How My First Summer Job Taught Me to be Organized
(photo: Teresa Earnest Photography)
Ahh, the lazy days of summer lounging by the pool, tanning, and reading Glamour and Mademoiselle magazines….unless you grew up in the Mixon family. Summer meant “work” and “don’t be lazy” and “how are YOU going to pay for that?” #reality
I was 16 at first waitressing job at a restaurant in Gainesville, Georgia called Peeches. Yes, that’s how they spelled it. It was your typical fern bar, wings & burgers kind of place, not a fine-dining, farm-to-table, craft-cocktails experience you might find today. It wasn’t awful and I learned many skills that I still use today. Beyond mastering shortcut techniques for taking orders or how to balance 5 plates on one arm, I learned some valuable life lessons that carry on in my organizing business:
Don’t go in or out of the kitchen empty handed
This was a lesson in economizing your steps so you weren’t running yourself ragged. If you’re refilling waters on one table, why not check the whole section? If you’ve got to take one plate to the kitchen, see if there’s anything else that needs to go out. If you’re delivering an appetizer to the bar, does more coffee need to be made?
When you take a second to anticipate a need you’re not frantically scrambling at the last second to complete a project. Take the time to write the grocery list so you don’t have to do multiple trips. Batch together the social media posts. Are there other calls I need to make while I’m sitting in my office? Write that To Do list. Anticipate a need. Don’t wait until the last second.
If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean
Oh, will somebody please put that on a needlepoint pillow? My manager, Peter Gee, used to say it all the time right when I was trying to catch the cute waiter’s attention. Today, this is my modus operandi. I thrive on small pockets of time to get menial tasks done: waiting for coffee to heat up in the microwave? That’s a perfect time to empty the dishwasher. Waiting for the gas tank to fill? Perfect time to clean out the car. Standing in line at the grocery store? Go through that Twitter feed and retweet or like a few posts. Guests coming over in 10 minutes? Maximum cleaning can be completed. Computer taking time to boot up or process an update? Review the calendar & make a phone call.
While I don’t advocate multitasking or procrastinating, when you know you only have a few minutes to get something done your productivity level soars. Because it’s a short amount of time, you’re not committed to perfection. You just have 5 minutes to get it DONE. Also, you know it’s not going to take a long time so you can tolerate the pain better. You’d be amazed at what you can get done in a small amount of time if you tell yourself that it’s only for that amount of time. 5 minutes to write a blog post? You probably won’t finish but you’ll get a lot more done that if you didn’t start it and work on it for that short amount of time.
Keep your money in order
This lesson hardly seems worth mentioning since we all use less cash these days but the lesson is still there: clean out your wallet and keep your money in order. Back in my day, I had to make change for customers which meant I wore a stunning, 100% water repellent polyester apron (gag) with pockets in the front (double gag) for holding my money, pens, and tickets. Unfortunately, there was more than one occasion where I gave out the wrong change and walked home with zero tips. That was a hard lesson to learn but I was a quick study.
Today, I keep my cash in order, smallest to largest and facing the same direction. All change goes in the zipper pocket of my wallet. OCD? Not at all. Doing this means I know how much money I have and exactly where it is. No digging in the bottom of my purse for loose change. No accidentally throwing out bills with the trash. It shows I respect and am mindful my money, too, so I’m not wasting it. Show me a person with a messy purse or wallet and I’ll show you someone who’s probably wasting money. #sorrynotsorry
Uniforms exist for a reason
This summer job’s uniform was NOT the worst I had: khaki shorts, sneakers, peach colored polo shirt with the logo on left chest, and the aforementioned apron. At least I didn’t have to wear suspenders or “flair.” Plus it saved me time getting ready for my shift. There was no thinking about what am I going to wear or does this shirt go with these pants? There were certain clothes designated for work so that was the only time I wore them.
While I don’t suggest you wear an apron or logo-laden polo shirts, I do believe in simplifying your wardrobe choices and only have what you know works for you. I believe in expressing yourself with your clothes and accessories but eliminate the things that don’t flatter you or make you feel fantastic. Nobody needs to keep the pants that don’t fit anymore “just in case” you lose 5 pounds. Or that “what if I have to wear a suit again” suit from 10 years ago? It’s not in style, probably doesn’t fit, and would be better used by giving it away.
Go through your clothes regularly and eliminate the extras you don’t wear or use anymore. Pass them on to someone else. I guarantee there is someone out there that can use TODAY what you haven’t worn in years.
What was your summer job? I have a theory that many entrepreneurs worked in the hospitality industry in their early years. Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
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