Re: Telecrastinating

Subject: Re: Telecrastinating
From: "Chuck Martin" <twriter -at- sonic -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 15:01:56 -0800

"Andrew Plato" <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote in message
news:89265 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> > Andrew's statement that most people sit around and procrastinate is just
> plain a
> > lie.
> It isn't a lie. Its human nature.
> The majority of Americans are lazy, selfish, spiteful, and obsessive. They
> do the absolute bare minimum required to get their paycheck. If you run a
> company and sign paychecks - you know this as fact. Finding good,
> hard-working people is very hard. Most people simply do not want to work.
> to top it off, they think the universe owes them something for their

I simply cannot let this obviously false statement go unchallenged. While I
cannot cite research (which you would have to do before you can accurately
use the phrase "The majority of..."), I can certainly say that it has been
my experience in the working world, from my formitave teen years of working
for my dad's company and at plenty of laborious part-time jobs to my current
now 9-year career in the technical writing world, working as both staff and
contract at a variety of companies, that most of the people I have met and
worked with do not harbor all 4 of those characteristics, and many don't
show (blatantly anyway) even 1. I know lots of people who work hard and take
pride in what they do, often working long (unpaid) ours to get the job done

That said, what I would say it human nature is that of laziness. But before
the outcry begins, I would say also that this is a good thing; laziness has
resulted in the greatest advances in productivity.


> Another factor is the "Cult of Management" problem. Everybody wants to be
> big shot in charge, but they are not willing to do what it takes to get
> Nobody has a good work ethic any more. They think putting in their 32.5
hours a
> week and attending 3 meetings constitutes hard work.

First, you can automatically dismiss any statement that begins
"Everybody..." because it simply isn't true. In fact, I myself am proff of
the falsity of that statement; I have no desire to ever get into management.
I said that quite clearly when I began my first out-of-school job at IBM and
it still holds true. I *like* working in the trenches, churning out good
work that will result in better products. I would hate getting away from

Maybe outside of Silicon Valley the work weeks are just 32.5 hours, but not
here. Even in the most flush economy in the U.S. (despite all the dotcom
failures [so wonderfully portrayed in the eTrade Super Bowl comercial]),
there is still drive, inspired by ongoing entreprenerialship.

> There is a guy who owns a sub shop near my office. Best subs the world.
He is
> at that counter everyday from 9am until 10pm (that's 13 hours a day). I
know he
> gets there at 8am and stays until about 11pm (thats 15 hours!). He knows
> customer by name. I go in there and I always hear "Good day, Mr. Plato.
> that big black Mercedes of yours!" (He has a 560SL) You can go in at 9am
> 9:45 pm and he always has a smile, always says thank you, always says
"have a
> nice day."

That's because he loves his work. If you love what you do, then you do it
happily (and not just 32.5 hours a week either).

> Telecommuting is great for people who work hard. For the rest of the
> - its just another form of avoiding work. Everybody wants to do it, but
> are willing to do what it takes to earn such a perk.

Telecommuting can be a way of doing more work. Currently, I'm on a contract
that seems to be averageing about a little more than an hour commute each
way. While I'm not a big believer in telecommuting for technical writers
most of the time, if I did, I would have those 2 hours a day to work, not
curse at stupid and dangerous drivers.

> Sure, some people do work very productively at home. But for every one
> productive telecommuter there are 10 to 20 bums who play Quake all day.
Hell, I
> couldn't work productively at home. There is just too many things to do at
> like sleep, eat, shave the cat, simionize the driveway, upholster the
> toilet...and so forth.

That's why, when I was in school and I had to study, I picked up my books
and trudged over to the library. There was a mental commitment, by doing the
physical act, to get the work done. I can't say that there weren't
disctractions at the library, but as I never have had the chutzpah to
approach a cute guy in a public place such as that for social purposes, the
distractions were nothing more than brief eye candy.

Besides, you forgot too many distractions, such as Internet chat, phone
calls, and my new Playstaion2....

> There is also the factor of being part of a team. You cannot participate
in a
> team if you're holed away at home. One of the most serious problems among
> writers today is isolation. Writers sit in their cubes (or at home) all
> theorizing how it all works. without constant connection to the real
> tech writers get even more obsessive. This is about when people start

> they need some huge process to help them handle reality.

It's not about that at all, I think, but of a too-often-prevailing mindset
that if a person is not physically present, they are not included in the
day-to-day decisions about the product. Even being on-site, but apart from
developers, whther it be in an office in a different building or even in a
cubicle on the other side of marketing, when it comes to the programming
team when they are making chages, fixes, etc., there is a defninte
out-of-sight-out-of-mond mentality, and technical writers are picking up the
pieces at the last minute because thats when they finally find out.

"[Programmers] cannot successfully be asked to design for users
because...inevitably, they will make judgments based on the
difficulty of coding and not on the user's real needs."
- Alan Cooper
"About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design"

Chuck Martin
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

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