It had already been an exhausting morning when my boss walked in. A new employee needed to be trained. There were concerns about the production schedule. Orders hadn’t come through, ingredients were misplaced, an extremely impatient and entitled customer… and all of it needed my personal attention when I wasn’t getting my own production done.
When my boss came in and saw all the activity- busy, but not quite chaotic- she asked if there was anything she could do to help. “It’s great that your training the new girl today, but maybe just have her shadow you today instead of giving her tasks? That way you don’t have to be distracted all the time answering questions.”
I refused partly because she was asking good questions and learning well, but mostly because by handing off simpler, smaller tasks for her to learn on, I could focus on the tasks that needed a managers touch- like the lady that thought an incomplete order behind the counter was hers and tried to walk away with it.
It was busy that morning, and it felt like chaos, but it wasn’t. Everything got done, well and on time. What made it feel like chaos and created stress was answering questions that didn’t need answers and handling problems that had already been handled.
I’m a big believer in servant leadership, but there’s a serious difference between that and learned helplessness.
I have been thinking about what to write in this blog post since I left work yesterday afternoon. In the time between then and now, I was preparing myself to sit down and write.
I also went for a long hike around Mt. Tabor, enjoyed a game night with my housemates, baked a pie, had a bit too much whiskey, slept in, ate breakfast, went for a run, meditated, showered, gamed a bit, and fixed myself a cup of tea.
All of it has been in service to writing this, because if you want to write about Life and Food and Joy and Good Things, a big part of it is getting those things in your life. The bigger part is actually sitting down and writing the thing. Far from being the sole difficulty of creatives, dreamers and nutcases like me, you can find difficulty in Doing the Thing in just about any human pursuit. I think it’s something to do with being sentient robots made of meat and untanned leather, stuck on a speck of dirt rocketing through the void.
So let’s go through my Five Simple Steps to Do The Thing together!
Good afternoon, friends and neighbors!
I’m a big believer in the power of routine. It encourages good habits when you have a daily mindset of “A, followed by B, followed by C…” In my case, my mornings consist of:
- Wake up.
- Eat breakfast- a bowl of cereal, some protein and a cup of vegetable juice on work days, a more involved breakfast on weekends (say, a loaded omelette.)
- Meditation practice, minimum 15 minutes.
- Shower, dress, depart for work.
I go through the steps, everything I want to get done gets done, and I’m on my way.
Routines are, however, by their nature a structure. Structures are, by custom, rigid and also encourage rigid thinking. Every now and then, it’s good to “shake it up” and learn to “go with the flow” again.
Good evening, friends and neighbors.
For the first time in a long time, the writing bug has caught me in a cocktail bar. Not a bierhaus (though I certainly have my favorites in this town), or just a neighborhood bar (plenty of those too.)
Tonight, as I write this, I am bellied-up to the downtown, underground bar of Pepe le Moko. In my bag is a brand-new horror manga, and I am a fine cocktail down (a “Mexican Firing Squad” for the record) and now nursing a small measure of bourbon.
Because this has been a week, I can afford it every now and then, and I have earned it, damn it.
If you want to build good habits, or just remind yourself that life isn’t necessarily an endless hamster-wheel till you die, rewarding yourself for good work is critical.
Good evening, friends and neighbors.
The bakery was going through a spat of high turnover. New hires were either leaving, vanishing, or simply showing themselves not up to handling the work. It was becoming disheartening, frustrating… and more than a little exhausting. “Many hands make light work” kinda relies on there being “many hands.”
In the seven months I had been working for the bakery, I’ve had to train six people in my station as the morning baker and “ovenlord.” The work is not especially difficult- the specifics of it can be written down or memorized quickly, and the skills involved can be mastered with practice.
When our production manager started wondering aloud how they could train employees to make them better, and more quickly- I suggested they all learn my position first. While the specific knowledge and skills of the morning bake are easy to learn (I actually wrote a teaching aide/cheat sheet to help people who got lost), the most challenging thing for a new person on the shift to learn is something they can take anywhere in the kitchen- or in life: time management.