office expressions.

musings from my experience at the home/office.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Reading List

Second cup of coffee, in progress. It's pay day Friday, and the last day of Jake's summer semester. I have one meeting this afternoon from while it's nice I have one meeting, it's too bad it's from 3-4 on a Friday afternoon. I am also secretly dreading next week already, since it's Jake first week of break and I will be in Colorado Springs Monday-Friday. Bummer.

Let's focus on the positive, it's Friday, our bank account is a little fuller today, and we've got less than 7 hours until I can check out of werk for two whole days. I have recently started keeping a 'book list' in my phone, so I can keep track of all of the good book suggestions I get from others, and ones I have been wanting to read for a while. Here's what my summer reading 'Wish List' is looking like so far:

1. Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer) it, loved it!
2. Under the Banner of Heaven (Jon Krakauer)...reading it, loving it!
3. Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand) it, loved it, highly recommend it!
4. Heaven is for Real (Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent)...recommended by family members, looking forward to this one.
5. The Help (Kathryn Stockett)...recommended by my family. Kind of bummed it was turned into a movie before I could get my hands on it.
6. Last Child in the Woods(Richard Louv) and The Nature Principle (Richard Louv)...both Jake and I want to read books by this author.
7. Tribes (Seth Godin)....recommended and raved about by co-werkers. I don't always look forward to reading a book related to werk, but it seems interesting none-the-less.
8. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (Donald Miller)...recommended by a seminar speaker. I usually avoid Christian Authors because I tend to tune out after the first three chapters, but we'll give this one a shot!
9. In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)...heard about this guy on Oprah and I'm intrigued.
10. Start Something that Matters (Blake Mycoskie)...I pre-ordered this book by the founder of Tom's Shoes and it should get here in September.

What's on your reading list? Or better yet...what books have you read lately that you would recommend?  Where's your favorite place to read during the summer?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Social Media & Freel Will

I attended a 'social media summit' with some of my colleagues this morning, and one of the quotes referenced was something like, "Engaging with social media is not a choice, it's something you must do. It's your choice what you do with it".

Really?! Even for a 'millenial' like me who spends daily time on Facebook and blogs, perhaps it's my rebellious-anti-establishment-streak that makes me say, I don't NEED a facebook account! I choose it. No one is making me do this but myself.

Do you know anyone under the age of 60 who doesn't have facebook? I originally typed under the age of 80 because one of the easiest ways for me to keep in touch with my Grandma is on Facebook. She's pretty savvy with things like email and social networking, and I know she reads this blog (hi, Grandma!)...but I don't expect everyone's Grandma's to be as on top of it as mine is!

So, back to my question: Do you know anyone under the age of 60 who doesn't have facebook? Including my in-laws, and a friend I recently re-connected with from college, I know three people. Maybe four, who are outspoken about their choice not to have Facebook accounts. All of them have valid reasons for not joining, like: If you want to know what's going on in my life, you'll just call me. Or, I'm in a job that already exposes me to a lot to the community, why do I need to share more of my life with people online? Or better yet, who has time for that?!

Like I said, all valid reasons, but guess what: I do still call you when I want to know what's going on in your life (and hopefully it works both ways!), You can set up your Facebook account (and now, Google+) to control how much people know about you, and it's does kind of take up a little time. For some of us, a lot of time.

So while some brave souls may be living life in a facebook free world, the rest of us have found all sorts of practical uses for it, whether it's just to find out about discounts to restaurants/new music albums/media, or to stay connected with your loved ones far away...or even just to advertise your business. Facebook is a social norm, but as one person in a meeting yesterday said, "One day, Facebook will no longer I wonder what the next big thing will be?".

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Alone?

Another question people often ask me about werking from home is this: Don't you get lonely? I think some might have an image of me curled up on the couch in my empty house, waiting for the ticker on my inbox to show me I have an email to take care of. Werking from home, for me, is not that!

