Author Topic: Caring less at work/putting in 90%  (Read 6943 times)

apoclater

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Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« on: July 04, 2017, 08:01:22 PM »
I'm a young (mid-20s), anxious employee with perfectionist tendencies and an inability to let even my own minor mistakes go.  Being in Customer Success where you're client-facing and you have multiple teams supporting you (and mistakes with multiple teams compound), the role plus my demeanor at work puts my stress levels through the roof.

I thought about leaving my job a few months back, but a close mentor mentioned something interesting: "have you tried caring a little less at work?"  I sort of thought - easy for you to say at 62 and a year away from retirement.

This made me think: What if I put in 80-90%?  That might match a number of other people's 100% effort at work.  Tactically, that might mean not stressing too much over a broken feature that a client is complaining about, pushing back harder on your boss's unreasonable deadline, or not answering those client emails after 6. Take a little less on and be a little less willing to put in extra time.

Has anyone "downshifted" like this at work?  Care to share some stories and strategies, especially anyone in their 20s and 30s? 

RWD

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2017, 08:26:59 PM »
Over the last few years I've managed to stop caring about a lot of little things. I used to want to fix every minor issue that I found (e.g. typos and other non-functional issues) but have decided now if it works and follows our processes there isn't any need for me to worry about it. I still improve things when I'm working on it anyway, but I also keep in mind that at the end of the day how pretty our company's code looks or even whether we meet our deadlines will not affect my life outside work.

Padonak

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2017, 08:31:29 PM »
I feel less anxious about errors, etc, which helps me deliver results quicker. Also, I haven't made any major mistakes since I stopped being a perfectionist. However, I have reached the bare bones level of FI. Without it, I don't know if I could achieve the same level of "caring less".

AZDude

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2017, 09:32:16 PM »
The cynical part of me tells you that eventually the corporate world will wear you down and you will stop caring on your own. I have never found that giving 100% effort ever results in getting ahead at work or improving your own life in any way. Others on this board will tell you similar stories of giving your best effort and having it thrown back at you by your employer.

Most bosses want you to stay in your lane, and I personally have been chastised for doing too much at work earlier in my career. Most deadlines are artificial anyway. Meaning if you don't get it done, nothing bad happens other than your boss bugs you a little bit more.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2017, 05:58:10 AM »
Yes, working late and stressing over things was not a good thing for me either. When I stopped caring so much, set clearer boundaries, and started seeing the big picture more, it made me a much better employee. The Office Space effect I guess :)

MattC

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2017, 06:54:01 AM »
I think as opposed to framing the question as one of giving 100% or giving 90%, I would frame the issue as having no personal boundaries from work demands versus having the boundaries you need to enjoy life.  I think it's Drive by Daniel Pink that talks about worker productivity dropping with more hours worked, such that from 50 hours a week to 55 hours, there is almost no productivity gain.  And beyond 55 hours a week, people just get wiped out and their per-hour productivity drops so much that the increased hours don't make up for it.  So for the sake of argument, lets say giving 100% is giving 55 hours a week, at exactly the hours that are convenient for your employer (on call, checking emails outside work, no vacations etc).  But obviously, most people don't want to do that, and your employer shouldn't expect that of you either.  You're entitled to have boundaries that put you closer to 40 hour weeks typically and let you enjoy life.  Don't answer work emails at home, or don't work more than 20 hours of overtime in a month; something like that.  Set yourself whatever consistent boundaries let you enjoy life (preferably while retaining most of your working productivity) and give 100% within those boundaries.

And as a generality/side note, giving 100% involves networking too.  If you're doing good work AND making connections with co-workers and peers at other companies, that good work will be rewarded.  Good work done in a vacuum is sometimes rewarded; sometimes not. 

Schaefer Light

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2017, 07:37:46 AM »
It's not that I'm lazy.  It's just that I don't care.

sisto

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2017, 10:30:39 AM »
The cynical part of me tells you that eventually the corporate world will wear you down and you will stop caring on your own. I have never found that giving 100% effort ever results in getting ahead at work or improving your own life in any way. Others on this board will tell you similar stories of giving your best effort and having it thrown back at you by your employer.

Most bosses want you to stay in your lane, and I personally have been chastised for doing too much at work earlier in my career. Most deadlines are artificial anyway. Meaning if you don't get it done, nothing bad happens other than your boss bugs you a little bit more.

^This^
I think with age you also realize things more and more. I still care too much, it's one of my biggest flaws, but with age I learned to care less.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2017, 10:59:04 AM »
I went through the exact same thought process! Right down to "aiming for [my] 80%." Because my 80% was already far more than was expected.

That metric in itself helped me very much.
From there, I simply practiced submitting items at 80%, i.e., Submitting a paper if I knew there were three typos, or three sentences that could be improved. Or submitting three days before deadline vs using every last second to improve it. Or not modifying a post/email to remove a typo, nor sending a follow-up email to acknowledge the error.

The practice part was significant. It was basically "exposure therapy", like people would do with clinical OCD, for example.

