Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nothing but silver linings!

And so I go from posting a couple-few times a day to nothing for three.

It's been a loooong week already. I'm basically living at my office and go home at night to sleep on the sofa while the ex boyfriend works on moving out. Things are amiable enough considering the situation but I have no sense of "home" right now.

Despite that, as I look around my desk, I feel like a pretty lucky lady. I have a big container of General Tsao's Chicken that was FREE. Yes...FREE. Just finished a big bag of Doritos. Gross, but satisfying. I have a nice warm office that nobody minds me spending extra time in. I have INTERWEBS. Thank you interwebs! I found a giant box of gourmet chocolates in the fridge that I forgot that my boss put in there for me (can't figure out why he put them in the fridge but chilly or not they're delicious).

And I hate to say it but I realized today that...I'm actually not totally lost without my assistant. To be sure, there are things I don't want to spend my days doing on a regular basis...but I realized that I had sacrificed too many of my own organizational needs to accommodate space sharing and task sharing. I used to do all of the support work of this office all on my own (I work best under INSANE pressure unfortunately and at that time, it was indeed, insane...). But for the last year I had felt disconnected from the natural progressions of cases and was spending time more time floundering and catching up than I would like to admit. Because I didn't have a good overview grasp of the flow of things in the office. Because things were moved around, because I wasn't using the systems that are most effective for me...because I didn't want to impose MY work style on someone else. Which, I just realized today, completely invalidated the point of having an assistant at all.

I totally accommodate my boss's ADHD work style, and I realized today that it's not unreasonable for me to expect the person that assists ME to do the same. If you're a halfway thinkin' person, you're also picking up on something that I myself just noticed...I am always the person doing the accommodating whether I'm the assistant or the boss, and that often puts me at a disadvantage. And others are not imposing this role upon me, I impose it upon myself. DAMN. I need to stop doing that.

In that spirit, I went into the boss's office and initiated a conversation with him about what kind of newbie we need here in the office. I suggested that we either need to find another me (self-sufficient, intuitive, yet non-territorial and capable of tying case files into knots under pressure with a single pinky finger) OR someone to only answer phones/write letters. I need to either have my own case files to work on, and someone else can have theirs, OR, I need to be the Queen of all of them, and have someone lighten the burden by taking only the most mindless of mindless tasks. Whatever we do, I can't have a situation where every time I'm gone, someone else is working in a case file...argh...and I come back and catch up...every other day...double argh...

He agrees that those are both good options, and wants to think about it for a couple of days. Fine. In the meantime, I re-organized the office within an inch of its life, and changed everything back to the way I used to do things, when I worked alone all the time.

I cannot have files in piles, so I got my stand thingy back out that stands them all up so I can see their label tabs. This eliminates "out of sight out of mind" syndrome. I consolidated all of the office supplies back into the cabinet, and moved the most often used files in the computer back to a smaller number of directories in the network. So I can um...FIND THEM. I also deleted a ton of old shit that was confusing the hell out of me and wasn't even being used anymore. I streamlined the file cabinet, and I cleaned up the closed files processing area, which "the assistant", godblessher, had been avoiding like a plague (and yes, I'd let her get away with that...because I didn't really want to deal with it myself either). I made task specific folders with BIG LABELS on the front again, geez, just like the good old days, it felt so good. Suddenly I could SEE my work again. I could SEE what I needed to do, and it made it so much easier to do it, instead of having to ask the assistant who didn't always know how to answer the questions I was asking. ADHD does not mean that you cannot my case it means that I can be very engaged in organizing when it is helping me see a bigger picture, and this was one of those times. I was setting up visual cues for myself for later, which I REALLY needed.

I LOVED the assistant...she was a really smart girl who actually was having a really hard time with her personal life, which was interfering with work, which is why she had to go. But I learned from this experience that I really need to honor my ways of working more, and if someone is "assisting" me, I need to simply assume that this will be the way of things. I am in the awesome position at this job of not having to ASK for that kind of why the self-torture, geez! My ways of working aren't always conventional and they look like a 4th grader organized me, with big markers and stickers and stuff...but I did these things because they helped me be really, really effective at a job that a lot of people find stressful. Not everyone can just juggle guns, knives, robbers and molesters with such flair and efficiency...and actually enjoy most of it.

Just like we have to create forms on lots of different colors of paper for the ADHD Boss so he knows what's what and makes sure his documentation does in the right spots, I need to have my files kept in a certain way, and I need my task folders, and DO NOT MOVE THEM unless you plan on putting them back in the exact same spot. I felt better after getting the office in order than I have at work for a long time! And now that I had a better overview of my workspace and everything in it...I GOT A TON OF WORK DONE. Which is good because I'm the only one here doing it right now.

See, everything's a silver lining! Even losing a perfectly decent assistant!

The only non-silver lining item today: the greasy Chinese food I just spilled all over a document that is being delivered to the Supreme Court

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