Since the previous post, I’ve been rather overwhelmed with my new experience as a department manager. Mentally and physically, I recognize a huge loss of available energy at night and on the weekends. I actually find my exhaustion rather odd, and in need of explanation. My work hours have expanded throughout this year from a nominal 44 a week or so, to a steady 50 hours, but this change occurred at the time when my wife left her job to homeschool (thereby freeing me up from a schedule dictated in part by school hours, and allowing me to work earlier in the morning). For the month or so from her departure to my assuming this new responsibility, I did not experience this sense of exhaustion. The amount of sleep I get has not changed significantly – I now go to bed about 30 minutes earlier and wake up 30 minutes earlier than before. There was an initial couple of weeks of difficult sleeping – mind racing through the decision process of taking the new job, and then racing through the various tasks that hung over me day after day – but this has completely subsided, and I can count on sleeping solidly most nights.
Clearly, then, I am expending much more energy than I was previously. Those around me worry about “stress”, but I find that to be an ill-defined term. There was that initial period of frantic psychological discomfort on different occasions when I was facing various “firsts” in this position, but I no longer feel that discomfort which I personally identify as “stress”. In fact, my level of self-confidence continues to rise rapidly the more time passes, and the more I see the positive effect of my actions on the department’s activities. I have also not been subjected to any strong personal criticism, and even if such criticism were present, I am not one to react poorly. (The other psychological condition which I recognize as a form of stress is time-based stress, which still occurs, but not on a continual basis).
So where is the energy going? Why do I feel weary every evening, and truly exhausted by the end of the week?
My answer is that I am experiencing what I’ll term Massive Integration. My daily experience is now of a completely different nature than it was previously. This is not apparent on the surface of my activities – I still write software, I still analyze data, and I’ve always taken other employees under my wing to an extent – but there are new elements to my activities and responsibilities, and I experience their effect every moment of every day. That I cannot accurately describe and clearly identify these new elements is the key symptom that convinces me that I am now in a period of conceptualization of these new phenomena. My mind is constantly, and mostly subconsciously, working out the relationships between these new experiences, and attempting to build a conceptual hierarchy which accurately understands this experience of Management. I am consciously struggling to build my own vision of proper management practices, and specifically the vision for the future of my department. In this I am working entirely off my previous and immediate experience, having found the “literature” available to be a mix of the inapplicable, the obvious, and the ludicrous. The effort involved in bringing my mind to bear on this problem is what I now understand to be the reason for my state of exhaustion.
It is in this very understanding that I find strength to carry on.