fatAs many of you can attest the mindless paperwork that accounts for the majority of the work we do as civil servants is a must in order to prove we worked and deliver the transparency required of people working in the public trust. Not sure about the rest of you but I have found this ceaseless deluge of paper flowing like some river (not in California) is cause for what I call butt and gut syndrome.

The human being, be it a hunter or a gatherer, wasn’t designed to be caged to a cubicle or poised in the “ready, set, croak” position which most often accompanies a desk. I take great pride in being referred to as the octopus in my organization. They call me this because I seem to get my tentacles into everything and rarely leave well enough alone.

In four years we have had three major office adjustments, two consolidations, and one remodel. I try to do my paperwork in the mornings before staff arrives and in the evenings and weekends when they are not present. It makes for a 60 to 80 hour work week but also allows me to be engaged in their workloads and available to help them when they need it.

My wife often says I make it look easy to be so on top of everything. Her comments have made me wonder how the job looks if I wasn’t so invested in the outcome.

As an experiment I decided to go a month only doing the work that crossed my desk and not engaging in the rest of the operation. Not only did I discover I had become lethargic and bored, but I gained 10 pounds!

When I went back to my usual and customary routine I found my people were doing the same as I was. The producers were producing but the “look out the boss is coming” folks stopped looking out. Our clock-watchers went back to watching the clock and all looked like they were joining me in the battle of the bulge.

So the paperwork went back to mornings, the office was a little less occupied, and the octopus has again resumed. Maybe time spent engaged in our people is better spent than time engulfed in our paperwork. I know they appreciate being able to have my attention and morale (as well as waistline) always improves when your manager taps you on the shoulder and say good job.

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