Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Remobilization: it's not just for contractors anymore

I've been in an odd place lately at work, or perhaps I should say that I've found myself feeling strangely unproductive, despite the fact that I finally have work to do on the hospital with Bosley.  I'm trying to get into putting together a list of required rooms and spaces for each department in the hospital for its master plan, and I keep getting interrupted by all the little projects I've been working on over the past couple of months to stay busy.  Occasionally, Howie will pop his head up and ask me to do something for him, and knowing Howie it has to be done right away.  Thing is, working on a master plan requires some extended concentration to figure out what you've done and what you're reading in the AIA Healthcare Guidelines and so on.  So every time I get distracted with a request for x or y, and then I look back at my computer screen and ponder what I was doing, and then I think well I might as well go get some coffee while I'm stopped and then I go and get coffee and someone else stops me in the kitchen and asks me a question and I'm finally back at it after twenty minutes.  I feel like I'm getting. nothing. done.

During one of these breaks a couple of days ago, I stopped to chat with Liz.  I'd had a terrible headache in my right temple and right neck the day before, and I couldn't figure out if it was PMS or pollen or what--did she ever get headaches like that?  Well, yes, she replied, but...

"Here's the thing," began the ever-wise Liz.  "We've lost half our entire office to layoffs.  We've all taken a 10% paycut along with hours, and at first it was creepy because I've never been so unbusy for so long.  Now it sucks because I'm having to work 45-hour weeks for 36-hour pay to get stuff done for this project I'm working on and it still might not be enough to save my job if things stay crappy.  I've quit watching the news because it's just been month after month of bad news about something or another.  There's a lot of bad vibes out there right now, so honestly, Pixie, there's no telling what kind of stress or subconscious thing is making you hold your shoulders funny and making your neck hurt."

As usual, Liz hit right on the problem.  While chatting with her, we realized that there were so many things that could cause one's neck and temple to hurt, many of which had nothing to do with hormones and much more to do with factors outside our control, like barometric pressure changes and the stress of a long-faltering economy.  Liz confessed something that actually made me exhale a little.  "You know, when I suddenly had to start working on this project, it was almost a struggle to just work an almost-full 36 hours. I almost started complaining about having to do real work after being unbusy for so long."

"Holy crap, me too!" I exclaimed.  "I've been feeling the same way since I started working on this project with Bosley.  I mean, now I have a project that I've been wanting for so long, just to be productive and busy, and it feels like I can't just get ramped up again."
"That's the thing," Liz replied.  "It's not that easy to just ramp back up to full speed when you've been at half speed--or even less--for months.  It takes a while to get used to the pace again.  We're not machines, even if they want us to be."

Brilliant, brilliant Liz.  I had been feeling guilty for not being able to focus lately, but it's endemic in our office.  I'm not the only one.  


Auntly H said...

It's not just your office, either. I think it's endemic in our field.

Wilderness Gina said...

Offices aren't the only ones suffering stress. Even those of us who don't work for wages are feelin it. GODS! I'm tired of being scared to death I'll be in the poor house in a week! Hang in Pix. Sumthin will come up. I'm having an unusually productive week so maybe you're next? Mebee?

Wilderness Gina said...

I almos forgoted. Vallee Vets are lookin to re-build their offices (they REALLY need et). Hev u evar designed vet faculties... hurhur