Friday, January 22, 2010


My peeve this week is unnecessary work!

My work week is usually pretty busy, and perhaps because we were off on Monday, this week has been particularly hectic. Other than simply reading through 5 pages of my novel and making some minor corrections to it, I haven’t written a word in three days. I’ve not been able to get through more than about a 100 pages in the books I’m reading. Even at night, I’ve been doing school work.

So, when I’m backed up like that, the arrival of unnecessary work really chaps. Here’s some examples.


A: I had an IRB (research) proposal to approve, one among many, and I finished reading over it and wrote the approval letter last night. This morning I mailed the approval letter. Not 10 minutes later an email request came in from the researcher to change something in the project. The approval letter that I spent time constructing is now a waste. I have to do another one. Between receiving the first proposal and the new changes, 2 days passed. Couldn’t the researcher have put a little more thought into their first effort so that one letter would have sufficed?

B: I got a proposal from a researcher at another university who requested that I accelerate my normal approval process because they had already bought their airplane ticket to come to Xavier to collect the data. Because they were asking for approval via email rather than by sending me a hard copy, I had to write a contract for our review. I’m required by law to keep hard copies of all submissions and I don’t want to spend my own money printing out hundreds of pages of material. So, I spelled out how I could help them under certain conditions. Two days later I get an email from them saying they were no longer applying to Xavier for approval at present. They’d discovered that they needed IRB approval from their own university first. Time writing contract = wasted. Couldn’t they have checked their procedures for how to do their own research first?


A: One writing group I’m a member of is a critique group. We email our material to a listserv and then print it out on our own for consideration at the next meeting. I sent some stuff in for a review. The day before our meeting, I get an email from one of the members asking me to resend. Now, everything we send to the listserv goes into the archives, and is probably in this individual’s personal email somewhere anyway. But because they didn’t print it out when it came through, they probably lost the email with the attachment somewhere in their inbox. Rather than taking the time to find it, or digging through the archives, they just decided to ask me to take a few minutes to resend. This individual is retired, btw. I’m not.

B: This has happened several times in the past and happened again this week. Someone submits a piece for review. I dutifully print it out, read, make my comments in preparation for our meeting. And then I get a second email a few days later with a “revision” of the previously submitted piece, usually with a note saying: “please ignore the first version you received and respond to the new version.”


Thanks for letting me rant!


David Cranmer said...

Everything you mentioned would get on my nerves also. Especially individuals who are to lazy to find something they already have.

BernardL said...

I hope you enjoy your critique group. :)

Greg said...

i feel your pain!! hope next week is less redundant.

Laurie Powers said...

I'm dealing with the same situation with this 4-day workweek. Suffice to say that I'll have to come back and read your post later, and I can't wait for this week to be over. Ugh.

jodi said...

Charles, it is the red tape and trivialities of life that can really get us down. Redoing is the worst cuz it was bad enough the first time! Venting is good tho, friend..

Spy Scribbler said...

Ugh, that's too much! Definitely would get on my nerves.

To share one of my peeves, my one pub just put all communication with all writers on a message board on the internet. So in addition to checking three emails every day, I'm now supposed to go to this message board. Grrrr.

Voidwalker said...

That sounds really frustrating. I'd probably be yelling "AHHHHHHH" as well.

Charles Gramlich said...

David, people like to preserver their own time at the cost of someone else's.

Bernardl, generally I do, but at times I'm left steaming.

Greg, Me too.

Laurie, me too. Still a long day left ahead of me.

Jodi, yes, I do feel somewhat better'!

Natasha, I've gotten into that kind of thing myself. People think I'm made out of time instead of money.

Charles Gramlich said...

voidwalker, I've been yelling it a bunch today.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I like entertaining rants.

Lana Gramlich said...

I sooo hear you. We have more access to information than ever before--if you know how to use it, the internet's the library of the WORLD--but intellectual laziness only ever rises to new heights. It's asinine.

In a similar but slightly different vein, I had a grown woman make photocopies at the library today & then tell me to count them (not my job.) I thought to myself, "Are you kidding me? You can't even count to 15?" She was able to count out the correct amount to pay for the copies (which was far more than "15,") so why does she feel it necessary to break my proverbial balls? I have many, better things to do with my time.

ivan said...

Clerical skills are the first requirement for a communtiy college teacher.
And I used to hate the clerical work too.

But a PhD is usually head of a good sized department with good sized headaches. And lots of clerical work
I can sympathise and empathise.
Especially when the clerical work, because of the rapidity of email, comes to naught because of sudden and unexpected addends, IBID's and OP/CITs.

Bernita said...

There are times when one would like to leap upon people and rip out their throats with bare teeth!

Paul R. McNamee said...

Yeah, pros & cons of writing groups.

I used to be in a screenwriters group until I realized I wasn't getting anything out of it anymore.

Rick said...

I'm with you, Charles. Don't these people know that we're writers and we've got writing to do!?

Anonymous said...

I can see what you mean Charles.

Cloudia said...

"Lack of planning on their part (or lazy thinking)is not your problem." Or Shouldn't be.
Alas, you are the busy man who is asked to do things because they will be done.
Learn to say no? Just not to us, your blog pals!

Go Saints!

Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

David J. West, They can be cathartic as well.

