Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to work...

For the first time, my company took the day after Thanksgiving off! I guess there are some pluses to the new ownership after all. The 4 days off was a much needed break. I haven't take more than 3 days off (Fri-Sun) in over a year and that was for my family coming out.

Last week was a great week for me. Maybe it was because there were only 3 work days or maybe because I was focused on what I wanted to achieve. Either way I'm going to answer those 7 questions again tonight.

1. What will I try to improve this week?
Last week I worked on being more optimistic for my new employee. Well I've got another new employee starting this Monday and while last week I kept an upbeat attitude, I wasn't so prepared to train a new employee. It has been awhile since I had to explain all the rules and procedures and I stumbled through them terribly last week. (I've always had good employees so I've never had to worry about the attendance policy or the exact dress code, except on employees' first day.) This week I'm going to be more organized in my new employee training. I'm off to a great start as I had to work late Wednesday night and I spent the time organizing packets and outlining topics to go over.

2. What was I most proud of last week?
I feel recharged. I know I went into last week feeling in desperate need of a pick me up and I think I've found it. I'm getting back on track with my personal development, rereading the books that helped me "find myself" my last few years of college. I'm also getting back into yoga and using my Wii fit. Competitive sports were a huge part of my life up until a few years ago and I miss the structure and challenge they afforded me. I have to be even more self disciplined now that I don't have a coach to whip my butt when I slack off. Last week was a step in the right direction and I'm feeding off this energy to bring me into this week.

3. What was my biggest accomplishment last week?
Last week I realized my boss is just as stressed (if not more) about the transition to the new company as I am. We are both big organizers. While she values helping people and mediating during projects, I like to plan and execute. Together we make a great team and we are both struggling with the lack of information and organization we need to do our jobs. My accomplishment last week was listening to her. I've said my piece, she knows where I stand, and last week I got a chance to be there for her, like she has been for me so many times.

4. What have I done to get closer to my life goals last week?
I dug out DH's Nintendo DS. I've learned a few things about myself these past weeks. One is that I value intelligence and quick thinking and two is that after work I need to destress. TV, while often the method of choice, is not really what I'm looking for and I'm too emotionally drained to gather the energy to go to the gym (that's why I dropped my membership). What I do like is sitting down and challenging myself to some quick thinking mind games- Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, Brain Boost, etc. It doesn't take much physical energy so I can trick myself into pulling it out after a long day and 15-30 mins later the fast pace challenges have pumped me up to get me through cooking dinner, cleaning, and (much later in the evening) a quick workout.

5. What was the hardest thing for me last week?
I often focus on one thing really hard and ignore the rest. First it was my finances, which still need work but at least I'm not in the red at the end of the month anymore. Now it's feeling satisfied at work. I have to be really careful that I don't slip on the progress I've made with my finances and with the holidays coming and the sale shopping I can feel myself starting to slide...

6. What was my biggest waste of time last week?
Some might say it was staring off into space, but I actually enjoy that time. It's almost like meditating just staring off while your brain tries to wrap itself around its thoughts. I think the real waste might have been being mad at DH. DH's career makes for a nontraditional home life and sometimes I get frustrated and silently mad at DH for it. (I'm silent because I'm smart enough to know he doesn't have control over a lot of it and it's more my problem not his).

7. What did I do this week that made me ashamed?
Again it's being mad at DH for doing his job. Funny how both weeks my biggest waste of time was also what made me ashamed. I guess I value not wasting time too. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Getting ready for the work week

So after a frustrating finish to my last work week, I've spent the weekend browsing different productivity blogs because something else I value in life is continued self improvement. As some of you know about 2.5 years ago I moved to this crazy county thanks to DH's employment and to say that opportunities around here are few and far between is putting it mildly.

When I look back at the person I was when I moved here and the person I am now, I feel like I've been slipping. I'm not as sharp, dedicated, or professional as I use to be. I use to be involved in lots of things outside of work and now I just go to work, go home, go to work, go home. The thing with not having lots of opportunities around is you have to work twice as hard to make them and I haven't been.

Several blogs suggested keeping a daily journal and one activity was to ask yourself 7 questions each Sunday to help you focus for the week ahead (there is a 20 question version too, but I need baby steps).

1. What will I try to improve this week?
I'm going to be optimistic and upbeat at work this week. I have a new employee starting Monday and I want my company to make a good first impression. I know that the management team (including myself) is extremely frustrated right now, but I'm going to do my best to shield my new employee from that negativity and spin a positive light on our current situation.

2. What was I most proud of last week?
Last week I got several contradictory directives for action from the president, director of operations, and our software development director. Instead of getting defensive about the miscommunication, I took a deep breathe and replied back as to what the original directive was and if I should now be doing it differently. I also calmly explained my frustrations to my boss that the contradictory messages were frustrating and that I would be happy to organize a project meeting to help clear up some of these issues.