Here's my typical day lately (if I happen to be at home, and not travelling for werk):
  • Wake up, grab coffee, take care of emails that came in since I last signed on yesterday. 
  • Prep for morning meetings. I typically have anywhere from 3-5 meetings a day, so I am interacting with at least 10-20 people a day over conference calls.
  • Respond to action items gathered in those meetings through...wait for it...more meetings, or emails, or one-on-one phone calls. Or instant messages, or text messages, or even posts on our company's social network site. 
  • Grab lunch while prepping for afternoon meetings/tasks.
  • Write blog post if there is something to write about. 
  • Engage in afternoon meetings/emails/tasks/etc. My work involves a lot of time connecting with ad agencies or consultants who are executing projects for me, and providing them with feedback or more direction. It also involves a lot of time connecting with co-werkers who know more than I do about lots of things, and taking what I learn from them and putting it into my projects. Werk is often a constant feedback loop. 
  • Shut down and walk away from the computer...get dinner started in that magical time before I get a hunger headaches and right after I am sure I won't get caught on an impromptu conference call while chopping onions. 
A lot goes on during the day, and I have probably left a lot out without even realizing it. But the.homewerker is rarely lonely, and it's nice to have existing relationships with colleagues who don't mind random phone calls from me instead of random 'drive-by-meetings' in their cube. It's also wonderful to live close enough to that I can drive down for face to face time on a regular basis and maintain an actual, person to person relationship with folks.

I am all about werking from home and think more people should do it if they can, but I also know that spending time physically present with people can werk wonders! It's a balance, but just because I'm werking from home, doesn't mean I'm lonely. I probably just need to get out of the house more than most people!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Welcome to our home, it's the middle of July, and every day has hit some temperature in the 90's. We don't have AC, and I haven't had AC for the last four years. I'm getting used to it, but I also never had to werk from home in the heat of the day before. I could leave for the land.of.cubicles, shut the shades and come home to 1-2 hours of intense heat as the sun was setting. Thankfully, we don't know the meaning of the word 'humidity' in Colorado, otherwise, this post would be written in a completely different tone!

We sleep with a box fan in the window at night, and that usually brings our internal house temp down from the mid-80's to the mid-70's. A pleasant and welcome change. I don't even mind drinking hot coffee during these cool mornings! As the sun rises over our home, which faces east, the thermostat will gradually rise to a balmy 83-86 degrees, depending on how many household appliances are used during the day and how quickly we decide to shut all windows, curtains, and doors every morning.

Lexi has been camping out on the linoleum floor in our bathroom for the last two months, barely moving except to get up an drink water during the day. She has even lost some of her appetite, and refused to eat during the heat of the day yesterday. Last night, she got up and ate her breakfast from the day midnight. Survival instincts? I think so!

My office is on the west side of the house, so the majority of the day is fairly pleasant, until about 2:30-3, when my arms start sticking to the desk and I start getting cranky. I like summer as a season, but as the home.werker, I'm ready for things to cool off a wee bit. I guess that's why we've got coffee shops and libraries!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Is it true that a cluttered desk is equal to a cluttered mind?

During my time based in, I was the inhabitant of a cube which could be described best as 'order in the chaos'. My organizational style was one only I could decode, and that's all I needed to worry about. The piles on top of piles had their place, and I knew exactly what pile to rifle through or push aside as the need arose. Paper swatches, offset printing proofs, and samples galore amidst creative briefs, meeting agendas, and post-it notes...these things filled the 3.75 walls of my cube and that was perfectly ok.

In my personal opinion, the state of my desk was not indicative of any sort of organizational problem in my actual werk performed. Having instant access to the key documents for the 30-50 campaigns I was werking on at a time was crucial. Hence, the piles.

Now I am an army of one, driving meetings over the phone and getting werk accomplished through emails and texts.  I just realized, I've 'gone green'! The largest amount of paper produced by me is the amount of receipts collected while travelling. Which I hate to throw away...just in case! I need a system or a shoe box or something to keep these slips of paper accessible but not on my desk.

