Oh please yes – save me from thousands of pointless meetings!
Look, I didn’t do much in June. The Lions Series was in full swing and every fibre of my being hated it. So most of my brain power was spent on work and maintaining the will to live. It was tough. I read one book, which was for work and called ‘Architechting Experience‘. I don’t know, it might be useful if you’re into marketing and user journeys and shiz like that. I also only saw one film in Wonder Woman, which I of course saw on opening day. I’ll add my two cents during the July recap – I saw it again this month so it’s technically still true.
Only really bothering to sum up June cause I think my playlist was kinda fly. And we can all agree that Lorde’s Melodrama is a glorious masterpiece, right? It’s the album 24 year old me desperately needed. Also the bass line on Charlie Puth’s ‘Attention’ is out of control. So there is that.
I’ve been feeling restless recently, resentful, like I’m missing something. I thought maybe it was my job – that it wasn’t “right” for me. I browse job ads obsessively, looking for something that will spark enthusiasm in me, something that will make me stop and say, yes, this is what I need to do. I love my job, really, but I also hate it. There’s something not quite right and I don’t know what it is. I want something more, something else. I want to reclaim something that I feel I lost.
Thing is, so many of my friends feel this way. So many. I loathe using the M word but I think it might be a millennial thing. And I think it might just be choice. There’s too much of it. The internet and social media have given us access to too much. So we’re always chasing, always searching, never sure if we’re in the right place or doing the right thing and feeling like we’re treading water.
I’m sure previous generations had these issues too (mid-life crisis anyone?) but it feels more acute, this existential self-awareness. Back in the good old days, more often than not, you got a job and you stayed with it and you didn’t expect it to provide you with anything other than your pay.
Not so much now. It’s not good enough to just have a job; you have to do something that fulfills you. It has to give you meaning and purpose. “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Thanks for nothing, inspirational quote. We spend so much of our time at work, of course you want do something that matters to you. But dear god, what is that something?
I attended a leadership summit a few weeks ago and one of the key things that kept coming up was know yourself, your values, your strengths and your purpose. I just keep thinking of Avenue Q. Lots of talk about how once someone figured out what their values and purpose was, everything became a little simpler, they made better decisions. Very little insight into how one might actually find said purpose.
I like my job, for the most part. I find certain things frustrating but that would be the same in any other job. I just know that there are certain parts of my role that I’m not strong in, and it would be better if there was someone else who could do it. But since my role is the only one doing the kind of work I do, I’m stuck doing things I think I’m no good at, which in turn makes my poor perfectionist heart want to cut itself into bits. So what do you do? Wait it out and hope that they’ll eventually expand the area so you can get someone to work with you who excels at the things you’re bad at? And then there’s the paranoia about being replaced.
Every personality quiz or work placement quiz I take tells me I’m in the right role for my personality and style. Is it just accepting that you’re not always going to be great at everything and you’re never going to enjoy everything you do? Thing is, it’s fine now but my role needs to grow into something else, it needs to become something else to deliver real value for the company, and that role that I’m driving it towards is not a role I really want. It’s going in a very Business Intelligence direction and I can do it, I just don’t really want to.
At the end of the day, the things I truly enjoy doing are not things that will pay bills. And I’m usually too knackered coming home from work/gym to do anything I enjoy doing. But I think this is really the crucial point here. Maybe it’s unfair to put all that expectation on a job, to expect it to fill a void on its own. The things I dislike about the role would perhaps not grate so much if it wasn’t bumping up against an absence of something I can’t articulate. The frustrations and petty grievances perhaps say less about the job and more about me, and a need to add more to my life, beyond work and home and work and home and work and home ad nauseam. I need to find a new wholeness. I need to find the version of myself that belongs completely to Wellington.
Or maybe I should just become a librarian. Fuck it.
The good news is that the scientists who’ve been studying motivation have given us this new approach. It’s built much more around intrinsic motivation. Around the desire to do things because they matter,because we like it, they’re interesting, or part of something important.
