At a previous job, one of my co-workers accused me of making her look bad; I never called in sick while she repeatedly used all of her sick days. She called them “mental health days.” I once asked her what she did on these mental health days. Mostly she read and caught up with her family’s laundry being careful not to leave the house fearing she would be caught. She often reminded me sick days are a benefit you lose if you don’t use.
I don’t want to use a vacation day, but a day of reading and blogging sounds pretty attractive right now compared to sitting at my desk trying to make myself look busy. My friend Bob grew so tired of watching his employees trying to look busy he instituted a furlough policy. Friday would be my day; I will call in sick and have a three day weekend. Then the guilt and my farm girl work ethic came into play:
My boss and my bosses boss know I’m not busy even asking me what I was working on while I was unsuccessfully trying to cut and paste a picture out of a newsletter onto my blog (it was technically lunchtime). They are going to know I’m faking it if I call in. I will then be lumped in with all the other employees with poor attitudes. Then it came to me -- what if I used this slow period to become a better employee. I’ve always been reactive rather than proactive and there are all those interview questions about self-initiative accomplishments I stumble through. Now is the time to update my work skills and our department. I came up with the following list:
Resolve all those little bugs in our systems and procedures:
Debug spreadsheets. Set up query reports for spreadsheets we now prepare manually. Update procedure manuals. Clean and organize my desk. Organize and delete old emails.
Create in-house computer accessible expense report; saving money on forms.
Interview outside payroll companies in search of a cheaper, more service oriented, less cumbersome system than we use now (ADP).
Offer to assist my overworked boss with his portion of the project we are working on. Ask him for additional work.
Talk to my boss’s boss. What would he like me to do to take our department to the next level? What would he like to receive from our department that he is not currently receiving?
Thursday night's episode of "The Office" only confirmed my decision not to call in sick. Kathy Bate’s character Jo says the following to Michael who wants to leave for the day:
"If you can put your name on this day and are proud of the work you’ve done by all means go home."Do you take “Mental Health Days” when you’re not busy? If not, what do you do to keep busy?