Expectations Will Get You Busy
This changes work. Expect more of yourself, your supervisors, and your colleagues (short of driving them nuts); and respect your limits. You’ll produce more.
Waking, Work, Thresholds, and Unpay
On waking, work. The first work you do should be something that doesn’t require complicated or original thought, although it can be somewhat challenging, as long as you can verify your quality. In an hour, you likely can move into more difficult and responsible work.
Build high thresholds. For instance, if you have a new supervisor and no clue as to what’s expected, perhaps use industry standards, colleagues’ criteria, or other supervisors’ expectations. But don’t dump garbage into a mailbox because no one said not to. Being tired isn’t an excuse.
If you’re a volunteer, meaning unpaid, most paid people will doubt you should be doing anything. Even in a nonprofit. Some unpaid people are called something else, like interns or activists, but volunteers are considered the bottom of the heap. You’ll have to overcome that. One way is to find someone to be productive for and let that be a model. That person gains and others are left whining against your helping them that much without pay, but it’s a start.
Avoid negotiating when your lack of alertness could weaken your bargaining position. It’ll be easier to slip something by you, and you’ll have agreed to whatever. Friends and foes can both do this to you. That’s your signature on the I.O.U., right? And on the 40-page contract? Oh, by the way, most verbal contracts are just as binding in court as the written kind, especially with a handshake, and so are the kind you click on in your computer without thinking, but you knew that, right?
Since you don’t want big problems, an early warning system can rescue you. Look for little faults you cause. Some are always there, and you’ll live with those. Others happen mainly when you should have snoozed. Exploit those little faults as your early warning system. That will save you because minor errors don’t cause much grief and now you’ll know to take a break before anyone realizes it.
If your work has nothing little about it, making every element a potential catastrophe, add a layer of duty. Add a few minor details to your work, details no one else will care about. Shaving them won’t offend anyone, but you’ll notice. They’ll serve to warn you.
Example: If you have black and blue pens, and no one cares, maybe use black only. Commit to it. But keep the forbidden temptation in front of you. Then if you catch yourself using blue, that’ll be your red flag. Twice in a day means nap-grabbing time.
Criticize Your Own Work
Judge your work product critically. Don’t just deposit your finished product on your chief’s desk and wait for a complaint. Get into your boss’s head and empathize with your boss’s responsibilities and judge your work carefully. Carve your stuff and nitpick till it’s right, or till it’s the best you would’ve turned out when fully rested. It takes longer. It’s worth it.
Wasted Work, Useful Work
Check the utility of some of your work. Drudge is inevitable but busywork subtracts from mission fulfillment. If no one’s using any of your production, it’s review time. Anyone saying that it’s all fab so you feel good is not helpful. If some of what you did is in use, you’re probably all right.
If harsh review suggests the fault is in you, sleep.
If All Else Fails
Don’t excuse your failures. Be a high quality performer, and better than most other people at what you do. Otherwise, if you fail, they’ll blame your whole scheme of propping your eyes open as juvenile, they’ll regulate your schedules, and your productivity will plummet. They’ll hardly remember you. Better stay on top of yourself and get more done. That they’ll remember.