seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)
So I've been reading about stress management, and one of the things I've seen recommended a couple times is to keep a journal. I assume it's along the same lines as let it alllll out kind of thing, which often causes more problems for me than it solves -- much like the whole "talk to someone" thing; it doesn't work for me because while talking to someone about an issue may make me feel slightly better about that one issue, that gain is utterly and completely negated by the hassle involved in telling someone about my shit: background on the situation, background on me, background on my brain, what's bothering me, why it's bothering me, what I don't want to hear, what I meant because the first explanation of something is guaranteed to be shit; plus the neverending hassle of that person then, continually, and without fail, asking me, "so how is [issue]?" at a future date, which frustrates me so much that it literally undoes any small good I may have gained from the conversation in the first place: I don't talk to people because it doesn't help me, and that isn't because I think I'm some special snowflake and no one will understand my problems; it's because it quite literally on paper does not help me.

But! Despite the derail! Keeping a journal is supposed to be helpful, and luckily I already have a journal of sorts I use for this kind of thing, so here we go. I will probably be slow with replying to comments, because it's occasionally difficult to keep up with them via mobile, but please officially note that I read them and appreciate them.

SO today sucked. I could start off every day like that: Dear Diary, Today sucked nasty fermented goat balls. Gundam Wing was good today.

At one of the management trainings I was at recently, we went over some of those "life tips" they give you in classes like that. I've decided to give a trial run to one of them: do three things every day. It appealed to me: three things is enough that you're making progress, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. Just pick three things and do them. I figured I would start with work: Three things every day. On busy days I can pick three easy ones; on days I have no meetings I can try for one longer one. But three things a day, of my own, off of my own to-do list. Should be manageable, right?

I can hear you laughing. Shut up.

Today I came in and the first thing I did was pick three things: Finish slides for a training I have to give Thursday; print out training sheets for about 5 outstanding MOCs; compile a brief incident review on the last month that I also have to give Thursday. None of these are quite extensive.

I worked on my slides for approximately 7 minutes throughout the course of the day.

I started alright, but of course I've been out of the office for a while, so once I'm back everyone has to come in: how was the baby (cute), how was babysitting (exhausting), how was the weekend (fuck off), let me tell you this thing I did (fuck off), this happened last week (kindly fuck off), I did this thing (unkindly fuck off), did you get my email about (fuck right off with a british accent), I left you a note but (go fuck a rhino) -- you get the picture.

Had a meeting at 9:00am. Blew the entire rest of the day. Something exploded in the middle of the meeting, when E just exploded at Golem and the whole thing devolved into this weird yelling-and-cussing bit where they both snapped at each other (using stronger language than I've ever heard from E in all my days there) and then E calmly told Golem to fuck off, stood up, and walked out.

Because E is my Starbucks-and-texting friend, and because Golem is my eidolon team friend, and because this project directly affects my department, not their shit, so if something gets fucked I get directly fucked, I then spent the rest of the morning attempting to fix this shit. I took E into an abandoned conference room, let her rant, listened to what she was saying, and made sure I was picking it up right. That of course got invaded by L and L's boss, which threatened to devolve into a general wank-n-whine about this stupid godforsaken software system at which point I said nope nope noooope this ain't my problem, kindly fuck off and left to talk to Golem, who I got calmed down right in time for my 10:30 meeting on Running Chemicals In The Pilot Plant That We Aren't Electrically Classified To Run: An Exercise In Horribly Stressful Operation, By Me (Introduction written by Fuck Previous Management In This Plant And Their Complete Lack Of Oversight And Shits To Give).

Ran out for Starbucks and a Wendy's salad at 12 with E. Spent more time resolving the fight after lunch, in addition to having to deal with the fact that one of our monomer feeds is having a grand old time self-polymerizing and plugging up everything it finds up to and including an entire process area (joy; cue trumpets), and went right into the meeting I was running from 2-2:30 on the results of the alarm management workshop I did when I was in Midgar -- meeting #3 of a 4-part series -- which just infuriated me because no one understands the goddamn ANSI atandard, like, not that nobody understands the language, nobody understands why we want to align ourselves with an industry standard????????????? and they all keep insisting that the old system will be able to handle it, which is like telling someone that Internet Explorer 5.0 will be able to do your web browsing for you.

