Where Logic Meets Love

The Happiness Project: August is Work Month

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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The Happiness Project: August is Work Month | Faith Permeating Life

I'm baaaaaaack!

I had a fantastic week of vacation at a lake in Washington with my family (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course Mike)! You can be sure that insights from my vacation -- about happiness, marriage, etc. -- will crop up in posts to come. I also got through a ton of interesting books on my vacation: Rats, For Better, Spook, Switch, and Drive. (Can you tell what my favorite kind of book is?) I'm sure I'll have thoughts to share from those books as well.

But in the meantime, it's August already, so you know what that means. Well, besides the fact that Mike and I celebrated our two-year anniversary (with dinner atop the Space Needle, no less!). It's time for a happiness project check-in!

I'm very glad that I decided to take the month of July to regroup. I was able to focus on those resolutions that really made a difference in my happiness, which helped me maintain momentum and also gave me the boost of having a completed checklist again every night.

Switching the format of my gratitude/anticipation journal was definitely a good decision. By keeping an ongoing list of each, I can quickly skim them and see a bunch of things I'm grateful for and a bunch of things I am or was looking forward to. It's also made keeping the journal less of a chore (which is my goal with "Don't let fun become a chore") by making it quick and easy to add something to each list.

On a broader level, as I mentioned in my mid-year round-up, my level of procrastination has dropped to almost zero, thanks to my commitment to "do it before it's too late." I've built up a habit that as soon as I think, "I should do that," I get up and do it. This made a big difference on vacation because I became the person I'd always like to be when traveling -- for example, on the day we left the lake, I woke up and thought, "I should get my suitcase ready," and then got out of bed and packed everything up. And unlike many other vacations, I didn't forget to bring anything because I followed my "assume mistakes" commandment and made a very detailed packing list for myself. It made traveling a much more pleasant experience.

So what's on the menu for August?

It might seem strange to choose this, a summer month, to devote to work, but it's good timing for me. After a relatively long vacation, I'm ready to get back to work. I'm recharged. And some of the books I read gave me ideas for the coming semester, which I want to start planning for before it starts. The summer has also given me a chance to work on some large, interesting projects at work, the kind that remind me why I love this job and which I don't have as much time for during the school year.

Here are my goals for August:
  • Read work-related books. Because I have the most awesome boss ever, he turned over the remainder of our "books" budget to me and told me to use it up before the end of the fiscal year (July 31). I got a mixture of books on assessment, survey design, advanced statistics, and data visualization. They should have arrived while I was gone, and I'm excited to dive in! I still have so much to learn in all these areas, and this is the time to do it, when I have a stable job where I can apply what I've learned.
  • Find ways to work smarter. This probably sounds too vague to be effective, but what I'm hoping to do is find ways to automate my work or otherwise be more efficient. However, I might come up with other ideas that I can apply to this goal. This is a once-a-week Friday goal, something to tackle after watching myself work for a week and pinpointing slow or repetitive work. After being disconnected from the Internet for a week, I came home and immediately got more aggressive in unsubscribing from newsletters and blogs I don't read often and better filtering my e-mail. Seeing what piles up in a week was a way to show me how much time I waste in little bits during the day.
  • Make a portfolio. This is a larger goal for the whole month. I've got a bunch of examples of the best work I've done -- surveys I've designed, data I've analyzed and then visualized -- that I've been wanting to get nicely compiled into a binder. Even once I have more experience at my job, I think it's going to be my work samples that get me noticed for my next position. I want to get that together now so I just have to make adjustments and additions down the road.
That's the plan! A few small steps to help me feel more accomplished and focus on my favorite parts of my job.

I'd love your input. If you were going to focus on improving happiness around your job, what would be your resolutions? (Remember these are things you can do on your own, not goals like "Make my boss stop being such a jerk"!)

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