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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marketable Skills: Situational Awareness

Yesterday's post didn't cover it.

Yesterday, I lost 8 minutes of productivity diagnosing a problem with the printer that turned out to be lack of paper in the tray I needed. Have you noticed a theme in this posts? Refill the freaking paper tray, people!

However, I'm as much to blame because I didn't use situational awareness in diagnosing. I know we have a paper problem at work. Checking the paper level should have been my first thought instead of my last. Alas, I'm an optimist. I keep hoping someone else will start doing it, too.

Unrealistic expectations are the cancer of the interpersonal relationship.

Situational awareness has two parts:

1) Notice what's going on around you at the moment. In college, I learned the phrase be here now, and it applies everywhere. Pay attention to work when you're at work. Think about what you have to do and how you're going to get it done quickly and correctly. The second is more important than the first, but that's kind of like saying love is more important than hope.

This is hard for lemmings. They're usually thinking about the next iPhone fix. Smokers are usually thinking about the next smoke break. Anal retentives are thinking about how far away the bathroom is. I get it. I was addicted to Farmville for six years. I feel your pain.

Screw your pain. Focus on your work. Yes, it's hard. So is being an adult, and adults have to work to earn money to live. Until we all become socialists, anyway. Then we will work so others can live and we can die of starvation and curable diseases that no longer have available treatment resources. Welcome to Utopia, Sunshine.

2) Think ahead about your work issues. When you know a certain problem is common, like being out of paper, think about how that may affect your current project (or the project coming up you'll need special paper for) and make sure you have paper before you start. If what you do affects other people, plan your day to make their day easier. Save yourself time and frustration and come out looking like a rock star to your boss.

Ex: you stock produce. People can't buy produce if it isn't stocked. Plan your work so that when the store opens, customers can buy produce and checkers can check them out. No produce = no checking = unhappy customers and co-workers.* If you fail to plan ahead this way, your day will be spent putting out fires you set instead of calmly acting like an expert produce stocker who, yes, just happens to have those fresh kiwis you're looking for, sir. Here you go. Have a great day.

In a perfect work environment, everyone looks for ways to do their job better, everyone plans ahead and communicates their needs, and everyone is considerate of everyone else's time. That's being professional.

I have never worked in a perfect environment. I just do what I can to make it as perfect as I can, and hope to lead by example.

Addendum: don't hack off your co-workers unnecessarily. You share space with these folks at least 40 hours a week, and they have the power to make your life hell. It's like arranged polygamy. Whenever possible, plan your day to make theirs easier, and your day will be easier as a result. No one enjoys working with a Incompetent Cranky Puss, and even lemmings appreciate thoughtfulness. Well, some of them do.

Push button. Receive bacon.

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