So that whole meeting got me riled up and went way over - despite the presence of my boss Bahamut, who claimed he was only trying to help - and fed right into the 3:30 meeting which was on a project for improving finishing that I desperately want and have been begging for but at that point had like 0.27 fucks left to deal with.

4:30. Out of meeting. Caught twice on my way down the hall. Sit down. Write up the follow-up minutes/record from the 10:30 meeting and send them out. Write up follow-up notes from the conversations I've had regarding the 9:00am shitshow and send that out. 5:45pm. I can finally start my workday.

5:48pm one of my second shift operators shows up in my office. I had asked for him to come down, because I'm promoting two of them this year (because fuck they deserve it), so I gave him the papers and congratulated him and we chatted a bit about the year and everything and then it's 6:20pm so I decide I am just going to go home

--and Golem catches me with a question as I'm passing his office, the conversation devolves into work shit we actually have to take care of, and suddenly it's 7:15pm.

My normal work hours are 8:00am-4:30, 4:45-5:00 if I have a long lunch.

I was home and changed and making dinner by 8:00pm. Watched one episode of RPDR, drank a glass of wine, and that's it.

This is how days go in this job though. Out of the 3 things I wanted to accomplish today? Ha. And that doesn't even consider 3 things at home, as well. This is an average day in my job.

I'm so tired. I'm so, so, so tired.

[EDIT] THE WORST PART OF ALL OF THIS is that I look back and there's this sick satisfied part of me that knows I was super effective today and that I, personally, just being me, made shit better by dealing with this bullshit today, and so there's like this load of angry exhaustion and then this tiny little shit candle of fuck yeah and that, my friends, is what keeps me from walking out the door and never coming back
seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)
You may have noticed I seem to have vanished off of the map. This is because my new job is absolutely batshit fucking crazy. I think I've only posted like three times in all of July?, and I send far fewer text- and email- based daily communications than I used to (it's funny how long my phone battery lasts when I am not using it!), and this is because my new job is absolutely batshit fucking crazy.

There are days my employees catch me before I have even entered the building; I swear to god they're timing their smoke breaks since they know I pull in at 7:55am every morning, because they flag me down walking from my car to the door with whatever the day's update is. There are days I don't log into my own computer until 10; there are days I don't start my own actual work day until 4-5pm when everything else has calmed down. There have been evenings I am there until 6, 6:30 pm; there are nights I bring work home (tonight being one of them). There have been absolutely zero days where I leave at 4:45pm like I am supposed to. I use my mobile so much for work the company has started subsidizing it.

Did I mention things are absolutely batshit fucking crazy?

I have no time for anything anymore. I'm basically now working the same 10-hr days I was working beforehand, with added bonus 8+ days on Fridays. Becky is joking that I didn't actually get a raise, I'm now just being paid for epic overtime; it's actually truer than it should be.

It's a common joke among the management team (who I think I shall nickname after summons, because it pleases me to think of us all as a team of eidolons), because on those days where shit has been flying off the fan at intense and disastrous rates and we don't sit down at our own desks actually alone until 4:30pm it's actually nice to stay until 6:00pm because we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow but it's quiet now and we can focus. Ditto on Fridays; Fridays have become a blessing, the one day a week I know I will be minimally interrupted and can make a reasonable attempt to churn through all of the work I meant to do during the week and was pulled away from: 40 hours in one 8hr day, that's doable, right. Siren (the manager focused more on products and projects) and I mourn the loss of our ability to tell everyone to fuck off (Siren is also new to her position) and complain about the intense upkeep we need to do to stay targeted on our underperformers; Golem (the manager focused more on mechanical aspects) and I are already planning late-night office pizza parties as we are forced into a software update we weren't consulted on and weren't a part of but are still expected to launch into our maintenance program by some ridiculously unwieldy date like September. I am lucky to be surrounded by amazing people who understand and desperately want me to succeed (although in Golem's case I think that is mainly so that he can stop working on Saturdays); I adore them immensely, even as we all joke about using and abusing each other. (I, as Operations, am the cross-sectional point where Siren's research & development & troubleshooting projects intersect with Golem's preventative maintenance & plant improvement work; this makes my life difficult but also means that they both have to be nice to me, ha.)

