Week one – E

…   for Efficiency.  Or at least I tried.

This week I was excited, scared, nervous, intimidated, confused, tired, sleepless, clumsy and all over the place. This week I was energetic, positive and optimistic. This week I was both good and bad. This week was my 1st week on the new job.

You win some, you lose some, right? You cannot have it all. So I have this new exciting job, but at the same time, I have to give up a lot  of things that used to be on my unemployed person to do list. One thing I was happy to scratch off –  no more cover letters ! No more  hire me! Hire me!  applications ! And no more worrying that time goes by, and the more time I spend in unemployment, the worse my CV looks.

However, the other things that I have crossed off that list were :  reading, working out, watching informative videos, creating, investing in personal growth,  walking/spending time outside, socializing and other fun activities. Well, I did not actually do all of those, while unemployed, but they certainly were on my list. And I was going to get to them… eventually.

But now I cannot. Now that I have no time to do them, I suddenly feel the urge to start that book that has been added to my Kindle weeks ago, I suddenly want to know everything about the new emerging technologies, I want to update this blog regularly and I want to work out. So pretty much, I am going back to my things I wish I had time to do  list that I had compiled back when I was working for the BlueCo.

But no, this time, I am doing things differently. And this is where the E comes in. Yes, I have less time Out of the Office, but what if I use that limited amount of time in the best possible manner? What if I organize myself, what if I prioritize, what if I get into a healthy routine and actually follow it?

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By definition, efficiency describes the extent to which time, effort or cost is well used for the intended task or purpose (wiki). In my case, efficiency would mean  using my limited 24 hour window of time by assigning the right amount of effort and energy to each task of the day ( including the personal ones) and considering all the costs involved ( financial, interpersonal, health related) in order to achieve the perfect work/life balance.  This is my quest for the optimal, as I call it. This is my plan.

Step 1. Gather the will power to get up early and to work out.

On Monday, I had set my alarm less than 6 hours away so it really sunk in that yes, I was getting back to employment. But this time I am older, I am wiser, and I know what needs to be done.

First of all, going to bed at around the same hour – before 12 –  helps. Secondly, my new alarm tones are motivating –  I chose a few songs that make me  want to get up and sing/dance.  And thirdly, I work out. I have to do it –  because if I do not do it then, I do not do it at all. And if I do not do it at all I 1. risk turning into a fossil during the day and 2. will never EVER get back in shape for all my planned hiking/cycling  activities once spring/summer arrives.

Step 2. Master plan to spend less, meet more, eat limited.

Eating in the kitchen, versus going to eat out works so far. I get some food from home, which costs less, then I eat with/ see different people every day.

Step 3. Work smart… and hard.

This week has gone from impossible dark to  there might be some hope of a light at the end of the tunnel sometime in the future.  So that in itself is progress.

They tell me that the most important thing is to not get scared. And yes, that sounds familiar, as I was more or less told the same at the BlueCo. So yes, it is a lot. Very very much a lot.

Oh the things I installed on that computer! Oh the documentation I was given to read! Oh the programming languages! Oh the fruit flies that were circling my frowning face! And the thing is, whenever I would  squash one of them, another one would come over, giving me this déjà vu feeling of wait, hadn’t I dealt with you already?

This week I got to the office before all the people in my team/office/close proximity. And I like that –  there is something special about the quiet of the office in the morning, before all the desks  become populated, before all the computers start running, before all the voices and emotions fill the air. It feels like the calm before the storm, it feels like the workday is about to start but that somehow it didn’t  – not yet, and you have these precious moments to yourself.

Step 4. Get air.

I try to get out at lunch, and go for a short walk. However that was not possible every day this week  – but as I progress in my knowledge/experience, and as the weather will get warmer, I will surely stick to this step.

And then, after mu 9+ hours of work, I walk for 25 minutes before getting on public transportation. Clean air, movement, silence and the possibility to gather one’s thoughts. It is just me and the holes in the sidewalk.

Step 5. Use your personal time to the maximum –  I know that in order to become a great professional, it is important to work smart AND hard,  and to dedicate yourself. However, I also know that it is important to disconnect every now and then, to refresh the memory. And I plan to use the hours of the evening to do just that. I work on my personal projects, I read, or I go out and socialize.

Week 1 is over, time to regroup for week 2 (deepbreath).

Inspiring stories – Andrew Kim & Microsoft

From an early age, great achievements, huge talent and healthy ambition.

