June whatever

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.

Only for now

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.

TED Talk Tuesday

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.

Adulting 101: Get shit done

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.

trello

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.

Trello2.png

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.

A wild Jen appears

Oh hey, I still have a blog. Who knew? I return to the land of wordpress pretty much a year after my last post which is indicative of the year I’ve had. Chaotic. Stressful. Overloaded. Intensely busy. Amazingly fulfilling. It’s been a rollercoaster basically.

I guess the biggest thing is that I’ve decided to withdraw from my PhD and focus on my work. Which is quite a 360 from where I was last year, or even 6 months ago when I was having a nervous breakdown, but changes are happening at work and I think my job is going to be at least marginally more manageable so…yeah. Let’s see where it takes me. At the end of the day, the company is pretty cool and even though I may not love my job 90% of the time, it could be worse. There is sadly just no way to complete a PhD and work full time though so I’ve had to choose. After all, I can always do a PhD later, right?

It’s been a very full year and things have taken a turn that I never really would have anticipated. I feel settled here and I think, fingers crossed, next year will be a lot less volatile. Here’s hoping anyway. I can’t even remembered all the crazy shiz that went down in 2015 so I’m just going to trawl through my photos and hope that’ll jog some memories!

January

A long visit home to Perth included a trip to Margaret River and burgers on the beach for my last night at home. I miss my dog more than anything! The month rapidly descended into madness though with commercial shoots. No rest for the wicked!

February

I’d like to say work got particularly busy in February but in retrospect, it might just be it’s normal pace. Slightly terrifying! Anyway, there was many a trip to Auckland, fun at a launch event, Wellington Sevens and many a late night in the office. Three cheers for the noodle place across the road! Liz also came to visit which was loads of fun as always and in our various wanderings around town I discovered my dream home (which was actually on the market in October – oh, the horror!)

March

Things got off to a great start with mum visiting me for a few days and summer putting in one final stellar appearance before the long dark of winter. I went to my only gig of the year, shock horror, at San Fran (Parquet Courts) and started a weekly pub quiz crew which some of us take way too seriously but is always a stupidly good time. And we often win, so that’s always a plus. I also became a proper Wellingtonian by becoming obsessed with cheese scones and flat whites. As you do.

April

Made a flying visit back to Perth to cuddle my puppy (valid motivation for most things), get my hair done and soak up as much warmth as humanly possible. Work was just going through the motions of covering rugby games every weekend so was looking for bright spots of entertainment like a Simpsons themed quiz night at a cafe near my flat. And then of course there was the big Anzac Day commemorations which I spent at the then-new Pukeahu War Memorial – complete with a moving light display.

May

Ah May. A month in which I despaired at how many meetings I had, and at how much uni work was building up. It’s also the month I helped my work wife stalk Prince Harry – and then we ended up sitting next to him at the rugby. I dragged the work wife out for cocktails and fell even more in love with this quirky little city.

June

Everything fell apart. I’m not even kidding. Full scale stress breakdown. There was just too much happening on all fronts and I had no support. I walked into HR and said that I had every intention of quitting when my manager got back from his 4 week holiday and I meant it. There were crisis talks. I was sat down in various rooms and asked to talk through my issues. And then I swore at a very problematic contractor and was given a disciplinary I thoroughly deserved. I also got the weekend off though which meant French toast at my fave cafe and walks along the beach. Times were tough. Morale was at an all time low. On the flip side, my aforementioned work wife finally let me hang out with her dogs. We went to see half a play. Our quiz team won first prize and made some dinosaurs out of play-doh. This is also the month I developed a crush on the guy at the cafe near work. June was a real turning point for me. I was so close to walking out on all of this. So close.

July

Of course you can’t have a meltdown without then having to deal with the meltdown. I started counselling – it helped a lot. I took a leave of absence from the PhD to try and get my head on straight. I started hanging out with cafe guy. I took lots of walks and cuddled other people’s dogs. We had a home Super Rugby final and it was nice to see the city buzzing. Work was still hectic and I was seeing more office sunrises than I’d have liked, but there was support. I started thinking that I might just be ok.

August

Everything started to shift towards Rugby World Cup in August as the international season rolled on. My work wife and I accidentally wore the same clothes for something like eight days in a row which cracked us up and weirded everyone else out. But come on, we’re adorable. We had a fancy high tea to talk about holiday plans and I spent a lot of time in places I don’t really have any business being…like stadium media rooms, suburban high schools and Parliament. Then the parentals came to visit for a week and I joined them for a trip to Auckland for the final Bledisloe Cup match which we thankfully won. I don’t know how we’d cope without the Bled in trophy case. It takes up so much room.

September

At work, there was nothing but Rugby World Cup. It was all consuming. It was all hours of the day. It was exhausting. We had an office kick off party where you were supposed to dress up as a country and the work wife decided Romania = vampires. It was fun. It was also the first work event I took the boyfriend to because yes, I now had one of those and yes, I was horribly, hopelessly in love. I might have lost my mind if I had nothing but work but there were date nights and dog walks and bootcamp at 6.30am which it really wasn’t warm or light enough for just yet. But c’est la vie.

October

More of the same as the war machine rolled on. The team was storming through the RWC though everyone was on our case about not being good enough. SIGH. We had so many staff activity events, it was ridiculous. One involved a trip to the Botanic Gardens to see the tulips in bloom…another involved representing a region of the country. Work friend and I panicked on the day about our shitty team effort and invested in some cow onesies – a very comfy investment as it worked out. I went to see a great play with another work friend, and the work wife and I continued to accidentally dress the same. Halloween was, unfortunately, a non-event as the RWC Final meant an ungodly 5am start the next day…

November

…and we only went and won the whole thing! All very exciting but also very stressful as we scrambled to welcome the team home and have the appropriate celebrations and what have you. It was an incredible experience but absolutely exhausting for a poor little introvert like me. But at least I have learned that I never want to be famous. No thanks! Football season had begun so I was dragged off to the stadium yet again. There was an impromptu trip to Sydney to hang out with mum and have dinner with my lovely Sydney friends – annoyingly didn’t take any photos, wtf self. It was so, so nice to see everyone again! Then it was off to Lake Taupo for my birthday. A much needed long weekend and a gorgeous part of the country. Cake courtesy of my work wife, of course.

December

And now it’s December and somehow it feels like both a long time coming and waaaaaay too soon. We had our work christmas party the first weekend. Circus themed. I went as a lion tamer, the light up hula hoop I acquired was the star of the show (good for clearing dance space that everyone wants to be in. Who knew?) And last Friday I was up in Auckland again for awards season. Pretty sure that wraps my work commitments for the year though and it can’t have come soon enough. Only a week left in the working year and lord knows I’m limping towards the finish line.

Bring on the holiday! Bring on summer!