Anyone who looks at my desk at work or at home would be correct in thinking that I don’t like to file and organize my papers. I only do so under duress, or when I want to make a good impression on a new client or house guest. I am proud to say that no matter how messy my desks look, I know where everything is. I lose things when I tidy up. Husband tries to keep his things filed and organized, and invariably can’t find things when he looks for them.
The other day I looked at the pile of papers on my home office desk and realized that it resembled the piles of papers I saw on the desk of one of my favorite graduate school professors. Seymour was a prodigious pack rat, and threw piles of papers on his desk until he couldn’t see over them. (He was an incredibly short man, so the pile didn’t have to be too high to obscure his vision.) I was always amazed when I went to his office and asked for a paper I had written for one of his classes the previous semester, and how he knew exactly what layer the paper was at, and that he could retrieve it from the pile without knocking all the other papers over.
Seymour was a wonderful psychologist and a very funny man. He spoke in a thick Bronx accent and a slight lisp. Once he got flustered in court and referred to a Canadian judge of Queen’s Bench as “Your Majesty” when giving expert testimony. I believe he is still alive, in his late 80’s or 90’s. I wonder how high the paper pile on his is desk now?
What is your organizational style?
“A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.”
Baltasar Gracian was a Spanish Jesuit, writer and philosopher who lived in the first half of the 1600s. There are many wonderful quotes by him but when I stumbled across this one yesterday, it made me laugh.
I type A LOT for my job – letters, agendas, rosters, briefing notes, website information – in addition to the day by day routine of emails to suppliers, clients and internal teams. Over the years I’ve had trouble typing various words correctly. Some of these problems with words resolve themselves after a few years but a few of them have been with me for as long as I’ve been doing this:
Unfortunately there aren’t good synonyms for some of my words, at least not that are accepted throughout my industry. Hors d’oeuvres is a good example. I can’t use “canapes” because that actually means something specific . “Appetizers” is more work to type and I can’t really go with “morsel”, “tidbit”, “finger food” as these would throw my hotels and supplier for a loop.
That means I have to have work-arounds. For “hors d’oeuvres” I have an auto-fill set up – when I type “hors” and a space, then the computer fills in the rest, spelled correctly every time. Typing in “accom” will get me to “accommodations”. I also have an auto-correct so that any time I type “rools”, the computer changes it to “rolls”. “Deposit” and “Worldwide” I just have to struggle with as they are too similar to other words, so the shortcuts are just as long as slowing down and typing more carefully.
Any words defy spelling for you?
BBC.com is one of the news sites that I look at through the week and yesterday I saw an article about decentralizing the workforce and increasing the ability to work remotely. Clark Valberg, CEO of a software design company says “A decentralized workforce now allows employers to access “passionate talent anywhere in the world irrespective of any geographic boundary.” This is not good news to me.
My company instituted a Work at Home policy three years ago; each associate is allowed to work from home one day a week. I think I am about the only one in the company who does not take advantage of this. I prefer going into the office, I don’t want to be dragging my work laptop home all the time and I didn’t think I would be good at it.
Mother Nature finally forced me to test my theory that I wouldn’t be good at working from home. We had two snow days in February this year and I just had too much on my plate to take the days off. I had warning so I had brought my work laptop home and gotten a lesson from a co-worker on how to get onto the network.
I don’t know if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy but I really hated working at home. I got work done; I was efficient enough but every minute I was thinking of what else I could be doing. I could bake some cornbread, I could work on my solstice project, I could throw in a load of laundry, I could pay bills. I could brush the dogs, do my nails…. aarrgggh. The fact that my life was surrounding me while I tapped away at the computer drove me crazy. I knew if I left my desk, I might never return.
So luckily the weather is turning nicer and I probably don’t have to worry about having to work from home any more this year. And I certainly hope that my workplace doesn’t get decentralized before I’m ready to retire!
What distracts you from what you need to get done?
Off the shores of Palermo, Sicily, an aristocratic Italian family has put up their private island for sale. It’s called Isola delle Femmine (Island of Women). It’s uninhabited and is part of a marine park that is protected and used as an elite scuba and snorkeling area. It can be yours for just $1.1 million.
What will you do with the island once it’s yours?
When I was in the market for a new car four years ago, I delegated the research to YA. She recognizes car makes and models; she knows all our friends’ and neighbors’ cars. She is definitely a car person. I gave her my requirements (hybrid, 4-door, red) and off she went. Her research came in the form of a chart with the five cars that she had identified as possibilities. One was axed due to being the wrong color and two were eliminated by their price.
We went and test drove the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. I’d never heard of an Insight before but since I’m definitely NOT a car person, I didn’t think too much about. I love my Insight but it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t the only one who had never heard of an Insight. Nobody had ever heard of it. In four years nobody has ever recognized my car, even car people.
So imagine my surprise today, when a guy coming out of the gym as I was getting out of my car, stopped and said “how do you like your Insight?” He had purchased his Insight in November. We had a nice talk about the mileage (great), the cost of filling up (teeny) and the blue/green light that tells you whether you are using gas or electricity (mesmerizing). As I went into the gym and he headed to his Insight I thought “this must be what it feels like to be a car person”? Then when I came out of the gym I’d forgotten where I parked. Oh well.
We all have our special areas of interest. Do you have comrades in arms?
Suddenly Girl Scouts and their cookies are everywhere. In the last few days I’ve come across Girl Scouts selling their wares at Cub Foods, at the liquor store, at the hardware store and even in the lobby of my concert Friday night!
This is rough on me because I am a sucker for a kid selling stuff for their cause, even if it is something I wouldn’t normally spend a dime on. Fruit from Boy Scouts, discount booklets from the high school basketball team, wrapping paper, candy bars, cookies, holiday wreaths, pizza.
When YA was a Girl Scout, she was the top seller for her age group in the Minneapolis area. She was ruthless – hitting on folks from my office, folks at church, all my friends and family. She even talked with relatives out of town, convincing them to donate cookies to Second Harvest. These sales paid for her trip to Girl Scout Camp every summer. She was also a top fund raiser in school for years.
I think about her selling cookies whenever I come across a troop with a table full of goodies. Not a good value, of course, but it’s easier if you just think of it as charitable, tax deductible and edible!
Have you ever had to sell anything? Any good at it?
It’s my personal holiday again today – Pi Day. Everyone at work knows that I’m off today to bake pies – even a couple of my long-term clients know. I am allowed to use my “floating holiday” for Pi Day – my boss had it approved by management about 6 years ago. I even have personalized napkins this year, given to me by a friend after last year’s celebration.
This year’s menu: Dutch Apple, Banofee, Root Beer Float Whoopies, Raspberry Tangerine, Pecan, Bob Andy, Blueberry, Almond Joy, Caramel Pear with Crème Fraiche, Key Lime Meringue and the addictive Crack Pie.
Hope to see those of you in the Twin Cities tonight!
What day would you like to be your floating holiday?