Adjusting to a new job (aka: I just want to figure out how the copier works)

I just dashed off a monthly financial report in about 2 hours. When I first started this job, and started doing this report, it took me the better part of two days. I didn’t know where to find the information I needed, I was inept at the program we used, I didn’t know how to update the graphs.

Now, instead of a daunting task that I dread at the end of each month, I can fit it in at the end of a day without any pressure!

You know what it's like: you've put the hard work into finding a new job and it is time for your first day. You walk in excited and confident, and within minutes, you're confounded by the copier as you try to make copies of HR forms. You feel like you have to ask someone for help with everything.

If you've been at your job for a while, think back to your early days when you didn't know the organization's "best practices" for how to start a project. Now you breeze through project startup without a second thought. Or think about how you used to be so confused by the org-chart. Who is your boss' boss? What does that person across the room do? Now you know exactly who to go to for any question you have.

If you're new at your job - take heart - there's always an adjustment phase. Here are a few tips to speed it up:

Take notes like it's your job: get a notebook, write down observations and details as you go through the day. Who is responsible for what? Where are documents stored on the shared drive? Who really seems to know what's going on? At the very least, write a summary to yourself at the end of each day about what you worked on and who you worked with. Review your notes or summaries every few days till the knowledge rests firmly in your head.

Volunteer for specific tasks: Don't just say "I am happy to help however" say "I know you need help writing that press release, I have experience with that, could I take the first stab at it and send it to you for revisions?" You'll get to know more about a project and let people know what your skills are.

Give yourself grace: in a few months, you'll have a handle on these tasks and be on to new challenges (a quick survey of those around me says it takes anywhere from 6 to 18 months till you really feel like you have your feet under you).

So relax - you'll get there soon enough. And if you're already adjusted - help the new gal. Show her how the copier works, and introduce her to the person who really runs the office.