I am overwhelmingly, bizzarely, incomprehensibly in love with this job.

This is what I was made for. I have already, after a month-and-change: dealt with a problem underperforming employee in a way that promises to either make progress or GTFO after basically 20 years of experience and 5+ years of not seeming able to do the job; sent nastygram after nastygram until the two worst communicators in the plant specifically come to me to let me know what they are doing before anyone else even knows; solved scheduling mishaps; yelled at the EPA; called our safety director's work stupid and dumb in the same meeting (although that was inadvertant and accidental), to her face (which I realize is tactless; here's the fucks I give, because incompetence is the match that lights this stubborn Taurean fire); defended my own employees against attacks and slander and bullshit they shouldn't have to put up with from other people and been specifically thanked for doing so; learnt how to buy things within our online file management system and promptly spent $300 on hard hats to play with; improved the attitude of a supervisor who has been a negative vendetta-hound for 8+ years; redone the old lab where I used to sit into what will be usable office cubicles (although I can't take full credit for that one); made my boss say the phrase "you are right, he/she/that is fucking clueless" half a dozen times; made my boss either grin maniacally or put his head down when I walk into his office; made my boss regret his decision to hire me probably four hundred times; made people actually run from me; made changes, made improvements, made an impact. I've revamped systems and redone OPSs and made demands of our alarm management system that no one has made until now. I've let out my inner asshole, my inner control freak, my inner perfectionist: they're all running around rampant making decisions and giving orders and frightening bystanders everywhere. I'm not sorry; I was not hired into this position to be good and play along.

I am absolutely loving it which is good because right now this is my only life, my highest priority, the shit I eat and breathe.

It will not last forever. I will not last forever in this: canceling PT because I have to stay until 6 because there's work due tomorrow, not scheduling doctor appointments because I don't have the time, not working on my thesis because fuck more work; this level of intensity will eventually fade as all of the plant becomes used to this position's existence and my presence. I will burn out, the initial activation energy will be met, the workload will become manageable even if I have to light half of it on fire. It's not forever.

But right now all things Sev are absolutely batshit fucking crazy, so please forgive me if I take a while to reply to an email or respond to a comment or do anything I have told you I would do because I am running on fumes and adrenaline and caffeine and stubbornness at the mo.



HOW ARE YOU ALL
seventhe: (Ashe: Good to be queen)
If I had a dollar for every post I thought about starting out saying "I'm not dead (yet)", I wouldn't have to work anymore.

I really don't know what else I have to say other than a ripping chain of profanity so long it would make string theory look pedestrian and quaint.

I'm tired. I'm on a new drug (anxiety drug scribed for insomnia - cross your fingers) and I have a new doctor (rheumatologist), increasing my army of medical specialists to a whopping 5. I hate Midgar and its humid soggy heat. I start my new job on Monday. I don't get a "break" for three weeks. My car needs an oil change, I need a haircut, my lawn needs mowed. My life needs a live-in secretary/google/organizer. I am not going to finish FFVI this month, although I am actually trying my damndest to get close.

I am. so tired.

I think I need a vacation
seventhe: (EDWARD/EDWARD = TRUE LOVE)
My boss is doing what he can to help solve my problems here at work. A longer and more hilarious version later, but for now:

  1. I am no longer allowed to come in for meetings on Fridays, because I do not work on Fridays. If anyone truly wants me at a meeting on a Friday, they have to go through my boss so that I can have permission to change my work schedule. This is not only to scare off people who don't want to deal with my (admittedly terrifying) boss, but to also help me feel less guilty about not being able to attend an important Friday meeting. I love how this man deals with me.