Lana Gramlich, I’m shaking my head. The world is crazy.

ivan, When I first came to Xavier it was like a community college in that way. It’s got a lot better, but there still is an amazing amount of time the profs I know spent in repetitive work that doesn’t move things forward.

Bernita, I like how you said that. I was probably foaming at the mouth a bit this morning!

Paul R. McNamee, part of it is that some members of the group are very new to the group and don’t know the protocol’s well. I try to cut everyone some slack but I’m probably partially to blame for not being stronger in my responses to things.

Rick, exactly, dude! I could have written a few more fight scenes and slaughtered a few villains in that time. Which is more important, I ask you?

Jack, indeed!

Cloudia, I imagine that most of us end up doing extra work because of folks around us. Sometimes I just swallow it but after the week I’ve had it’s been hard. Go Saints indeed.

j said...

I hope you have a restful weekend and then a better week. Maybe everyone will get their sh-tuff straight?

Angie said...

It sounds like there's a particularly violent stupidity storm raining idiocy on your area. My condolences. :/

I've never understood how people can be that stupid (and thoughtless) when they're asking someone else for a favor. Whether it's money or time or some other resource, if they want something from you, one would think they'd be especially careful to make a good impression and not be too much of a jerk or cause you any more trouble than necessary. At least, that makes sense to me. :/

On the research issues, I'd have been strongly tempted to reply, "Request denied. You've demonstrated you're incapable of planning, organization or clear thought, and we prefer to approve only competent people for research projects." I mean, seriously, why waste resources on someone who can't figure out what they want before starting a process, or can't even figure out what all the instructions are, much less follow them? o_O


pattinase (abbott) said...

We are of one mind. In January, the number of "issues" grows.

Middle Ditch said...

Good rant! I love good rants. It gets things out of your system.

My husband is the owner and editor of a literary mag and knows all about time wasters, so I recognize the agony.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jennifer, I hope so. I'll be better able to handle it after the Saints win on Sunday!

Angie, I have wanted to do that many times. Permission denied! Ultimately that would get me in trouble, though. I will admit to showing my surprise at what folks haven't done in my responses to them a few times.

Pattinase, yes, folks like that are like Bermuda grass. Give 'em an inch!

Middle Ditch, I can imagine the levels of things he has to deal with. Egads.

Steve Malley said...

I do believe a certain amount of cruelty is warranted here... I am put in mind of certain high school English teachers whose Draconian intolerance of laziness, disorganization and general asshattery helped to make me the marginally functional adult I am today...

Erik Donald France said...

Sounds very irritating, Charles. I hate when stuff like that happens, and even once is too often.

laughingwolf said...

g'luck with all, charles...

the ditherers need to get lives of their own

Lisa said...

You had me at IRB.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve Malley, I think about that. I don't think I'm well suited for it, though. Sometimes my "cruelty" comes off sounding too much like whining.

Erik, it wears you out faster than other kinds of work, I think.

laughingwolf, thankee. and indeed!

Ocean Girl, Lol.

the walking man said...

In the first two cases wouldn't a standard initial response be called for. Once submitted for proposal no changes will be accepted and have you done all you need with your own university to ensure you are in compliance with the rules of submitting your proposal for acceptance.

No response to either deserves no time on you part.

The writing group thing...I don't know how they work but The Girls of Sunday Night only do one thing at a time no matter how long it takes then we move on to something new.

I think they take as much time trying to talk me into flea dipping my beard than we do actually working but what the hell we have fun and that is most important.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, everyone that applies to the IRB for the first time recieves a set of guidelines that indicate what we need. Often they ignore it anyway because they've waited until the last minute to try and do their work. Because of government regs, we have to allow for revisions and have to review revisions. It's not good form for them to send me revisions before I've even completed the original submission, though.

Travis Cody said...

Rant away Charles!

One of my challenges at work is finding constructive and positive ways to advise my colleagues not to waste my time. I think it's important to be accurate and thorough when working with others, so I try to work that way. It's irksome when I have to spend time working through someone's careless mistakes or oversights. Especially when it seems to be the same errors over and over.

Hang in there!

writtenwyrdd said...

So sorry you had all that crap happen to you at once, Charles. One thing might have been tolerable, but 4 is ridiculous.

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh, and re the too lazy to find what they aready have? Every one of our management team does this for the stat report we put out. Or they tell us to make a special new report just for them, which is a ton of work for absolutely no purpose--and which they could have done themselves with the data they already received because it's in an Excel file.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, most of my colleagues at work are pretty well trained by now. But it took a while to get there in some cases.

Writtenwyrd, I know. "Superiors" often don't seem to mind at all wasting their worker's time. It's very frustrating. Our new Dean is pretty good, but the dean we had before drove me bonkers with this kind of thing.

Spy Scribbler said...

To add insult to injury, you have to check for updates under fifty or sixty sub-topics! Oh man, this is REALLY peeving me. It just took me twenty minutes and NONE of it was important.

Charles Gramlich said...

Natasha, indeed!

L.A. Mitchell said...

OMG! #2 happens to me all the time, too. Drives. Me. Nuts. If I've already critiqued the first, I won't read through the revised.

Charles Gramlich said...

L. A., I don't either but other members of the group do, thus encouraging the behavior.