I have also started to acquire quite the library of werk-related books. I picked up two just last week, in addition to three that I need to start reading. Too bad they aren't audio books, I could have finished off at least two of them in my recent travels! Time to de-clutter and do a little summer cleaning today, I think!

8 minute post

I have 8 minutes until my first meeting of the morning. Here are my random home.werker thoughts for now:
  • I am glad I am sitting at my desk, in the home office, still in my pajamas. No need to make the 100 mile round trip today, and that's a beautiful thing. 
  • I am wondering how long it will take the house to heat up to a balmy 85 degrees since we don't have AC...and where will I go to werk when that happens?
  • How is Lexi surviving the heat?! Poor thing...definitely need to include some swimming for her in the day's schedule. 
  • My time at is about 90% social and interpersonal, and 10% werk related. No wonder I feel so behind in the job at hand! (I also feel great about the people I have connected with's just crazy how unbalanced time at tends to be!)
  • I have a 3 day werk week. Tomorrow is another drive down for HR training, Thursday is another drive down for a team 'retreat' and Friday is a Division Picnic...which I am probably not going to attend...? Too bad all of these half days can't be combined into a productive day and a half...
  • I can't believe July is almost over...seriously, when did that happen?

Monday, July 18, 2011

500 miles

So far, in the last business week, I have driven 500 miles to and from the land.of.cubicles. It has been quite the trek to make 5 round trips, but good to spend some quality time with my co.werkers. Time to log my mileage in the expense system...this should be fun!

What does one do on a 100 mile round trip, you might ask?
1. Drink coffee
2. Listen to Pandora (my jeep doens't have a jack for my iphone)
3. Listen to old sermons that I've missed at church.
4. Call mother-in-law, sister, mom, husband, dad, brother, and anyone else who will listen!
5. Fill up the gas tank.
6. Drink coffee.
7. Take pretty pictures when stuck in slow moving traffic, like this one!

8. Talk the nephew through potty training while bribing with 'treats from Colorado!'.
9. Pray that the daily thunderstorms clear a path for your drive home.
10. Sing out loud.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Public Speaking: Dress Code

I was recently in Osh Kosh, WI at an event called 'LifeFest', slogan "a party with a purpose". Yes, it's a Christian Festival/Conference of sorts that features a variety of Christian musicians and speakers over 3-5 days. In typical home.werker style, I definitely overdressed, having never attended a summer festival of any type before.

I showed up thinking, I am representing my organization from stage, with about 10 minutes to share some thoughts in front of a few hundred I probably should look professional. Professional in a trendy/summery/young-but-conservative sort of way. I didn't realize the dress code was actually t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Anyone who knows me also knows that I don't even like the way jeans look with sneakers. I never have, and I never will.

Hence, my tendency to be chronically slightly overdressed for almost every life occasion. At least that's according the standards of folks in the midwest and west...which sometimes I think are a little different from the north east where I grew up. I also think growing up in a pastor's family, you tend to dress up for almost everything you attend, so my chronic-over-dressing is likely a result of that as well. No slam intended to you midwest or westerners intended, it's just that YOU are usually the ones asking me why I am so dressed up. Just sayin'! ;)

Even though I was comfortable in the two different casual and comfortable sun dresses I wore, I promise you, next festival I attend, it's grungy-sweaty-professional wear all the way! I probably should have just swiped some of the t-shirts we were giving away like my co.werkers did. Oh.well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Welcome to my home office, a place with a sweet little view of the backyard, and place to prop up your feet and ponder the werk at hand, and to let the creative juices flow while listening to my Civil Wars Pandora Station. Please note, I am sportin' my sassy red TOMS shoes that Jake gave me for an anniversary present.

The ambiance of the home office is fairly chill. It's a space where hard werk gets pounded out, but any amount of strategizing, planning, and ending poverty can happen. When people learn that I am werking from home, the first question is almost always, "Don't you get distracted?". Of course I do a little, but don't you land.of.cubicle werkers also get distracted? Often I find that when I have to spend time in the land.of.cubicles, all creative thought and ability to truly focus on that tasks at hand, gets ridiculously interrupted.

