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Column: Sometimes You Strike Out

Friday, August 14, 2009
This is more of an unfinished thought than a full out post, and given the context, perhaps that is more fitting.

One thing that I’ve learned repeatedly during my time in government is that you can't always knock it out of the park, especially come summertime.

Vacations, on top of vacations, on top of vacations make it incredibly difficult to hit that home run. Generally speaking, one of two things happen: either the people you need to work with aren't around when you need to work with them (which includes yourself) or you get swamped because you're expected to cover off other people's work during what is supposed to be the "slow period".

I have experienced both this summer. First, I've been caught in the out of office loop. You know what I'm talking about, you send an e-mail to someone in your department whose out of office reply points you to another person, whose out of office reply then points to another person, whose out of office reply points back to the first person you sent the e-mail to. Second, I have been asked to cover off work that I didn't anticipate and that took away from the time I needed to be able to do my own work.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming anyone for taking vacation, nor am I complaining about having to do some additional work. What I am saying is that it can sometimes make things more difficult, and that perhaps we need to do a better job of collectively managing and scheduling our vacation time while making better use of summer students who are sometimes, but not always, underworked.

I wish I had some good pieces of advice to share but the truth is sometimes you strike out, and despite being ready to stand and deliver, for me this is just one of those times.