I still like to do things extremely well, and to submit top-notch work, and that's happy for me, so I continue. It's truly lovely for me to work in projects and environments that value accuracy. But just taking that 20% edge off made all the difference to my joy.

Lady SA

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2017, 11:05:44 AM »
I'm 25, and I definitely put in less than 100% at work. This is ONLY because I work at a very relaxed company and am a high performer, so I can get the same amount of work done in 35 hours as others would take 40. The trick is, I DONT take on extra work for those extra 5 hours.
My company is very informal and ok with working from home once or twice a week. So Friday afternoon rolls around and I have nothing left to do; I answer emails and chats as needed, but otherwise the afternoon is mine to go home early, do some errands, veg on the couch, etc. I check my email once at like 4pm and handle anything pressing that came up but otherwise I leave it alone.

I don't flaunt it. DH and I are still have student loans to pay off for the next 2 years so I don't want to get myself fired or something. If I worked for a more rigid, strict company, I totally wouldn't do this, but my company culture allows it so I take liberties where I can :) And thats not to say I dont provide value to my company, I totally do; I work the same amount as other people but I just happen to get a few extra stress free hours too.

This means my work-life balance is great. Being so relaxed means even when rarely emergencies come up, I approach them much more calmly now. I know that I have an "extra" 5 hours to handle things that come up if necessary. I've also noticed as I've become more confident, my peers/bosses are oddly trusting me more. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but after I've taken a mental step back, I must seem more capable or something lol

MaaS

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2017, 01:11:36 PM »
I'm self-employed so I can't really "slack off" without it impacting my finances, but I've definitely found I care less (in the stress sense) than I used to.  I'm also in my mid-twenties and am not that close to FI (about 37%), but I've noticed my work-related "world view" is becoming continually more relaxed as that percentage grows.  Not necessarily less ambitious.. the "problems" just seem less problematic. 

Car Jack

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2017, 01:42:18 PM »
Think about the lion story.  You know....a lion appears and charges you and your group of co-workers.  Do you have to be the 100% person and first of everyone to avoid being eaten?  No.  You just need to not be last.  Sorta like that at work.  If you go with the flow and do the work at the average of those around you, you're going to survive. 

catccc

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2017, 02:04:30 PM »
At my second job (the first being in public accounting where pressure to have high billable hours is present), I was told half-jokingly by coworkers that I needed to watch my level of efficiency.  I was used to working at 100%, and that had me finishing work too quickly and apparently making my coworkers look bad.  I used to finish all my work and go around asking for more.  Now I do what I'm asked in the time I've been allotted and sometimes a bit more that isn't asked, but I know would be appreciated.  I never ask people to give me more, because they may give me more than I want.

I can tell you I spend considerably less than 90% of my time at work being productive, yet I am still able to get all that is expected of me completed.


RWD

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2017, 02:19:44 PM »
I was told half-jokingly by coworkers that I needed to watch my level of efficiency.

Pace yourself
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRlmkXsoGx0

AnswerIs42

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2017, 02:22:36 PM »
I'm 25, and I definitely put in less than 100% at work. [...] This means my work-life balance is great. Being so relaxed means even when rarely emergencies come up, I approach them much more calmly now. I know that I have an "extra" 5 hours to handle things that come up if necessary. I've also noticed as I've become more confident, my peers/bosses are oddly trusting me more. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but after I've taken a mental step back, I must seem more capable or something lol

It's amazing how often we hear stories like this on the forum. It really does work :)

nexus

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2017, 02:31:19 PM »
I'd say it isn't fair or realistic to give 100% of your ability every hour of every day. Even professional athletes don't perform at 100% in every game/match/event/etc. On any given day you might only have 60-70% of your ability. Lower the bar. Under-promise & over-deliver. Show up on time, do what you can at a reasonable pace, own your mistakes, then unplug and go home to do whatever it is you do to unwind. Repeat five days a week until FI is reached.

joonifloofeefloo

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RWD

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Bicycle_B

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2017, 04:19:04 PM »

I thought about leaving my job a few months back, but a close mentor mentioned something interesting: "have you tried caring a little less at work?" I sort of thought - easy for you to say at 62 and a year away from retirement.

This made me think: What if I put in 80-90%? 

Listen to your mentor.  He or she is telling you something.  Probably everyone you work with thinks you're a hyper perfectionist.  Your "80-90%" will dial you back to, say, ordinary perfectionist.  Definitely use your new target, it's a great idea!

If your company isn't supporting you in perfectly filling the customer's desires/demands/needs/panic, you individually cannot fix the situation.  You must learn triage.  It is best to add calmness to the situation, not pass the customer's panic to others more than your company's culture will accept.  Unhappy customers that you could have handled with ordinary skill are your fault.  Unhappy customers whose situations you cannot fix at your 80% effort are the company's fault, essentially.  If it were otherwise, your mentor would say so. 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 04:21:16 PM by Bicycle_B »

MVal

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2017, 08:51:11 AM »
I have the opposite problem. I don't care enough at work. I'm extremely unmotivated and find it very difficult to muster the energy to do anything. In a way, it's good because I don't put too much pressure on myself, but it's really bad because I just feel guilty constantly for being so lazy.

