Focusing on the Now

Delorean DMC-12

Delorean DMC-12 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My company uses a service called KnowYourCompany, that sends three emails each week to the entire staff.   Each email asks a question that the staff can either respond to publicly, or just to the company leadership team.

The questions follow a formula.

On Monday, we get an email asking what we are working on.  This allows us to see what everyone is doing, and in theory, makes offering your skills easier to do because you can see what you might be able to help with.

On Wednesday, the question is something about the company or our interaction with the company.  One week this question was as simple as “Are there any company policies that aren’t completely clear?”

On Friday, the question is more personal.  It’s a getting-to-know-each-other question.  Last Friday’s question was “What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?”

I found that I don’t have an answer.

Right now, I don’t have any long-term goals.  Recently, my personal life has been complicated enough that the idea of planning for later this year–much less the next 5 or 10 years–is more than I can deal with.

My side hustle goals are focused entirely on what needs to happen in the next week.  Work goals are only a month out.    My personal goals involve making it through the next few days without letting anything collapse.

Sometimes, life kicks you in the crotch so hard, you have to let the future worry about itself while you focus on what’s happening right now.  Without a functional present, the future doesn’t matter.  You have to focus on the Now first, or everything else evaporates.

It’s not a great situation, but it is an interesting perspective.  I’ve spent so much of the last decade focusing on what comes next that what’s happening right now has suffered.

Focus on Now.  Sometimes, What’s Next can take care of itself for a while.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Overworked and Underappreciated

I once worked for a company that was so confused that, not only did I not meet my last immediate supervisor for 6 months, but he didn’t know what I did or who I supported.  He was my supervisor on paper for payroll and organizational purposes only.

Angry Birds

Angry Birds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does your boss know what you do?

More recently, I was called into my current boss’s office to get scolded for low productivity since  I don’t produce as much as the other programmers.

That’s not my favorite thing to do in the afternoon.  I’d rather spend the afternoon playing Angry Birds improving our software.

In response, I spent the week logging my time.  Before I left on Friday, I sent my boss an email that started out with:

When we spoke on Monday, you compared my productivity unfavorably to the other developers.   I don’t think that’s a fair comparison as I do more categories of tasks than the others.   I don’t think you realize how many additional responsibilities I’ve taken on over the years.

I continued from there with a summary of each day’s work last week.   The short version is that, while being productive, I spend less than half of my time on my primary job function because I’ve slowly taken on a managerial role.

I’m on vacation this week, so it will be a few days before I find out if my email will make a difference.

Now, this scolding was my fault.   I know I spend my day doing much more than just writing code.   I’ve told my boss that before, but I’ve never made sure he understands the scale of the extra work, and I’ve never proven it with a detailed log.

This was poor personal marketing.

In the future, I have to make sure that I keep him in the loop with a summary of the extra work I do, like the training, product demos, sales calls, and estimates I’m involved in.

We’ll see how well that works.

How would you handle a situation like this?  Daily emails?  Whining?  Kicking a garbage can across the room?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Time Management

Clockwork egg timer.

Image via Wikipedia

My wife told me that I don’t do enough around the house.

She is, of course, correct.

I could make a list of excuses, but none of them matter.   There’s really only one reason: I have problems with time management.   I’m easily distracted.

For example, in the time it’s taken me to write the above three lines, I stopped to check a website, updated my Evernote installation, and added a new contact to my address book.

That’s not multi-tasking, that’s inefficiency.   People don’t actually multi-task.  Instead, they break concentration and completely switch gears.  Repeatedly.   They pretend they are doing a lot of things at once, when in fact they are doing a large series of individual tasks.  That’s serial single-tasking, poorly.

On top of that, I focus to the point of obsession.   The entire world goes away when I am working.

No, that’s not a contradiction.    I’m good at procrastinating and I am interested in everything.   If a random thought floats to the surface while I’m working, I follow it to Google and, if it’s interesting enough, I get lost.   It generally only happens during research or while doing a job I hate.

For those of you following along at home, I can be easily distracted from some tasks, then lock on to some tangent and have an evening disappear.

For some reason, my wife hates that, especially when there are dishes to be done and laundry to be folded.

This has blown up on me a few time.

We’ve come upon a solution, in three parts.

1.  Timer.  When I get on the computer, I set an egg timer for 1 hour.  When the time’s up, I’m done.   The time limit helps me focus on finishing the task at hand.    If I know I need to get a post written in an hour, I’m less likely to catch up on the comics in my news reader.

2.  Communication.   If I’m working on something that I know will take more than an hour, I tell her.   I’ve had to do that for each installment of the Make Extra Money series.

3.  Nagging.   If #1 has failed and #2 doesn’t apply, I’ve given my wife explicit permission to remind me, as often as necessary.  Sometimes, I don’t register everything people say when I am “lost”, so now she knows to keep trying if I don’t respond, or respond with a spaced-out “Uh-huh, yes, dear.”  Before, she was worried about upsetting me by nagging, but I wouldn’t have noticed the first few times.  Thankfully, with #1 and #2, #3 has only been an issue one.

Time limits, communication, and persistent reminders.  That’s my plan to manage my time.   Getting off of the computer has helped me be more useful with household chores and it’s given me a chance to be closer to the woman I love most.   The time-limited focus has even helped me get a couple of projects rolling.

We all have the same 24 hours.  Are you using yours efficiently?

(P.S.  Happy anniversary, honey.   These have been the best years I could ask for.)

Enhanced by Zemanta