Splintering of our attention

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Jaysen
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Wed Jun 16, 2010 12:22 pm Post

flow wrote:The hardest part about setting up fences around my time seems to be enforcement. And it also seems to be the most important part.

This can not be understated. The key that I have found to addressing this problem is open communication and consistency. Open can be as obvious as a sign posted in an entrance or a message sent to your peers via email. The most uncomfortable part is the consistency though. Have to ask someone to leave in a fairly firm voice can be quite disconcerting, especially if that someone is a superior. My experience is that once the superiors "get it" they are very supportive.

Then again they may just be afraid of me. That whole "missing head" thing really freaks some people out.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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flow
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Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:29 pm Post

Jaysen wrote:
flow wrote:The hardest part about setting up fences around my time seems to be enforcement. And it also seems to be the most important part.

This can not be understated. The key that I have found to addressing this problem is open communication and consistency. Open can be as obvious as a sign posted in an entrance or a message sent to your peers via email. The most uncomfortable part is the consistency though. Have to ask someone to leave in a fairly firm voice can be quite disconcerting, especially if that someone is a superior. My experience is that once the superiors "get it" they are very supportive.


I like saying yes more than I like saying no, so that firm voice thing is something I don't usually use unless I'm really irritated. By the time the firm voice appears, I am less likely to be filtering what I'm saying or how I'm saying it.

I realized when I set up the dedicated time to work on the project that I would need to reinforce that boundary. Part of the reinforcement was removing myself to another office (so I wouldn't have to say "no" or "yes, later"). I wasn't that happy about doing it this way, as I think that this is "managing" others. The other part of the reinforcement was later sending out another email to the partner who had been looking for me, reminding the person of the dedicated time, and suggesting that if the day I had chosen for the dedicated time was not good, we move it to another day. This reinforcement I respected more, as (I think) it validated the person's concerns that I was unavailable, and mine that the project receive some undivided attention.

I tell you, it's mighty hard work figuring out not where to build your fences, but when to pull your shotgun.

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Wock
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Fri Jun 18, 2010 2:45 pm Post

Some key factors to success:

(1) Salesmanship. Selling yourself, your work, your time, whatever. If you can't sell it find someone to sell it for you.
(2) Organizing your time and resources.
(3) Delegating authority.
(4) Determining if time invested does not outweigh the return on the end product. (return on investment, where your "investment is your time".
(5) Determining what your time is actually worth.
(example: I have done graphic design/web design work for many clients. My "production" time in in graphic design is around $75-$150 dollars per hour. If I am doing "tech support during regular business hours my time is worth $125-$250 an hour. After 6pm my time becomes around 30% more valuable. After 11pm it becomes about 50% more valuable. (I value sleep)

*determining the "value" of your time will help you determine not only WHEN to do something but how valuable your time is during different time frames which may say an interruption during the afternoon while I am doing graphic design might only be a $75 interruption where as that same interruption at 1 am while I am doing "tech support" may cost me $375. This also shows me that I should schedule my "cheapest" production (graphic design) during the day and my tech support later in the evening to be the most profitable based on my own "time value".

(6) Customer service
(7) Being on time and keeping your word. Don't make deadlines then constantly break them.
(8) Don't take on a project without evaluating the value of your own time or you will never know what to prioritize nor what to charge.
(9) Don't listen to a hick like me.
(10) Don't alienate family. Family time is a "value" as is friend time. Don't ignore the value of family/friend time. Incorporate it in with your other projects or everything in your life will lose value.
The wheel is turning but the hamster is still dead.

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Jaysen
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Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:07 pm Post

Pay special attention around item 9 in that list! ;)

Sound statements wock. The "value" and scheduling pieces in particular.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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Apollo16
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Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:56 pm Post

Thanks all for the great conversation!

As for how to handle students, I do use the word no. I learned many years ago that befriending is not the same as leading. (As Druid pointed out.) As for Wock's suggestion that I make a lesson of the student who emailed me at 2 AM and 5 AM, I had to laugh because that is exactly what I did before having ITS prohibit pinging profs. I did put the two offending email up on screen and reviewed with the class why this was not the way to approach one's prof. There were 180+ students in that section so I hope it helped!