I was very organised when I was younger. I had after-school activities planned out,I had a study timetable, I used the pomodoro technique, I had it down. In the intervening years, however, the wheels have kinda come off my organisation wagon and I sort of just bumbled along, getting things done but not feeling particularly effective. Big on the procrastination. It was starting to do my head in.
I tried to be better. I bought a diary every year and then sporadically used it. I wrote daily to do lists at work. But inevitably I became exhausted by having to repeatedly write the same thing down and ticking very little off. I mean, who has the time?
So a couple of months ago I decided to start using Trello. And it has effectively changed my work day and saved my ass so many times this year. The great thing about it is that you can make it work for you in whatever style you prefer, depending on what you need, and you can move things around really easily – a lot of my job is reactive so being able to quickly re-assess and re-prioritise tasks is a big help for me. There are a lot of handy resources out there to help you get started – I found this article particularly helpful.
I use Trello in three different ways. First, I have a whole bunch of project boards to help me keep track of the bigger picture things I’m working on – these boards have headers like ‘Upcoming opportunities’, ‘Ideas’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’. All my boards have ‘Done’ columns because I think it’s important to recognise how much work you have done on something and it’s also great for when you can’t remember what you’ve done come performance review time.
The project boards are great for getting ideas out of my head so I can actually get on with other stuff, but my most used board by far is my ‘Weekly To Do’ board. It’s your basic kind of to do list but because it’s so easy to add and move things, I’m much more diligent about using it, and I can add notes and attach files/links as things progress which make it a lot easier to keep track of where things are at. My columns are ‘On Hold’ for those projects that have stalled or are waiting confirmation from somewhere else, ‘Inbox’ for things that I need to do but aren’t critical for the week, and then ‘Monday’ through to ‘Friday’, plus a ‘Done: Name of Month’ column which I archive at the end of every month. A lot of my work is sensitive so I don’t really feel comfortable sharing it but hopefully this gives some idea of what I mean.
As you can see, I also categorise my cards according to subject (the coloured lines at the top of the cards). These are things like ‘Social’, ‘Stats’, ‘Recurring’, ‘International’, ‘Community’, ‘Planning’ and ‘Support’. It just allows me to sort through things a bit easier if I need to and makes certain key issues pop out more. All part of helping me prioritise.
This was so helpful for me, I decided to bring my personal life onto Trello as well. But I use the GTD method for this as I’m a little less time driven in this space. It also allows me to go from little every day things to big picture goals that I’d normally keep in my brain and stress about if I didn’t have this outlet. My first column is called ‘Big Picture/Projects’ and it’s where I classify my cards for lack of a better description. So for example I have a card in there called ‘Relocation’ that’s tagged green, and any cards that relate to moving my shiz to New Zealand gets tagged green so it falls under that. The idea being that by splitting a big goal into smaller tasks, it’ll make it easier to achieve. I also have a little list down the bottom of that column to remind me of what all the different colours I use relate to – it’s not needed but it makes it easier when I just want to give things a quick once over.
My other columns are ‘Inbox’ for new tasks that I need to sort in the right place, ‘Next Actions’ for things that I can/need to do asap, ‘Waiting’ for things that are on hold for whatever reason (time and money usually) and ‘Someday/Maybe’ for those things that I’d like to do when I have a spare second. It’s simple and easy and I actually check it all the time because I check my work to do list every day. Yay!
I still use a hard copy diary as well to write down appointments (and the bf’s appointments) and do meal planning – although I think I might move the latter to Trello as well. I of course also use the calendar on my phone as well but it’s mostly for reminders of things that I need to do RIGHT NOW OMG rather than a time planning thing.
It’s a bit of a multi-pronged approached but it’s the first time I’ve felt on top of things in AGES and I find it especially helpful in managing what can be a very stressful job for certain periods of the year.