Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This is How I Work

More than one person has pinged me, challenging me to write one of these "This is How I Work" pieces. Every time it happens, I hear RuPaul saying "You betta work!" and then I have "Supermodel (Of the World)" stuck in my head the rest of the day. Not that I mind. It's a good ear worm as ear worms go.

And now that I've downloaded RuPaul into all of your brains, let's move onto my answers to the survey.

Location: Delaware
Current Gig: Director of the Robert H. Parker Library at Wesley College
One word that best describes how you work: Broadly
Current Mobile Device: Galaxy s4
Current Computer: At home, a Samsung NP-QX411 laptop. At work, I've no idea beyond the fact that it's a Dell desktop that gets cranky in the late afternoon.
Current Tablet: Nexus 7

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?
  • Outlook. Everywhere I've worked has been an Outlook shop, and I've gotten really good with it at this point. I live and die by when my Galaxy chirps at me to remind me I need to be somewhere.
  • Excel. At work, I use it to track everything from how much I've spent on ink for the big public printer to how many times my students have contributed to class. I can make it do fancy dancy formula gymnastics, too. 
  • Pencils and spiral notebooks. Every single work day (and most weekend days, too), come snow or sleet or dark of night, hell or high water, I write myself a schedule/To Do list for the following day. I do this in a spiral notebook and I keep them after I've run through all the paper - that way I can look back to see what I've done. Also, no mechanical pencils for me. I love seeing how stubby my pencils become over time. It's like a built in measure of my productivity.

What’s your workspace setup like?
  • At work, I've got a tiny office that has two walls of windows. It's maybe 8'x12'. With so little floor space and even less usable wall space, it means I have to make every centimeter count. One of the best things I've done was to get an adjustable standing desk. The item I bought from Varidesk Pro makes it so I can sit when I need to sit and stand when I need to stand. Can't recommend it highly enough. There's a cork board right next to my desk that lots of things pinned to it, such as favorite quotes, pictures of owls, project lists, and business cards. Also, it wouldn't really be my office without a few toys scattered around the space.
  • At home, I work at my dining room table and face the sliding glass door. This is, bar none, my most productive work space.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?
I like to drink green tea daily since it's got so many health benefits, but I don't have a reliable way to make tea at work. Even if I could brew tea easily at work, green tea always tastes like pond water to me. My answer is to brew iced green tea, one quart at a time. Instead of 4 bags of green tea, I use 2 green and 2 flavored herbal tea to cut the pond flavor. I put the tea bags in the quart container and leave it out on my kitchen counter over night. Lately I've been using Yogi Tea's Ginger tea, but I also like Traditional Medicinals' Throat Coat for that great anise flavor. No sugar needed and I get all the health benefits with almost no time investment and absolutely no pond water.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
I actually use two. I love love LOVE HabitRPG for encouraging good habits and for tasks that I perform daily. If you're not familiar, HabitRPG turns your To Do list into a roleplaying game with monsters and quests and classes and everything. Also, the old fashioned video game graphics are a hoot. My only problem with HabitRPG is that it isn't good with anything besides daily tasks and habits. For everything else, I use ToodleDo. The name makes me cringe, but the functionality ties into Getting Things Done methods and I like that. Also, both ToodleDo and HabitRPG have a web presence and apps that connect to your account. Best part is that both are available for iOS and Android.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
Electric pencil sharpeners. I have one at home and in my office. I've been thinking of investing in one that will fit in my purse. As for why, see my above paragraph about the importance of pencils in my life.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I'm great at thinking about things without actually thinking about them. What I mean by this is I won't even realized that I've been puzzling over a problem, or even realize that I've noticed a problem, when suddenly a solution will come to me. I'm not sure what my secret is, though, since this is something I've been doing for years and years. It's only within the last few years that I noticed other people don't seem to think the same way.

What do you listen to while you're at work?
Depends on what I'm doing. If I'm engaged in something that needs a lot of focus and creativity, I'm all about ambient music. For this, I love Steven Halpern's music. If I'm doing day-to-day things answering regular emails or paying bills, I want something where I can hum along like Neil Diamond or Guster. And if I'm doing something fairly mindless, like filing, I turn to hip hop and old school rap

What are you currently reading?
Quick answer? Too much. Longer answer:
  • The Fast Forward MBA in Project Management. It's slow going so far because the authors are busy explaining why I need project management skills in my life. I already know that, so I'm probably going to start skimming soon.
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I read about and became familiar with Friere's theories when getting my MAEd, but I've never read the actual book. This is also slow going, but in this case it's because the ideas are thick and rich and I need to take my time to digest them.
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I listen to audiobooks on my commute, a habit I picked up when I had a much longer drive. It's also one of the only ways I read fiction lately. I'm enjoying this book a lot. The author really knows the area where I grew up, North of Boston, MA, and that means there's added depths for me.
  • The Story of Doctor Dolittle. Not my usual thing, but it ties into my National Novel Writing Month project.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
Neither and both. The fancy word for it is "ambivert." For instance, I really really need my alone time but an entire day of teaching usually leaves me feeling more energetic than when I started. For those of you who might be contemplating following in my footsteps, I've found that being a library director accentuates the extremes of my ambivertedness and I'm not alone.

What’s your sleep routine like?
Usually in bed by 10 pm on weeknights, and up at 6 am weekdays. I shift that an hour later on weekends. Oh, and I have a fantastic fan by Vornado that is better than any white noise machine I've tried. I don't sleep well without it.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _________ answer these same questions.
Jake Berg. Anyone else who has been waiting to be challenged to answer these questions can consider themselves challenged, but Jake has no choice.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Three things, told to me by my dad when I was 11 or 12. These save me so much hassle, both personally and professionally:
  • Never force anything mechanical. That time our compressed shelving got stuck and I was the only one around to fix it? Yeah, this piece of advice saved me and my organization a lot of time and money.
  • Things don't fall off the floor. Obvious, I know, but crucial. I sometimes have to transport fragile things from work to home or vice versa, and I'm sure you know where I put them.
  • When all else fails, read directions. Especially crucial when trying to get some piece of software or another to do what I want it to do.

The only thing that disrupts my productivity at home.

1 comment:

  1. AMBIVERT. I am off to read about this concept because it might just change my life. Thanks for doing this too - I love to read about how other people work on a day-to-day basis.