Workplace Wisdom

Plowing Through: Five Steps to Recovering Your Equilibrium

I’m starting to calm down after experiencing a huge, frustrating waste of time caused by inadequate planning and coordination for infrastructure requirements, as well as a lack of insight into human behavior.

Let me turn the clock back a couple of hours. The office building where I rent space is filled with a few medical practices, an ad agency, a couple of real estate concerns, and lots and lots of accountants. On a typical weekday the parking lot is about three-quarters full. Starting with the first week in January and near any tax filing dates, it’s even more crowded.

Now add to the picture the second significant snowfall within a week, and the net effect is the loss of a third of the available (and necessary) parking spaces.

This morning when I managed to pull into the lot, the lanes were full of backed-up cars and there was a line of cars behind me still waiting to pull in. I started to stress, made a quick decision and a 9-point turn, and got myself out of there.

Go While the Going is Good

I’m hugely lucky: I had the option to work at home, it only took 15 minutes to get back here, and the coffee is much better. But I was still mad, and I just couldn’t focus and get over it for a while — until I realized I could work through the feelings AND get a post out of it. Here are the steps I followed, including the questions that I asked and answered to recover my equilibrium:

  • Will this entire incident matter in two months? No, although it might matter when it’s time to think about lease renewal.
     
  • How much longer am I at risk? Looks like a rough winter, so maybe 8 more weeks (luckily, I’ll be on the road in warmer climes for part of that time) and then the duration of the lease.
     
  • Going forward, are there any solutions to the problem that are fully under my control? Yes. I could plan to get to the office very early when overcrowding is likely. Sometimes early arrival will be an option, sometimes not; but it’s definitely my first line of defense.
     
  • Can I work toward a solution by collaborating with others? Maybe. I could organize a tenant protest (not very practical); inform the building management of the problem (of course they know, but probably feel powerless themselves); and formally notify the landlord of my dissatisfaction (but there’s probably some clause in the lease that absolves them, and I’m not willing to spend time checking).
     
  • Do I know a “big” solution that would work? Of course: go back to the old way of snow-clearing, which involved removing the snow via dump truck rather than merely shoving it as far as it goes; and provide better town plowing so there’s more on-street parking available. Both of these involve significant cost and are therefore highly (read: completely) unlikely.
     
  • Is there a way I can get more long-term control? Yes, move back into New York City and rely on public transportation, or move the office into the house (neither of which is feasible in the short term).
     
  • What’s the best way of minimizing the damage immediately? Take a pause to make a cup of coffee; breathe; stretch; feel excited that I have a blog post written and something off my enormous To Do list; remember how lucky I am that I have choices. Stop fussing and get back to work!

The 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of Recovering Your Composure

Ah, I feel much better now. Let’s review the five steps:

  1. Does it really matter?
  2. Can I fix it?
  3. Can I get help with it?
  4. Do I have any alternatives?
  5. How can I recover and move on?

Stuff goes wrong all the time. Sometimes we have more choices, sometimes fewer. But there’s always another way to think about it and something to do about it.

And it really helps when the coffee’s so delicious…

Onward and upward,

LK

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