Monday, January 3, 2011

One Year to an Organized Work Life, Week One: Chart the Course

One Year to an Organized Work Life: From Your Desk to Your Deadlines, the Week-by-Week Guide to Eliminating Office Stress for GoodI bought One Year to an Organized Work Life last year but just cracked it open today. I'm gung ho again to get my life organized, and as I have some different and new responsibilities at work, it's a good time to begin this book in conjunction with the original One Year to an Organized Life book.

In Regina Leeds' introduction to January, she gives us two habits for the month:

Work Habit of the Month: Leave Your Desk. This is an EXCELLENT place for me to start. I'm very guilty of working through my lunch, and my back often suffers as a result. I need to leave the office every day, either to go to the gym or to take a walk. Or even just to walk up and down seven flights of stairs (I work on the seventh floor). I think I will start today by walking downtown on my lunch hour.

Home Habit of the Month: Make Your Bed. Check. Already doing this every day. Yay!

In Week One, Leeds talks about how easy it is to find yourself flying on auto pilot, without charting a course for your day. Again, this is me. I'm hoping that the changes in my job responsibilities will supercharge my energy, organization, and motivation to get myself off of autopilot and be more intentional in how I work each day.

She poses some questions for us to ponder, such as the following:

Where am I now? I am extremely lucky to have the job I do. I get to use my English degree, and I get paid to write, edit, and communicate. I didn't intentionally set out this goal (to work as a writer/editor in an engineering/project delivery firm), but I'm happy to be here. I've been at my company for 20 years now and it's a great place for me. I love my coworkers, and I'm never bored.

How did I get here? I taught English in Japan for three years after graduating with a B.A. in English Lit. After I returned from Japan, I started temping while I was looking for a job in international relations. I was hired as a temporary receptionist/admin. assistant, and I then discovered that my company had an editing department. That's how I got my start. I fell into it, just as I fell into leadership and management three and six years later. Overall, I feel fulfilled and challenged in my work.

What do I love? I love what I do, most of the time. I love taking on projects and doing my best. I love finding ways to help people do their jobs better or more efficiently. I love mentoring people and helping them reach their goals. I love helping others communicate effectively.

I often tell my coworkers and direct reports that they need to examine their current work situation on a regular basis and ask whether they are happy in their job more than 50 percent of the time. Being happy in one's job 100 percent of the time is unrealistic. Most people will have days or projects that are not that exciting or fulfilling. The most important thing is to be happy as much of the time as possible. I've always told people that if that's not happening, they need to get out.

Leeds then advises us to make a list of our passions and think about how to incorporate these into our work lives.

My passions (related to work):
  • Expressing my creativity
  • Helping people reach their full potential
  • Communicating, or helping others communicate effectively
  • Streamlining processes or ways to get work done (again, helping people)
  • Doing my best work
One concrete way I can think of to incorporate these into my work life is to get off of autopilot and be more intentional each day (and not get distracted too much by non-work things). Another is to review each of these at the beginning and end of each week to see if I've been successful.


  1. Your responses are just amazing ... full of honesty and clarity. I wish you the best and I thank you for being such an inspiration.

    Blessings & Happy New Year!

  2. Thank you so much for your support, Regina. Some people think I'm TOO honest on my blogs. :)