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 boss, a lawyer, wanted to know if there was any unbilled time for a client who had several different files with him. I checked our accounting software, and brought him statements of unbilled accounts from only those files with unbilled time.

He didn't believe that these were the only files. He requested that I generate reports for each file.

After more than 5 hours, I generated the more than 180 reports, all two pages long, printed them and brought them to my boss, showing no unbilled time.

He didn't even look at them, just told me to shred them.

Then he asks: Why are you behind on ....?

Sigh. Nice guy. No idea how to manage my time properly. I console myself knowing that I get paid either way, but at night, I'm sure I can hear the trees screaming.
Mar 26, 2009
I am a software engineer ... my next task is to write some release notes for a set of changes that I made to some code I wrote that is part of a prototype that is not going forward. The release notes are to be sent to a firm in Korea that is going to ignore them and will be yanking the trial of the prototype out at some point. But, has you have pointed out in the past ... it pays the same.
Mar 26, 2009
Working in sales and regardless of my performance, each day usually starts with the following:

A one hour 'meeting' with the sales manager who tries various combinations of wordplay, mis-interpretation, threats, blackmail and coercion to get me to promise a higher level of sales than is actually coming in.

The day concludes with a one hour 'meeting' with the sales manager who berates me for various combinations of lying, unethical behavior, incompetence, idiocy, and unemployment threats for not meeting the sales goals I 'committed' to earlier in the day.

Logic would dictate that elimination of sales managers would reduce overhead and increase my sales performance by 33%. 15 years and counting as one of the top reps in the company. 14 different 'managers' over the same time period
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I'm a teacher.

The next thing I will do is teach.

Its not useless.
Mar 26, 2009
My official title is Software Engineer, my real job title is code monkey.

1) My project that I have been working on for nearly 3 years almost completely by myself (from the software side of things) is 10 days away from deployment. This means that I am doing nothing of any importance unless I get a call from the testers about an issue that needs to addressed immediately. Basically I'm making a list of things that will need to be fixed after deployment.
2) It's a waste of time now since I'm not actually able to fix any of these issues until after the deployment, and I will be doing it for the next week and a half.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I'm a librarian.

I'm about to start opening up subscription renewal notices to look up their related account information. My boss will never look at these. He will, in fact, look up the information himself if and when a publication actually stops showing up.

Not only is what I'm doing 100% a waste of time, but if anyone paid attention, it would save a ton of work (phone calls, angry emails, etc) in the long run.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
It's surprising how many here seem to be unhappy in their jobs knowing that what they do is pointless--especially when so many are loosing their jobs everyday. I don't particularly care for what I do anymore...the mojo is gone, but I also can't make a mortgage and feed my family doing what I REALLY woud like to do either.

BUT, what I do ISN'T pointless. I'm in the position to save my company alot of cash in our IT dept over the coming years. We're a strong company (everyone reading this has a number of our products in their closets) that gets stronger thru good mgt and dedicated commitment of its resources. We don't have pointy-hairs or other types of weasles around here...they can't last long...

That said...I like pencils and work with them often... I guess sharpening them would be pointless since they'll end up breaking again. And regarding the "carpenter..." analogy. Most of the nails would only have a purpose if the carpenter knew how to use them.
Mar 26, 2009
1) My next WORK activity is to do some cold calling for our marketing campaign.
2) In the best economic conditions I can expect a success rate of 3% or less. In today's conditions it is close to zero. In fact it may have a negative impact, because it is going to tick off at leaset 97% of the poeple I am pestering.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I'm about to write a letter of reference for a colleague who's looking for a job.

If she gets the job, she'll have a new prestigious title to put on her business card, but no change whatsoever in the work she does day to day.
Mar 26, 2009
Next thing: Deploy an incremental build of software to test environment.
Useless because: Will need to do it again in 4 hours.
Mar 26, 2009
1. Attend a 3 hour meeting with a vendor
2. They want to sell us something we won't pay for. What we really need from them is a list of fields they need us ot pass with the current process, which could have been done with a spreadsheet by e-mail.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
My next unit of work is to fill out my annual review.
Why this is usless: For the last 3 years, I've just copied the previous year's review. No body ever looks at it or talks to me about it and no one in my area is going to get a raise anyway. I can't remember the last time anyone I know got a raise - even in good times. And no, my co-workers and I are not just a bunch of slugs who don't deserve raises.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
The next thing i have to do today is send a link to our online work request form to a potential client. it's a waste becase nobody has any budget left for the fiscal year so it's not like anyone can afford our services anyway.
Mar 26, 2009
I'm the senior DBA for a major website (bigger than dilbert.com) - when I tell people who I work for they usually say "oh, that's so cool! I use you all the time!" or "do you know so-and-so?" (on-air personality from our cable channel).

it pays well & I get to work w/some really smart people but at the end of the day the truth is we're really just in the pop-up & spam business...
Mar 26, 2009
In the next hour or so, I need to move two pallets of tv guide style magazines inside my office so they can be labeled for mailing tomorrow. We just completed a survey and learned half the people who get them are annoyed at the extra junk mail.

Additionally, I have to move them all by hand because no one had the forethought to build a double door wide enough for a pallet to get through anywhere in this building.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I plan on reviewing scan results for a system. This will make no difference because the system is a military system and will be deployed regardless. But I get a check at the taxpayers expense!
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I work at a game company that is over 3 months behind on paychecks. Pretty much anything I do is pointless.
Mar 26, 2009
Software Developer.

(1) My "Next" work is to integrate a piece of code I just finished writing that essentially is a copy of a paper form for Timecard tracking. We have implemented an electronic Timecard where I work, but some employees are afraid of computers, so we have an edict to replicate the paper Timecard. What I am doing with the integration is adding a button to the electronic Timecard so that supervisors of fearful employees can print the paper versions. The employees will then fill these out and turn them in to someone who will eventually input the data into the electronic version of the Timecard program.
(2) It's a waste of time because the electronic version already exists, works, and every employee has a valid login as well as access to a computer.

I hate stupid people.
Mar 26, 2009
I'm a self-employed programmer, and I specialize in maintenance programming for application software written for an antique database.
1. My next task is to change the depreciation expense from an average to actual on a report used to determine sales commissions.
2. The purpose of my task is to get more accurate profitability estimates, which may result in lower and higher commissions, based on the age of the unit being sold. It should result in commissions being more closely tied to profitability. I think this is a good thing, but it would be hard to prove that this is the actual result.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 26, 2009
I'm the chair of fine arts at a middle school. This quarter our big project we did collaborative student composition projects in music, dance and art.

The next thing I will do is create a numerical analysis of the end result showing that students learned.

It's useless because the proof is in the performance.

Numerical analyseis of art is as useful as artistic interpretation of formulas.
(Wait, that was a post here last week.)
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