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March 22nd, 2012
09:00 PM ET

Letters to the President #1158: 'The dog days of spring'

Reporter's Note: Each and every day I write a letter to President Obama. I assume some other people do too, but I’m guessing some of them are in prison.

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve been having a lot of those days lately where I feel as if I am plenty busy, and wicked tired by the time I get home, and yet I can’t figure out what I did all day. Do you ever have such times? It’s ridiculous.

I walk into the house and my wife says, “So how was your day?”
“Exhausting,” I reply.
“Really? What did you do?”
“I have no idea.”

Usually when I piece it all together I find out that I did plenty, but so much of it involved small, time consuming, and far from rewarding chores. Returning phone calls. Reading emails. Filing expense reports. Talking about future plans, and planning for future talks. On and on it goes. The funny thing is, most of that activity is necessary more or less, it’s just that sometimes it clusters up too much in a few days or a week and it becomes an impediment to getting things done.

I’ve often thought that the most effective workplaces are those that make employees feel secure in their jobs. Because in those shops workers don’t have to spend so much time tending to the business of holding the job, and they can more fully dedicate themselves to doing the job they’ve been assigned.

I’m not sure I’m making sense. Let me put it this way: If you want a worker to be productive, let him or her do what he or she was hired to do…packing fish, building tricycles, cleaning teeth. Don’t bury employees them in paperwork, meetings, or fear, an of which can dilute their effectiveness and your company’s too.

All that said, I guess I’ll go home and try again tomorrow. I usually find even when such times roll around that if I just keep working at it, eventually the chaff clears away and pretty soon I’m threshing wheat again.

Call if you have a moment. Would love to discuss those penalties slapped on my Saints by the NFL! Can you grant a presidential pardon for such a thing? That would be great.

Regards,
Tom

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