I also have a sign that states: Failure to plan on your part, does not constitute an emergency on my part.

However, I really wish I had ahab’s death ray. That would be so cool.

One additional gripe I have stems from being female. When a male colleague tells a Dean "no" -- say during a meeting -- the Dean says nothing. However, when I or another female say "no" we are ALWAYS challenged as to WHY we are unavailable. Even before getting the tenure nod, I did not put up with this horse hockey. I did not reply but instead asked the offending Dean (or Provost) why it was that the females were asked this question and not the males. The implication being that all the women had a pressing pedicure appointment while the men had a "serious" event to go to. The Dean or Provost would become uncomfortable and the conversation ended there.

Many of my female colleagues would not do this for fear of being denied tenure. I had a different view. If this is what it took to be a tenured faculty member, I didn’t want it. However, I was a high school science teacher and Dept. head before going back to obtain my Ph.D. So, I was older and had already given up tenure once to move to the University level. Even having profited twice with tenure, I am still against it as too many of my colleagues abuse the system. (Another topic for another latte evening.)

Upshot on this conversation:

I have found that it is the physical impediments that save me the most (i.e. like flow’s suggestion of hiding in a different office). Everyone knows about turning off the ringer on the phone but I have to put a stick’em/post-it note over the blinking light or my curiosity always gets the better of me. (It used to be guilt too but that wore out about three years ago.)

I really like that Jaysen knows the importance of protecting one’s people. (Not having a head to lose might have something to do with it.) My Ph.D. advisor once called me at home and told me that I was very sick and needed to stay in bed ALL day. I asked why and he said that the dept. head was looking for someone to cover a class and that he wanted me to do it. Needless to say, I fell ill immediately and made sure to look pale the rest of the week. But again... NOT being there is what saved me.

However, I do have trouble with email. I need to be able to send items OUT so I can’t help but see the items that are coming IN. I haven’t quite tamed that beast yet. Suggestions welcome.

Obviously, it all comes down to priorities. However, some days, you will have more than you can do and you will have to disappoint someone. I have trouble doing that. Oh... I can disappoint people initially... no problem... then I use up valuable brain space feeling guilty about it. Suggestions?

We all have needy relatives. Again, physical space seems to help. According to a study... don’t have time to cite this one... U.S. women now actually spend more time with their children than their mothers but experience more guilt when they are away. Can’t win for losing!

Again, thanks all and in the future, if you come upon and new and effective strategy, please share!!

Apollo16

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Jaysen
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Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:04 am Post

What email client do you use? I can probably help you on that front.

Guilt: repeat your "lack of planning" phrase.

Relatives: get out your calendar and set appointments for your family/relatives/friends. Adhere to them. Let folks know what time is theirs. If they miss it not your problem. Keeping in mind that I don't get along with most of my relatives here is what I have
1. Birthdays (everyones) - Mom and in laws can come to my house.
2. Mother/father day - Mom and in laws can come to my house.
3. July 4th/Thanksgiving - Out of state travel to visit relatives.
4. Christmas - Mom and in laws can come to my house.
5. Every Friday - Boy and I try to do something.
6. Tues, Thurs, Sun - Tennis with duagditor
7. Every day 9-11 - Time with snort.

Other than that my answer is no. Folks call and start off with "I know this isn't my time, but …"

May not work for you. So far no one here has died.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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druid
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Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:14 am Post

Apollo,

Thanks for your excellent response. I will admit that your "Apollo" username fooled me into thinking you were a male faculty member. That's OK, we have an "Amber" here who masqueraded for a long time in another gender.

But I also thought male because of those overnight hours; I mean, who works in their offices at 2 and 5 am? Anyway, I'm sorry to hear that sexism reigns on your campus. On mine, the females are firmly in charge, and you better believe it.

On e-mail, my advice is keep a well-edited address book, and then set up a rule that only persons listed in the address book reach your Inbox. All others go to Trash or Pending, for your review prior to deletion. You may set up other filters, such as for a course, or department business, and thus may prioritize your responses.

