Monthly archives "March 2015"

Overcoming Overwhelm

OvercomingI think I might have mentioned that the last month or two has been particularly busy.  Books, birthdays, weddings and new jobs have all taken big chunks of time and attention.  It’s been a whirlwind of a month.  But that’s all pretty much done and dusted now. The birthday (mine) and wedding (not mine) were lovely, the new job is not really new now, it’s just the job, and the book is sitting on Amazon waiting to be discovered by people who will find the advice in there useful.

As the the has dust settled I’ve taken some time out to calm down, relax and enjoy the stillness.  It was blissful.  I’ve started to feel like part of the human race again, a normal person.  I’ve caught up with friends, enjoyed some fantastic theatre, and have had one lovely weekend devouring a Fargo marathon.

But I have also found myself in the odd position of still feeling slightly overwhelmed.

Here’s why.  The new day job takes up all my time between Monday to Friday during the day.  When I get home there are all the usual household chores to get on with, as well as that essential half an hour wind-down with a nice cup of tea, and a (currently very blustery) walk with Simba.  After dinner and clearing up I’m normally fairly tired and ready for an hour of mindless TV or a good book and then bed.  But what I also need is time to learn and implement some new Amazon marketing strategies, time to write some (hopefully) useful and entertaining blog posts, as well as find some funny and relevant Facebook posts, and have a little interaction on Twitter too.  As well as that, I need to start getting book two out of my head and onto the screen – in other words, after the day job is done I need to find time to do the writing day job, in the evening.  But if I do the writing job in the evening, I have no time to have a life and do the other things that make me who I am.

So, overwhelmed with all this stuff I should be doing and the stuff I want to be doing, I’ve found myself procrastinating and faffing and putting everything off instead.  It’s felt a bit like I’ve hit pause on my ‘Life’ button.  Not very helpful.

Until….ha!  This’ll make you smile (it made me chuckle)…  Until I remembered that I had written a whole chapter on overcoming overwhelm in Coping with the Horroffice (Item 6 – Coping with Overwhelm).  Hooray!  So with the aid of the tips in there (the list one being my current favourite), as well as some sage advice from both my book editor and my coach, I’ve come up with a plan – a way to manage everything, at a pace that I can deal with, and which allows me to do the things I enjoy as well as the things I need to do.

Which is why this weekend, I have a clean house, am ready for next week at work, have written both this blog post and this week’s newsletter.  As well as all that I’ve been out and about and enjoyed watching the Malaysia F1.  Overwhelm successfully overcome, and ‘Life’ button un-paused.

So if, like me, you’ve been feeling overwhelmed – whether it’s by your in-tray or your work-life balance, check out Coping with the Horroffice – it might just help.

Resetting Planet Earth

Resetting Planet Earth

What a week Planet Earth has had since last we spoke!

On Friday morning, along with probably half of our very well populated and busy office, I stood and shivered and waited and got annoyed with myself for not bringing a colander to work.  Why would I want to bring a colander to work?  Well, so I could see the total eclipse in all it’s glory, of course.  In the end, it didn’t really matter much, the weather had other ideas anyway, and I saw a little bit, but not a lot, just a slight dimming of the light.  That’s ok – I might not have seen the eclipse in all it’s glory,  but standing out there, I felt part of something special.  And I did spend a few minutes quietly making what some might think of as outlandish but I think of as completely reasonable wishes for myself and my planet (can’t tell you, obviously, until they materialise).  It felt like that kind of moment.

Add to that the fact that it was also an equinox, and that we were watching a Supermoon at work, and you start to wonder just how special an event this really was.

Each of these things on its own would be a special occasion and a kind of cosmic clear out, but all three together – the way I see it, that’s more like hitting the reset button on Planet Earth.  And if we’re going through a global reset, then maybe it’s also the perfect time to look a little closer to home, and work out what we might want to reset in our home and office and life.

As it was also World Poetry Day last Thursday, here’s an excerpt from ‘Start Where You Stand’ by Berton Braley, which I think describes perfectly where we are right now…

“This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned,
Don’t give the vanished days a backwards look,
Start where you stand.

The world won’t care about your old defeats
If you can start anew and win success;
The future is your time, and time is fleet
And there is much of work and strain and stress;

Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand-new trial right at hand,
The future is for him who does and dares,
Start where you stand”

So today, right now, stop where you are, take a moment to think about what you want this next chapter in your book to go, and plan how you might get there.  Then start, right where you stand, to make that happen.

