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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November - Work It!


"Anything worth doing at all is worth doing well."

I am working from a coffee shop in Astoria right now. Bekah started her Wednesday shifts here a week ago and they put her up in a beautiful little hotel downtown on Tuesday nights. She asked me if I wanted to come along - of course! It's one of those rare, sunny, beautiful fall days here. I think in the three years I've lived in Oregon and the maybe dozen times I've visited this town it has NEVER been clear out. But today it's gorgeous. We'll call this my lunch break.

It's November 2nd, so my Happiness Project is officially in its second day. November I will focus on work.

The goal is not perfection. This is not the perfectionist project. This is about happiness. But I get a sincere thrill out of doing something well. Nothing is quite as satisfying. November also happens to be the busiest work month of the year for me. In November I put a grant pipeline together for the next fiscal (which for Opal Creek also happens to be calendar) year. I have several important grants to finish up before the end of the year. I get a newsletter put together and mailed to our member base. I craft and mail our a year-end appeal. I attend or contribute in some way to several board events. And this year I also happen to be in charge of the content and design for the newly recreated www.opalcreek.org AND our office just moved a week ago today. Phew! I'm honestly not overwhelmed . . . yet . . . but I definitely recognize the need to step up my game a little. I love my job and sincerely work hard with the organization's best interest in my heart. That said I sometimes allow myself to be so flummoxed at the sheer volume of work to be done that I find myself caught like a deer in headlights - completely inert and incapable of accomplishing anything. I just said I'm not overwhelmed, didn't I? Ha. I guess I lied. Maybe what I should've said is I'm not freaked out. I'm not in danger of losing my job. But overwhelmed. Yes, I'll admit that. It doesn't help that we've been in the new office space for a week and despite the fact we're paying out the nose for Ecotrust's IT services, our internet and server connections have yet to be established.

I'd so love to just rock this next month. It's been a tough year in the development world and grant money is down significantly right now. While this upsets me - I would've loved to bring in $100K in general operating money my first year on the job - I understand that the economy is beyond my control. I can only hold myself responsible for what is within my control. I saw a motivational slogan on Pinterest yesterday (one of the many poor workplace habits I've adopted - an uncanny addiction to Pinterest) that was geared toward physical fitness, but made sense in this light as well: You don't always get what you wish for, you get what you work for.

So my goals for November are:

1. utilize every minute of every work day.

I have a friend who recently graduated from law school and landed a job at a prestigious law firm downtown Portland. At a get together with some ladies this friend mentioned of her new job that her time was billed in 6 minute increments! This was a prick to my conscience. She has a computer system with a clock that times in 6 minute increments and her job performance reviews, salary increases and bonuses largely reflect her billable hours. I got to thinking: If I were to have to account for my time in this way, how embarrassed would I be? How much time, would I realize, do I waste?

I'm not going to break my day down into six minute increments. I am not a lawyer, I am an environmental non-profit grant writer and a certain amount of . . . hmmmm . . . laziness isn't the right word . . . is implicit in my world. We operate by tides and moons, not clocks. But that's not to say there isn't room for improvement. I think at the start of each work day I'll break my time into 90 minute increments, giving myself mini-deadlines and checking things off a list as I go.

2. initiate contact with other development professionals

At a recent Willamette Valley Development Officers meeting I sat next to a very friendly fellow development professional who has since pursued a professional development type friendship that I have neglected grossly. I have (and assume she does too) too much going on in my work day to carve out an hour in my week to get together to talk shop. But no one's stopping me from doing this on my own time. I find I've been stingy with the time I give my work in the past year. I made the mistake of figuring out my hourly wage and since we were able to hire a part time registrar a year ago and those responsibilities shifted from me to the person in this position, I've adopted a strict 9-5 schedule. Fine. But the only one who's suffering as a result is me. Overnight I went from working 9-10 frantic hours daily to just eight. With a lunch break. And a few minutes here or there to catch up with e-mail or Pinterest. Devoting a littel out of office time to work is only going to strengthen my credentials, improve my job performance, impress my boss and our governing board of directors. None of whom, I should mention, have the luxury of working just eight hour days.

3. efficiency, organization, pizzazz

And I think that'll do it for the work goals for now. I'll keep you posted on my progress. It seems important that I have some sort of grading rubric by which to assess my progress. This is still in the brain storming stage.

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