  2. I am being heavily encouraged to start saying no to any other meetings I do not think are necessary, and if someone disagrees with my judgment, they are to go through my boss.

  3. I am also allowed to put batch work aside if I feel that meetings - ones that encourage communication and collaboration and my project and other actual work things - are more valuable at the time. He and I both expect this to be the case for the next ~6 months -- which doesn't alleviate my meeting schedule, but it does cut the weight of the other project work I have had sitting on my shoulders by a good bit. I should not feel guilty about only attending meetings if they are actually helpful and productive - meetings are work too.

  4. I have been encouraged to selectively accept collaborative work from certain people (who will actually further my project's goals) and not from others (who may be giving it to me simply because then they know it will get done, rather than actual relevance to my project). These lines have been - rather humorously - clarified by my boss.


We still haven't worked out the Overlord Issues yet (I'm not sure I even bothered to post about the upset two weeks ago which basically completely contradicted the directions I was given six weeks ago, threw my entire schedule and project sheet into upheaval, and put a recurring biweekly meeting on my calendar every other Monday for the rest of my life -- at that point I might have just given up posting about everything), but he's at least aware of it, so while I have no more authority than I did previously (already in the negatives), I have increased awareness, and actually increased motivation to stop giving a fuck and just do things whether I have the authority to or not. Forgiveness and permission, etc.

The down side to all of this was that it was bartered on condition of me finishing my fucking thesis and getting my stupid Masters, so now I get to fill up all of the time this gives me back with godsbefucked grad school. I fucking hate school so much. But maybe I can be done with it, soon, and try to have a life that involves a reasonable bit of actual relaxation and shit.

I have to say, though. Completely platonically and in a way that is as non-creepy as love from Sev gets: I officially adore my boss more than anyone else in the world.
seventhe: (Rydia: reversed)
Thanks to everybody for their wise words on yesterday's entry -- this is a very thinky-time for me, and I appreciate all the kindness and the suggestions/advice.

Today I ended up - unplanned - talking to both my boss and his boss about the situation. And there's some tentative hope on the horizon.

I've been reassured, multiple times, that the amount of frustrating stress and overwhelming workload I've been facing on this project is not usual. This is a very new project, but carries stuff from some older projects which were divided out and shut down, so it's a really complicated place to be: I got caught in the middle of a really, really tough situation, combining super aggressive short-term timelines with vague and nebulous future roadmaps, which is why I feel so lost. It involves relationships with four internal branches of the company that don't usually all talk to each other, which is why there are so many meetings. Most of what I'm suffering from isn't indicative of "a project leader", but of being this project's leader in specific.

(Dear management: Thanks. You fucks. Love, Sev)

Even just hearing that this isn't normal was a little reassuring for me. If I'm crumbling under pressure, I like to know that it's super!!!amazeballs!~!!badass pressure, not Everyday Joe Baloney pressure. I feel better that way.

One of the things that has been so frustrating about my current project is that we are working on undefined things without any really clear targets. I'm going to do an analogy here, to try to explain: let's say you work in a kitchen and you have a cookie recipe that's problematic. It's a flavor a lot of your customers want, but you have trouble baking it just right. The Chef Overlords give you this project, and they say, "Develop and improve this cookie recipe." So, okay.

You start looking at your cookie recipe. But no one told you where exactly you are supposed to go improving it. Do you want the cookie to be healthier? To taste better? To be easier to make? To have less expensive ingredients? If you replace one ingredient with another and it improves the taste but is less healthy, is this an okay tradeoff, or no? If you can make the cookie easier to bake, but then it's more expensive, is that okay, or no?

But no one will answer that. You ask the people who sell the cookies, and they say, it has to taste good and be cheap. You ask the people who do maintenance, and they say, it has to be processable, if we can't bake it you don't have a product. You ask the customer, but each one says a different thing, and no one's sure who is actually buying these cookies anyway. You think, well, I'll try to improve all of the things. But first you are not actually made of time, and second there are some trade-offs -- like tastiness vs health, and you don't know how to decide what's a worthwhile balance there.

