futzing with files, and familiarity is nice

Posted: July 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

My boss was out of the office all week, gone to an annual seminar.  I like to give him a hard time about how much more work I can get done when he is not hanging around the office, thinking up good ideas that create more work.  So he and I were BOTH anticipating my catching up this week – and that’s exactly what I did.  I found the top of my desk again – I had started to grow another darn little “file pile” and also had dragged out a lot of files while looking for stuff and had never returned them. 

Sometimes, I can’t fix something until I can “make it mine,” and sometimes, making it mine is a long, drawn out process.  I counted today as a major victory, because I finally made the IDPH files mine, a task I have at times suspected was just never going to happen. 

IDPH stands for Illinois Department of Health, and when you are in the business we are in, you have  LOT of interactions with them.  The big drawer in my boss’s office with all the IDPH files in it daunted me when I started there.  I didn’t even want to touch the files.  When I had something to file, I would first procrastinate for as long as humanly possible, and then pick and poke and struggle with figuring it out.  When my boss asked me to find a document, I would pull maybe 6 or 8 files, rifling somewhat hopelessly through, sure that this time I just wasn’t going to find it at all.  Often, I called on a coworker to help me dig for it. 

Part of today’s victory was simply that I have finally been there long enough and gone through enough processes to have a better grip on what it’s all about.  The other part of it was, oddly enough, a result of my giant mega-filing project that you might recall from awhile back.  Sorting through hundreds and hundreds of pages of filing ended up being a good thing for me.  It helped me see what was the same and what was different.  It helped me start to build time lines in my head.  It started building context for me, so that those four letters IDPH couldn’t just glaze my brain over into a haze. 

It’s a lot to sort out.  Annual surveys.  Complaint surveys.  Plans of correction.  Applications.  Questionnaires.  Azheimer’s disclosures.  Life Care Facilities.  Life Safety.  Upgrades.  Assisted Living.  Long Term Care.  Rehab.  On and on.  During that giant filing project, I had noticed that I’d been seriously mixing up the IDPH files in my frustration and ignorance.  I had resolved that the whole drawer needed revamped, and that was confirmed one day when my boss tried to look for something and just had to wait until I got back to look for it.  He was really nice, but that was not cool.

So today, I carried every last one of those IDPH files to my desk.  Picked and sorted through.  Put things in order.  Made new folders.  Argued with myself about the best way to keep some of it in order.  By the time I was done, I felt great.  My boss should be able to get to anything he wants very quickly, and I no longer feel even the slightest bit of dread about that drawer, with which contact always before left me feeling like an imposter who wasn’t qualified for her job. 

There’s a lot more to do.  I have tons of drawers in my office that need to be gone through.  My predecessor and I have somewhat different filing logic, and I finally feel like I understand the contents of all the drawers enough that I’m safe to go in and fix it to suit me.  I’m pretty careful about trying not to jack with someone else’s system until I understand the “how” and “why” of their system thoroughly.  You never know what wisdom another person left behind for you, if you hurry and wreck what they left, eh? 

And then when that is done, my next big goals are sorting/cleaning my electronic files, and…the worst job of all…sorting and cleaning my Outlook files.  THAT seems like a job that cannot be completed, but experience has shown me that if I’ll show up, be faithful and consistent, I will be astonished at what gets accomplished. 

When I moved back to the QC from JPUSA, I was really over all the moving and change.  I moved in January 2010, September 2010, October 2010, November 2010 (just a move down the hall, but by then even THAT was the trauma of another move), August 2011, March 2012 and May 2013.  In this phase of my life and even in the years leading up to it, I changed jobs and quite often held multiple jobs at the same time.  I have been ready to just settle down and BE somewhere awhile – like, long enough to know stuff.  Oddly enough, stuff like “extreme familiarity with the files in my office” is a comfort and a joy to me.  I wouldn’t have guessed that would ever be the case. 

Life is strange, and I am stranger than that.  But then you knew that already, right? 


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