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

I’ve been thinking about my job a lot recently and how so much of it depends on talking to people all day. I speak to my editorial offices (mostly via email, but also on the phone), both internal and external colleagues, and authors constantly. I’m a shy (less so than I used to be), mostly quiet person and I remember wanting to pursue a career where I could get out of comfort zone a little, but not too much! Ironically, I chose a career in publishing that requires me to speak to people for most of my day. This communication, both professional and personal, helps maintain relationships in and out of work that can only benefit me in the long run.

I can speak with someone on the phone, answer an email, and talk to a colleague all within the span of 10 minutes while at work, but I don’t feel burnt out from doing this. Surprisingly, it tends to energize me! Staying close with my colleagues and my editorial offices has made a huge difference in the way I work. I could come in, do my job, and leave without cultivating any relationships whatsoever (it might be difficult, but I could do it). Not only would this be so unbelievably boring that I can’t imagine doing it, it would also be unwise for me to miss these opportunities. Every time I solve a problem an author is having via email or speak to one of my managing editors on the phone, I’m developing my interpersonal skills and preparing myself for the rest of my career. “Interpersonal skills” sounds like such a generic term, but these skills are very real and necessary. If I can’t communicate effectively with those around me at work, I will make my life (and theirs) much harder.

I’m a naturally introverted person and when I come home after work or a day spent with people, I tend to need to decompress for awhile and “rest,” so to speak. I sit in silence and do something by myself, such as read, watch TV, or engage in one of my hobbies, and this centers me and makes me feel more myself. That’s okay, especially after a long day! It prepares me for the next day where I will have to speak with many different kinds of people about a variety of topics, and I feel powerful because I can have a positive impact on someone else’s day.

Does your job or the classes you take in school require you to constantly communicate with people? How do you feel about it?

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Source.

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

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog yet, but at the end of May until the very beginning of June I’ll be taking a trip to Ireland! I’m going with my grandmother and we’ll be driving (okay, I’ll be driving…) around the country. I cannot wait for this trip–I’ve been saving and planning for it for awhile now and it’s so close! I’ve also been planning for it at work and it will be the first major vacation I’ve taken since a week-long trip to Aruba in 2014. This trip to Ireland will be almost 2 whole weeks (luckily, Memorial Day is thrown in there and my office is closed) and I have to prepare for people to take over my work while I’m out. Here are my plans:

  1. Do as much work as possible before I leave. This is very important because I don’t want to leave a pile of unfinished article proofs or unreviewed copyediting for someone to deal with while I’m out. I want to be conscientious and make sure I don’t overwhelm anyone.
  2. Anticipate any problems that could arise while I’m out. Since I’ll be “working ahead” as much as possible before I leave, it will give me a chance to think about problems or questions that could arise from my editorial offices. If I can anticipate their needs, I can head any potential issues off at the pass so my coverage partners only deal with happy, satisfied people.
  3. Make sure everything for both of my journals is organized. I’m a pretty organized person as it is, but making sure the things that my partners will be working on are in order before I leave will help them immensely. There are a lot of coverage documents for our journals and I may have let mine get a little stale, so I’m planning on looking through those and updating all the information.
  4. Bring home little thank-you treats for my lovely coverage partners! I’ve covered for a few people during my time here and I always appreciated the nice in-person “thank you” or small gift of chocolate, etc. This is certainly not required, but I’d like to make sure the people who are helping me out feel that I really appreciate what they’re doing!

As my departure date gets closer I’m sure I’ll have more to add to this list, but for now I’m concentrating on these items to ensure my vacation goes smoothly for everyone! How about you, readers–what was the longest vacation you took from work or school and how did you handle coverage or the workload while you were out?

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Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr.

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