Tag Archives: work

is there such a thing as a “healthy perfectionist?”

I am a self-confessed perfectionist. I know I’m not alone in this – in fact most of my best friends are Type-A personalities with a little dose of neurosis.

I get worked up when pictures don’t hang perfectly straight. I read and reread things a million times over to make sure punctuation, grammar and spelling are flawless (that’s probably why I work in media relations). I will throw an entire craft project away if there’s a paint smear or a glue dribble. I will have a panic attack if I’m not at least five minutes early to a meeting and if I leave dinner in the oven for just a few too many minutes by accident I will consider the entire thing ruined.

Annoying isn’t it?

Not that I don’t usually push Mike’s buttons with my OCD tendencies – but last night I was extra neurotic and went on a cleaning spree at 11 o’clock at night. You know, when most people are turning in for the night to be well-rested for work the next day.

I started scrubbing the kitchen floor, cleaning the windows, vacuuming (my neighbors REALLY hate me now), dusting, redecorating, etc. You get the idea.

I spent the next hour cleaning myself into a frenzy and by the time I laid in bed, pleased with my tidy surroundings – my brain began short-circuiting about things I wanted to get done at work today, things I needed to do to prepare for my family’s visit this weekend, ways to be more productive, ways to be more effective… I began mentally writing ten different to-do lists simultaneously and before I knew it, my alarm clock went off and I realized I had barely slept at all.

Instead, I had spent the entire night thinking of ways to be the perfect employee, ways to be the perfect professional, ways to create the perfect career path, how to plan the perfect weekend with my family,  perfect ideas for the wedding.

I think aiming for perfection is both admirable and naive. You aim higher than most, set impressive goals, work incredibly hard – all to get the job done right (well…perfect).

But it’s important to draw a clear line between achieving personal excellence and becoming obsessive-neurotic to the point where we sabotage our own efforts.

I found a great post about this on Life Hack with a list of 8 ways to be healthy perfectionists at work (and even life in general). Here are some of my favorites:

  • Draw a line. We have the 80/20 rule (see #6 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity) where 80% of output can be achieved in 20% of time spent. We can spend all our time getting the 100% in, or we can draw the line where we get majority of the output, and start on a new project. Obsessing over details is draining and tedious, and doesn’t help us accomplish much.
  • Be conscious of trade-offs. When we spend time and energy on something, we deny ourselves from spending the same time and energy on something else. There are tons of things we can do, and we need to be aware of the trade-offs involved, so we can better draw a line (#1).
  • Be okay with making mistakes. Part of the reason why we obsess over our work is because we want it to be mistake-free. However, trying to achieve 100% perfection is highly ineffective. If we’re busy perfecting this thing, we can’t get to other important things. Realize that making mistakes is a trade off we have to embrace. The more we open ourselves to making mistakes, the faster we can get down to learning from them, and the quicker we can grow.
  • Realize our concerns usually amount to nothing. It’s good to plan and prepare, but there comes a time when we should let things roll and deal with problems as they crop up. Being overly preemptive makes us live in an imaginary future vs. in the present. Adopt a “roll with the punches” attitude.

I end with this –

“Some of us (perfectionists, especially) fuss so much over making the ‘right’ choice, but in life, all that’s really needed is to make any’ good’ choice, believe in it, go through with it, and accept the consequences.”
Unknown

Advertisements

the friday five: lessons from my five-year-old self

It has been a busy week and sadly, my blog has gotten the cold shoulder as a result.

I know I usually do my “Friday Five” post but I thought I’d shake things up a bit to keep things interesting.

We always hear, “hindsight is 20-20” and “if only I could have had the wisdom I have now when I was younger.”

While we certainly learn a great deal over the years, through our mistakes, experiences and life lessons – sometimes I think I had more figured out when I was five years old, still dressed in innocence, optimism and overalls.

So today I’m sharing the five lessons to live by from my five-year-old self:

