Conor Cawley: The Pink Post-It Problem

I work at a company that finds and consolidates coupons. Each of these coupons has a title and content that, ideally, makes customers want to use that coupon. I write those titles and that content.

This may seem like the beginning of one of those ill-advised posts about someone who hates their job and forgot that they’re friends with their boss on Facebook. I am not that dumb. And I don’t hate my job. Plus, I have no intention of becoming a post on Reddit or Imgur that is playfully mocked by millions in meme form. This post is merely about a small, self-inflicted part of my work life that I have come to realize is a bit strange.

The way I keep track of my daily count is by marking up a Post-It note with fairly archaic tick marks (as seen in the image above. That is after a week and a half). I started doing this the first day on the job. Not because I felt like I needed to keep track of my progress in the most prison-esque way I could think of. It did it this way because, simply enough, it was easy.

While the other content writers made elaborately organized spreadsheets that kept track of stores and deals and content, I just marked a single line on a pink Post-It note. I only wavered in this monotonous design when I would finish every fifth coupon or title. And even then, I just tilted the tick mark to the side.

I used to keep them. The Post-It notes. All of them. I’ve been working there for a little over a year and only recently started throwing the Post-Its away. Partly because my drawer was beginning to get a little cluttered. But mostly because I was starting to feel like a serial killer.

Every time I opened that drawer, hundreds of Post-It notes and thousands of tick marks stared me in the face. As if I was counting down the days until I would take revenge on the prospector that killed my Pa.

When I’m ticking away during the daily grind, it doesn’t phase me. It’s mostly muscle-memory at this point. Write the coupon. Press submit. Mark the Post-It. Rinse. Repeat. Even when I snap out of it and glance over to the Post-It throughout the afternoon, I don’t even notice the arbitrary markings that are tracking my professional progress with suffocating repetition.

I know that my words are plastered all over the website. I know there is more to my role than just marking up a Post-It note every day. I know that my offering to this job is more than just a pile of lower case L’s on a pink Post-It note in a three-drawer file cabinet under my desk.

But eventually, that drawer full of tick marks, a monument to my magnanimous contribution to the company, felt like too apt a metaphor for wasted time.

I never felt like I had wasted my time so I threw them all away. And I continue to throw them away every three days. Because even if you aren’t unhappy, acting unhappily can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I threw them away because monotony begets more monotony and, frankly, that’s the last thing I want in my life.

Plus, pink isn’t really my color.


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