Also, he dresses impeccably in a white t-shirt (he owns many), a cardigan (unbuttoned), slacks and sneakers,  but on the cover image, the said t-shirt is kinda wrinkled :)

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/stories/people/andrew-kim.html

His blog is also inspiring,

http://www.minimallyminimal.com/

Enjoy :)

The WhiteCo – Day 1

downloadAs we live in the era of technology –  I had not been to the office and I had not actually met anyone from the WhiteCo during or after the interview process. They just told me (yey, after 4 months of unemployment!) that I was hired, and that I should get to the office on Monday, bringing just my documents and my hardworking self.

I hate being late –  and especially on my 1st day. So I left the house early and I got there 1.5 hours early. I saw the building, went around it a few times just to make sure that I was in the right place, checked out all the entrances and the signs, wondered why the name of the company was not on the panel at the entrance to the Finance and Business Center, checked the watch constantly, got mud all over my boots, decided to go to a nearby supermarket and get some water and shoe cleaners, got back to the building, talked to the doorman and then finally I decided to go inside. I figured I could go to the 3rd floor, freshen up in the bathroom and just be 10 minutes early –  acceptable and even encouraged.

( there was one occasion when I got to a job interview early, and there was no bathroom, so I had to go right into the conference room and take off my hat and winter coat while my interviewers were watching me –  not a good start… for them, as a prospective employer. But about that, in another post)

After going about my business, I was still 25 minutes early. I contemplated the possibility to go and wait at the balcony, but the extrovert in me was not reachable and I felt higly antisocial when I saw that the latter area was populated by those who would most likely be my colleagues… The same urge to just run away appeared when I heard voices in the common room/kitchen, so I went back to the elevators and tried to move to another floor.  As 5+ floors had code access, I ended up at the 2nd floor –  not knowing, of course, that the 2nd floor was also the WhiteCo. I guess you can run, but you cannot hide.

As I approached the 10 minutes early courtesy time, I dared to go into the common area/kitchen, where there were only 2 voices.  I can deal with only 2 voices, I thought, but guess what, only a few minutes in, I managed to call one of the guys a lady. It was the typical small talk walk in trap –  he said it was better to be early than to be 15 minutes late, as he always is, and I said that yes, ladies sometimes do that on purpose…. He was amused, but now that I think of it, I have not spoken to him since. Hm.

Still awkward and still with no sign of the extrovert person that I consider myself to be, I said  hi, I hope we will work well together to the first 15+ group of people and then I shook the hands and repeated the names of the other 15+ people that i met shortly after the kitchen incident. And when asked, i said no, I did not want to go to the 2nd floor and meet the people there too.

My colleague is nice and positive :  his main saying, is that it is always more pleasant to look nice, so i blame him for the fact that i wore a formal dress in an atmosphere where everyone wears whatever they like, including leopard printed slacks and slippers.

His other saying, however, came in very handy – both during that first day, and during the 1st week.

Just don’t get overwhelmed. 

1st impressions may be important, but they are certainly not decisive.

My own boss – unemployment logs

And the quest of the unemployed continues. Every day is like a product life cycle chart – it starts off slow, with the cold feeling of winter in my lungs, the foreign feel of the rug underneath my soles and the oh so unpleasant feeling of numbness in my joints and back. Yes, good morning. It is yet again past 8:30 and i am at home, guiding my feet one by one to the kitchen, where i make myself a cup of coffee with milk. My piggie slippers then slowly move back towards my place of procrastination –  my work desk. Or just desk, in the last days weeks.unemployment-benefits

Being unemployed kinda means you are your own boss –  you give yourself tasks, you set your own deadlines and you check your own results. And this is probably what makes unemployment  not a vacation –  it is hard enough to do one of these jobs, let alone both of them. Especially when the results  –  interviews or offers – are late to appear.

Yes, being unemployed does mean a lot of free time. Lots of freedom and flexibility. Not so many financial resources. Lots of wasted moments and lots of regrets for the days that have gone by. Little or no satisfaction. For me, it felt something like the work of Sisifus –  day in and day out, i had to go through the same steps: check out the new job postings, read the requirements, sort out the ones i wished to apply for, check the CV and draft a motivation letter describing how much i want to be part of the X culture and Y business methods. And at the end of the day, there was little or even no satisfaction whatsoever… there is not much to show for your day other than the inbox crowded with thank you for your interest in our company emails. In between the latter, the  unfortunately, your application has not been successful, but we wish you luck in your future endeavors  sting a little bit, but are still better than the lack of response. At least the latter made me more or less aware of whether i should check my e-mail on an hourly/30 minute basis or not, what e-mails to expect in the future, what chances i have, and whether it was time to lower my standards and start applying for another category of jobs altogether.

My official unemployment began on the 19th of October 2013 –  but i did take some time to rest and to get my thoughts in order before getting on the job applications rollercoaster. Also, i had this weird feeling that everything was going to be ok, that i would be fine, that there is nothing to worry about… Maybe it was the fact that i had some money saved up; maybe it was my  living at home and thus no looming rents or bills for me to pay. Maybe it was my confidence in my own value as a job candidate, maybe it was my intuition… or maybe it was just plain irresponsible of me.

