Does Fake Work Make Your Job Suck?

Guest Post by Mark Lawrence of Lifestyle Ignition

Many people complain about their jobs.  “It sucks.”  “I hate it.”  “I want to escape.”  While there is a multitude of causation, much of this angst can be tied to fake work.

What is Fake Work??

Fake Work (FW): A project or task that keeps one or multiple people busy yet has no productive value.  It serves to keep an illusion alive that there is still something of productive value being achieved.

It’s these worthless tasks that make us feel worthless.  Work gives us a sense of pride.  It’s a large part of our identity.  Most people when they first meet discuss this topic.  Work is a natural topic to get a feel for what someone is like.  It’s a way to instantly gauge someone’s likes, dislikes, value system, schedule, income bracket, and a whole range of stereotypes that come into play.  If the tasks at work feel useless, then we feel useless.  The topic of work hurts to talk about, because instead of a sense of pride, we have an uneasy feeling.  It’s much easier to say you hate something, than to actually identify the reasons why.

You may not even know that you’re doing fake work or you may be doing work you perceive to be fake, but is actually is productive and real. Find out if you’re doing fake work or real work by:

  • Confronting the reasons behind the completion of a task and understand how it fits into the larger process and bigger picture

There may be very good reasons to complete the tasks you’re supposed to that management understands since they see the bigger picture.  However, don’t let this deter you from finding out the truth.  If you as an employee don’t understand why you’re doing the things that you do, then management has failed.  Much fake work has been produced under the guise of this “you don’t understand because it’s above you attitude.”  Don’t let this continue.
Once you’re sure you’re doing fake work:

  • Make it known.  Alert the people around you of what you have found.  Show them why the work is fake.

Seems simple.  Ha!  It’s easier said than done.  A lot of fake work continues in a grand conspiracy to keep a department afloat that shouldn’t or to appear busier than they actually are.  Your boss could be in on the scam because they are afraid of losing their job.  You may be afraid of the retribution you would receive even if you tactfully may people at work aware of the situation.  Or worse, you could realize that your job “security” rests on this conspiracy to keep going.  That in exposing the fake work, you expose yourself.

If you’re afraid of getting canned for exposing fake work, then you should find another job.  Sooner or later the fake work will be exposed and your position will be eliminated for you. If you work in fear of questioning authority and blindly go along in yes man mode, you are a robot, and you will be replaced by one.

If fake work is causing your job to suck, do something about it.  Stop repeating excuses, and start looking for answers.  Normally “I can’t…” and “It’s impossible because…” really just mean you’re not willing to step outside your comfort zone and take the risks to face your fears head on.  Ask yourself, Do you feel like you’re doing “fake work”?

Mark Lawrence is the creator of Lifestyle Ignition. Listen to his interview on BlogCast FM:  Mark Lawrence on Shameless Marketing, Retiring at 24, and Leaving the Template Life. Follow live updates on Twitter @igniteadventure

Many people complain about their jobs. “It sucks.” “I hate it.” “I want to escape.” While there are a
multitude of causations, much of this angst can be tied to fake work. 

What is Fake Work??

Fake Work (FW): A project or task that keeps one or multiple people busy yet has no productive value.
It serves to keep an illusion alive that there is still something of productive value being achieved.

It’s these worthless tasks that make us feel worthless. Work gives us a sense of pride. It’s a large part
of our identity. Most people when they first meet discuss this topic. Work is a natural topic to get a feel
for what someone is like. It’s a way to instantly gauge someone’s likes, dislikes, value system, schedule,
income bracket, and a whole range of stereotypes that come into play. If the tasks at work feel useless,
then we feel useless. The topic of work hurts to talk about, because instead of a sense of pride, we have
an uneasy feeling. It’s much easier to say you hate something, than to actually identify the reasons why.

You may not even know that you’re doing fake work or you may be doing work you perceive to be
fake, but is actually is productive and real. Find out if you’re doing fake work or real work by:

Confronting the reasons behind the completion of a task and understand how it fits into the
larger process and bigger picture

There may be very good reasons to complete the tasks you’re supposed to that management
understands since they see the bigger picture. However, don’t let this deter you from finding out
the truth. If you as an employee don’t understand why you’re doing the things that you do, then
management has failed. Much fake work has been produced under the guise of this “you don’t
understand because it’s above you attitude.” Don’t let this continue.

