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The Blue Circle Goes Round and Round

I’m an impatient person. I admit it. When things work quickly and then they don’t, I get frustrated. When the slow down continues, I get annoyed. At the office where I work, they refurbish laptops for employee use. In the last year, I was on my fourth refurb. The little blue circle going round and round on my screen spends far too much time there. I just want it to go away!

The IT tech doubled the memory on my latest laptop. I saw no improvement. Yes, I have multiple files, emails, documents and programs open simultaneously and I start trying to close things I’m not currently working on or not trying to remember to get back to working on with the hopes that the processing time will improve. But it takes too much time, everything freezes and eventually, I lose all patience and Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Rebooting takes forever, too, probably because of the protective programs employers are forced to use to mitigate the possible risks of viruses and information loss. I also think the SmartCard required to open encrypted or signed emails and documents doesn’t work well, either, and I know it adds to the slowdown.

To be honest, I’d be willing to pay for a new laptop myself if that would resolve the processing time. I recently spent a couple of hours showing a new recruiter how to maneuver in our systems and networks to help her do her job and she witnessed how slow my laptop runs. It was January 2nd, so we thought that maybe the IT team was doing maintenance or upgrades since most of our employees had taken the day off, but being temp employees, she and I were one of the few rattling around downstairs. Regardless, I wanted to scream by the time I logged off and re-booted the laptop.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that I care. If I didn’t care or if I could find a way not to care, then it probably wouldn’t bother me so much. Some people might think: ” Who cares what I do? I’m getting paid, right? If they pay me to wait for the computer, I wait for the computer.” Well, that’s not me. I think about all the things I could be doing if the computer would work with me and not against me. And worrying about it only compounds my angst.

So, what would help? Give me something to punch or kick or poke repeatedly at with my finger. The IT guys? My boss? Well, no, I was thinking something more productive… do they still sell these punching bag things where you put your foot on their cardboard feet and it rebounds after you punch it? I want one of those in the office. Forget stress management techniques… give me a a Bozo punching bag – yee haw!

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Coffee’s Lost it’s Flavor

Ever run into a patch of time when that wonderful first morning cup of coffee just don’t taste as wonderful as it usually does? For me, it’s like coffee has lost it’s flavor. I keep trying a cup every morning in the office, hoping for a return to the taste that matches the marvelous aroma when it’s brewing. But without success. So, you think it may be the brand. Maybe, like shampoo, you need to switch brands every couple of months and go back to your favorite after a two-week “diet” to fall in love with its effect again. So, you try that; no luck. Then you think, maybe you need a barista to brew you an espresso, so you stop in your local neighborhood Starbucks and order your usual soy latte, but even that isn’t right. Did they change soy milk brands again? It tastes sweet and each time they’ve changed brands over the past decade, the new brand has more sugar grams than the previous brand; maybe the chain is saving money, to the detriment of our blood sugar levels, thank you very much.

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So, coffee’s lost it’s flavor. It’s probably more a symptom of something else than a reality. Putting things off. Thinking about doing things, but not much more than just thinking about them. You find a TV series on Netflix that intrigues you, and you watch from Season 1 through Season 4, episode after episode in marathon fascination. You should be doing something else; you should be doing anything. You play mind games: do the dishes, then you can watch an episode; start the laundry and do that while watching, you can pause the thing, you remind yourself; steam a couple of artichokes for workday lunches, and watch an episode; read a chapter of the book you’re using in teaching that class at the university one night a week or grade some assignments on Blackboard.

In my case, it’s more like I prime a canvas and then stare at it. I could create a project and teach a class at the local independent arts and craft store; there are fewer and fewer of those in the metropolitan area and it’s important to support those still open to keep from losing them, too. I have lots of projects at work to complete, but don’t feel like I’m contributing much even once they’re done. The project I was hired to do has been put on hold, so I feel unchallenged; tough to motivate myself. I can step back and take a strategic view and know what at least our department needs to focus on, but everyone seems content to deal with the mundane routine, the pattern of continuing to work ineffectively and inefficiently. Where’s the 3-year plan? Where’s the 5-year plan? I’m tired of everyone being reactive; be proactive or go home.

Is this apathy? I don’t recognize it. It’s not familiar to me. This is apathy, right? Wait it out and it will go away, right? Daniel Goleman writes about the secret antidote for apathy:

Integrate to Motivate

One way to create a sense of community is to integrate the various moving parts of an organization as best you can. Acknowledge that we’re in this together. We’re not in competition with one another. Recognize thateach person brings something to the table to enhance the whole organization.

When you start to see the different workers and departments as part of a whole, you’re better able to link them together. They’re not just disparate elements. Just like a choir singing in harmony, a company that’s integrated will generate a vital, energized way of being.

When a company is not integrated it’s going to move either into rigidity—staleness, lack of productivity and innovation—or it’s going to move to chaos, where things are confusing, and there are abrupt, unpredictable shifts.

I predict my work atmosphere will move toward chaos. I guess I’ll need to put down the laptop and the remote to keep my personal life from heading in the same direction.