Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recent work mantras

Recent mantras, home edition.
I love words. If I ever get a tattoo, I am SURE it will be word-based. I love pithy and, dare I say it, inspirational phrases that capture big ideas in a few short words. (And I love/hate the ones that make it to Pinterest). Lately I've developed a few mantras that keep coming up during my work day.

Do one thing. I don't have ADD (to my knowledge), but like everyone else, my attention span has suffered as Internet speeds have improved. I tend to load up a million tabs and click around between them when I'm waiting for a page on my ancient work computer to load, or to draft most of an email only to leave it in my drafts when I'm almooooost done. So I've been reminding myself to "do one thing" lately. Like to finish handling an email before I click out of it, because it takes more time to find it again and pick back up. Doing one thing at a time makes my mind feel calmer and (shocker) my work get done faster and less frantically. I also like this as a reminder, when I come in in the morning and start getting overwhelmed by my task list, that I don't have to tackle the whole thing right that minute. Just do one thing, and the second will follow after that. 

This isn't fun. This is sort of an anti-mantra. Since reading this post, It has been popping into my head when I have started digging into a project and whining to myself about how it's harrrrd. Whenever I think this, it signals to me that it's time to buckle down because this is where the magic is happening – where stuff is getting done and where I'm growing as a professional. It signals to me that I should dive deep rather than looking for something easier to do (like responding to an email or gasp! discreetly flicking through Instagram). It means I'm in the zone. And once I'm in the zone, it might not be fun exactly, but it becomes satisfying – whether I'm stringing together a narrative or solving the puzzle of a budget.

Two years into my first real job, there is still so much I'm learning. But I am realizing that I am in control during my workday, of my attitude and my task list. I don't choose my tasks, but I can choose how I prioritize and tackle them. Sometimes it seems that that's the exclusive domain of people who work for themselves. But even at a cubicle YOU are in control, to a large extent, of what your day looks like.

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