I’m Stumped

I’m really stumped….

As many of you know, one of my resolutions fir the year was to accept the fact that I’m working where I am for now and I resolved to make the best of it.

Well, needless to say, this week has been like a giant snowball, careening out of control and getting bigger all the time! I feel completely out of control of anything!

I resolved to accept the things that I cannot control, but at the moment, I feel like NOTHING IS actually in my control! Not one thing! I feel completely helpless. And most of all, like a complete failure!

I need help. I need advice. I need guidance. What should I do?

Should I focus on getting at least one or two processes in place so that at least something is written down? Right now, we just try to remember what was done before or “wing” it. Nothing is tracked, no issue tracking, no inventory, no step by step at all.

Should I focus on trying to create a task list of some sort to try to organize all the jobs that need doing? Prioritize and group things for efficiency? Right now, it’s just fire fighting and whoever yells the loudest!

Should I ignore all the issues and focus on the proactive, creative, teaching stuff that have the potential to help people BEFORE they have to ask & are frustrated?

This academic year has had the most outages, most issues, most confusion than any other that I have seen in my 10 years here. I don’t know if it’s just me or if I’m imagining it? People across campus keep telling me I’m right, but maybe I’m just crazy? It sure feels like it each day!

What should I do? Should I spend some time searching for tools that will help us get some control? Should I spend time on creating a more positive image of what we ARE able to do to distract from all that is breaking? Should I focus on stuff I can fix? (most of it, I can’t – that’s what’s out if my control, always has been)

Help! I don’t know what to do. I want it to be better, but the week sure hasn’t been….ideas? Thoughts? Tell me I’m crazy? Anything!?

Thanks friends!

Minimalist Musings

One of my Go-als! for this year is to continue moving forward with becoming more Minimalist. I’ve never really described what that means to me and where I hope to go with it. I thought I’d share that in this post.

I just finished reading a wonderful (and free!) e-book from Faith over at Minimalist at Home (formerly Minimalist Mom) that describes what Minimalism is in an easily understandable way – download and read it – it’s simple, short and sweet! Thanks Faith!

Anyway, I was inspired to write down what Minimalism means to me.

  1. Less stuff – buying fewer things has been the biggest change. Of course, we’ve also “purged” TONS of clothes, toys, kitchen things etc over the year. I used to think I’d just buy containers and “organize” the stuff and that would be better. Yeah, I just had more containers to trip over and reorganize because they’d be emptied. That wasn’t working!
  2. Less work – this has meant STOP bringing work home with me! This has meant less time ranting and raving, less stress and more time doing the work that I really love doing!
  3. Less emails – funny, I actually get A LOT of emails, but I do not let them pile up – my work email had ZERO emails in my inbox when I left for holidays! I kept that up pretty much all year. It means that I am more focused on the ones that matter and literally ignore the ones that don’t.
  4. Less “running errands” – I am shocked how much I DON”T run errands anymore now that I rarely drive anywhere. It has been inconvenient at times, but it certainly has set the priorities of what little “TO-DO’s” really have to get “done”. It has meant being creative in scheduling and birthday gifts and what we participate in.
  5. Less driving has meant more exercise for me. I’ve been a little lazy in the past month due to colder weather, but I did put a lot of miles on my bike and my feet before it got cold and will be hitting the streets again while it’s warmer!
  6. Less scheduling – we are not scheduled in very many things any more – we all “do” less and are not suffering, that’s for sure! There was a time that my daughter did more than 15 hours per week of dance for one example! It was crazy! We were all stressed from the running around. We’ve prioritized into what we REALLY want to do!
  7. Less TV, dishwasher, piles of laundry etc – watching less TV means I read and talk more (though I am on the computer/iPhone a lot still), using the dishwasher less means I’m talking to whoever is helping me, less clothes is less laundry and it’s done regularly so it never piles up anymore – weird! (but awesome!)
  8. Less yelling and freaking out! – it’s amazing how much having less stuff to trip over, less of a schedule to keep and less yelling and more asking nicely has created a much more relaxed house! I’ve noticed that the less I yell, the more they respond and pitch in and the better I feel even when they don’t.