Once you’re sure you’re doing fake work:

Make it known. Alert the people around you of what you have found. Show them why the work
is fake.

Seems simple. Ha! It’s easier said than done. A lot of fake work continues in a grand conspiracy to keep
a department afloat that shouldn’t or to appear busier than they actually are. Your boss could be in on
the scam because they are afraid of losing their job. You may be afraid of the retribution you would
receive even if you tactfully may people at work aware of the situation. Or worse, you could realize that
your job “security” rests on this conspiracy to keep going. That in exposing the fake work, you expose
yourself.

If you’re afraid of getting canned for exposing fake work, then you should find another job. Sooner or
later the fake work will be exposed and your position will be eliminated for you. If you work in fear of
questioning authority and blindly go along in yes man mode, you are a robot, and you will be replaced
by one.

If fake work is causing your job to suck, do something about it. Stop repeating excuses, and start looking
for answers. Normally “I can’t…” and “It’s impossible because…” really just mean you’re not willing to
step outside your comfort zone and take the risks to face your fears head on. Ask yourself, Do you feel
like you’re doing “fake work”?

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7 responses to “Does Fake Work Make Your Job Suck?

  1. Brilliant. I love “If you work in fear of questioning authority and blindly go along in yes man mode, you are a robot, and you will be replaced by one.” and it can apply to things outside of the workplace, too. It makes so much sense – workplace dissatisfaction stemming from having to do something that ultimately has no meaning. Great post!

    • Yeah, I really hate how people have to be a different person they are at home than they are at work. It really baffles me. I use to work for a coffee shop when I was younger, and I remember hating myself for going to work, but going into work with a fake smile and being everyone’s slave. It sucked.

      But sometimes that’s just how the cards are drawn.

  2. That just makes me want to go in a rant about my last job. They fully admitted to having fake work. Long story short: I refused to do fake work and instead moved onto the Real tasks instead of leaving them for the next day like we ‘usually do.’ Just because they Usually do it on Thursdays doesn’t mean we can’t do it on Wed and give them a headstart on Their day and on down the week so that we stay Ahead of the game. I liked work better than my coworkers who did all the busy work AND I was seen as a more valuable employee since I actually got shit done.

    • Yeah, it’s a lot different when you end up working for yourself or working from home. The thing about 9 to 5 hours is that you constantly have to do stuff for 8 hours. And if people realized how easy their job really was, they’d need more crap to push on people because they don’t want anyone seeming like a lazy company.

      It should be called 9 to 11am work, because after 2 hours everything else is just overkill. The world isn’t worth 8 hours of my life a day.

  3. There is no point to Fake Work. I remember my brief encounter with costumer service at my college’s bookstore. I was there to help people. But when the place was dead the manager used to ask me to move the notebooks around. Really, you want me to move the notebooks? Why is that?

    There are notebooks everywhere. No matter where your under educated students look they will see notebooks and find the one that best suits them. You want some notebooks moved, move them yourself?

    Pa-lease.

    • Bahaha! EXACTLY!

      And it’s those people (like your old boss) who DON’T see the relationship between micro meaninglessness in a single task and macro meaninglessness in the greater modern world that are the biggest problem.

      Somewhere down the line they’ve forgotten than they’re part of the world, and that everything they do – no matter how little, makes an impact on that.

  4. You’ve hit the nail on the head here, Johnathan!

    Here’s an interesting observation to carry on from your initial one: when you meet someone new, more often than not, those people who mention their occupation as part of who they “are” tend to be the most deeply mired in their “fake work.” It’s like they subconsciously realise the fraud of their occupation and its detrimental impact on their own identity, but for lack of any other reference, keep invoking it. It’s a self-reinforcing negative identity.

    Why doesn’t the world make sense? Simple. Because so many people decided to stop caring all at once. Apathy is built into the world we’ve made.

    Terrorism isn’t the biggest threat to our lives. Nor is war. It’s apathy. Hate moves people. Love moves people. But apathy is ironclad against action.

    Let’s light a match and burn it all down. No, i’m not kidding. In the world of tomorrow, value will be the aim. Not simply productivity.

    I want to go flip a car now lol.

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