Thursday, August 23, 2007

And So It Goes

It's the end of my first day of semi-unemployment (e.g. the vacation I'm taking between the two jobs) and I used the time to

...get the carpets steamed. Wow were they dirty. Now they're beautiful again. And that fresh smell in my house is from actual cleaning for once, rather than excessive Febreeze use. Always something new.

...move the work computer into the house, as I'm purchasing it from my fine employer rather than pack it up and ship it back to them. I'm blogging on it now!

...convert the office into a music room. Just in case you loyal readers were worried about the renovations we completed earlier in the year going to waste, we've quickly converted it into our rock-n-roll palace.

I know what you're thinking: that was quick. And it was, but I think that I've been gone in my mind for quite some time. I'm psyched about the new job, and having all the amps somewhere we can play them easily.

It's a win-win.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Job Resolutions

It's been so long since I've changed jobs that I'm kind of struggling to picture in my mind what it's actually going to be like to have an empty in-box, or the opportunity to make a first impression again. I guess this is actually kind of sad. If you can call extreme career stability sad.

In any event, I want to try and take all the lessons I've theoretically learned from the GTD-Productivity-Zen things that I've read over the years and get started on the right foot in the new job. To that end, I'm making some resolutions:

  • I will manage my email effectively. I'll be damned if I'm going to have a couple hundred emails in my in-box. Not. Going. To. Happen. I've actually been doing pretty well at this in the current job, but every time I spend any time out of the office I end up with a big pile of unresolved issues that takes more than a day to work through. I am hopeful that if I really attend to keeping the email under control that I will stay on the path of email righteousness.
  • I am going to take the time to understand the whole context of my new work environment. This is something that I'm really excited about -- the opportunity to learn about an entirely new organization and really immerse myself in it. I had the same experience in my old job by virtue of serving as a trainer. I met almost everyone from every part of the university and worked hard to keep my eyes open to their challenges and issues. I'll be working in a division in the new job, and it can be easy to isolate yourself in the issues of your particular office (as I discovered from observing my divisional colleagues). I pledge to work hard to get my brain outside myself and my department.
  • I promise to not turn into one of those annoying customers who drive the IT shop nuts. Yes, I used to do their jobs, but no, I will not point this out to them repeatedly (as some of my current colleagues have done over the years). I will not ask for direct access to the tables in their database so I can run my own sql scripts against them. I will not point out all the ways that their database is inferior to the one I currently work on. I won't do it. I may need horse tranquilizers to accomplish this goal given my proven inability to keep my mouth shut, but I will try.
  • I will not be a grind and eat lunch at my desk. I will ask colleagues out to lunch, I will use lunches to get to know key non-development players in the school where I work, I will get out of the office. Yes, it's my job, but it's also something that I've been traditionally bad at. I resolve to get out.
  • I will ask for and/or make time for the things I want to do during the day right from the start. If I want to volunteer for an hour one morning a week at my kid's school library, gosh darn it, I'm going to do it. I've written before about what a grind I am and how I've managed to turn telecommuting into as much of a grind as going into the Real Office, and I'm going to try a different path.
  • In this same vein, I will work actively to fold telecommuting into what I'm doing. There is no reason that I can't and won't make calls, write letters and notes, analyze reports, and so on, from my comfy home office. Why give me a laptop if you don't want me to be productive from wherever I am? By the way, thanks for the sweet little laptop! I saw it when I went in to sign the paperwork, and I am stoked to get my hands on it. Although I may bring in my spare monitor so that I can really enjoy time spent in the office with it!

That seems like enough to get started on. Any other suggestions?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Pseudo-First Day of Work

I've spent the past couple of days immersed (somewhat) in my new gig with a local university. The development staff was attending a retreat designed to enhance fund raising skills, and my new boss was nice enough to invite me to attend two weeks before I officially start. So I've spent the last two days strapped into the most grown-up clothes I've worn in more than a year, and in shoes. All day. Listening to trainers talk about motivating donors, and using our personality profiles (I'm high-pace) to work effectively with people to move them toward giving.

I must tell you that I haven't felt so comfortable and ready to start a new job since I started with my current-but-soon-to-be-previous employer almost ten years ago.

I feel like the organization and the work that is expected of me is an ideal fit, and I have absolutely no reservations about making this change now.

Yes, I will miss my slippers, and being there after school, and all the good things about telecommuting full time, but I am ready to grow and really kick some ass in this new job.

A funny telecommuting-related aside: many people know I'm coming from a university in Baltimore and I spent a good portion of the day explaining that I wasn't house-hunting, but that I had been here in the 'Burque for a little over a year, all whilst working for my employer. Yes, from home. Remember, these are development people, and in this business, face-to-face contact is the absolute gold standard for our work. The idea that I could work like this was troubling to people, almost unbelievable.

I'm sure they'll get over it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Time Zone Mayhem: A Good Thing and A Bad Thing

As I count down the days remaining in my full-time telecommuting gig, I'm reflecting on the good and the bad that I will miss. And one aspect of my work has always been a bit of a love-hate: the time zone thing.

I work east coast hours from the mountain time zone, and I've complained and raved about this over the year+ I've been doing it. On the one hand, being at work at six in the morning is really not that much of a problem for me, because I am naturally a morning person. I rarely am awakened by my alarm clock, and I really am at my best in the morning.

Likewise, wandering out of my office around three in the afternoon is lovely. I can hit the gym, be around after school, and generally have some "me" time in the afternoon before I have to fetch children and so on.

But one thing that I miss is being able to have productive time before other people show up in the office. When I worked in the Real Office I would often get in quite early (like six in the morning) to really get something critical done. I was sharp, and the office was empty. But when my "early" is everyone else's "on time", I find that I don't have that feeling of getting extra done. That early productive time is spent doing regular stuff.

I've also been concerned that I won't have as much time for my daily tidying and cooking and all the things I've been enjoying over the past year of working at home once I transition back to a Real Office setting. But I realized today when I was reading this Zen Habits post that my early rising might actually start doing me some good again. Except instead of plunging headlong into the work day I'll be able to run a quick mile with the dog, start a crockpot dinner, cuddle with the baby (who is three today and would be quite upset to see herself described as a baby -- good thing she can't read), et cetera.

But we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stella's Making a Change

It's official: I am returning to the world of regular-ole-office workers. I know that you, my dear readers, may find this shocking, or perhaps distasteful, but it must be done. All the paperwork was finally completed to the satisfaction of the rulers of HR last week, and so all that remains is to serve out my four weeks notice, and fly to Baltimore one last time for a going away party.

I really tried to get out of having a going away fest. They're awkward, I don't want to cry in front of people (which I very well may do), and my frugality on behalf of my employer is offended by the notion that they would pay good money to fly me out there for a relatively pointless endeavor.

But another thought occurred to me: much like funerals, going away parties are really for those who are left behind.

My dear colleagues will be left not only with my stultifying workload and the responsibility to train my replacement. Don't they deserve some crab dip and a domestic beer or glass of volume-discounted wine on the house? I do wish that employers did more to reward the folks who stay put. You should get flowers or a "Thanks for sticking with us, big guy!" card, or some kind of recognition each time you pass your hire-date anniversary, if you ask me. After nine years of 1.5% raises and training replacement after replacement after replacement for other folks who have left my institution, it is sad but true that I must quit in order to get some scallops wrapped in bacon in my honor.

Although I may have to suggest healthier food...I am training for a half-marathon, after all. But it's not about me, it's about those I've abandoned in the throes of a corporate culture shift.

Let the crab dip flow like water!