In 2011, I plan on continuing with this process:

  1. More Master Bedroom “Room” – One of the ideas that Faith had before Christmas was completely EMPTYING the bedroom and re-evaluating what got put back. Bruce and I are really excited about that! We’re thinking about getting down to one closet and one dresser for the two of us to share. This means that the second can hold seasonal items and extra blankets. I have tried so many times to turn our bedroom into more of a sanctuary and “retreat”, but so often it ends up being the “dumping ground” – that is my main goal for 2011!
  2. More Time with Hubby – we started official “Date Nights” after our trip to Vegas – we’re continuing with those. This means less time with kids and friends on those nights, but I think we deserve at least two special one-on-one alone times per month! Hopefully, once per week!
  3. More Time with Kids & Family & Friends – I will say “No” to many “commitments” – I will set priorities and do only those things that are priority. This will free up quality time that I will be able to spend with the ones I care about. Sure, there are things that I normally volunteer for, but, it’s time for someone else to step up and take my place. I will let them.
  4. More Exercise Time for Me – I will spend less time at work during my lunch hours and get my butt back to the gym! I fell back into my habit of missing my noon hour workouts to “catch-up” at my desk. No longer!
  5. More Real, Productive Time – when I sit down to work, it will be focused on ONE thing at a time. No more “multi-tasking” at work! Email will only be answered at certain times of the day. I will not be interrupted unless there is an emergency. I will schedule my time and some may not like it, but my workflow has GOT to change! When I sit down to work on a quilt or my business or my writing; I will NOT be tweeting, facebooking, texting, getting distracted in general! FOCUS girl!
  6. More Priority – everything that I buy, do, eat or read, I will be in the moment and THINK first. Do I really need this item? What will I be getting rid of or miss out on if I do that? If I eat this, how will I feel after? Do I need to read one more blog post or book? Everything will be evaluated for it’s TRUE priority in my life.

Those are some of the specifics in my Minimalist Go-als! for the year. I would love to hear what you think of the idea of “Minimalism”!

What do you think? Are there areas in your life that you’re trying to do “more” with “less”? How do you “cut-back”? How does your family feel about this idea? What did you think of Faith’s e-book? (Be sure to let her know!) 🙂 Share in the comments!

A Lesson in Customer Service

I’d like to think that I’m a bit of a customer service “pro” since I do A LOT of that in my real life and consider it a “calling” and something I’m very passionate about. I’m often found saying things like, “Everyone should have to do ‘time’ in a customer service role, just so that they know what’s it’s like the next time they yell & scream at a customer service person!” I’m sure it would help anyway! 🙂

One thing that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been in this field, is this: Treat those that are your most “difficult” customers extra special – try to go above and beyond for them.

Now, before you get upset and say, “They don’t deserve it!” or “That’s impossible!” – hear me out!

I will give you that for some people, you can just never make them happy. And that’s true. However, I have learned that even those people can be more civil when you are giving and civil to them FIRST.

I will also give you that I have NOT always been able to do this myself! Especially for some particularly difficult people. But, I am MUCH better at this now that I’ve been on my Happiness Project. Let me explain:

As my regular readers know, I am looking at life in a different way. I am more accepting of things I cannot change. One of these things are the difficult people that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Another is that I need to be true to myself and not care so much what others think. Both of these things that I’m getting better at has helped me deal with difficult customers.

Compassion goes a long way in customer service. We don’t know what kind of day this person is having or what troubles they have in their life. Why not be a shining star for them? What would be the harm in saying, “I understand your problem – let me see if I can help you!” or even just saying, “Wow, that does sound like an issue. Let’s try to come up with a solution together”

Sure, they may have come in yelling and screaming with their eyes blazing. I am willing to bet that if you emphasize with their problem, SMILE honestly and put yourself in their shoes, the situation will turn around.

I have done this a lot lately with some of the more difficult customers. I’ve listened, I’ve jumped up and tried to work on the solution with them rather than ignoring it (hoping it would go away). I have tried to be a beacon of hope in an atmosphere that isn’t very understanding right now. I have at least tried to understand and do what I can.

