When and how do you know that ‘busy’ is turning into ‘overwhelmed?

I’m beginning to think that its happening in every organisation with which I work at the moment.

Grown up, senior, reasonable, people are at a point of deluge.

And heres the odd thing.

I don’t even think it’s the ‘work’ as much as what appears to be relentless…. bureaucracy.

A Potter-esque miasma of ‘stuff that has to be done in order to..’ enfolding everyone.

How did it happen: that the flowering of creative developments of technology seems to have resulted in an endless array of – surely basically bureaucratic – apps and systems to help us organise, manage, and submit information in various formats to various places?

The associated oddity is that a discussion about this seems to generate the same bonding warmth that might once have been achieved by talking about a book read, or a film seen, an idea shared, or an event attended.

It’s as if an important part of the invisible glue that might hold colleagues together is becoming a sort of shared resignation about the systems to be battled with, the processes to be endured, the submissions to be repeated.

It’s not a new thought

‘All the labour saving machinery that has hitherto been invented has not lessened the toil of a single human being’

said John Stuart Mill (1806 -1873)

But perhaps recognising the ‘psychological violence’ done to us by these burdens gives fresh urgency.

I think that subversion is the best way to start tackling this.

Certainly, L&D courses in resilience training, performance optimisation, work/life balance (what does that even mean in these situations?) are springing up everywhere.

(Some may be helpful)

But don’t they fulfil the role of field –hospitals?

Getting overwhelmed people back on their feet, to go over the top again?

I recommend a slow beneath the surface gnawing away of the system; a gradual embrace of ‘no’; a sidling up to the joys of successful, creative evasion.

Rather like termites might, over time, weaken the foundations of the most impressive edifice, we shall gradually chip away at these bureaucratic demands.

A new happiness at work suggestion: become a kindly termite.

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