3. What was my biggest accomplishment last week?
Identifying what I value in my life and in my ideal job.

4. What have I done to get closer to my life goals last week?
Last weekend I spent a lot of time figuring out what it is I value in my life's work which will help me focus my energy on things that are important to me.

5. What was the hardest thing for me last week?
My biggest struggle right now is the lack of direction with regards to the integration of the old company with the new company. Being a planner and an organizer, not knowing where we are going or what my responsibilities are is an extremely unsettling feeling.

6. What was my biggest waste of time last week?
Hands down it was complaining. I spent a lot of time bitching to my co-workers about my frustrations. While some venting is good, I definitely spent too much time focused on what I don't have control over.

7. What did I do this week that made me ashamed?
Again the complaining and gossiping about the lack of an integration project. As a person in a leadership role I need to be setting a better example.

I'm officially no more...

So the sale is official completed! Normally I would be excited but instead I'm really nervous. The last few weeks I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what I value and I started a nice little list-

What I value:

  • intellegence
  • knowledge
  • responsibility
  • accountability
  • integrity
  • being helpful
  • respectful
  • determination/perserverance
  • communication
What I like to do:
  • solve problems
  • put together real life puzzles
  • organize
  • plan
  • gather solutions
  • track progress towards goals
All these things fit in rather nicely with my current career in project management and internal/external marketing. I felt really good going into work after making this list knowing that I had momentarily lost sight of what I valued and I was now back on track. I was pumped up and ready for action.

Then I find out that the new company isn't working like that right now. Normally I'm part of the project team, keeping everyone informed, and on task. I'm good at it and I like it, but oh no. The only people being informed and a part of this integration project are our senior leadership team (who by the way are not onsite). This means me and my own boss are clueless. Here we are the project department and we can't even be part of the project. I am going out of my mind. All my talent, all my skills sitting in a cubical focused on meditating as hard as I can so I don't go crazy. The few things I can't stand in the workplace are lack of organziation, planning, accountability, and communication and I can tell you that they are all present and in full force right now. Blah!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

October Recap

I apologize for being so late on posting my recap. You know it's been to0 long when you think back and can barely remember the month! But "making excuses justifies failure" so without further a do here's what our numbers looked like last month:


  • Since I'm on a biweekly payroll, October was the month of triple paychecks!
  • What's even better is after all the bills were paid we didn't need it so a whole paycheck is going into the bathroom savings!
  • Our cable bill was super cheap, not only because we gave up many services but because we did it in the middle of the month amd had a credit carry over. So instead of saving $80 on our new cable bill we saved $100!
  • Our gas bill was down by $40 and that was before gas was below $3.00 so I'm really excited about November!
  • Our grocery bill was down another $100. I'm not sure where all our grocery money was going before...
  • We only spent $40 on hobbies this month which is normally upward of $100
  • Our city water rates went up again. When I first moved here we were paying $25 a month and that was the minimum amount (if you used less water you still had to pay that). Now we are still at the minimum amount but are paying $58.77. That's a big jump in 2 years time.
  • The flip side to our grocery bill being down was that our eating out was up by $100. I'm sad to report that we have slipped back to our old ways of eating out once a week. The good news is that we are doing it with friends rather than just because we are lazy and we are still spending half as much as we use to.
  • Last month I paid the last of our credit card debit which meant our payment was significantly higher than our planned payment. I planned to cover this with my extra paycheck but our expenses were down in other areas that I didn't need to!
  • I had a moment of weakness for dog toys. With the winter season coming up the dogs needed some none outside activities to keep them busy. I spent $100 on dog toys which included a winter coat for Porter, a few food dispensing puzzles, and some chew bones. I also entered a X-mas doggie toy exchange and got some stuff for my swap partner.
  • Another dog expense was Hank's vet visit and the stocking up of heart worm, tick and flea meds. When you have 3 dogs this really adds up!
DH and I definitely slipped a little last month with the expenses but we have made a lot of positive changes that impact every month's bottom line so we still came out ahead. I know that saving isn't DH's favorite way of living so if a few slips now and then don't set us back into debit and keep us on track for the long term goal, I'm okay with that. I do, however, want to watch the eating out, it's such an easy way to cut back on the budget.

How are you doing?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Target Challenge Continues

The Target Challenge has really paid off long after the initial 30 day recess. I’m pleased to report that my twice a week Target habit is officially broken. Nov 1st DH and I made a trip to Target for some essentials (draino, carpet cleaner, body soap) for less than $20! Better yet I haven’t been to Target since and I really don’t feel a dying need to go like I use to. It feels good to know I'm not waste money on non essentials like I use to!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Money Makeover- Chapter 8, 9, 10

While I have appreciated all the insight and inspiration I am getting from Ramsey's book, I'm admitting right now that the plan to this extreme will not work for me at this point in time. I know, everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule- but let me explain. This has nothing to do with the fact that my husband and I don't see eye to eye on financial matters and everything to do with the fact DH and I bought a fixer up over a year ago and certain things aren't going to hold up as long as we had hoped, e.g. our bathroom.