And if you need a little guidance and encouragement when you’re resetting your office world, then this might help…

Happy Monthiversary

Happy Monthiversary!I know – it’s been a month, already!  A whole month since Coping with the Horroffice has been out in the world.

Before I carry on, don’t worry – I’m not going to be shouting out every monthiversary, (although I might have a teeny tiny shout out at the anniversary – that’s allowed, right?).

But this is the very first monthiversary for my very first book, so it feels right to mark the occasion with a blog post.

It’s been an odd month.  Preparing for the launch was stressful – even though it was only a social media launch, and even though I thought I was prepared.  Things went a little wrong on the day – technical hitches meant the newsletter that should have gone out at 7am went five hours later, some of the linked launch work didn’t link, and so on…

But it was also an exhilarating day – I was absolutely gob-smacked by all the really lovely likes, shares, comments, tweets, retweets, email messages and of course actual sales on the day – it took my breath away a little bit.

So the first thing I want to do, now that I’ve had a chance to reflect, is to say THANK YOU for all your support and encouragement – it really does mean a lot to me.

At the same time as the book launch was going on, I was also being interviewed for a new contract (which I’m now in), and I celebrated both my birthday and the wedding of two very dear friends.

That’s a lot of highs for one girl for one month.

After such a lot of such exceptional highs, I guess it’s only natural to hit a low.  It’s not a ‘proper’ low – I think it’s just more of an adjustment to day-to-day life.  But it’s taking me a while to get back into things.

So the second thing  I need to do is issue you, my lovely blog friend, an apology – I know I’ve been a little bit hit and miss this last month.  And although I can hear you saying “S’ok Heena, I understand.”, I want to say to you “I’m sorry – my bad, I’ve slipped a bit – now you know why, and I’m getting back on track.”

It’s not just you either, I’ve neglected poor Simba dreadfully during launch time.  Luckily for me (with the aid of many many treats and some extra walks), he’s forgiven me, and we’re getting back on track too (in fact, after I’ve finished the blog, it’s going to be pooch playtime – yay!).

And the third thing I need to do – which is important for me, and might be useful for you to remember when you find yourself in the middle of a whirlwind – is go easy on myself.

It feels odd to say that, and especially to say it out loud.  But I have to practice what I preach (in print, in the book – eek!) – and what I preach is that you have to be your own best friend.  Best friends don’t beat each other up because life has gotten busy and things have slipped for a while.  They don’t make each other feel guilty for things that are out of their control.  They don’t keep reminding you of all the things you should have done but haven’t.

They don’t do anything like that – they’re kind, supportive and understanding.  They cheer you on, bolster you up and hand you a large glass of wine when necessary (which, FYI, is always).

So I’m going to be my own best friend and stop choosing to feel guilty for letting things slip in an exceptionally busy month.  Instead, I’m going to celebrate the first monthiversary of the launch of my book by sharing a cute pic of the pooch with the book, with you – Happy First Monthiversary!


My Mother Kept A Garden

I think this poem expresses beautifully my feelings today on Mothers Day, and every other day, when I think about what an amazing woman my own Mother is, and also when I think of all the other amazing women I know who are diligently, tenderly and lovingly tending to their gardens of the heart.

Whether you are spending it with your loved ones, or thinking of them fondly, I wish you all a truly Happy Mothers Day.

And on a personal note…

Mum – thank you for the amazing way you have tended your three little gardens  – we love you more than we will ever be able to express.

Mothers Day

Where is the bad?

where is the badIt’s been just over a week since I started my new contract.  And over that time I’ve been keeping an eye out for bad, for dodgy, for awkward and especially for awful.

I haven’t actually come across any of them yet.  I’m not sure where they’re hiding.  I’ve looked in all the usual places, checked out all the usual suspects, but no (bad) luck to be found anywhere.

It wasn’t always this way.  In fact, the history of my last three contracts has shown these fearsome fellas to lurk malevolently and then hit you fast, leaving you in a maelstrom of workplace chaos.  A bit like the guy in the skeleton mask in the movie Scream – remember that one?  You know what I mean – from the minute you walk in, you can sense something is off, but on the surface it all looks fine.  And then – BAM!  Out of nowhere, they hit you  – long hours, poor management, extra work, bitchy colleagues – and all of a sudden you’re left dishevelled, shaking, sweaty palmed and feeling trapped with an impending sense of doom.

