Over the holiday season I was introduced to a book on Essentialism. While I found the book to be quite interesting and frankly common sense, I am currently encountering a very big problem as a result of having read it. The problem is this. The books main point is to lower the amount of clutter, to-do’s, obligations, goals etc in your life so that you can put in 100% of your effort and focus on the things that are important to you. While this makes a lot of sense, this does not work well in my current job. I’m sure that many people my age experience the same problem, quite frankly I think that it might even be a more chronic issue throughout the American work force, but I find myself in a position at work where I am required to juggle multiple things at once. This is a problem because it is fundamentally against the tenant of the essentialism book, however, I have no power to change the circumstance.
My position is what I lovingly refer to as the catch-all position. This basically means that in a small company with no clearly defined departments, most random assignments that are difficult to place directly in the lap of another person in the office come my way. This is in addition to the regular obligations and projects that I am expected to fulfill. Furthermore, the well-established projects that I have been assigned have little or nothing to do with one another and in fact require completely different skills. I do not want to come off ungrateful, because I love my job. Everyday is completely different and the very fact that I am in this catch-all position also bears the gift of teaching me a wide variety of skills. The best of which is dealing with time management and becoming a problem solver, which I doubt I could have learned from a textbook.
I suppose what bothers me the most is this. In most of the advice books I have read the advice is coming from well-established career people who have the ability to say no. Their points are very valid, however it is incredibly difficult to take them seriously when they suggest that I look at my boss and say that I can’t do something because I have too much on my plate. This is not a young persons game. When attempting to impress and to progress in the workplace, saying no does not come off as a respected tactic, but rather makes you look lazy. Thus I am conflicted because while at the core I truly do agree that being an essentialist is the most productive way to conduct myself, I cannot become one now.
Ultimately, I believe a good friend of mine put it best. He said that perhaps the point is that this book will inspire, push, and motivate me to become this when I have the luxury to do so. I would take it one step further and even say that perhaps it will inspire me to expect the same of everyone around me when the time comes, regardless of whether they are at the beginning stages of their lives. Until then, I will grin and bear and try to minimize the clutter of my life in whatever way I can. Even if it be something as simple as getting rid of that stack of clothes I’m not wearing in my closest.