For the longest time, my office was a complete hot mess. I’m really serious! When I took over the position, I inherited an office that was a complete wreck. Oh sure, the interim Human Resources support team that filled in the position until I was hired on did their absolute best to get the office in some shape for the successor. I happened to be that lucky successor and after one day in the office, I didn’t feel so lucky. As a matter of fact, I felt as if I had lost my marbles and my entire sense of self. You see, I like order when it comes to paperwork. My efficiency comes in being able to place my hands on anything in my area and it be what you need at the very time you need it. I feel at peace when I have that much control over my space. When I assumed the title, the position and the office, nothing was in control. Nothing. But I had to accept that – not only about the office space, but about myself also. I had to accept that I was going to be out of control for a while and, on top of that, I had to trust that it was going to be okay.
I couldn’t change the fact that my predecessor had left me with a huge mess. I couldn’t change the fact that the office must be functioning as of the day I started. This meant that as soon as my door opened, people needed me. They needed my help with potential job candidates, expertise in the check out process when someone leaves our company, the running of reports and the rest of the things I do in that office. I couldn’t change the fact that although I’ve done human resource things before, I had to learn a new way to conduct business. In order for me to play the hand I was dealt, I had to learn how to play the game in the first place, which meant I had to accept the situation at hand.
For the first four months on the job (I took office on February 28, 2016), I hated it. I really did. I was completely stressed out because I cannot function in chaos. It’s not my way. In learning the game of chaos, I learned more about myself. I learned that as rebellious as I am, there is and must always be a method to the madness. There was no method there – just madness. Papers everywhere, more boxes of the unnecessary stuff than I could count, things that should never have seen the light of day in an office desk drawer were found among papers that should have been filed years ago. I left the office daily with headaches and tears more times than I could count. Some days, when I came home, it felt as if I brought the chaos with me because my house seemed to be as much of a wreck as my office thanks to my four year old kid (most of the time). As a woman with PCOS, one of the things that we must avoid as much as possible is stress. So when I encountered it at home and then at the office, I was left stressed more times than not which kills the endocrine system that regulates how we respond to things (think flight vs. fight).
Throughout that time, my manager told me it was a process to get the office in order and indeed it was. However, sometimes one just has to stop everything and start putting things in order – which is exactly what I did. Last week, my boss was away to a seminar and I just had enough with the whole not finding things. So I asked her administrative assistant to help me organize papers so I can file them away. Just that one day of organization changed my attitude about the position completely. I learned that I was not frustrated with the position; I was frustrated with the fact that I was not producing the results of which I knew I was capable. Sure the office was a complete mess and yes, I could hardly find things in it without creating a new batch but that was just a symptom of a larger frustration: not understanding why this happened in the first place. Why was this office in such a mess? Why did my predecessor leave it this way? Why didn’t she file papers or keep things in order? Why didn’t she do her job? Last but not least, will I be viewed as someone who doesn’t do her job whenever I leave based on how the office is maintained during my time there? I think that last question is the one that really got me to snap out of thinking about the past and moved me right into the present.
It’s no longer her office. What my predecessor did was leave a mess but it was up to me to accept it, change the things I could and move on by leaving it in a much better shape than what I received on my first day. I learned an invaluable lesson with this situation though: It is what it is. Accept it and move on. Asking whys and hows and wondering about the what ifs and the could’ve, would’ve and should’ve parts of the situation at hand does nothing to fix the problem. I could have asked all day what possessed her to not file for years. I could have asked all day why did she leave the office knowing it was in this condition. I could have asked all day how did she ever function in this capacity while swimming in this mess. But it will never fix the fact that although she’s gone, the functions of that office still needed to be completed. She’s in the past. Whether I see her again or not is completely up to fate but right now, that is the least of my concerns. I must still be ready to welcome new hires in August, prepare check out and retirement paperwork for those who are leaving the company on Friday, enter in all training records, prepare the letters for the award winners of next week’s company awards and a whole slew of other things. Just know that it will be completed in an office that is cleaner, completely functional and definitely my type of efficient. The only stress I have now is to figure out where I put it all.