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Yesterday, my usually cool and supportive boss came to my desk for asking something and he saw me doing unofficial non-work activities at my desk. He did not react much but he asked what I was doing. I panicked a bit at first and I told him that this is not office work. After that I came to normal and answered his queries which he wanted to ask.

This happened on the backdrop of my company not having many projects and I had no work for the past 2 weeks but I have something lined up for the month December and January. I have not earned a very good reputation for the past 1.3 years of my journey here. I have successfully done the jobs assigned to me and quickly learnt in the job. But I am having some chronic personal problems like forgetfulness which got me a bad name.

My performance and motivation is getting affected as I feel like everyone is watching me like a bad performer. My question: is it a good idea to have a frank discussion with my manager regarding what is the future plan and projects they have for me, and regarding my performance?

NOTE: I am in Asia. The personal thing I was doing is for a volunteer organization I am involved in.

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My performance and motivation is getting affected as I feel like everyone is watching me like a bad performer

They probably are watching you, as you say:

I have not earned a very good reputation for the past 1.3 years of my journey here

Whether it is due to outside issues (memory), you need to stop compounding the problem by doing outside things, even if they are altruistic.

Don't ask the boss if it's ok, just don't do it at work, you aren't in a position to do anything on the side.

You've admitted that you weren't doing work to the boss, so move on, but don't get into that position again, the achievers are allowed to digress from work, strugglers are just building up the evidence to justify firing.

UPDATE

You need to be proactive in this, not reactive. Asking your boss about his plan for you may just lead to you finding out you're about to be shown the door, so you need to be in control.

If you have work coming up, but nothing on just now, think about what you can do for the new project NOW, to give you a head start.

Think of the other things you can do to improve (diary/notebook sounds like a start), make a list of steps and timescales to see an improvement.

Now go talk to your boss, tell him what you have observed about yourself, how you will fix it and how you can help the upcoming project, then ask if he has any other suggestions.

Then try and make the meet with your manager a regular event, and get feedback to provide evidence of your improvement.

How you react to a situation like this can have long term affects, sit back and you'll end up marked for firing, own it and it can actually make you look good, someone who learns and improves.

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It is almost always a good idea, when you aren't sure what you should be doing for the company or when you think you need to improve your performance, to ask your manager for guidance.

You should definitely ask whether "incidental personal use" of the company's computers is permitted, and what the limits are. Doing an occasional quick check of your personal e-mail when you're expecting something important is usually OK; spending all your time chatting with friends definitely isn't. Whether the volunteer work is OK, and how much is OK, will depend on local policies and practices. And since your manager is the one who's going to evaluate your performance, you should know and confirm to his definition of what's acceptable on company time. Volunteer work is a fine thing, but unless the company actively supports it you should be doing it on your own time, not on hours they're paying you for.

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I think it depends on corporate culture of your company and type of work.

For instance in some places where work depends on your creativity people are allowed to have some time off, because tired people do not come up with good ideas, so companies accommodate for that. "Do whatever you want as long as the job is done well". That within limits obviously, downloading torrents and jeopardizing your company's security by doing so is not a good idea at all.

On the other hand if your work is more of repetitive type or time-sensitive, like data entry, call center, customer support, no time off and personal stuff is allowed, because person has to do as much as possible as fast as possible.

Finally, as a rule of thumb if clients or partners (someone outside the company) can see you - you have to look professional at all times: no cell phones, no personal business, always dressed up. Example of such would be personal banker or finance adviser.

In my case company allows to ask for time off at any time if you have problems.

To fix your reputation just put everything aside for now and focus. Deliver fast ans high quality work and people will forget your mistakes pretty fast. If you forget things - get notebook and write everything down, be organized. If you have personal issues that affect your work drastically - notify your boss or rather take time off and solve them. That way you prevent misunderstandings rather than hope for him not to notice.

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