  • Find joy in the small things. Not every single day is going to be spectacular in the sense that something extraordinary will happen. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a million little moments throughout the day that you shouldn’t stop and smile for. As kids we found the good in everything. If it rained it meant we could play in the mud. If it was Monday, it meant we got to go back to school and see our friends. Things that were mundane to the grown-up eye, such as sticks and rocks, turned in to games of swordfights against dragons to rescue trapped princesses. Take the time to slow down, put away the iPhone and appreciate the small things that often go unnoticed.
  • Be kind to others. As we grow older – this is one of the biggest things we forget to do. We get irritated at the person in front of us at the grocery store who takes too long to check out. We yell profanities at the guy who “drives like a moron” while stuck in traffic. We talk badly about people who may not do things the way we would. In kindergarten, you learn to be kind to your classmates… you share your toys, or your peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You help pick each other up when you fall off the monkey bars. It’s a community of kindness and respect. As adults – we need to remember the importance of respect, kindness and civility in our daily lives – when dealing with coworkers, with friends or even complete strangers.
  • Play hard. Working hard is important – yes – but playing hard is equally important. We had that figured out at a young age when we’d spend every last moment of sunlight climbing trees with our friends, coming home covered in grass stains and dried mud after our moms had called us in at least ten times to come and wash up for dinner. As adults, we need to reward ourselves for our hard work by finding time to laugh and have fun. Go on a vacation, even if it’s only a small one. Grab drinks with a friend after work and let loose. Pamper yourself for a day. Whatever you do, just remember that no matter how successful you are in life – none of it is worth it if you aren’t having fun and enjoying it along the way.
  • Never give up. We’ve all been faced with what has felt like an impossible task. How am I going to finish this in time? What if I can’t do what my boss wants me to do? What if I’m just not cut out for this? If we felt that way as kids… we probably would have never learned how to ride a bike. Or tie our shoes. Or count to ten. We tackled everything with such ferocity that we never stopped for a second to think, “but what if I can’t?” We just did. And it’s a page we should put into our own playbooks the next time we’re faced with a challenge or a difficult task.
  • Color outside of the lines. As kids we never worried about whether we were doing it the right way or the wrong way – all that we knew was that we were doing it our way. We learned by making our own mistakes, taking risks and trying something new. This kind of fearless approach can lead to so much more creativity and innovation in our professional lives. Even if it doesn’t always work out – you’d never know unless you tried.

I never gave my five-year-old self enough credit for her wisdom. Sometimes we think we have things all figured out the older we get when really… we may have had it figured out much sooner than we had ever realized.

the friday five

Have you ever had one of those mornings where your alarm goes off and you scratch your head in confusion…thinking, that’s odd – it’s definitely Saturday. You roll back over, nestle your head into your pillows, content that you can sleep until whenever you want today until it hits you like a ton of bricks that you actually need to get up for work.

Luckily a little dose of Mr. Feeny in the morning and knowing my best friend is coming down tonight to visit for the weekend made getting out of bed for my last nine to five shift of the week much easier.

Anyways – here’s my Friday Five – or my five favorites of the week:

  • The Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl. That’s right…I’m taking up space on my blog to talk about how much I am in love with a bowl of chicken and rice (and a tiny, tiny bit of cheese). Besides it being mouth-watering delicious and addicting, (oh and way too expensive), it clocks in at around 360 calories. As someone who’s trying to lose weight and cut down on calorie consumption while still enjoying delicious food, it’s as if the fast food gods assembled and delivered me this delicious low-cal meal from the heavens. My stomach and my waistline are grateful for the occasional Mexican treat.
  • The Vice Presidential Debates. While I admittedly was peeved that my regular shows weren’t airing as a result of it (I’m not ashamed to admit I’m addicted to Scandal), the debate turned out to be sometimes informative but for the most part entertaining. What I think I enjoyed the most, besides Joe laughing and Paul’s goofy facial expressions, was watching my fiancé actually take an interest in politics for the first time in his life. It was interesting to watch the debate through Mike’s lens as he doesn’t identify as a liberal or conservative and was able to see the sense in both sides of the argument which is incredibly refreshing…well until Paul Ryan started talking about a little bean.
  • The Comcast On-Demand Workout Channel. I kind of hate going to the gym. Mostly because I hate the looks I get from other people (or maybe just the looks I think I’m getting), as I pant and heave and sweat on the elliptical with all of the fit people just gliding and glistening around me. I get to roll out of bed in the morning, pour myself a glass of water, push the coffee table out of the way and spend the next forty minutes feeling the burn. I’m obsessed with the different cardio dance workouts they offer, from jazz to hiphop to funk; within the next few months I’ll be ready to moonlight as a backup dancer for Brittney Spears.
  • Dog Shaming AND Cat Shaming Tumblrs. You read my post last week about how looking at pictures of adorable animals can increase your work productivity right? Well, I find looking at hysterically captioned pictures of adorable animals decreases stress, increases productivity and gives everyone in the office a good laugh. When I have a break between press releases and building media lists I like to surf through a few pages, share my favorites and brainstorm witty things I can say about my own two demon cats (which I never do).
  • Spending the weekend with my BFF4L. Sometimes I forget how long Anthony and I have known each other (nine years!) but whenever we’re together and no matter how long it has been since we’ve last seen each other, we always, always manage to have a good time – even if it means getting pneumonia in a downpour at the zoo and spending the night playing drinking games to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I have no idea what shenanigans we’ll find ourselves in this weekend but I know there will be plenty of laughs, which after a long week; I can certainly use a double-dose of.

