I learned: Out of Office Emails

Out of office emails are very helpful if they are put up at the right times. They tell people when they can expect to hear back from you and to assure others that you are not just ignoring them. This has happened a couple times and has unfortunately while nothing was technically done wrong, people’s feelings can get hurt and/or feel like you are bad at your job.

When I first started I was bad at evening remembering to set my out of office email. especially when I would only gone for a day at the top of the week. Once I got a hang of remembering to turn on the out of office… which took a minute ( I have been in this job for over two years). I was still have frustrated people trying to reach out to me while I was gone, even when my out of office email went on first thing (6:00 am) the days I was out.

What I learned is that you have to turn on your out of office (or at least for the people I work with), while you are still in the office. At least the last half hour you are actively working. My goodness the grace it gives people when they have received an out of office and you respond whenever, versus when they don’t and you just respond as soon as you can is astonishing. So that’s what I am going to keep doing for now. How do you approach your out of office?

Validation – I need it

Today my boss pulled me aside and told me that some of the volunteers in my committee had approached them, saying that they were denied information and were left out of an event. My body clenched. I fully was prepared to go into defense mode. Explain the history, the precedent, my communication strategy. Before I could even open my mouth, my boss told me that she was so confused how they could forget a meeting that they were at and that it was incredibly unprofessional that all the feedback was coming through communications thread but not directly. to me at any point. My muscles relaxed,

All of a sudden. I didn’t feel in defense mode. Not only had my boss been there but my boss believed me. I wasn’t over reacting or taking things personally. It wasn’t something I needed to guard against. It was something that I shouldn’t have to deal with. It was such a relief not just to know the way I was feeling or responding were valid, but that my standards were reasonable and I wasn’t just misinterpreting things.

While I think eventually it’s easy to come to the conclusion to you need to have and express the feelings you are feeling. It is another to understand that your standards are normal. The way that you are experiencing the situation should not be happening, but is.

I think especially in professional or collegial settings it can be even harder because there is a certain amount of decorum expected, especially in group settings. Being new to something and everyone having a poker face, I never know if I am misinterpreting something or that my assumed standards coming in are different than reality. You will put up with so much for a pay check and if you don’t know that you shouldn’t. Please if there is something happening that shouldn’t be and someone you work with isn’t bring it up. Bring it up. Validate their experience. They probably think it is something should be dealing with or because no one else is reacting that they are overreacting.

Anyway. Validation is lovely.

Going back in-person

My work has just started going back in person. Both within our organization having small scale in-person meetings or days of work and hosting small outdoor programs for groups. This started once our state did start opening back up again but not once everyone had access to vaccines. To be fair our events are for youth (5-13) who are not eligible for vaccines at the moment.

Anyways for the most part while scary everyone has been pretty responsible. You are only allowed to use communal equipment with gloves, everything is sanitized, masks, etc. However, our area keeps fluctuating in cases and we are not working or running events in pods. The children go to different schools. We are all doing individual lives. However, we all have to do health assessments before entering any property. There are also resources and every meeting has a safety officer.

Unfortunately, not everyone can take it as seriously and we all make assumptions that everyone is being as careful as us and children are not carriers. Week 3 while filling out my health assessment before a program I took my temperature at it was a hundred. It might be a pandemic or it might be that I haven’t been near other people and immune systems in over a year. In the times past I would get sick really easily. So I got a COVID test today and regardless if I have gotten COVID or something else. Everything has to be put on hold and I have to report my status to everyone and everyone has to be kept more fully up to date with my health which makes me un-comfy though it is understandable.

Anyway wish me luck staying safe and healthy!

7 days 70 hours

So last week was CRAZY! I worked 7 days straight leading up to and completing my 2nd project but first large scale event and project at my job. I have had this job for less than a year but for  the past 4 months I have been working hard on making this come into fruition. So last week was a very full and stress-filled five days (regular work week) preparing down to the last detail to make sure that everything was prepared for the event.

Then the event/program itself was 24 hours plus set-up, clean up, and hour and a half travel time each way. So all in all about 30 hours. A full 30 hours of constantly being on and making decisions and working. It really sucked especially after having already worked a full 40-50 hour week. It was really rough.

Now my work does something called flex days where when you work beyond the normal work schedule you can flex that time out of the next weeks schedule. It is supposed to help with burnout but also to avoid any overtime technicalities. However, the burnout this past week was real. Even with my partners care.

He had cleaned the apartment while I was gone and bought me mango White Claws (which were delicious but the way). He took care of everything I had nothing to do but relax and recover. The relaxing was so easy and fun and I just watched the Arrowverse and read romance novels. It was great! But I had such a hard time getting back into work. Even when I was in the office and not working from home it was incredibly hard not to check out.

So anyway, doing well at work just trying to find a more effective way to avoid burnout as I keep moving up.

Wish me luck.

On embarrassing yourself at work

Soooo… I’ve had my current job for approximately 5 months you know a reasonable amount of time. However because of the 4 offices and the necessity of working remotely I don’t spend a significant amount of personal time with my coworkers or department. So when I do I really still want to make a good impression as they don’t really know me personally they just know my work. So I was really excited for our team building day. A section of our department/who was available was going up to one of our camps for team building exercises on the boats and high ropes course.

The boating went fine. It was pretty easy and fun on a hot day. We only could talk a little but everyone was really nice. I did splash out of my boat but that was expected and in fact told them that it was a 100% chance of flipping over. If nothing else I deliver.

Lunch went fine and then we went to do high ropes. I was excited and truly not that worried. It was a course built for campers. I did get nervous as I got into my harness. The guides made sure it was super super tight “just in case”. The first couple activities were pretty easy, a rock wall, the broken bridge, etc. Then I got to the Caterpillar. It was 5 floating beams. One long one actually had to be held from below on both sides to keep it steady. There were upward ropes on each beam to connect it towards the top and move a long with the rope and carabiner for the section.

Now to set the scene we are 30 feet in the air and I hadn’t done physical exercise in many moons. Right when I was almost at the end reaching for the last beam. I missed the rope, I couldn’t grab it and my foot slipped. I was one foot dangling and really couldn’t seem to move forward. I fell. In front of 5 coworkers, my boss, and my boss’s boss. They all went from cheering me on to being incredibly concerned. Now I don’t know if you have ever had a panic attack 30 feet off of the ground in an incredibly tight harness around people you work with that didn’t know you at all. It is not great.

It got so bad that at one point I felt that I couldn’t move. and my one friend who was the facilitator of that leg asked if we had a puke bag up there. It was not a great look. It took very literally all the strength I had (was sore for 4 days) and about 30 minutes to finish and zip line down. Then I had to recover…  I was so anxious that I did feel like vomiting. I was so hot and tired I felt faint and then I had to go move and talk with my boss and boss’s boss and coworkers.

It was not something I knew how to say: you don’t know me but that was a moment of weakness and panic and fear and please still trust me with this job, the money, and reputation of our company a lot of which relies on me remaining calm and sensible under pressure.

They were all very nice but I feel like I am still in such a vulnerable place with them. I am the youngest person at my work and I don’t want for anyone to feel that they have to take care of and it kinda feels like now they do.

I have now recovered physically from the embarrassment and struggle. I am still working on recovering socially. Wish me luck.