family · Work

Downshifting

slow-down-downshifting1

People that know me well know that I like to learn foreign languages. The ones that know me very well know also that I defend Spanish (my mother language): the “Spanglish” language that sometimes we speak without noticing it isn´t appropriate for me… Yes, I´m the contradiction made human. Sometimes there are some words that are difficult to express in my mother language: this is one of them.
I knew about the meaning just a few years ago, when I was practising myself and I was glad I wasn´t the only one in the world. Downshifting is a philosophy of life a little bit different from the “hurry-up” of our times. The main law is to downshift and go slower in all of your acts… Many people like me are doing it now,e even when they don´t know the meaning of the word. Many others may wonder how.
As always, the Scandinavians are ahead of everybody. It consists on not being so avaricious when it concerns to work (in other words, stop working as much as you can to get as much money as you can) and be content with enough to live… Right now I´m imagining many of you raising your hands, being surprised, calling me nuts. Its simply as trying to have an austere live, enough to live. No more, no less.
It´s understood that we all are trapped in a consumer society that “oblige” us to buy anything, even when we can live without it. I´m the first one to fall in the system but I try my best not to do it. For me it´s more importat to come back home to be with my family thatn anything else. It´s very important to be productive in your work hours. As some experts say, staying in our work lots of hours doesn´t  mean being productive: the work needs to be done.
I was like many of us: I wanted to improve in my career and get lots of money above all. I left a very hard work for an even harder one. The salary that was promised to me was more than OK with a reasonable shift. I thought that I couldn´t offer any better to my (at that time) small family of three (my daughter, my dog and me)… Ath the end, I got to lose one year of my daughter´s life (I lived to work all day) and summons at the court: I was defrauded.
I learned the lessons and I went to a job where I worked less hours but I was proportionally better paid. Of course, I couldn´t afford going out for a drink or diner every weekend but I could spend some more time with my family and for me. I learned to be happy with less money: I ajusted my spendings. I remember like yesterday when I called the credit card company (I only have one): the person that attended me couldn´t believe I wanted to reduce my card´s limit. My answer was clear: “My earnings has lowered, so my limit has to go down as well”.
Right now I have a job where I finish at six and enjoy life (that´s why we work, don´t we?). As a boss of mine used to tell us: “There are many moments in a worker´s life: time to wait for a client to receive us, time for bureaucracy, time to attend clients and time to rest”. And that´s what I do when I finish work: enjoy my (actual) enlarged family.
(First published in http://maritza-in-english.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/downshifting.html on December 11th 2008)
Work

Attitude, attitude, attitude

attitude

There´s a lot of talks about attitude: I like the one from Debra Searle. There´s other one in Spanish, by Víctor Küpers en TedxAndorralaVella. I can´t agree more with him. Knowledge and skils sum up: attitude multiplies the other two together. Knowledge and skills can be acquired: attitude, if you don´t have enough of to be successfull, it´s difficult to get.

Attitude for me is one reason to be motivated to wake up in the mornings and do the job I have to do during the day. It´s the electricity that makes me stand up with eager to eat the world. The energy to go forward, never backwards.

I have to admit that there are days in which I feel like eating the world and others (a few) that I want to reflect and rest and let the world eating job to others. Isn´t it part of what it makes us humans?

Throughout my professional career I have had to deal with colleagues or clients with different types of attitude. From colleagues that didn´t mind the end result of their work, to others that used to get sick because of their perfectionism; from clients that demand the impossible so you do the job correctly to others that don´t care as long as they got the standardized minimun.

And what about training? There´s plenty shades of Grey (do not get confused with the book). I see it in the generations of high school students. All of them in general say that they don´t like to study: they prefer doing other things. Just a few take their studies seriously because their eyes have been opened to reality and they know that their future depends on being as well trained as possible: if they don´t study, they know the consecuences and they don´t want to be economically dependent on others or obtain low paid jobs. Then there are cases of adult training people that want to have a better paid job with no effort at all.

Knowledge is acquired, skills is practiced but attitude has to be cultivated.

Work

About presentism, procrastination & mania for meetings

Coworkers Getting Bored

In this post I´ll talk about my own work experience, which I really know. In my wide work career I´ve suffer these bad behaviours, either with my own or other´s experiences. Let´s going to talk about it with some humour, even though it´s not a laughing matter.

Let´s start with presentism. There can be an exception to do presentism when you have to work for customer care. In other cases, the working hours should be flexible: for your own good and for the company´s. What´s the use of having an employee hired for forty hours and he/she stays at work for fifty? No use whatsoever. As a story taken from my collection of anecdotes, I can tell the time I was in a company where all minutes employed in one task had to be accounted for. When you had done your eight hours, you could go home. A have a co-worker that entered before me and criticized me behind my back because I used to leave the office on time: she usually stayed around an hour extra every day. When there was the need for staff reduction, she was the one chosen. I couldn´t understand why her and not me. My bosses were surprised at my question: “Do you still wonder why? Well it´s easy: you come to do your job and she dedicated more than an hour a day to make private telephone calls”. That´s when I learned that being isn´t synonymous of working.

Procrastination, such a difficult word to say that you feel like leaving it for later… 😉 That´s what it really means: leaving things pending to do for an uncertain future. It´s a bad habit that personally it´s difficult to get rid off… Who feels like doing something that is tedious/annoying/uncomfortable or all together at once? No one! It´s a defect that makes all more human. Let´s be honest, the sense of guilt wins over and you end up doing that task peevishly. I have to confess it: it´s ridiculously painful for me to organize a visit schedule to clients. It´s hard for the ego (even when it´s nothing personal) the fact that your petition for a date is rejected over and over again. You get over it with time but you keep on leaving it for later every time you can. Don´t you worry: you aren´t an alien.

I left the mania for meetings for last on purpose and that´s not because I wanted to procrastinate… The reason is because this is the worst behaviour of all for me and the one that gave me no satisfactions in my working life. Raise your hands who hasn´t suffered being in a meeting where they cannot participate, or what it´s discussed has nothing to do with the work they are doing or realizing that there´s no clear purpose of the meeting… or the three situations together. I still remember one of the useless meetings that I had in an important company where it was discused the project I was leading (well, I was the only person working on it) and the rest where arguing about closing the project all together and replace it for another. It seems that no one realized that my job was at stake and I was present hearing my (no) future in the company. There was no opportunity to express my point of view or anything. Many would think that my future was discuss in front of me at least. If I have to tell you the truth, I wasn´t obliged: I felt like an invisible being that no feelings where expected to have, as if the decision wouldn´t hurt anyone. And there I was, listening that in the near future I was in the unemployment office.

Have you realized that everything is related with time? Isn´t it curious?