In those three previous contracts, that unexpected ‘BAM!’ hit within the first week.  It’s been just over a week here – and so far, all I’ve seen is interesting and absorbing work, thoughtful colleagues, and daylight at the start and end of the working day.  (I’ve probably also seen too many lattes and cheese paninis – they have a very lovely cafe…ahem…)

But I realise that I’ve developed a really bad habit.  I’ve started looking for the bad.  Expecting it at any moment.  And it’s why I’ve been feeling unsettled all week.  Every time someone asks me how the new job is going, I pause.  Because it’s going well.  I’m actually enjoying it.  And that unsettles me.  I’m so used to being somewhere awful I’ve actually forgotten what it’s like to be somewhere normal.  I might even go so far as to say somewhere nice  (Did I tell you that one of my colleagues actually does charity work as a Daniel Craig lookalike – they had an office charity thing today and he got dressed up as Bond – how many offices does that happen in?)

Anyway…Back to the issue at hand.  The whole ‘Where is the bad’ thing?  When is the bad going to kick in? Why isn’t the bad happening right now?  I need to kick that habit.  It’s not helpful, it’s definitely not useful and it’s taking some of the enjoyment out of the very nice ‘now’ that I’ve been gifted.

I mention it because I think we’ve all fallen into the habit of looking for the bad at some point.  I know that from my own situation and behaviour, and also from seeing the way friends or family will always balance out something fabulous with something negative.  We don’t let ourselves enjoy a lovely ‘now’ without justifying it with a bad ‘before or a bad ‘after’.  I wonder if we think we’re going to jinx the lovely ‘now’?  We’re not.  Difficult situations come and go.  Great situations come and go too.  We can’t hold on to either, no matter how much we want to.  What can we do instead?  Deal with the ‘now’ – whether it’s enjoyment or endurance, now is all we have.

Let’s make a pact. Let’s both stop looking for the bad.  Especially if it’s way back in the past, and we can’t see a speck of it in the horizon either.  Let’s just enjoy where we are  right now – no justification, no explanation, no reasoning – just living in this moment, right now and saying out loud – it’s good!

New Girl

GIRLI started a new contract yesterday. Although I should probably add the disclaimer that I’ve worked at this particular company before.

From memory, it was a lovely place to work – friendly people, great facilities (but truly awful parking – well, there had to be something didn’t there!).

From my first impressions yesterday, it is still all those things (and the parking is now even worse – ten minutes to find a spot, and then a fifteen minute walk from there to the office – not good!). My new role is also a little bit challenging, daunting and actually a little bit exciting. This time, I’m taking on a slightly meatier project, there are more expectations and it is all set within a very complex environment. That’s ok. I will simply do the best that I can.

My first day went better it had done in the previous contract. For a start, I’ve actually been able to log in to emails (although not to the systems I need to do any actual work). I’ve been given a tour of the essentials, had my first latte bought for me (and they have a real proper coffee shop – oh the joy!), and the team I will be working with spent the whole morning trying to unravel the very complex stuff I need to get to grips with, and had a sheet ready for me, explaining the issues and my priorities for my first few weeks.

If I compare this to the last contract – I had to call IT myself to sort out my access, and was constantly being harried along by my colleague/supervisor – even though she acknowledged there wasn’t much I could do, she kept asking me to call and chase anyway (not the best way to make friends with the IT department by the way). I had no tour, and had to do the New Girl walk of shame working out where everything was.  I was given an urgent task to complete in the next two days, with a ten minute explanation from a junior who had only temporarily taken it on herself so it wasn’t much of a handover, more of a ‘chuck it over to someone else’.

Oh – and I’ve had a proper lunch break (in fact, I hand-wrote this blog in my lunch break). In the previous contract, it was three days before I took any kind of break at all.  And when I mentioned I was writing a book?  My manager offered the use of any of the meeting rooms if they were free, and I wanted some peace and quiet.
I know its early days and of course, things will change as I get stuck into the work. I know this week is the shiny wrapper week, and from next week things will get more real. But as first days go, it’s been good.

As an omen of that optimism, I’ve even got twenty minutes left to work on book number two, as I’ve been told not to rush back from lunch early!

I hope you’re having a good week too – if you’re struggling though, this might be worth checking out.