Friday, September 14, 2012

We Interrupt This Program...

You would think that as a parent I would be used to interruptions. And I am. How many times have I gone into the bathroom only to have a knock on the door and a "Mom..." or a "Hun..."? Gotten up in the middle of  a meal to fetch a drink or a condiment, answer the phone, or see who's at the door? Woken up from a peaceful sleep to comfort someone or check outside for the source of a noise? Too many to count. This is probably why I am good at multi-tasking. And why I don't always get a good night's sleep!

I am used to putting things aside to help other people or to get something done. But in all honesty, when I'm at work it would be really nice to have fewer interruptions. I am the resident problem-solver. Can I answer this question? Can I fix that computer? Do I know how to run that report? Where do we keep the envelopes? How do I make a table in Excel?

Yes, I can and yes, I do know how. That doesn't mean I'm going to drop everything I'm doing so that I can fix everyone's problems. Was I born knowing all the answers? Of course not. Is there another way you can find the answer? Of course there is. Where do you think I got all this coveted knowledge? Well, I'll tell you.

As the poem says, "All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten". Naturally I learned some things in school but not enough to do my job well. So if you didn't learn how to create a pivot table in Kindergarten, read on.

1. Identify the problem first. Take a step back and assess the situation before panicking. Collect relevant information that will help solve the problem. Rather than saying, "I can't print!", let me know that there are sparks and smoke coming from the printer where you spilled your coffee into it. Then I know that the printer is the problem, the drivers are fine, you do actually possess the knowledge of how to print, and that you are a colossal klutz. You may find that once you know what the problem is, you even know how to correct it.

2. Trial and error. Believe me, I've made a lot of mistakes. But I've learned what not to do, what doesn't work and what does. As Yoda said, "Try, you must!" Be creative with your solutions. Think outside the box or think like a computer. Be the computer. Restart the computer. Try something and learn from it.

3. Open your eyes and look for it. That pencil is not going to jump out of the drawer and say, "Here I am!" There are precisely 6 drawers in the work area. Open them. Nearly all the office supplies you seek are stored within, and organized to boot! Look for things before you ask. The answer may take me only 2 seconds but I then need to backtrack 2 minutes on my work to re-focus.

4.  Read the instructions or check the help files. Nearly everything comes with some sort of manual or tutorial. Except for babies. You're on your own there. See #2.

5. Consult the experts. And by experts, I mean people other than me. Google it. Look for a Youtube tutorial. Call the customer support line. I guarantee you there is someone out there who has had the same issue. How do I know this? Because that's where I go when I don't know the answer. Cut out the middle man and save me some time. The Googles know everything.

6. Pay attention. When someone is repairing the copier, changing computer settings, resetting the router, or programming the phone system, watch what they are doing and ask questions. Next time you have that problem, you may know just how to fix your wagon!

7. Prioritize your questions. If you are bleeding from the head, I will give you first aid right away. If you are trying to scan your personal photos, ask me at lunch, coffee break, or after work. Or at least make it worth my while (chocolate is a great motivator, I'm just saying).

Learn to be self-sufficient. I promise you this will help you in life. When you have made an attempt to help yourself, I will be much more willing to put aside my work to address your problems and questions. It's not that I don't like being revered as the Office Guru or the Smart-Ass Who Knows Everything. I would just rather be the Office Hobbit and revel in the peace of my office without constant interruptions to my plans of world domination paperwork.


misssrobin said...

Oh, how well I remember this. I wasn't so good at recognizing that everyone was treating me like their mother. It took me a good long time, and tons of not getting my stuff done, before I realized that others needed to use their own brains and hands a bit more and I needed to help a bit less.

Yes, we mothers are effecient and effective. No, that doesn't mean we should do twice as much work as everyone else.

Nice post. Happy Sharefest. Have a great weekend.

jessicarabica said...

"Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?"

Miz Dinah said...

"Jiggle the handle!" or my favourite tech-support question "Is it plugged in?". :)