So, you can go too far the other way, like me, but I think in general, it's a good idea to accept "good enough" from yourself sometimes. Especially when you realize what you do at work really doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

SuperSecretName

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2017, 08:59:26 AM »
oh, for sure.

80% is a good number after you have been there a while and proved yourself.  People will remember their initial impressions of you as a hard worker, and that will stick.

catccc

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2017, 11:44:04 AM »
I was told half-jokingly by coworkers that I needed to watch my level of efficiency.

Pace yourself
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRlmkXsoGx0

lol!  I have seen Big before but it was long before my working days...  Yeah, it was pretty much like that.  Except it was 3 women that all came to my cube at once to alert me that I was making them look bad.

Plina

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2017, 01:44:51 PM »
Everybody makes mistakes. You should take these as learning experiences and not as mistakes.
Just fix the mistakes if necessary and learn from them.

I am and have always been pretty outspoken at work and in private. I also make it clear that it is the person in chargé that has the final say. In many cases I don't necessary care what decision they make as long as they make one.

I realise that with more financial leverage I care less and less what people think. Even if I lost my job I know that I could get a new one and That it would not be a financial disaster if it happened. preferably  in may so I could get a long summervacation.

Trudie

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2017, 05:45:24 PM »
I'd say it isn't fair or realistic to give 100% of your ability every hour of every day. Even professional athletes don't perform at 100% in every game/match/event/etc. On any given day you might only have 60-70% of your ability. Lower the bar. Under-promise & over-deliver. Show up on time, do what you can at a reasonable pace, own your mistakes, then unplug and go home to do whatever it is you do to unwind. Repeat five days a week until FI is reached.

Sound advice.

Yonco

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2017, 07:06:46 PM »
Maybe your extra hard work will lead to more pay, not everyone's compensation is the same. If you are working at 80%, expect 80% the pay and less opportunities in the future. I wouldn't settle and do anything halfassed if it were myself.

stashgrower

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2017, 02:43:15 AM »
Helpful ideas. I was told something like the athlete analogy too. Keep the 100% for when it's needed (deadlines, customer crisis).

jooniFLORisploo, LOL I would struggle with deliberate typos.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #26 on: July 10, 2017, 03:36:44 AM »
In one workplace I noted that I achieved more in 8 hours with lunch and coffee breaks than I did when working 12 hours with no breaks. I've yet to hear of anyone with a different experience.


Draw some limits, both on your time (out of work hours calls and emails, lunch at or away from desk, etc) and your effort (will anyone die if you get this wrong?), and you'll find that your "80% effort" actually achieves more than your previous 100% effort.

Lmoot

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2017, 04:09:01 AM »
 I decided this many years ago. I work in health insurance, and there are enough people in my same position that it is easy to stay afloat in the middle. This is not my chosen career path and I don't want to give all my energy to it. I have no desire to get ahead in this field, and am working on things on the side that I intend to be a part of my long-term future.

 Everyone finds their own niche at work. By me stepping out of the way, allows others to shine who really do want to get ahead with the company. And there are enough people who are willing to take up the perfectionist nitpicking and luckily my company seems to reward them for it.  I made the mistake at a previous company of being incredibly apt at my job, though not with much effort on my part, and I was practically forced into a supervisory type role which made me hate my life the entire time I was in that role. After that I decided moving up was not something I wanted to do in this industry so I have learned to be both competant and average.

BallerOnABudget

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #28 on: July 10, 2017, 07:27:11 AM »
I can relate to SO much of the sentiments expressed on this thread. I found that constantly seeking perfection only increased stress and didn't always lead to reward, acknowledgement, or a proportional increase in satisfaction. I consciously made an effort to establish boundaries and limits, and it helped reduce stress and anxiety quite a bit. I still struggle sometimes with that feeling of "omg, someone will expose me as a fraud any minute now!" since I'm not going 100mph at all times, staying at the office into the evening, etc. But overall, the process of separating my job from my sense of identity has been beneficial, and I'm still viewed quite favorably by my employer.

One caveat I'll add, though, is that now it's difficult to ramp back up to 100% during those busy periods that pop up here and there. It isn't exactly a lightswitch - you (or at least I) can't just turn it on and off at will. As always, YMMV.

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #29 on: July 10, 2017, 10:28:51 AM »
I have the opposite problem. I don't care enough at work. I'm extremely unmotivated and find it very difficult to muster the energy to do anything. In a way, it's good because I don't put too much pressure on myself, but it's really bad because I just feel guilty constantly for being so lazy.

So, you can go too far the other way, like me, but I think in general, it's a good idea to accept "good enough" from yourself sometimes. Especially when you realize what you do at work really doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

100% how I feel at work.

Your verse about sluggards made me laugh, given what you posted. I was raised with that Protestant work ethic thing but feel guilty when I totally fail to live up to it.

nouveauRiche

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Re: Caring less at work/putting in 90%
« Reply #30 on: July 10, 2017, 11:03:30 AM »
It's not that I'm lazy.  It's just that I don't care.

It's a problem of motivation.