Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 10, Issue 43;   October 27, 2010: Sixteen Overload Haiku

Sixteen Overload Haiku

by

Last updated: August 8, 2018

Most of us have some experience of being overloaded and overworked. Many of us have forgotten what it is not to be overloaded. Here's a contemplation of the state of overload.
A centrifugal governor

A centrifugal governor. A gear mechanism rotates the governor at rates proportional to engine revolutions per minute (RPM). Increasing RPM increases centrifugal forces on the two masses, which causes them to rise. That action slows the engine. Image from Hawkins (b.1833), Nehemiah (1904 edition of 1897 book. Originally published in 1897, later expanded to cover internal combustion engines.). New Catechism of the Steam Engine. New York: Theo Audel.

Machines, especially engines, are designed with a maximum revolutions per minute. When they exceed that maximum, they can fail catastrophically by essentially flying apart. Organizations also have a ceiling controlling how much work they can do without harming workers. When their work involves manipulating physical goods, that ceiling is set by safety regulations or by limits imposed by Nature.

In knowledge-based organizations, the ceiling on rates of production isn't as obvious. It's real, but it's set by psychological factors. There are few regulations, if any, and no obvious safety limits. In knowledge-based organizations, overload is often uncontrolled.

It's up to us to control overload. Here are some haiku to contemplate when you find yourself so overloaded that you can no longer think. Read them slowly. Notice how you feel about each one. Notice which ones strike home, and which ones suggest new ways to regain your sense of well-being.

i
Another day starts.
Email, voicemail, and meetings.
Another day ends.
ii
This has to get done.
So does that and that and that.
Not by noon it won't.
iii
Hours so horrendous
I eat dinner at my desk.
This is not a life.
iv
With great sacrifice,
I finish my work. He does not,
but nobody cares.
v
She has time for breaks,
And I'm completely buried.
How does this happen?
vi
I can't do it all
with quality I'm proud of.
So what's good enough?
vii
After a layoff,
there are fewer people here,
but just as much work.
viii
You've got a problem.
Please help me understand why
your problem is mine.
ix
Someone must do it.
It always seems to be me.
What if I said No?
x
Why don't I say No?
I can say No — but I don't.
Am I scared? What of?
xi
Isn't saying "yes"
to their excessive demands
saying "no" to me?
xii
I get too much mail.
I cannot read all of it.
Wait — I don't have to!
xiii
Taking the red eye,
I return in time for work.
Brain dead, but on time.
xiv
The nice thing about
conflicting meetings is you
only attend one.
xv
I have too much work,
but I've found a solution.
I don't do it all.
xvi
This isn't my job.
Why do I have to do it?
Wait a sec — I don't.

Writing haiku can be a relaxing, meditative exercise. The act can clear your mind. Try it. More about haiku Go to top Top  Next issue: How to Make Good Guesses: Strategy  Next Issue

52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your projects always (or almost always) late and over budget? Are your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around. Read 52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented Organizations, filled with tips and techniques for organizational leaders. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

Mascot in duck costumeNames and Faces
Most of us feel recognized, respected, and acknowledged when others use our names. And many of us have difficulty remembering the names of others, especially those we don't know well. How can we get better at connecting names and faces?
The main reading room of the US Library of CongressPersonal Trade Secrets
Do you have some little secret tricks you use that make you and your team more effective? Do you wish you could know what secret tricks others have? Here's a way to share your secrets without risk.
An anxious dogInner Babble
It goes by various names — self-talk, inner dialog, or internal conversation. Because it is so often disorganized and illogical, I like to call it inner babble. But whatever you call it, it's often misleading, distracting, and unhelpful. How can you recognize inner babble?
The Johari WindowAssumptions and the Johari Window: I
The roots of both creative and destructive conflict can often be traced to differing assumptions of the parties to the conflict. Working out these differences is a lot easier when we know what everyone's assumptions are.
A can of sardines — what many of us feel like on board a modern airlinerChanging the Subject: I
Whether in small group discussions, large meetings, or chats between friends, changing the subject of the conversation can be constructive, mischievous, frustrating, creative, tension relieving, necessary, devious, or outright malicious. What techniques do we use to change the subject, and how can we cope with them?

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness and Emotions at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

An empty officeComing December 2: Anticipating Absence: Why
Knowledge workers are scientists, engineers, physicians, attorneys, and any other professionals who "think for a living." When they suddenly become unavailable because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, substituting someone else to carry on for them can be problematic, because skills and experience are not enough. Available here and by RSS on December 2.
A plastic owl, used as a deterrent of unwanted birds and rodentsAnd on December 9: Anticipating Absence: How
Knowledge workers are professionals who "think for a living." When they suddenly become unavailable because of the pandemic, we consider substituting someone else. But substitutes need much more than skills and experience to succeed. Available here and by RSS on December 9.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenmhXARWRMUvVyOdHlner@ChacxgDmtwOKrxnripPCoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power

Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?

DecisBullet Point Madnession-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.
If your teams don't yet consistently achieve state-of-the-art teamwork, check out this catalog. Help is just a few clicks/taps away!
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.