What are some of your favorites from the week? I’d love to hear them! Here’s to a good week and an even better weekend everyone.

xo

once an owl, always an owl

My Temple University rally towel is now hanging on the outside of my cubicle, adding to the collection of Temple memorabilia I have on display at work. My face is sunburnt and my voice a little more hoarse after spending Saturday cheering with my two best friends and fellow Owls at my first homecoming game as an alumni.

Mike and I loaded in to the car bright and early Saturday morning in order to enjoy some of the tailgating activities before the game started. I haven’t been to Philly since June, so my excitement was hardly containable as we drove up Broad Street and I saw the sea of cherry and white around us, as students, alumni and parents made their way towards the stadium.

After getting (temporarily) tatted up and fitted out in Temple gear by the girls, I found my parents and walked around Lot K with them, making our way from table to table as my parents gushed about how excited they were to have two Owls in the family. My mom and I got our faces painted together with the “Temple T” before splitting up to find our seats.

For the next few hours, Alex, Lauren and I remembered what it was to be a Temple student. As the different montages aired on the big screen, with pictures from graduation to students both past and present, tears began to sting my eyes. Every fiber of my being ached to be a Temple student again. To go back to the days of being with my “family” – spending our days in PRSSA and PRowl meetings, enjoying crepes on Liacouras Walk, and curling up on Alex’s couch in Temple Towers as we tackled capstone and devoured pounds of pasta.

I think what saddened us the most was knowing things will never really be the same. And to be honest, it still scares me. There are times I feel I have flown the nest too soon and miss the comfort of “knowing everything” and “being known.” At Temple, students looked up to us and respected us. Our professors hailed us. We aced classes and ran organizations with ease. We are now miles away from our comfort zones and the process of making a name for ourselves has started all over again.

While I have no doubt in my mind that each of us will go on to accomplish great things, both personally and professionally, I will always remember where it all began.

We are self made. We are Philly made. We are Temple made.

happy world animal day

Today is World Animal Day, and as a confessed crazy cat lady, a PR specialist for an animal welfare organization, and an Eliza Thornberry wannabe… I think it’s safe to say I’m a big fan of four-legged furry cuteness.

Which is why I was pretty excited to read about a study that revealed work productivity increases when one looks at adorable, baby animals.

The study was recently conducted by a team of researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan. A group of university students were shown pictures of baby animals before completing various tasks, and the results showed that those who viewed pictures of baby animals were largely more productive than those students who viewed pictures of adult animals and “pleasant food” such as steak and pasta.

Results from Hiroshima University study

The researchers came to some interesting conclusions for why this happens and you can read more about that here.

So in honor of World Animal Day, and to really impress your boss with an extra boost in productivity, I thought I’d share some of my favorite sources of cuteness from the web.

Tell your boss they can thank me later.

http://animalygifs.tumblr.com/ – Home to hundreds of adorable and funny animal GIFs, full of cats pushing vacuums and rabbits eating flowers.

#whatshouldwecallme – trying to wake up to go to work on Friday.

I’m a bit of a slothaholic.

Baby hedgehog! Check out this blog for 70 cute baby animal pictures.

For the latest adorable videos and pictures, be sure to check out Huffington Post’s Cute Animals section.

And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without sharing an adorable picture of my own two fur balls of destruction – Sophie & Winston.

the power of “no”

People always talk about the power of “Yes.” There are plenty of movies (hey Jim Carrey), books (love you Bethenny Frankel), and motivational speakers (you’re my girl, Oprah) that are telling us how our lives can radically be changed for the better by adopting a “yes attitude.”

I agree that saying yes can open up several doors to wonderful opportunities. Being a “yes person” brands you as optimistic, open-minded, and great to work with. I’m the first person to say “yes” when a volunteer is needed to help with an extra release, or if someone needs an extra hand with their pitching, I readily make myself available.

Yesterday, I hit a wall. Actually, I think it would be more accurate if I said I crashed into a wall at full speed without a seat belt on, and I went flying through the windshield. As I sank in to my bed last night, the wreckage still smoldering around me from my mental breakdown, I suddenly became acutely aware of my limits.

As much as I had hoped I could be everything and do everything, I realized I wasn’t being of help to anyone because I wasn’t able to give each of them 100%. Plain and simple, I was burnt out.

So I’m calling this next chapter in my life, for lack of better words, “Yes, you can say no.”

Boundaries and limits are important to establish early on as a professional, otherwise people will quickly take advantage of your generosity to help without realizing that they are one of many people coming to you for assistance.

First and foremost, your own work comes first. Yesterday I had to put a pitch I was responsible for on hold because my boss came to me asking to help out a colleague. I wanted to respond to her and let her know I was busy with my own overwhelming workload, but I didn’t want her to think I wasn’t being a team player. So instead I said, “sure” and as a result, bit off more than I could chew and didn’t get my pitch done for my own story until early this morning. Being a team player means helping the team achieve success…and instead I was only chalking up a loss by putting my own work off to do someone else’s.

