Accountability and Teamwork

Have you ever fallen so far out of the habit of doing something it becomes almost impossible to get back into the swing of things?

That’s what happened to me over the past 6 weeks. 🙈

Hiring took the place of everything. And by everything I mean everything!

In hindsight, my ego was my downfall. Which is funny ‘cause I’m very much not an ego-driven person. 🤷‍♂️

But I was too proud and too ambitious. I thought I could do all my existing work and all the hiring. Tackle the tickets; write the blog posts; create education resources; host live sessions and workshops; set up and write customer interviews; write and publish product updates posts; publish newsletters; and still have time to chat with the rest of the HelpDocs team.

I felt that asking for help—or more accurately, accepting the help that was being freely offered—was tantamount to admitting failure.

It was ego. Plain and simple. 😔

Fact is, when you’re combing through over a thousand applications and interviewing a bunch of people you’ve gotta take that help. Or something’s gonna give.

And some thing(s) did! 😬

The first work-related thing to suffer were these blog posts. I mean don’t get me wrong, I was still ticking the box. But were they the deep, thoughtful, awe-inspiring blog posts you’ve never seen come to expect from me? Probably not. 🤔

Ok fine. Definitely not 🙄

But the second and infinitely more annoying thing to go was my work life balance. And maybe the worst part is I didn’t really notice until it was too late.

Work > Life Imbalance

Balance doesn’t always come when I shut my laptop.

Sure once the aluminium shell closes physical work stops. But I’m often still thinking. Still processing. Worrying. Stressing about the work that’s currently hidden away inside the smooth, space grey capsule.

Recently I began to hear phantom notification sounds which is a fun, but also frustrating as hell experience. Was that another ticket or am I hearing things? 👂

The thing is I’ve always been pretty good at managing my work and life. At intertwining the two to a point where the line between them is non-existent.

We spend the majority of our lives at work. So finding a way to balance the two in such a way that they compliment each other is the goal.

And I’ve achieved it. 💪

My life is a fucking dream most of the time. I’m able to take breaks when I need them, not in a randomly assigned 15 minute slot. I eat when I’m hungry. Sleep when I’m tired.

I’m guided by my workload.

I guess the trouble is when you don’t manage that workload effectively everything goes to shit.

There were fewer breaks. I began dropping things on both sides.

I’d take a brief dinner break and an obligatory 30 minutes “catching up” when my wife returned home from work.

But even in those moments I’d find myself distracted. Thinking. Wondering how many new applications I had to triage. How many “Dear Sir” and “Hey Guys” would I have to no hire on the basis their language alone showed a poor culture match.

Another no-hire. And another. Just a couple more emails. Better check Twitter. Another no-hire.

The laptop started keeping itself open. Ungodly hours lit by the murky peach tint of Apple’s Night Shift mode.

In a desperate attempt to keep on top of the steady flow of applications I dropped the things that brought balance. Eager to get through the never ending stream. Fighting against a constant tide. No sooner had I “no hired” one when three more flowed through.

No-hire. Check my emails. Check the tickets. Touch up a few things on a blog post.

Week after week scored by the sound of clicking keyboard keys, exasperated sighs, and the “cluckcluckcluck” of Slack notifications.

Before I knew it my well-balanced life habits had been replaced with something far less so. And my productivity hit the rocks as a result!

I’d begun dropping gym sessions and the gentle hour of strolling in the countryside with the dog. I’d been spending less time with my family, and I was starting to feel it.

But as they say hindsight is 20:20.

It’s all very well being able to see your mistakes. But doing something about them is a much tougher nut to crack.

Just Change Shit Up!

If you’ve ever done a quick Google search for ways to get yourself out of a rut you’ve likely run into this idea that “all you need is a plan”.

You need a strategy. A clear path to get from where you are right now to where you wanna be. 🧐

Well, planning has never been one of my fondest activities.

Any time I’ve had to plan something, it’s just resulted in more plans. Then more. And so on.

Spreadsheet after spreadsheet. Doc after doc. Pontification to make the smallest incidental change.

It’s infuriating. 😩

Before you know it you’ve created a hundred notes, docs, memos, and strategies all planning how to do a thing. All saying more or less the same thing. And all when actually you could’ve just tried it a bunch of times.

My work life imbalance had become a habit. No amount of planing was gonna cut it here.

I realised the root of it all was that I’d stopped keeping myself accountable for my workload, my health, or my time. Even while writing this back I’ve been projecting my failures to manage time properly on some other aspect.

It’s my workloads fault. It was my ego.

The truth is sometimes you just gotta take a step back and say

Oh shit, I’m fucking this up! This is 100% on me. 🤦‍♂️

That’s where I ended up last week. And I knew something had to change. And no amount of worrying about it was gonna change things for me.

Just Fucking Doing it

While many might lean toward planning and strategy I’ve realised for me the only real way to do something is to just do it.

Yeah, you can plan if you want. But there’s no sense in making a bit deal out of it.

Why spend time lamenting over how to do something?

Why worry about whether the first thing you’ll try will fail?

So long as it’s not a life or death scenario, what difference does it make?

I should note there’s a world of difference between not having a plan and not having a goal.

To get out of my rut I had to make myself accountable again. I had to have a personal goal. To know what I wanted or in this case, what I didn’t want.

I didn’t want to feel like shit. Like I was failing every day. Like I’d lost control.

I wanted to find balance again. In everything.

It started with heading back to the gym.

Oh my back hurts. Oh I’m feeling a bit tired. Oh I didn’t sleep so well.

No, fuck that. I jumped back in to the 6am workout sessions regardless of how I was feeling about it. Despite the worries that I’d struggle to get back into my fitness routine.

And it felt great.

That led to a great day. Getting blog posts written and ready to publish, a newsletter written. Tackling tickets while triaging and interviewing candidates.

And yes, accepting the support offered by the HelpDocs team who took on some of the support tickets too. 🤗

Now I’m back on the road to productivity. I’m managing my workload more effectively and making a point of being more accepting of help when it’s offered.

Because the best part of being part of a team is exactly that. Being a team.