Writing a weekly blog is a worthwhile process--one that is both challenging and rewarding. Despite our best efforts, Andy Ruth and I don't always get around to it every week. The hardest part is finding time. Through the successes and failures, I have come to realize the key is discovering the gaps of downtime between daily tasks and then learning how to utilize those breaks. For example, look for time between meetings and during breaks for coffee or lunch. You can also mentally prepare in the car (or public transit) and when you are getting ready in the morning (in the shower). About 10-15 minutes a day is all you really need, but remember: don’t limit yourself to 15 minutes if you are on a roll.
As you may (or may not) have read, I am (still) involved in the local (Seattle) chapter of Iasa first ever IT architecture competition. Team Skyscraper has delivered their second set of deliverables and are now in the home stretch. With the business requirements and conceptual architecture being the first set of deliverables, this past weekend they had to submit software, infrastructure and security architectures, and the technology stack they chose.
Time is funny. We all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. Yet most of us complain about how little time we have and how there are too few hours in a day. This year is a Leap Year so we all have an extra day. This is also the start of a new year and many make resolutions, so this year I will make a resolution about time, and my extra day. I resolve to remember I have an extra day and use it to reflect on (and correct) the trajectory of my year. In fact, I will officially declare it as Extra Day - a day to limit work, take a breath and reflect on the direction the year is taking. I’ll do it on February 29th since that is where the calendar places our extra day. But, to do that, I’ll need a plan.
Whether you realize it or not, you are in the middle of performing a habit. Somehow, you made your way onto a computer or smartphone and are now browsing the internet. This is to say, we are all performing some activity we do regularly, and these repetitive behaviors are habits. So when we say we are going to make a new habit, what we are really saying is that we are going to replace one habit with a more desirable one. The point of this blog post is to help you become more aware of your habits and offer some pointers as you set your sights on a new goal. Whether you are looking to make a life change or tweak an existing routine, these five steps will help you achieve your workflow goals.
For about five years, I played hardcore/metal music in Grand Rapids, MI. One of the popular music venues that catered to local bands in the mid-to-late 2000’s was the adolescent-friendly safe haven: Skelletones. Before I played on their stage, I grew up spending as much time as I could mingling with aspiring bands and the off-beat, we’re-so-counter-culture-we-hate-counter-culture crowd. At 15, the only dream I had was to play on that stage. At 19, I got my chance.
"There are two types of people in the world: those who push and those who and enjoy the ride. Who do you want to be?"
I grew up with a lot of these types of sayings separating those who "do" and those who "do not do enough". We have a culture of elitism, which is great for some—but what about those who don't want to change the world? Those who want to enjoy work and be good at it, but also have a family and a life outside of work? Those who are looking to fill a role? Those people are belittled in our culture. Business books ask, “If you aren't reinventing yourself; your image; your brand, then what are you doing?”
When did being "good" become "not enough"?
There was a recent article in the New York Times that painted a pretty bleak picture of working at Amazon, followed by a ton of responses for and against what the article stated. Over the years, I have read quite a few of those articles and now that I am Seattle-based, I work in a high-tech company area. For what the article said, you could change the name of the high-tech company and reprint. So the question isn’t this high-tech company or that one, rather, it is high-tech company or not high-tech company.
There are a ton of survivor-style television shows out. You know, where one or several people get dropped in a location they do not know without anything (or next to nothing). They have to “make it” for some amount of time or form a tribe and work through the tribe interactions. When you get a new job, the experience can be very similar. You take the job, get a set of stuff and are expected to survive and thrive. Both follow Maslow’s Hierarchy of Basic Needs. Maslow stayed really busy creating a lot of theories about humans, and most are patterns that I use to understand what I need to give and get from a job.
Early in my career I didn’t think about having a career strategy, much less a life strategy. I reacted to events and let them guide my career and my life. Even with that, I knew I was heading towards something. I had a vague notion of the ideal future and each step I took, I considered that ideal state, or at least at some point before or after a step. Creating and updating a strategy would have made things SO much easier.