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First of all, I must apologize for how late this blog is going up. My intention was to have it up on Wednesday, but that slipped into Thursday, then I had to push it aside to make room for some high priority projects.

That leads me to the reason why I’m so short on time as of late. I landed a full-time job at UPS. It is the same seniority-based job I previously wrote about. The only major requirement was being able to type 40 words per minute. The people with more seniority than me either didn’t want the job since it was computer based (or they didn’t like the hours), or they failed the typing test. I was nervous going into the test because of the expectations and pressure (all eyes were figuratively on who would pass the test and get the job), but I passed at 55 words per minute with shaky hands.

I started the job on June 12, and since then it has been a whirlwind of getting used to the new rules at work, learning how going from part-time to full-time affects my pension, vacation, seniority, and just getting used to working from 6PM to 3AM Monday through Friday. Additionally, I’ve been training on how to be a package auditor for international packages. Learning the rules, what forms customs needs, and keying in information as needed (thus the need to type at a minimum of 40 words per minute). It is pretty much an office job in the middle of a very large factory/package hub while working next to huge trucks. This is only half of my night, the other half is being a package handler for domestic parcels which don’t need as much scrutiny– basically same the job I’ve had for years.

Since I’m working a full 40 hours per week, the time crunch is a bit much. So I will be leaving Epic Careering at the beginning of August. I’ll have a separate final post, once everything is said and done. For now, it seems like a good time to start preparing to turn the reins over to my eventual successor.

072 - Keys by Hillary of Flickr

072 – Keys by Hillary of Flickr

Just as MaryKate continues her epic vacation abroad, I’m back from my staycation. As I mentioned in a previous post, I made good on my promise to take time off from both jobs. To be honest, the vacation was nothing special, as I didn’t even leave Philadelphia. The only time I left home was to go into Center City to wait in line for the RickMobile (as in Rick and Morty). However, I did accomplish what I set out to do. My first goal was to rest my mind and body. My second goal was to make a serious dent the game I’m currently playing, Persona 5. Considering I didn’t get out of bed on some mornings until after 11, and I put an additional 20 hours into my game (for a current total of 68 hours), I’m fairly satisfied. I even took a day to organize some parts of my house, like installing shelving in the back bedroom to clean up clutter.

Far too many people don’t consider taking vacations for a variety of reasons. Vacations don’t need to be expensive. The point is to take time off from work to allow your mind and body to recharge. Upon returning from my vacation I certainly feel recharged and more focused. The break is exactly what I needed and I’m glad I took the time off.

 

Do you regularly take vacations?

Persona 5

Big chunks of my vacation were spent playing Persona 5. Nice to Mee-ow-t you too, video games.

I found the entrance to the rabbit hole of opportunity that may pique my interest, all because I decided to make a trip to the HR office at my night job.

Working in a union at UPS is a unique experience. Obtaining full-time work is difficult and usually means driving trucks, going into management, or bidding on a job in the hub when a full-time employee retires, leaves, or is fired. The latter full-time positions are extremely rare. When these coveted jobs come up they are always seniority-based. A part-timer with the most years at the hub is given a chance to claim the job, if he or she declines or fails a test (if the job is skill-based), HR goes down the list of candidates. I always sign-up for these jobs if they catch my interest because the worse thing that can happen is the job goes to someone else. This time around, co-workers came up to me insisting that I actually had a good shot at the job because of my proficiency with computers and that others ahead of me failed the requirements, or weren’t interested. I feared that I would be passed over for the job while on vacation, so I visited HR to let them know I was interested in the position.

I was reassured that if the running came down to me, they would wait for me to come back from vacation. (Union rules dictate the seniority list must be adhered to, unless the candidate is out on a leave of absence.) The discussion with my HR manager then went down a different hole. The minimum requirement for the job is the ability to type at least 40 words per minute, she asked if I could do so, and I mentioned my degree in communications. At this point, she raised her eyebrows and seemed confused as to why I was still just an hourly employee. I told her I did other things outside of work related to my field (such as my work with Epic Careering). She then noted that if I was willing to leave the union, I could find other part-time work within the company that would put my degree to use. I was surprised that communications jobs were so close to home (I’d always seen supervisor jobs within my hub, but they involved work on the floor and didn’t interest me– I never once thought of transferring to another local hub as a non-union employee). Additionally, I also made a connection to someone in HR. It is a connection that has been there the entire time, if I just had been willing to look beyond my daily routine and ask questions.

I realized it’s not too late to walk out of the narrow tunnel and look for other opportunities at my night job that interest me in ways I never thought possible, or even to expand connections beyond my local hub.

 

Have you ever been so focused on the daily grind at work, that you realized you may be overlooking bigger opportunities?

Another Office Shift by Peta Hopkins of Flickr

Another Office Shift by Peta Hopkins of Flickr

Over the weekend I came across an article titled “Smartphones are the New Cigarettes.” Curious, to see if the article was clickbait or something more, I well, clicked on it. I found myself mostly in agreement with the author and felt the sting of annoyance. The gist of the article is that smartphones are addictive and thanks to them, it has become harder for people to concentrate on tasks. This is me in a nutshell, and my annoyance stems from wanting to fight back and reclaim my concentration. Then I realized that concentration has always been a  personal struggle for much of the time. When it wasn’t my smartphone I was usually distracted by something else. In college it was my computer (and early social media sites like LiveJournal), in high school it was TV and/or video games. Sometimes I wonder how I accomplished anything.

As I think about distraction more, I realize that getting distracted is easy because I perceive starting a task to be difficult. In my mind getting started on a task is very much like pushing a boulder. Once the task is started, rolling a giant rock isn’t so bad and there are even areas of inspiration and motivation where the rock just seems to fly down the hill. Of course, getting started on that task is the real killer. Every day isn’t the same. There are days when I’m extremely productive and distraction isn’t an issue. There are other days where I barely budge and the entire day is filled with distraction.

About two weeks ago I was on vacation from my night job. While I worked during the day, at night I couldn’t muster the will to complete the personal tasks I set out for myself. Play video games? Nope. Upgrade my personal website? Nada. Do some spring cleaning around the house? No. I just felt burned out and slept a lot while on vacation. Oddly enough, once my vacation was over I felt more productive at work. A combination of allowing myself to do nothing, while feeling frustrated that I should have done more ironically spurned me into being more mindful of my time after my vacation.

 

The moral of this story is to be wary of creeping burnout and not being afraid to take time off when needed. Fortunately, I have another vacation coming up near the end of this month and I plan to take time off from both jobs.

Have you ever become burned out without realizing it?

Boulders by Mark Doliner of Flickr

Boulders by Mark Doliner of Flickr

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