You know those days when you should really stay in bed? Well, yesterday was one of those days. I came in to work, made a task list, failed to fulfill any of the things on the list, and then inadvertently managed to configure our dev server so that nobody could check anything in or out. After working back until I finally figured out the stupid Joy of File Permissions, I managed to restore things to the previous level of functionality and went home - not having made anything better, but having made utterly no difference. I broke something, spent the rest of the day making it unbroken and then left. Amazing! Remember that just because somebody is busy doesn't mean that they are actually adding any value!
Reminds me of my first job as an APS1 in the defence department. I was a finance clerk. I really, really didn't want to be a finance clerk. I thought that was really dull. The reason I had decided that was because it was really dull. Anyway, I discovered that Office 97 had Visual Basic baked into it. I spent my days learning VBA and writing weird programs in Word and Access.
Of course this meant that I ended up with piles of unprocessed invoices on my desk. Because I didn't want to get busted for not doing any work (but not quite enough to actually do the work), I went to the local stationery cupboard and got 5 in-trays. (The defence budget can and probably always will stretch to such luxuries.) I put these 5 in-trays under my desk where nobody could see them. Each time I received an invoice, I would remove it from the in-tray on my desk, and add it to one of the overflowing in-trays under my desk, and get on with learning how to program.
So, after a month or so, I was pretty good at writing VB, and the boss calls me into his office.
"Uh-Oh", I think. That was fun while it lasted...
"Gordon - I 'd like to talk to you about your position."
"...Ok" (Me thinking - 'I wonder if they can sack me for this...')
"The Finance Manager has spoken to me"
(oh god - just get it over with already)
"And she's taking 6 months leave. Normally I wouldn't ask such a junior position, but you seem to have the right work ethic for the job - every time I pass you're always busy working, and your in-tray is always clear. Would you feel comfortable acting at the APS6 level until she returns?"
(choke) "Uh - yeah - I think so..."
So then I had to work late three nights straight just to clear all the stupid invoices out of my 5 In trays.
Keep a close eye on your colleagues, people!