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I’ve been writing a lot about vacation lately, because it has been vacation season for me. Last week, I took the last bit of my vacation for 2018. With the exception of the holidays and personal days, I won’t take any more time off until 2019. (This year was about getting back into taking vacations after not having them for nearly a year because of work.) Although, I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to before the start of vacation season, I was productive enough to be satisfied with my time off. This vacation was centered on Otakon in Washington D.C. I made all of my preparations the Saturday before the trip. Those preparations included doing my laundry, packing my bags (despite not leaving until Thursday), and preparing dinner for the following week. Thanks to doing my work early, I was able to enjoy video games right up until the night before the trip. When I got back from the trip I didn’t have to worry about food prep since meals were waiting for me in the freezer or doing laundry because everything was already clean. A little prep work goes a long way.

When I got back into my regular habits, I was listening to podcasts at work and WHYY’s Radio Times grabbed my attention. The show was titled “Americans vs. Vacation” and it struck a nerve with me because I know way too many people who can take vacations, but don’t. According to the podcast, Americans who do have vacation time only take an average of about 17.5 days per year, or about three weeks. A lot of people cite being worried about preparing for the vacation itself, having too much work to do when they get back, working scared, or just hating the idea of taking time off as reasons for why they don’t use their time. (I believe people can prepare for their vacations ahead of time, as I just did.) Even if getting back into the swing of work is difficult for the first few days, taking time off from the job is key to preventing burnout and stress. I know when I returned to work my stress levels were lower than before I left. I believe everyone who can take a vacation should take a vacation. It does wonders for your working life.

 

Summer is almost over. Have you taken your vacation yet? If not, why?

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From WHYY’s Radio Times podcast titled “Americans vs. Vacation”

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One of my professional goals is to be a tiny dot on the radar for my manager. Meaning–I don’t want him to constantly think about what I’m doing and require reports from me. If this is required, then I haven’t proved that I’m a great employee who excels at independent work. I want to be the self-sufficient person my manager never has to worry about. I think I’ve developed this nicely because at my former job, we underwent several major changes and I had to report to someone for a time who was my boss’ boss. I didn’t want her to have to worry about me at all (she had enough on her plate as it was!), so I used my coworkers as resources and navigated a lot of issues on my own. Anything that had to be elevated I did, of course, but I made sure I could get through my day-to-day work without having to involve this upper manager. It went really well!

I’ve been slammed this past week with several projects that will linger into the end of September, which means that I’m having to buckle down and really organize myself in order to get everything done well, correctly, and on time. My manager emailed me for an informal status report and I laid out all of my plans for the upcoming weeks; he was so kind and offered me any help that I needed. I also have a colleague who offered her help for one of my journals which she used to work on before me. I’m very lucky to work in such a supportive environment.

I consider it a success when I can speak with my manager or send him emails about my work and how it’s all going and ask him for help when and if I need it, but otherwise remain the employee that he knows will do a great job. I never want to have him or any one else in upper management worry about me! I think I’m doing alright in that area :).

How about you, readers–do you have a more hands-off, helpful manager or someone who prefers to be in the loop about everything? Please let me know!

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Source.

Friday July 20th was the ten year anniversary of Damage Control, my video game and geek culture blog. Although the blog was created in June 2008, it would take another month after its creation for articles to start going up. In celebration, some of us wrote retrospectives. A common theme was how we all never expected the blog to last for a decade. The original idea behind the blog was to keep writing after graduating from college. After we took on full-time jobs as journalists the blog would slowly fade away. As 2008 came to a close, it became clear that landing a decent job in journalism wasn’t going to be a reality as the country moved into the Great Recession. Even as we made our own career decisions and did what worked best, Damage Control remained because it was an enjoyable way to express our creativity and maintain a connection to writing.

A decade after graduating from college (and founding DC), my life didn’t quite head in the direction I expected. It took nearly two years for the Great Recession to end, and by then I had not landed a journalism job. I was fortunate at to have my evening part-time job for nearly seven years at that point, and I wasn’t in danger of being laid off. It also provided various benefits such as medical, which helped ease a lot of stress. As for news industry jobs, either I was turned down, or the qualifying positions came with long hours and very low pay. I eventually found myself in retail, got roped into multi-level marketing, briefly dabbled in real estate investing, did some freelancing, tried ghost writing, and worked with Karen and Epic Careering for a few years. All of this before I was able to land full-time by chance at the evening part-time job I originally had. Ten years after the recession, the journalism print industry still isn’t in a good place. Although my dreams didn’t come true, I felt like I may have dodged a very stressful life.

It is fairly common for journalists to be laid off from their publications, especially smaller ones. Sometimes the reasons are due to staff cutbacks, other times the publication itself may fold. The cutbacks for the New York Daily News are making huge waves as journalists use the news as an opportunity to keep sounding the alarm of stagnant wages, poor work-life balance, and a dying medium. While I can’t say what life would have been like if I had made it in journalism, I’m still happy for the opportunity to write, whether writing is in the form of a paid gig like my time with Epic Careering or as part of a passion project.

 

How has the last ten years been to your career? Has it stayed on track or changed in drastic ways?

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Keyboard and mouse.

Wow–last week was a whirlwind! I was away for most of it and catching up with a mound of work on Thursday and Friday. My 30th birthday was the best it could have been! I spent the previous weekend with my parents at home and then Sunday to Thursday with my sister and cousin at the shore. It was sooo very relaxing.

I needed a bit of rest and relaxation because I could feel my anxiety creeping up on me again recently. I don’t think it was due to any one particular event, it just happens like that sometimes. Everything I did was making me tense and I knew I had to unwind or I was going to lose it! Thankfully, my mini-vacation came at the time I needed it most.

I could tell my body was ready for a vacation because I slept like a baby most of the time I was there–naps, undisturbed sleeping through the night, the works. I reminded myself when I got back home on Thursday night to pay attention to what my body is telling me. I know that when my stress level kicks up a notch, my sleep becomes troubled–either I wake up several times during the night or I have trouble falling asleep. Sometimes both. From now on, I’m going to actually listen to my body.

I also promise to listen to what my mind is telling me. I don’t need to go away on a vacation in order to relax. I’ve stopped meditating recently because of the usual…not enough time, I don’t want to get up a little earlier to do it, etc. I won’t allow myself those excuses any more! My mental health feeds into my physical health in many ways, so there should be no reason for me to ignore it.

Now that I’m back in action, I feel rested and ready to tackle the week ahead. Sure, I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation, but I already feel better just by getting back into my regular routine again. How about you, readers? Has anyone gone on a vacation yet this summer?

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My photo from vacation.

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