Annoyed at Work? All the Little Things Matter

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Forget the “size matters” thing. Big things don’t happen every day. What matters are the millions of little, sometimes very little things, that are in our every day world and how we deal (or not) with them.

A colleague came to the office daily with a piece of fruit that she just brought from the grocery store. And every day she struggled to remove the little tag that was on the fruit. We all know those little tag can be a bear to remove and every day she cursed the tag and let it annoy her to the point of ruining her first hour on the job. Co-workers learned to stay away from her until she recovered from the fruit tag incident. It’s not that big of a deal, especially if you buy fruit every day. Maybe she should switch to bananas.

But many of us deal with tags on fruit metaphorically speaking. Instead of approaching the day with vigor, something small things can set us off and set a tone of gloom and resignation. And the worst thing is, we get used to the thing that bugs us and we don’t realize that it is affecting our work. Don’t believe me? Take the test to see if you are working while slightly annoyed.

  • When you flip on the switch is there one light bulb that flickers and buzzes all day? You are annoyed when you turn it on and get used to it.
  • Is there a broken arm on your work chair or is your chair always out of adjustment and uncomfortable?
  • Is your printer not working right and blinking at you to just annoy you further?
  • Does the bad smell of reheated burritos in the company microwave make you want to vomit?
  • Are you in the cue waiting for someone from IT to fix something? And you keep getting bumped on the list?
  • Do yellow stickies magically appear on your computer screen when you are not at your workspace? Do they all say, “See me ASAP”.
  • Are you always the person who deals with the empty coffee pot or get to the bathroom when there is no toilet paper?
  • Do you always get to use the whiteboard right after someone wrote with non-erasable marker? Or when there is a “Do Not Erase” message on it?
  • Is there always a box of half eaten pizza around? And it looks sort of appealing?
  • Does the guy in the workspace next to you play his music too loud even though he is on headphones?
  • Is there one co-worker with whom you have a nagging and annoying relationship that you cannot resolve?

The list can go on and on and on. Call them hygiene factors or call them the daily nuisances that detract from the job you should like. The little things can add up and be like a mosquito flying around in the bedroom at night. For most annoyances, there is a solution.

Fix the arm on the chair, change the light bulb, talk to your co-worker and resolve the differences, throw the pizza away, get a new printer and move on.

Sure, not everything can be fixed – just deal with the label on the fruit. But eliminating the little things that bug you can make a world of difference in how you approach a job that you might actually like.

What’s on your list?

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