Monday, March 20, 2006

What Should I Wear?

My organizer, Jeanine Baron, is coming tomorrow, so it’s time to consider important issues about my worklife.

What should I wear???!!!!

Jeanine, of Streamliners Inc., has already intimidated me with an email in which she talks about ”tools” with that unabashed techy-yechhy glee that I find vaguely pornographic. Thank God she didn’t talk about “solutions,” which is one of those industry jargon words that makes me want to well,... never mind.

She wants me to buy a $400 piece of equipment that scans business cards. First of all, I’m the queen of cheap. I’m not buying anything, not even a label maker. Secondly, the Inquirer probably won’t buy the scanner either, not with us on the verge of being sold. I'm confident that the Inquirer will keep us stocked with reporters’ notebooks and pens.

Personally, I don’t care what she thinks about my messy desk. Believe me, I’m not easily embarrassed, as you all know. From doing this story, I’ve seen a lot worse and people are really suffering far more than I am.

Also, I hope she doesn’t give me a lot of generic advice. That’s another thing that nauseates me. At my age and in this job, I’ve nearly reached my lifetime limit in the drivel department and my tolerance for it is diminishing. I'm hoping she'll understand what I need, which is mainly coping with ideas and with my phone lists.

Here’s a weird thing. I’m torn between wanting to be an ordinary mess that she can easily handle and wanting to be unique, because who wants to be a lemming? My mother used to tell me, “Jane, please don’t think you are normal.” I'm not sure if she was bragging or complaining. Probably both.

Jeanine wrote me two emails on Sunday — one is more technical with talk about csv, which is comma separated values (hmmm... is this better or worse than family values?) and OCRs, whatever they are. I am actually looking forward to the technical help, though, because I don't think she'll laugh at me when she sees what I don't know.

I liked her less techy email better, so I’ll quote it directly.

Here’s what Jeanine wrote:

"We all bring a certain degree of chaos and distractions to the workplace each day... Whether you're overwhelmed with the amount of college choices that you and your 11th grader need to mull over, or thinking about a heated conversation you had with your spouse at the breakfast table, all forms of distractibility can take a toll on productivity in the office.

Studies are now showing that multi-tasking has a significant negative impact on one's short-term memory. According to the journal NeuroImage, managing two mental tasks at once reduces the brainpower available for either task. Therefore, productivity is best achieved by creating an that increases one's ability to concentrate and focus by minimizing distractions. Make sense?

Here's where things typically fall apart for most individuals who strive for and struggle with maintaining that focus:

The basic principles that are required for getting and staying organized are deep-rooted in the executive functioning area (prefrontal cortex) of the brain. It may surprise many of you that your Blackberry is not keeping you organized after all! (Doesn't surprise me. I don't have a Blackberry.)

The prefrontal cortex monitors all intentional actions that organizing depends upon - planning, filtering, categorizing, decision-making, prioritizing, and sequencing. Many of us can actually perform these 'thinking' tasks with varying degrees of success to create that 'oasis-like' state in our cubicles and offices.

When the heat gets turned up, the thought of managing the 'oasis' quickly reverts to wandering through the desert. Turning the heat up at work, that is elevating one’s anxiety, typically through the volume of work that needs to be accomplished, pressure from outside sources (like the recent purchase of the Inquirer), or constant interruptions stimulates another part of our brain – the amygdala, which sends thousands of neurohormones for a ‘call to action.’

Unfortunately, action drives out thought. We’re no longer making choices to prioritize, organize, and sequence, but instead, we’ve reverted back to our conditioned response – adding more paper to the piles that already exist and the host of other habits that are called upon by this response to the emotional hijacking that occurs under stress.

Creating and working in a controlled, productive environment takes thought and practice and a good amount of diligence to maintain. Often, when I begin working with clients, they’re looking for a ‘silver bullet’ to solve their organizing dilemmas, and are usually surprised to find that the answers to creating their ‘oasis’ by getting and staying organized lie within.”

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