Archives for the month of: July, 2017

First, I made it through my 30 days of probation. This means any danger I may have had of not performing at my night job to expectations and being sent back to part-time is over. My conversion to full-time employee now truly begins.

 

A few months ago, I removed the productivity software that I installed on my PC. I realized that the problem wasn’t things reaching out to distract me, but it was my own inability to concentrate and fully focus on a task. When I find myself easily distracted it means I’m getting close to feeling burnout. When I take a break or a day off for myself, the need to be distracted goes away. Interestingly enough, while I was listening to our most recent Epic Career Tale (another friend of mine), our guest said he never uses productivity software– getting through work quicker means having more time to do what you enjoy. Hearing his words wasn’t anything new, but it was the reaffirmation I needed to hear at the right time.

As my time winds down with Epic Careering and my full-time work continues at night, the struggle not to become burned out is stronger than ever. However, I realized that if I focus on work and push through the siren-call of distraction, that having a little free time, and a sense of accomplishment is its own reward. Sure the distractions will always hover in the background, especially as stress piles on, but having systems and/or expectations in place are a great combatant.

 

What are some of the methods you use to combat distraction?

Monday by Helen Cook of Flickr

Monday by Helen Cook of Flickr

Every so often, my company does something for its employees to give us a bit of a break in our hectic schedules. Today was ice cream day; a local ice cream shop brings a cart by and we all get free ice cream and time to hang out and enjoy it. As I was waiting in line to get my delectable cup of salted chocolate ice cream, I stood talking to my coworker and friend. We talked a little bit about work, but we quickly moved on to talking about what’s going on in both of our lives. I felt (and still feel, hours later) calm and capable after that mid-day break.

I’m sure I’ve said this before in some way, but I really appreciate this company. They go out of their way to organize events like ice cream day which may seem small to some people, but it is a nice thing for employees. The company doesn’t have to go and spend money on ice cream or a party (2 a year in fact–a Christmas party and a Spring picnic), but they do. Sometimes, those seemingly small gestures go a long way, in my estimation, to creating a comfortable work environment. I forgot all about ice cream day today until the little reminder popped up in my Outlook. I forced myself to look away from article proofs, stretch my arms and legs, and get up and go downstairs to stand around, eat, and talk.

My friend and I had a lovely afternoon conversation and I got to enjoy some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had (honestly). I’ll take that over an hour of answering email correspondence any day :).

Do any of your employers or schools go out of their way to do things for their employees/students?

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It has been about a calendar month since I started working full-time at UPS. I have to admit, it has been quite a shock going from part-time to full-time. I don’t regret feeling fulfilled and not having to worry about a lack of working hours, but keeping two jobs and working nearly 50 hours per week has been challenging. (I haven’t been this busy since the holiday season.) However, there are techniques I’m using to keep everything from becoming too overwhelming.

The first thing that’s helped immensely is time-blocking. Knowing I have a couple hours per day to get through my work for Epic Careering before going to UPS helps me stay focused. Putting aside time also lets me take a care of a few small tasks before work, such as cooking dinner, or running a small errand. While some of these things can be done during the weekend, making small amounts of time for them before work returns a sense of control to my life. I did this when I was just part-time, but now that my time is extremely limited, time-blocking is more important than ever.

The second thing is learning to say “no” more. When you have a block of time dedicated to one task and nothing else, it is important to learn to turn down other requests. This could mean that if extra work comes in and it’s not an emergency, it may have to wait until the following day. Or if a chore doesn’t get done in its allotted time, again it must wait. If someone requests your time and it’s also not an emergency, it will have to be scheduled or wait until the weekend. If you say “yes” to everyone and try to satisfy all of their needs, you’ll quickly become burned out.

The third and final thing that has helped is enjoying my time off. With the exception of essential chores or errands, none of the weekend is dedicated to work. I try to enjoy all of the down time I don’t have during the weekdays, such as getting extra sleep, playing video games, or just relaxing.

Do you work a really busy schedule? How do you keep from being overwhelmed?

Lawn Chair by Tom Simpson of Flickr

The ideal weekend/time off – Lawn Chair by Tom Simpson of Flickr

It’s so important to ask questions. I wanted to write about this topic today because I find that the more experienced I become in my field, the more questions I have about various aspects of it. This is a good thing; I think there is a misconception in our society that a person who asks a lot of questions must not “get it.” That just isn’t true! I think that asking questions shows a person is actively thinking about a topic and exploring many facets of a problem. At least, that’s what I experience when I come up with questions about something. I want to know more and the best way to obtain information is to ask specific, direct questions about it.

When I have questions to ask someone, whether it is an author, my editorial office, or my manager, I make sure that I combine all of my questions into one email, phone call, or meeting with that person. There is nothing more irritating than receiving several emails or phone calls about the same topic when one well-organized message would have sufficed. Also, it helps to take a moment and really think through what it is you want to ask; sometimes the answer is right in front of you, figuratively speaking, and all it takes is a minute of contemplation to find it. Or, on the other hand, maybe after that contemplation you’ve considered a new way in which to ask a question or think about a problem. I can sometimes power through things and have learned to ease off the gas and not fire off an email or phone call the second I have questions. This has made me a more careful, controlled person and I feel more confident in my problem-solving abilities.

Don’t ever feel like you are less-than just because you want to ask questions. Sometimes asking a question can start a conversation or debate that could create some amazing answers. I’m a naturally shy person and I am only just now becoming comfortable with asking questions (lots of them, if I need to!) and I wish I had overcome my fears before this point. Gather your courage, confidence, and intelligence, get out there, and ask questions! 🙂

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