Because in the end, everything did indeed turn out ok. Just as i was about to start panicking that my CV and candidature is becoming more and more obsolete with each day.

Week number 1 of unemployment was pretty productive in the sense of  By that time i had planned a trip to Italy, with a short stay in Serbia, so it was really like taking a vacation… from the vacation i had already taken.images

 

At first, i did not know how to be unemployed. I took a small vacation at the beginning –  right after my contract with the BlueCo ended. i got together with  friends and family, i met new people, took on a challenge here and there, got back in touch with myself and just rested and enjoyed the late October weather. And then the early November one. And then the late November one. I was lightly sending applications here and there, i had been to a few interviews, but i was not too stressed out. I figured i still had time –  i had given myself a deadline, a period of light activity and just nosing around different job markets and areas.

Till it hit me. It was already the 1st of December, 30 days before my deadline, after which i had promised myself that i would lower my standards and apply for all kinds of jobs. I was so close to that deadline, the day when i had to stop aiming high.  And i did not want to stop. Because i had not aimed hard enough before. I had not aimed carefully enough. I had not aimed well enough.

So i extended my deadline till March. But that is when i started to aggressively aim aim aim. 

Too bad i was aiming all over the place and the arrows were coming back to bite me in the behind. I found myself always feeling guilty for not doing more, not sending out more, not reading more, not preparing more, not working more etc. I felt the constant need to be doing something, reading something,  indifferent of the hour, so in the end, there was no free time, because technically, all the time was free time, right?  I had no boundary between aiming  time and me time, so i was constantly in a rush from here to there, procrastinating and feeling guilty at the same time, sending out applications in a hurry, hungry for more more more, for higher higher higher.

And as my arrow bag became empty, it hit me : i had to relax. Looking for a job is a full time job –  and i needed to treat it like that. I had to take breaks. Lunch breaks, evening breaks, emotional breaks. And i had to enjoy the little time i had left in  unemployment.  It was a job, but after all,  i was my own boss. And it did not have to be 9-6. It could be 8-5. Or 12 – 9, depending on the activities of the previous evening.  But strictly had to be 8 hours. Ok, sometimes it could be 7. Other times, 6.  But only on weekdays. Maybe sometimes not even on all of them. Sometimes, when an urgent matter appeared, i would send out applications on weekends as well. But not on too many weekends. Because otherwise, when was i going to have the time to do all those things there is no time for when employed? When would i have had time to enjoy the sun, read a book, drink coffee with my friends at noon, start writing on my blog again?

Too bad my unemployment period hit in the winter, and thus i had to spend most of it inside. Although i am glad that it did not spill into another season, and that it only lasted 4 months on the dot : when i got the liberating offer i let out a sigh and looked around my room, not believing that there would be

NO MORE APPLICATIONS AND COVER LETTERS !

And just like that, a new category was created : Journal of an Employee.

TED : Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life

I was reluctant to watch this talk as i am not a gamer –  as proven yesterday and all times before that where i would just watch and not really enjoy video games… However, i do like playing card games, board games and social games, so in a way i guess that makes me a gamer too, of sorts, right?

This talk gives some very good advice.

First of all, do not be still for more than 1 hour at a time. It is a problem our generation faces more and more each day, as we spend our working days mostly behind a computer screen… and our free time doing the same. I try to get out of that routine, i try to work out, to go for walks, hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities. All of the above is a bit more difficult in the winter –  true, but i do my best.

Second of all,  we need to reach out to the persons we care about,  tell them how we feel, help them with whatever they need, or just spend some quality time together, wouldn’t that just be great?

Third of all, will power is just like a muscle, it gets stronger the more we exercise it.  So by tackling small goals and tasks daily, we can actually grow to be able to face larger challenges in terms of professional and personal growth.

And last but not least,  we have to offer ourselves at least 3 positive emotions for each negative one we get, daily. The negatives come on their own, it is the positives that we need to trigger. And as the talk shows, looking at a baby elephant picture might just do that :)

TWhC7

All of the above seem like simple enough advice, some 4 simple steps to follow every day. So why don’t we?

Raptitude – Keep your doing and your deciding away from each other

It is amazing how well this article actually works. I am sure that it will not yield the same results for larger, more complex issues, but for small stuff such as  should i clean the house  or  should i brush my teeth after the 3 major meals of the day it works just fine.

It is like some CPU is freed, and the mind has made room for other, more important issues….

Enjoy.

http://www.raptitude.com/2014/02/keep-your-doing-and-your-deciding-away-from-each-other/