Life in the home office is usually interupted by the following: Lexi grumping at the door to be let in. Lexi grumping at the door to be let out. Husband shutting the door to keep the noise in. Stirring the crockpot. Changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Watering the plants. Getting more coffee.

Seldom am I confronted with what is affectionately called the 'drive by meeting' that happens often in the cubicle environment. This is when someone swings by to talk, and two hours later you wrap up the therapy session for them by telling them you will now be coming into work at 6am tomorrow to make up for lost time. Smile. Use body language to communicate the conversation is over and you really do have things to get done. Turn your back on them if necessary, especially if they start talking to you about Twilight or complaining about the boss.

I have become a more engaged and focussed employee, in my new job that allows me to werk from home. I have begun charting a path for personal growth and development, along with my job related goals and outcomes. I have become more well-read with current thought leaders, I have actually started listening to music I enjoy again, and I have the freedom to share the things I am learning with my co-werkers. These things didn't happen or even have the opportunity to exist in

So while I might get distracted making myself a latte or watering my begonias on occasion,  these are welcome distractions that often provide the mental space to do some creative thinking. Imagine that!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

expert traveller

This time, i have already packed the phone charger, the headphones, downloaded some tunes to my ipod...the only thing I am debating is whether or not to pack my blowdryer in my carry-on suitcase. to pack, or not to pack...that is the question.

I could pack it, and lug it around the airport, to the rental car, to the room, and back. Or I could leave it, and keep my fingers crossed that the blowdryer in my hotel room will be adequate and not slow me down unnecessarily as I get ready the next three mornings. Right now I'm thinking, don't pack it.

The other item I am debating is my GPS navigator. I know a lot of rental cars come with GPS systems now, or I could probably upgrade at the I have a fabulous google maps app on my phone which is wonderful...when I have service.

Decision made: I just added a GPS system to my rental car deal and will bank on the hotel quality hairdryers. I think...

Off to the land of cheese, beer, and Christian Festivals!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


The theme of this post is about the concept of being pro-active, or pro-acting instead of re-acting. I think I am probably taking some liberties with treating 'pro-act' as a real word, but re-act is a word, so why not?!

I just reconnected with my boss after he was traveling out of the country for the last month. I have been working with him for seven months now, and it has been good, encouraging, and interesting to break in this new reporting relationship with him. The one theme and 'magic word' I have heard, used, and seen have an impact with him is the act of being proactive.

If you can anticipate the needs of someone (co-werker) or something (a project) else, and actively work to provide a solution or supporting structure before something falls through the cracks, gets mis-communicated, or simply doesn't happen when it should...if you can pro-act instead of re-act, you are going to get two thumbs way up from the boss.

In order to pro-act, you have to be astute in your relationships, your understanding of the current political landscape, and your ability to know how to drive things forward. To pro-act is to possess an inherent drive to accomplish and progress in the company of others who are like-minded. To pro-act is to push, push, push, and then push some more, beyond the barriers and expectations placed before you.

What is the motivation behind proaction?

I can tell you what it's not:
It's not motivated by a desire to look good in front of your superiors, or to obtain the proverbial stamp of approval.

It's not motivated by a check-list of 'things to be completed' or a clear cut definition of only getting things done that need to be done.

Proaction is getting the job done, and then kicking it up ten notches because you know that you can and you know that it needs to be done.

Proaction is not presentee-ism or task-management, Proaction is anticipation in the hopes of accomplishing more than you thought possible because you've already got the basics nailed to the wall, so why not go further? Why not build an addition onto the house, even if it's just adding a second bathroom to the infrastructure of the home, simply because sharing one toilet with 8 people isn't cutting it anymore? Why not plan for the future like it's already here, instead of being surprised by it when it shows up sooner than you expected?