What I've learned from Ramsey is that it is far better to save ahead for major purchases to avoid having to take out debit. Believe me lesson learned. Our bathroom floor is on the way out; literally we are probably a few months away from having to shower under our house instead of in it. Our tub is leaking, our toilet is leaking, there is mold growing in the walls from excess moisture and the floor was rotted away when we bought the house (what were we thinking?!?).

I have more than $1000 in our emergency fund as I have been anticipating this problem and trying to gather money in advance of a really expensive emergency. But since I am a long way off from the projected costs of the project I feel it is more important to be saving up for this so we have the money on hand within 6 months to get it fixed. This means that instead of rolling over the payments from paid off debit to the next debit I’ll be putting it into our bathroom savings account so we can pay for it without taking out more debit.

I’m still reading and applying the principals as best I can but I also want to be prepared for the future and think this is where I need to be focusing at this point in time.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Confession Time

So I was planning on post a week's worth of my 15 minute days but I keep forgetting my timeline at work and I don't have access to blog while I'm there. Also I found out some disturbing and confidential news at work and have been spending most of my days preparing for the aftermath so I couldn't talk about it anyway.

I can tell you, however, that I've realized just how much time I waste during the week on pointless tv that I don't even like and how little time I spend paying attention to what I eat. I also spend a lot of time at work surfing around the Internet looking for things to read/do to keep busy. I think this will correct itself after the sale in a week but until then there are things I've been putting off that I should really be doing. It's hard to break bad habits but it has helped to see it written out in front of me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

15 Minute Days- Monday

6:05 Alarm goes off, hit snooze
6:14 Alarm goes off again, get up, let dogs out, go to the bathroom, prepare dogs for walk
6:30 Walk dogs in the rain
7:00 Return home, feed dogs, get dressed, straighten hair
7:15 Put on my makeup and pack my lunch
7:30 Carpool to work
8:00 Turn on computer, get coffee, check e-mail
8:30 Go through the weekly project list for upcoming due dates, outline tasks for the day
9:00 Met with manager to discuss hiring woes and employee counseling
9:30 Weekly meeting with employee
10:00 Walk
10:15 Send offer paperwork to potential new hire
10:30 Respond to e-mails for intranet Get to Know posting
10:45 Eat breakfast, changed my "card number zone" password, talked to potential new hire on phone
11:00 Edited co-worker's employment ad
11:15 Attended marketing planning meeting
11:45 Address issues with an old conversion account
12:00 Reviewed pricing list and provided feedback
12:30 Heated up lunch (left over mac and cheese)
12:45 Reviewed the local newspaper online
1:00 Read the latest article on The Simple Dollar
1:15 Read the Lecon du Jour, I'm inspired to brush up on my French now that my future parent company is in Canada.
1:30 Back to work, completed Get to Know article and posted on Intranet
1:45 Saved old conversion docs from previous issue earlier this morning
2:00 E-mail announcement- The FDIC has approved the sale! Yippee!!!!
2:15 Chit chatted with co-worker about the good news
2:30 Received a new immediate project
2:45 Updated Project List and responded to e-mails
3:00 Walk
3:15 Explained new project to employee
3:30 Completed applicant log for position FDIC did not allow me to fill
3:45 Filled applicant log for position I'm hoping to fill this week
4:00 Responded to e-mails
4:15 Received call from applicant completing new hire paperwork
4:30 Scanned the Internet for interesting reading while impatiently waiting for new hire paperwork so I can run it over to the HR manager before she leaves
4:45 Receive new hire paper work and run it over, but alas the HR manager is gone
5:00 Send e-mail to HR manager to run credit check on applicant, print schedule for tomorrow and wait for carpool ride.
5:15 Head home in the pouring rain
5:45 Arrive home to a hungry DH and make dinner (pumpkin curry soup and grilled cheese)
6:15 Eat dinner with DH and clean dishes
6:30 Shower
6:45 Watched last minutes of Family Guy and snuggled with the dogs
7:00 Listened to That 70s Show while playing with the dogs
8:00 Watched Gossip Girl
9:00 Typed up post
9:30 Go to bed and read until 10:15

Well there you have it another exciting day in the life of DEL. I'm noticing just how much time I spend with the tv on (even if I am not all out watching it) and how little time I spend eating. It takes DH and I less than 15 minutes to sit down, eat dinner, and clear the table. So sad although I am impressed that DH and I made it to the table 2 nights in a row.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

15 Minute Days- Sunday

Awhile back I wrote a post suggesting that if we track how we spend our time every 15 minutes for a week, we could identify where we are losing time and in turn gain more time in the day. So this week, my lucky readers, you are going to get a glimpse of a week in the life of DEL, down to every 15 minutes.

