If you have a question for Smash Your Problems, please email firstname.lastname@example.org Our next week’s guest will be Ursula the Sea Witch; though I must disclaim she is currently undergoing litigation involving contract law.
Hey! Good thread question 😉
My supervisor just got let go and I am now the sole person responsible for managing the scheduling and communications of an entire patient base for a busy medical office. How do I go about organizing myself to prevent this entire calamity from biting me in the ass? I am not very good with stress management just yet, and I have now been left with a very large responsibility that relies heavily on me being conscious of the concerns of both my clinical team and those of our customers. Anxiety has a tendency to make me forgetful and unnecessarily focused at the same time, meaning important things don’t happen cause I stress the little things. Long story short, AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
The RMS Titanic
How fitting a name to choose, because like the Titanic there are multiple problems happening at once. You may be a captain who just found out there’s an iceberg ahead, but let’s take a second to acknowledge the lack of lifeboats and class warfare that could break out at any moment. I am dearly hoping your new responsibilities are coming with a raise and a promotion. Ideally, you’ll need a little bit of your raise to make this work, because I’m about to suggest stress crafting.
I am mess. I was born in the mess, raised in it- I will roll out of bed with ten minutes till class starts knowing damn well it’s a ten minute walk and I’m not dressed yet. An essay due? Forget the night before, I’m doing it the morning of. And yet, I am a beast at scheduling for others. Does this make sense? No. Does it defy physics? Probably. But here we are.
It’s about having a planner. That’s all it comes down to, really. Your anxiety means your brain is not the safest place to store info (and that’s okay, that’s why office supplies were invented) and a collection of well organized papers listing dates and times and to do lists is. Get yourself different colors for different members if you want to be extra with it. A whiteboard with each day divided into a section for your team and a section for customers could be helpful. Lean in to the pinterest productivity. My memory has gone to hell, but “Check the planner” is much easier to remember than anything else. Consider it an extension of your mind, a tool you were smart enough to use instead of a weakness.
As for the stress, aside from the obvious joke response of “play video games with your bff more”, think of it this way; without taking time off from thinking about work your productivity will actually go down. You need time to turn off your brain and not give a fuck about work, and that actually makes you a better employee. Things like going to the gym may seem adult-like but they do help. Schedule time in your brand new planner to do absolutely nothing and not be productive. Caring is important in work, but being consumed by it is not. I know that it can often be hard to find a job and so you feel like you have to be absolutely perfect and make it work no matter what, but look at how they handled the last person leaving. Give it your all when you’re on the clock, and then go home and pretend you don’t even work there. That’s your problem to deal with tomorrow when you’re getting paid. Do not light yourself on fire to keep someone else wrong. Also, if you’re in charge now, consider the possibilities of delegation. Is someone on your staff real nosy, or a parent*? Maybe they can help keep an eye on the staff calendar to make sure it’s accurate. Can you go over policies about personal and sick days to see how you can work your workplace’s methods of requesting time off into your new routine?
It will take time to train your brain, so don’t lose your mind when tomorrow night you come home and are still actively stressing. Find ways to refocus yourself and turn your attention to something else. Consider the ten minutes you aren’t worried about it a victory, and remind yourself when it pops up that capitalism has ruined your life and made you like this. “Getting a hobby” seems ridiculous to be adding things to your schedule right now, but napping is an acceptable pastime. Keep yourself hydrated and semi-healthy so your body has a higher tolerance for the bullshit you’ll be dealing with. And if things become untenable, do not let them make you think there are no other options. No underpaid, overworked job is worth pushing yourself to the breakdown stage. Your resume will reflect your new responsibilities if you decide to leave. Keep it updated so you can apply for jobs quickly and have little to no overlap should you need to get out.
Remember your friends are your friends for a reason, and don’t cheat yourself out of your own support system because you don’t want to bother anyone. If you need to vent and feel guilty, frame it this way: I have brought you a bag of chips and let us eat them while I talk about work. You may not want to talk about work outside of work and that’s okay, but “i’m so busy and stressed and just needed to say it, how are you?” is a valid and complete sentence.
Also, you were about twenty thousand times more organized than me, so consider too your anxiety is making you feel less prepared and handling than you actually are. Your standards are going to be much higher for yourself than almost anyone else. Insist on a performance review as a baseline so you’re aware of what the new job needs to be. And remember, you just started, so you aren’t in a routine yet and super concerned about picking up the job and doing well. In no time you’ll be as dead inside as the rest of us. If not, there’s no shame in needing a lifeboat.
I need your help. I have been flirting with my neighbor on our metro commute almost daily for MONTHS. They flirt back, and engage in personal conversations with me. We know many personal details about each other, our families, our jobs, our diets, our hobbies, our friends, you name it. Goose, I’m not kidding when I say that this person sometimes knows more about the goings-on in my life than some of my friends and family members.
They smile. They wink. They ask me about my weekend plans. They let me borrow their shovel to break my car free out of my god-forsaken icy apartment parking lot last winter. Twice. Also, they’ve been known to offer the occasional arm for me to hold while walking over ice patches to board the metro.
Despite these niceties, they have never sought my time nor attention outside of our metro commute. They knew my name, they knew where I worked, they knew how to find me should they want to. After several months of waiting, I decided to follow them on Instagram to see if they’d reach out and make any type of move. Crickets.
Finally, after a few more weeks of metro-chatting, I decided to reach out with a casual DM about an inside joke that we have. They replied — but only after 3 full days. Since then, conversation has carried on in a normal fashion, but VERY SLOWLY. When they do reply, it is will full emotion and enthusiasm, often sending multiple messages at one time. However, the time in between messages is usually several days, which makes me feel as if there is no sense of urgency or priority.
Luckily, since the DM-ing has begun, I have had a change in work schedule, and we have not seen each other face to face. (It would be pretty hard to have to sit there and chat while knowing he was essentially ignoring my messages). I am trying to wait things out until something happens…but what does that mean?
Goose! What should I do? What do all of these mixed signals mean? Are they just clueless? Am I the clueless one? Are we both idiots? HELP!
with love & honks,