manage. I know right now that this project will never get past the MRD, but apparently, I MUST write it so that I can help show that my team is actually trying.

I feel a layoff coming soon.
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