7:10 Woke up, let the dogs outside, feed them, made coffee, and ate breakfast
7:30 Posted a prewritten blog post
7:45 Read the blogs of my favorite PWO ladies
8:00 Read financial blogs from my bookmarked folder and downloaded free shareware similar to photoshop
8:15 Read Stuck in a Rut at The Digerati Life
8:45 Watched Barack Obama's dance off at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity
9:00 Read more financial blogs
9:30 Managed bookmarked blogs and removed blogs I no longer read
9:45 Visited my 2 favorite forums- PWO & Woof
10:00 Continued browsing Woof
10:15 Looked at dog clothes and toys for the Woof pet swap and found some great deals on
10:30 Started an electronic copy of my 15 minute interval log.
10:45 Downloaded doggie pics to e-mail to my mom
11:00 Watched 2 episodes of The Wire from Netflex
12:45 Took a shower
1:00 Browsed again
2:00 Finally made a purchase and bought the doggies their x-mas presents
2:15 Took Hank, one of my dogs, for a walk
3:15 Returned from the walk and did the dishes
3:30 Logged into Facebook while I downloaded last week's NCIS
3:45 Watched NCIS
4:15 Watched House online and started the laundry
5:15 Made dinner and checked into PWO and Woof again
5:45 Ate dinner with DH at the kitchen table
6:00 Cleaned kitchen
6:30 Reorganized my dresser drawers
7:15 Did some Wii Fit
8:00 Watched the Amazing Race while folding laundry
9:00 Typed up this post
9:30 Read my leadership book
10:30 Went to bed (okay I cheated on the last two, but this is my plan and I'm sticking to it)

Hiring Woes

Dear Applicants,

Thank you for your interest in our open position at Company X. I know you are searching for just the right place for employment as we are searching for just the right employee. I regret to inform you that the position has been filled and I would like to offer you some suggestions for improving your search.

  • If the ad says submit cover letter and resume, submit a cover letter and resume. Don’t submit a resume and say a cover letter is not available at this time. Make one available!
  • Always write a cover letter. I hire for entry level positions and I have a rule- no cover letter no interview. This is your opportunity to share parts of yourself that may not be clear by glancing at your resume.
  • Always proof read your cover letter and resume. Incomplete sentences and spelling errors contradict your claim of excellent writing skills.
  • Use a professional e-mail address for job communications. Tinkrmybells is not professional.
  • If you should be so bold as to tell me my e-mail address is wrong, you better be right. Otherwise I’ll be forced to believe you just can’t read and funny how 40 other people had no problem.
  • Don’t misspell my company’s name and then say what a great eye for detail you have.
  • Put your last name on your resume. Giving me just an initial makes me think you are hiding something.
  • Take a note from minimal disclosure guy above, I don’t need you SSN or DOB and it’s not safe to send that kind of information over the Internet.
  • You say your loyal and hard working, yet every year you are in a new city with a new job.
  • If you are moving to a new state or a new career, explain why in your cover letter. Otherwise I’m left to make up my own reasons and I have a pretty outrageous imagination.
  • It's pretty presumptuous to tell me when I'm going to call you. I’m the hiring manager and I get to decide how it’s done, when it's done, and whether or not you're involved.
  • Include the dates of when you worked and put them in chronological order. I have better things to do than unscramble the last 25 years of your employment history.
  • Don’t be inflammatory. It’s one thing to be confident it’s another to go inflate the truth. If you are going to make grandiose comments like how you are going to improve company productive in an entry level position in an industry you know nothing about, you better tell me how. Otherwise I think you are just full of yourself.
  • Don’t supply 5 pages of your journalism awards for an entry level writing and marketing position. 0-1 years experience equals entry wages; we can’t afford your inflated ego.
  • Check out Resumania for other silly things you should avoid doing.
I wish you the best of luck in your employment search.

Thank you,

P.S. I really haven't hired anyone, I just couldn't bring myself to hire you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Money Makeover - Chapter 6

It’s been pretty uneventful on the home front. Things are picking up at work and the powers that be are starting to make plans for restructuring the company, which means most of my energy has been focused at work and employee restructuring but more about that later.


  • I made it 1 whole month without Target. Can I get a Yeeha?!?
  • Our electricity bill is down $20. Seems giving up cable has brought down 2 bills!
  • Gas is at an all time low price, I'm filling up before the election!

  • I bought lunch out twice this week
  • I only went grocery shopping once this month so we also had to go out to dinner but we managed to make that pizza last for 3 meals so I don't feel quite so quilty.