What I’ve noticed: Those people have begun to be much more civil when they come in now! Saying things like, “You’re always so good to me” or are more understanding of waiting times etc. I’ve also noticed a VERY big difference in how I feel about the situation. I am not tense and worried about what they’re going to say next. I feel like a “bigger” person for getting past the negativity and trying to be just a little more positive. In the end, both of us benefit from the incident rather than both going away upset! I have been a little surprised at that – that it has made that much of a difference.

Again, I don’t know what that person is going through in his or her life. But if I can be a beacon of light for just a minute or two, maybe it will make a difference for them. It certainly doesn’t do any harm at all!

What do you think of this idea of being extra helpful to those more difficult customers? Add your thoughts to the comments!

Give Me Strength

Another one of those days…

I don’t have much to say about it. A lot of big disappointments yet again at work.

Must keep going. My job does not define me.

Thankfully, I have an awesome family and great friends that help me through these times where I question what I am doing there.

Once again, the universe sent a message too. The very first blog I’ve looked at all day, and it is full of wonderful pictures of a place I dream of going to.

Glorious. Absolutely amazing

Funny that my daughter has the same name and a friend is from Scotland….coincidence? Nope.

That’s what I will remember today. I am there to facilitate the dreams I have of going somewhere like in these beautiful pictures.

Headache is now subsiding thanks to these things.

A rough day…

Well, I let “them” get to me yesterday…

The day started off so bright…the sun shining in my face…seeing my breath in the crisp fall air…enjoying riding my bike to work…and then “the meeting”…I hate meetings.

I haven’t been that angry in a long time. I’m normally better at dealing with it these days because I’ve had a better attitude period. For some reason though, yesterday, I lost it!

I let “them” affect me. I was so tense, so full of venom (that spewed even from my mouth! I hate it when I talk like that!), so full of hurt that I started to cry (I really hate it when I do that).

And I had such a bad headache last night. And an excruciating tight muscle in my shoulder. Both of which I haven’t had in a really long time. Both of which were physical manifestations of my anger.

Who did I hurt with this anger? Certainly not “them”! “They” are still completely oblivious to my feelings because I certainly can’t show it to “them”! I might have lost my job if I said any of that to “them”!

I hurt me! And, I think I hurt my team; I certainly didn’t help them in any way with my words nor my actions.

Thankfully though, I ate Chinese food (a comfort food for me!), spent the evening with my family and slept on it last night. This morning, I sipped my coffee and smiled over my mug at my hubby as we sat for like an hour watching and listening to the little guys play with play doh! Bliss!

There’s nothing like being at home with the ones you love to put it all in perspective. Will anything that happened yesterday mean one damn thing in five years? Hell, even two years?

Nope! It won’t. “They” will keep doing what they are doing over and over. I cannot fix it. No matter how hard I try or how much I want to.

That’s my problem, you see. I want to FIX IT! That’s who I am. Mrs. Fix-It! I am slowly coming to the realization that I can’t possibly fix everything – especially things there. I am slowly learning from my mistakes. It is unfortunate that “they” don’t seem to be.

None of that is in my control though. I can only control my reaction to those situations. I did not control it yesterday.

I am not going to beat myself up about it for days though (like I used to). I am apologizing to my team and then I’m going to move on. My job does not define me. It is not me.

I am this person that loves to help people. That is what I can do and is what I intend to do everyday, whether “they” know it or not, I really don’t care. I care about the “little people” and my team. And that is all that matters.

“They” can pile it on and make all kinds of decisions that I don’t agree with. Whatever. “They” have to live with themselves. I can only do what I can do.

So…guys…I’m sorry for acting like a jerk and a baby!

I will do my job and try to do whatever I can do to help us get through the week. We will help who we can and do the best we can…like we always do 🙂

And my advice to everyone – don’t let “them” get to you. Find your comfort, find ways to relieve the stress. Find out what makes “you, you” and let the rest fall where it may. As I’ve said before, find out what the important things are. Most importantly, take care of Y-O-U! You cannot take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself.

A rough day…no, just another chance for me to learn from my mistakes!