While PR is a profession that is known for always being on the clock, there needs to be boundaries established forwhat this actually means. While I have zero qualms with taking my work laptop home to finish up things I wasn’t able to get done in the 9 to 5 parameters of office hours, there also needs to be a stopping point where you power down and say “this can wait until tomorrow.”

Lastly, as per the blog of one of my best friends today… it is also imperative to speak up when YOU are the one who needs help – something I fail miserably at. Everyone needs to recognize they are human, and as hard as we may try, we are not perfect. We have limits and breaking points…as I quickly realized last night. Let someone else return the favor occasionally. It will not make you any less of a person. Rather, it will make you a more mature professional for being self-aware and honest.

Cheers to the end of the week everyone. Find time to power down and say “yes” to a big dose of pajamas, cocktails, and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. I know I am.

the pursuit of happiness

“It was at that time that I thought about Thomas Jefferson writing that Declaration of Independence. Him saying that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And I thought about how he knew to put the ‘pursuit’ in there, like no one can actually have happiness. We can only pursue it.”

— Will Smith, Pursuit of Happyness

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the word “happiness.” What it means to different people. How some people seem to have too much and others seem to never have any. Why we spend our entire lives pursuing it, in the hopes of finding our “happily ever after.”

When my alarm goes off at 6:30 Monday mornings, I can certainly tell you I’m not hitting the snooze button out of joy. There are times I find myself drifting through my days, as if I am a shadow version of myself, going through the motions of mundane routine. Wake up, shower, brush teeth, watch Boy Meets World while getting ready (what can I say, I need my daily dose of Feeny), drive to work, yell about the traffic, spend the next 8 hours in my cubicle, only leaving for the occasional bathroom break, stumble out into daylight at 5:15, pick up the fiancé from work, drive home, yell about traffic, make dinner, watch TV, pass out by 10.

While I understand, and for the most part accept that work life isn’t always glamorous, I guess you can also say I wasn’t so prepared for how dull the lull of a routine can feel after a while. We spend the majority of our lives at work… anywhere from 40 to sometimes 60 or even 80 hours a week – more time than we spend with friends, family and loved ones. So if you’re not happy with the way things are going, you better figure out how to fix it.

I realize I am the creator of my own happiness and that I need to take matters into my own hands, rather than whining about a situation that will remain dull and stale if all I do is complain about it. So I’ve decided to do a few things to add some spice into my spice-less daily routine.

  • Change my surroundings. If you sit in a small grey cube long enough, there is no doubt you will lose your sanity. Aside from bringing in some personal mementos, like pictures of my cats, cards from friends and inspirational quotes to get me through the day, I’ve also decided as fun as I make my cubicle, I still need to escape from it every once in a while. Which is why I am mandating that every day, for at least 30 minutes, I find somewhere else to do my work. With the ability to take my work laptop virtually anywhere on my organization’s campus, I’ve decided I’m not going to let this beautiful weather go to waste and will find time to do some work from the picnic tables outside. Sometimes all it takes is a change in scenery to spark your motivation and creativity.
  • Cultivate a new skill. While I absolutely love writing and actually enjoy creating press releases and editing op-eds, it isn’t the only thing I like to do. Job descriptions do a great job of telling you what you’re responsible for, but it shouldn’t limit you from learning something new. I’ve always been interested in learning more about website development so I volunteered my first week to manage our news archive on the website. I have also taken the time to introduce myself to our website developer who was thrilled to hear about my interests. As a result of my introduction, we are planning to find a time to sit together so she can teach me more about what she does and how to build and maintain a website. Make time to learn something new every chance you can.
  • Make a list of everything I’m grateful for. Whether it’s that I’m lucky to have a job in my chosen field or that I’m at an organization whose mission I am passionate about – I need to remind myself daily why I wake up every morning to come to work. Sometimes I get caught up in writing and editing so many releases that I need to take a step back and realize the work I am doing has a direct contribution to saving the lives of millions of animals around the world – something I have wanted to do since I was a child. When you’re feeling extra stressed or down, pull out your grateful list to remind yourself not to get caught up in the little things.
  • Pay it forward. Doing a selfless act for someone else in need of help always makes me feel good inside. I’ve already become an active volunteer with a local animal rescue, picking up dogs and walking them during adoption events in the hopes of finding their forever homes. However, I’m also enjoying lending a helping hand to students who have been reaching out to me for help on job/internship advice or making their resumes and cover letters really shine. I wasn’t able to make it to where I am today without the guidance of a few mentors along the way and I thoroughly enjoy being able to help others after so many have been kind enough to help me in my own journey. If you continue to pay it forward, it will eventually make its way back to you tenfold.

While happiness may not be an inherent right, we certainly have the right to pursue it. And while life is full of peaks and valleys, and the climb can often prove difficult – I know the view from the top will certainly make it all worth it.