You ask your Chef Overlords, and they just say, "Improve the cookie." Then they say, "Oh, we want you to look at all our cookies." And there are some cookies made with vanilla, and some with chocolate, and some are gluten-free and some are low-fat and some are bargain cookies and some are designer cookies and some are really simple and some are super complex and they say, "Improve all the cookies."

So you're stuck fumbling around with 8 different directions to go in, and you can't focus your work forward, because any or all of those things could be target improvements - and maybe should - but no one will tell you what's a good range for acceptable trade-off and what's a target range for final product and maybe where you should start first.

That's my project, except that it's worse because there are no cookies here at all.

The first piece of good news: So right now, because I made a really good case / big stink about this at the meeting with the Japanese Overlords, the project is in somewhat of a holding pattern / waiting period, while the Overlords do some internal investigating and discussing and decide what our targets are on both short- and long-term. (I threw a very professional and polite fit and 'refused' to work on a lot of this stuff until we know where it's going, because I feel like we're wasting our time. We spent six months basically looking at a special baking soda until somebody (who wasn't the Overlords, even -- but since the Overlords were having fun with their thumbs up their asses, I decided that any guidance was better than joining the thumbs-up-asses club) decided what they really wanted was tastier chocolate chips, and then we spent six months looking for better chocolate chips before this somebody changed their minds again and said, fuck, we do still want the better baking soda, the chocolate chip taste may not be important and actually what we really want is not better tasting chocolate chips, but ones that don't melt.

Fuck. My. Life.)

The first bit of this decision is deliverable to me by September, according to our agreement. So for the next ~3 months, possibly longer, I get a bit of a break, because there is a lot of work that will be put "on hold" until we have some targets with which we can prioritize and determine direction.

The second piece of good news is, my boss has put things in motion for me to get a co-op of my own, hired by me, working specifically for me, in my lab. And not just a co-op, he is working to get a co-op position installed there, meaning when one co-op goes back to school I will have hired another to take his place, and I will basically always have a set of hands to support me, until I move on to other responsibilities.

The baddish news is that that won't be able to happen until January, because it's the end of the school year and most engineering students who want to co-op have already lined one up.

The goodish news is that if the workload actually decreases for the next couple months, I think I can survive until January. And if the workload ramps back up at the end of the year, by January I'll have a co-op to help me with some of it.

Sure, it isn't an immediate solution. And I need to have a more serious talk with my boss about my Masters degree and this workload in general. Before I continue to commit myself to this job, for example, I'd like to make sure I don't get handed a SURPRISE!!!!COOKIE!DISASTER project every two years, or there will be no vodka left in the world. But as for right now I really do feel like maybe there are some paths out I can take to help deal with all of this shit a little bit better.

One other thing I realized today is that I need to learn to delegate better. I need to stop looking at things other people have done and deciding that I could do them better and that that means I should just do them so that it's done right the first time. I need to stop claiming lots of work for myself because I want to do it my way. I need to learn to better trust people, and let them work on things in their own way -- and if I think they're fucking up, I need a better way to deal with it other than ripping it out of their hands and finishing it myself. (Sadly, sometimes this is the easiest way to do it, because I work with a lot of equally stubborn assholes who think they're right - this is Research - which means they don't listen to me; doubly so because I don't have a ~sacred PhD~.) Even if it takes more time, even if it seems like more work having to redirect and guide people, I need to learn how to do it. I need to learn to let go. I need to learn that even if someone else doesn't do something 100% perfectly, that maybe 85% is actually okay. I'm very invested in a lot of the things I do and I need to take a couple steps back.

The problem here is a) I am a control freak; b) I don't work well with others (despite the surprising trust of my management) and I don't like talking to people; and c) I actually legitimately don't trust about half of the people I work with, because they are either c1) idiots or c2) ambitious backstabbing assheads. But I need to find a system I can work with, and learn to delegate more.

But, yeah.

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