Frustrated Tones and Reflections

A few days ago, an applicant for one of the Customer Education roles commented about our blog.

It’s not uncommon. Often people wanna be seen as having done their research. And I do really appreciate any feedback we get when it comes to our posts.

But this time it threw me.

Because it transpired the blog posts were having the opposite effect to what we intended.

The comment was around the tone of our blog. And the applicant remarked how they felt our tone suggested we were flying dangerously close to sun. Implying that, from our blog posts, it sounded like we were all ready to burnout at any minute.

It was kind of upsetting.

I’ve always prided myself on having an astute sense of work-life balance. It’s one of the things that I love about working remotely. And one of the things that sits at the heart of the HelpDocs culture.

So when the applicant suggested we seemed to be flirting with burnout I didn’t know how to take it.

At first I was offended as is often the case. That kinda knee-jerk reaction is something I’ve tried to repair and instead opt for a more diplomatic and measured reaction.

I let it sit for a while. Percolating, I guess.

It slowly dawned on me that I couldn’t be angry at the applicant. I couldn’t judge them for judging us. Because at the end of the day they were only interpreting the posts I’ve been writing.

The fault, therefore, is mine!

Reflecting on my Recent Tone

On reflection, I can understand where the applicant was coming from.

A lot of our most recent posts have lamented about the hiring process. I’ve poured my heart out about how we’ve struggled with workloads in the face of growth. I’ve moaned about how something’s had to fall to the wayside just so I can tackle my day-to-day tasks.

But I should clarify, I don’t believe this is edging toward burnout.

If anything, this is identifying the potential for burnout and taking active steps to make sure it’s not gonna happen. I’d kinda consider that the opposite of burnout. 🤷‍♂️

That’s not to say it’s not tough. Or that my tone hasn’t suggested burnout might be imminent. I guess they must have if my words have been interpreted that way.

I’m just not sure the tone reflected the reality.

I woke up this morning at 4:45am and hit the gym at 6am. I was back home by 7am, in the shower by 7:30am, and dressed by 8:30am—because showers are the fucking bomb! 🚿

After a few minutes getting dressed and ready for the day, I took my position for a twenty minute meditation before starting my day.

As I write this, I’m sat on my sofa. The aroma of incense still lingers after the morning meditation and I’m making the most of the it.

It’s slowly combining with the onions, garlic, roasted squash, and potatoes that I’ve par-cooked and thrown into the slow cooker ready for dinner this evening.

A few tickets came in. Intercom’s irritating twinkle told me so. They stopped me for a little while. Maybe added an hour onto my workday. But I’m back at it now. Writing the post I really wanna get drafted today.

In a couple hours—or however long it takes me to get through a draft of this post—I’m planning on taking Woody, my way-too-energetic-spaniel, for a walk in the fields opposite my house.

We’ll stroll. I’ll think about whatever I think about on my walks. Woody will beg for a ball. Eventually I’ll give in and a quick game of “just give me the god damn ball Woody” will ensue.

After maybe an hour of walking I’ll be back home. My feet up. A cup of coffee in one hand. My laptop poised on my lap while I work on something else for a few hours, and keep on top of tickets.

I could stay there until as late as 10pm. It depends on my energy levels and what I decide I want to finish off today. But more often than not I’ve shut things off by 8:30pm - 9pm ⏰

This is not an extraordinary day. And it’s not intended to be some kind of running commentary.

My point is simply to illustrate that my day is pretty balanced.

Sure, I might edge more toward work. But it’s not from a stressful “this needs doing” point of view. It’s simply a case of there being work to do, and me having the energy to do it.

Have I missed out on my day? Not really.

I’ve done as much with my day as anyone working a standard 9-5. I’ve just done it before, between, and at the end of the day.

Facing The Frustrating Reality

The truth is I’m not burnt out. I’m frustrated! 😬

I have weeks where I do a shit-load of work. But equally I have weeks where very little gets done.

And that’s ok.

I mean it’s not ok. Not really! 🙈

It’s crap when you have a week where you’ve spent hours at a computer and have little-to-nothing to show for it. But the point is, as a team we accept that mental blocks can often get in the way of progress.

Frustration, not burnout, is what gets in the way.

Being frustrated with hiring. Frustrated with the lack of progress I’m able to make with projects as a result of not hiring. Frustrated by the way we’re treated as a team of three, who’re still expected to support a growing customer base serving millions of requests a week. A result of not hiring, no doubt!

And frustrated by the lack of applications! Mental blocks and triaging CVs! Right now, that could be the title of my autobiography 🙈

I’m mindful of the positive and upbeat culture we’ve created at HelpDocs. And of the way we are perceived when it comes to work-life balance, and doing things differently in order to promote a more healthy appraoch to work.

Everything boils back to something we’ve no control over. And perhaps that has meant my tone has been a little off over the past few blog posts.

It really sucks. But the truth is it’s probably gonna happen now and again. Particularly while we continue with our struggle to hire.

Because it’s a truer reflection of us. And while we value the upbeat and default positive culture we’re creating, we value truth and transparency more. 🤷‍♂️