Archives for the month of: August, 2017

Last week was one of those crazy busy, can’t-even-take-a-minute-to-breathe weeks. From the moment I checked my email on Monday morning until I left the office on Friday afternoon, I was doing something. That wasn’t a typical week for me because most of what I was working on were unexpected issues that popped up and I had little time for my own day to day activities that keep my two journals going. In the past 2 years that I’ve been here (2 years?! I can’t believe it!), I’ve come up with a few things that I try to do so that, when I do have weeks like last one, I don’t fall behind on my regular work.

One of the best things I’ve ever forced myseld to do is to spend a set amount of time every day working on my “regular” work. For me, this means that I set aside 30 minutes to an hour every day to work on article proofs and/or copyediting review. This is the kind of work that keeps manuscripts and articles flowing through the production process and I’m responsible for making sure I have fairly low turnaround times for these tasks. It might seem like a burden to interrupt whatever I’m doing to switch to another task for a short period of time, but I can’t tell you how much this has helped me. I actually create an Outlook calendar event for myself where I’m marked as “Busy” and I spend that block of time doing what I need to do to keep my publications on track. This might sound silly, but this even calms me down a bit if everything else I’m working on is stressing me out. Coypediting review and article proofs are the bread and butter of my job–it’s what has essentially been the same from my last job to this one. It’s not that I can do these tasks “blindfolded,” but they are familiar and I typically know how to handle almost every situation that crops up while I’m working on them.

If I spend that chunk of time working, then I feel immensely accomplished at the end of the day. Not only did I handle all of the random things that came up, but I was still able to keep my day to day work on track as well. I feel a little bit like a superhero on those days :).

What do you do when you are in situations where your “regular” work is interrupted by emergencies, problems, or just stuff?

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It’s been a little over two months since I’ve started my new job and a little over two weeks since I left Epic Careering as an assistant. (Thank you for the awesome send off, Karen!) The most difficult thing so far has been getting into a groove that I feel is productive. I spent my first week post Epic Careering on vacation, part of which was spent at home relaxing. The other part of my vacation was spent in Washington, DC at Otakon (an annual convention that celebrates Asian pop culture). Once I returned from my vacation, I discovered balancing my free time and work didn’t progress as smoothly as I wished.

The most difficult part of a physical job is the strain it puts on your body. This goes double if the job lacks real climate control and you are at the mercy of the temperature. The week following my vacation was particularly rough because of the heat and humidity. Even though I work what is essentially an office job for part of my night, the computers where auditing is done are on the factory floor surrounded by conveyor belts, trucks, and trailers. The only relief from the heat is when there’s a breeze and a trailer isn’t parked at a bay door. As for the second part of the night, it’s still the same package handling job I had before going full-time. Sometimes I’m located by a fan that works well, other times there’s no relief from the heat (besides water—lots of water). The effect was that my free time (including the weekend) was spent recovering from mild heat sickness.

This week is going a lot better, as I have more energy than last week. Now I’m staring down a mountain of tasks to do in my free time that I told myself I would eventually complete. Like all things, the key lies in best practices. An article I read by *Dr. Alan Zimmerman comes to mind. Two key aspects to completing goals lie in setting a deadline and creating a plan. Otherwise, those goals are never accomplished. One task I’m looking forward to now that I’m feeling better is to get into the groove of my new schedule by setting reasonable goals, creating a plan, and a deadline for those plans. Since this is my free time, I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, so it’s up to me to motivate myself and stay on track.

 

How do you stay motivated when you’re completing goals for yourself and not someone else?

*Note: Dr. Zimmerman was a guest for the June 2016 episode of Epic Career Tales.

 

Schedule by Marco Bounvino of Flickr

Schedule by Marco Bounvino of Flickr

This week, my office moved to an open floor plan. We’ve known about it for awhile and I’ve had mixed feelings (more on the negative side than the positive, I have to admit). I enjoy my privacy at work and having my own space. We have lockers with space for a little bit of our stuff and we packed up our boxes on Friday. We moved to a different floor (temporarily until we move back to our permanent floor in December) on Monday and coming in that morning was more than a little stressful. Once I got settled, though, and spent yesterday and today figuring out where I want to sit and how I want to operate, I’m starting to think it’s not so bad.

The office is so much more open and with all of that junk away from the windows, so much lighter. We have a big beautiful new kitchen with better coffee and vending machines, refrigerators, and seating. Our old kitchen was extremely small with no space to sit, so this is a major plus. We have big, new monitors and standing desks. There’s a button on the desk that raises and lowers it and if my legs get stiff, I can stand and work for awhile. We also have “focus rooms”–one person rooms that you can work in if you need quiet and privacy for awhile.

The only drawback is that I have to unpack my stuff every morning and pack it all up at the end of the day. And I have to carry all of that stuff with me, unless I want to put it in my locker. I do have things in my locker, but it’s more of a pain than a convenience to go to it every day. Once everything settles down (probably after this first week), I think I’ll get into the groove of things.

So far, I give the open floor plan a B, with potential! What about you, readers? Have any of you worked in or do any of you work in an open floor plan office? What do you think?

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The bulk of the work I do for my job is on the computer–I work on article proofs, edit Word documents, and correspond with authors, editors, typesetters, and others via email. Sure, I have face-to-face meetings (mostly departmental) and some conference calls, but most of the time I’m wired in to my work laptop and our database. I try to remember to look up every so often and focus on something far away so I can exercise my eyes and get up to talk a short walk (even if it’s around the office) every hour or two, but there is one thing that I do that gets me through my day: listen to music.

I have tried it all: Pandora, Spotify, podcasts, the radio, everything. And I’ve enjoyed it all, so I try to switch it up every day based on the work I’m doing: oh, today I’m doing a lot of copying and pasting, so I can listen to a podcast or any kind of music I want. And another day, maybe I’m working on a slew of author proofs that requires concentration–this calls for classical music. I always have my headphones in and something playing to keep me focused. I know some coworkers who never listen to music at work because they find it distracting, and I know others who listen to books all day. I wish I could listen to an audiobook all day, but I’ve tried that before and I find that I get distracted very easily.

I listen to music to maintain my concentration at work but it also keeps my morale up. Now, you all know I’ve written about how much I love the company I work for so you know that I don’t struggle with low morale at work, but being able to listen to whatever I want keeps me happy throughout the day. If I feel myself getting bored or distracted, I take a minute to find something new to listen to. Music is something I enjoy very much and to be able to listen to it at work is a wonderful thing.

What keeps you going throughout your day?

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