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A Night at Your Office

In the movie A Night at the Museum we see what happens after everyone goes home--the exhibits come alive. Amazingly, a similar thing happens at your office. Here are some of the things that go on every night, that you didn’t know about:

  • Your Desk Chair – The chair is happy you are gone. If you are like the majority of Americans, you are overweight. The chair has been supporting you for a long time. It’s tired, too tired to wheel out to the water cooler in the kitchen and get the gossip. In fact, it’s ready to be retired and replaced with a newer one that actually has cushion and can better support your body. Of course, unless you do something about the shape you’re in, the new chair will wear out soon, also. Both chairs hope you will get in better shape. It is not the weight that bothers them so much as your wasted potential and reduced decision-making ability. These skills sharpen considerably as you improve your personal fitness.
  • Copier – The copier is lonelier these days than in times past. For a time, it was Big Machine On Campus. Just ten years ago, everyone needed it and spent a lot of time with it daily. But things have changed. The printer is now king. Between computers and printers, we have less need for copiers. And the best thing about the computer/printer combo is that you can spend hours editing and re-editing a document! A document that, a decade ago, would have been passed to a clerical assistant and handled quickly, you now spend an inordinate amount of time on. How much of that time could be better spent doing something else?
  • Computer – The king of the office. The computer rules the roost--and why shouldn’t it? It knows you spend the majority of your time at the office sitting in front of it, surfing and typing. At night, it continues to work as it synchs to various sites around the world and your office. It doesn’t want to talk to any of the other office equipment as it is too important. It has too much work to do, and can’t be bothered to build quality relationships.
  • Water Cooler – Just like in the daytime, the water cooler is where the action is. This is where all the rumors get spread and little work gets done. All the equipment and furniture meet here to talk about how chaotic things are every day, and how they wish the place were more organized. They lament that people seem too busy doing “urgent” yet unimportant activities -- confusing effort with results. In fact, one of the reasons so little gets accomplished is the amount of chatting going on at the water cooler. (Note: in your office, the “water cooler” may be in the kitchen, the break room, or employee lounge.)
  • Fridge -- This is one of the best environments in the office for the development of culture. The mold, bacteria, and fungus on the neglected, forgotten, and leftover food have taken over. They are threatening the fresh food, which is screaming to get out. Kind of like some of your employees who hear you say, “People are our most important asset.” But then, they see you cancel their performance evaluations, and tell them there is no time for additional training. Are you letting your best assets get moldy?
  • Chewed-up Pencils: These are lying around on your desk. They don’t mind being chewed up but, like the chair, they are worried about you. Stressed-out people chew pencils, drink too much caffeine, and generally eat poorly. Gnawing on wood to get more fiber in your diet is not suggested by most nutritionists. Better to eat something that will really jump-start your energy and imagination. The snack machine isn’t going to help you here, either. Twix Bars, Cheetos, and Cherry Pop Tarts are not noted for their nutritional content. Then again, neither are pencils. They really wish you would relax a bit—or at least, try an apple.
  • Phone: Another lonely machine. The phone and its cousin, the fax machine, get together each night and plot how to take down the cellular network. They’re very jealous of your do-it-all, know-it-all Blackberry (or other PDA). It’s important to remember, though, that your old, faithful land-line still has value. There are certain tasks that it’s just right for. Are any of your employees feeling overrun by advancing technology lately? They could still be of great value to your company. Maybe you should give ‘em a call and let them know how important they are.
  • Bulletin Board: The bulletin board has no idea whether it’s day or night. It is buried behind old post-its, scribbles, and Messages to Return. It wants to shed all this old news but, instead, gets covered up under more layers. It can’t help but wonder if it will ever make it to the water cooler to catch up on the gossip. You even put in a requisition for a new one because you couldn’t find your old one, even though it was right there on the wall. Bulletin boards don’t have to be empty, but when they feature out-dated memos and extraneous information, people get the message that details don’t matter at your place.
  • Your Inbox – The inbox is sleeping at night. It takes its job very seriously, and is way too responsible to involve itself in water cooler innuendo. The moment you step into your office—even before your mocha latte grande kicks in--your inbox springs to life. It wants you to know that it’s overloaded and about to collapse under the weight of all the work. But, secretly, it loves that. This means it is doing its job as it collects everything and demands that you deal with it (whether you have time to or not, and whether it is really your job or not). Come to think of it, you and the inbox have a lot in common. You, also, are about to collapse under the weight of all the work you’re handed. At least, the inbox realizes the problem and gets plenty of sleep at night. Do you?

Just like at the museum, strange things happen at your place at night. In the movie, order is brought to the chaos when the night watchman takes a good hard look at the situation, and enacts a plan to re-gain control. You can do that, too. How would you get a grip on those things that have been nagging at you and defeating you for so long? Make positive changes in your work life—before you turn to dust!

Wally Adamchik is President of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting. Visit the website at www.beaFireStarter.com. He can be reached at 919-673-9499 or wally@beaFireStarter.com.

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