Work Life Quality
As Tax time rolls around we get the same advice every year.”If you get a large refund you are not managing your money well”. You know what? Tax advisers can be wrong, too.
The mathematicians, the anally focused financial advisers, the tax accountants who are so proud that they can calculate the amount of their taxes to the nearest decimal point all rush to tell the rest of how to manage our money, how to maximize the return on our investment to the nearest nano of a percentage point. Technically, theoretically, as mathematicians they are right, and if you have excess disposable income and are not struggling paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet this argument may apply to you, but this position does not allow for the fact that we are people, we are not all the same and we are not perfect and we react to all the variables of our lives as needed at the moment.
If you are the bread winner for a growing family and are lucky enough to occasionally earn a small bonus or a commission you will soon learn not to plan on spending that bonus or commission before you receive it, for most of my life every time I earned a bonus or commission on which I had designs, the unexpected occurred, braces for the kids, school books, back to school clothes, a school trip, a broken washing machine or oven, or a need to replace the family car. It was always as if a supreme being were giving me the money because he knew I would need it, and usually it had little to do with what I had planned.
I’m saying goodbye to the corporate life. Maybe it will turn out to be a mistake. Maybe not. I really hope not, anyway. No matter what, though, I believe my work life quality is about to change significantly for the better.
I quit my job – a very nice, corporate job at a well-recognized and ages old organization with benefits and a corner office.
Some will think me crazy for doing so and the intent of this post is not to ask whether or not I should have done so. It’s to explain why I did so.
I’ve played the game. I’ve crawled my way through corporate politics. I’ve sandwiched my share of constructive criticism in between bits of positive reinforcement. I’ve been the mouse whose cheese was moved and I’ve moved my share of cheese. I know how to manage in a minute, remotely, and in the middle of the night. I know being in the red is bad. I’ve worked with empire-builders, lazy suck-ups and those who did all the work but never got enough credit. I’ve been through more corporate fire-drills than a volunteer fireman.
Shipping container houses. Unbelievable. What a neat concept, though, with tremendous environmental benefit! I had never heard of these before but apparently the glut of shipping containers that have built up over time have presented a new building material and folks are making some incredible, modern, living and office spaces out of those old, used shipping containers.
I saw a few videos about these at a blog about shipping container homes. The benefits seem pretty amazing. You use used shipping containers so less wood is involved in the actual home construction (saving money) plus you’re doing something good for the environment. The containers are also incredibly strong since they were originally built to withstand the harsh environment during transport, and are resistant to many of the problems that plague traditional homes: insects, mold, fire.
Yesterday afternoon, I jumped on my fifth conference call of the day with two hours left to go. Five hours so far that my ear had been glued to the phone. Well, actually, I use a speaker phone, but you know what I mean. One benefit of using a speakerphone is that it leaves your hands free to do email and other work while on a call. However, it’s also difficult to pay attention to the call if you’re doing other work. A
Many companies have formal mentoring programs today. The best and the brightest are selected and paired with a more senior, experienced employee in order to help the junior employee grow within the organization. My feeling is that this is exactly where companies miss a huge opportunity to add to their bottom line. In focusing only on the best and the brightest, those with the most growing to do get left behind.
I like to work. It’s not working that I don’t like and the biggest reason why I sometimes question the quality of my work life is meetings. Yes. Hate them. Most of them, anyway. I participate in a LOT of meetings – in person, by phone, all day meetings, staff meetings, project meetings – you name it. In fact, because I’m a number’s geek, I’ve calculated it out and I’ve attended approximately 12,000 hours of meetings in the past 10 years. I’m including only meetings where the number of attendees was more than three. Three and under, I figure, is really just a discussion. Here are, in no particular order, the top 10 reasons I hate meetings:
Oh, lord, I’ve been griping about work a lot lately. Stress, stress, stress. Projects hounding me, too much to do. Me – pulling my hair out and wishing I could be doing something different. And what should come along, but a big, fat reminder that it’s my own damn fault. A friend has put out a post on one of my favorite blogs, Squidlog and darn if he isn’t talking to me.
Chatting with my parents the other night, I mentioned how much work was knocking me flat. One project is eating me alive and a plate-full of others are screaming for attention. New ones are popping out of the woodwork. I haven’t felt this much stress in quite some time. I can feel it in my shoulders and my neck and it’s not just from sitting here humped over my laptop for hours each night.
During a conference call this week, my manager said, “Erica, I know you think those meetings are formal enough but I think we’ll need to make them even more formal with our other clients.” I had no idea what she meant exactly but because there were some client representatives on the phone, I couldn’t really dig into the subject with her at the moment. Not that I could have asked her just then because the comment caught me completely off guard and my mind went racing down the track of figuring out if I’d messed up on something. She and I have worked together for years and I’d never heard an issue about not being formal enough. I don’t know that I heard much of the rest of the meeting and I knew I wouldn’t have an opportunity to catch up with her about this comment for a couple of days based on our schedules.