On setting priorities; imagine your life as a solar system: what's at the center, and how far out are the various planetary bodies? It should be instinctual to know that family and friends are close in, colleagues out there farther, and students in some distant void.

But it's not a fixed system; the poles wobble and planets change places. People who actually DO stuff to help you get by (doctor, dentist, plumber, etc) are sometimes even closer than family and friends!

We also have to recognize that the world consists of Givers and Takers, and the split is about 20 to 80 on that score. Teachers are often Givers. They listen to young people, help them sort out their confusions, suggest ways to study or books to read, and write letters of reference that take them to the next stage.

Very few of these acts of kindness are ever repaid, or even remembered. So the act of Giving has to be some satisfaction in itself. You feel better being that way. I can't imagine that Takers feel much at all, except for a gnawing hunger that never fills their emptiness.

Droo

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Sat Jun 19, 2010 2:53 pm Post

I’ve some stories on this topic.

One of my friends in college was the son of Harry Mark Petrakis, a well-known writer in Chicago. I got a ride home with John on one break and we arrived just before lunch. There was much chat and clatter, comings and goings, as lunch was prepared but no sign of his father until noon when a door opened and Harry joined us. A glimpse through the door showed a large desk at a picture window looking out on the shore of Lake Michigan. After a lively conversation, Harry took his leave and the door closed, not to open again until 5.

Head of IT for a thirty-person design firm, I had huge fun since the days were so varied with one exception. They had a paging system. It was the first crest of desktop publishing so people were not yet expert and after several years of misery I finally realized my problem: on a busy day, I was being paged every 15 minutes. What to do? Obviously, part of my job was to help people but that was not all I had to do. Finally, one day I was in a designer’s office and was paged. She ruefully pushed the phone over to me. I looked at her. I didn’t take it. She was surprised. “I’m here to deal with your problem. . . .”

One of the more frightening parts of an Aikido black belt test is dealing with a multi-person attack. Decades of teaching how to handle this have shown me that everyone, without exception, tries to deal with all five at once. Not a good idea. What you do is move in a way that stretches out the group into a raggedy line so you can deal with them one at a time. As each one draws close, you throw them however you can. Don’t try to make it perfect—you’ll get caught and the rest will descend on you in less than a frenzied breath. Just do it, and move on to the next.

Dave

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Apollo16
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Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:44 pm Post

jaysen: What email client do you use?


I am required to use an older version of GroupWise and Novel Web-Access by my University. Please, don’t laugh. I will start crying. I would actually prefer pine. I’m not kidding.

Jaysen: So far no one here has died.


Isn’t that the truth! I find that most people are committing what I call “inept delegation.” They are looking for the next body... again... we are talking access. Most people will give up and find another victim if you aren’t immediately available. (For example, dafu’s story about Harry Mark Petrakis.)

Druid: I will admit that your "Apollo" username fooled me into thinking you were a male faculty member.


Actually, I “came out” just a couple of weeks after I joined the boards. Jaysen kept referring to me as a “he.” As I explained in that long forgotten post, Apollo16 comes from my thesis. I worked on solar wind implanted in Apollo 16 lunar soils. That led me to work on NASA’s Discovery Mission Genesis, which gathered solar wind and returned it to Earth.

Druid: But I also thought male because of those overnight hours; I mean, who works in their offices at 2 and 5 am?


Mad dogs, Englishmen and faculty members going for tenure. In other words, only the insane.

Druid: Very few of these acts of kindness are ever repaid, or even remembered. So the act of Giving has to be some satisfaction in itself. You feel better being that way.


So true. But then... five years later, you get a thank you letter from someone that makes it all worthwhile.

I really like dafu’s story about Aikido. Divide and conquer. Very good. Also, the idea of keeping your focus where is really needs to be. One problem at a time.

As I was thinking about how most of these suggestions revolve around access, I wanted to mention the hairy monster of social media. I spend a lot of time NOT participating in social media. One, I am not your friend. I am your prof and I can’t write a decent letter of recommendation after seeing what you did with that beer bong at that party. Two, having too much social media implies that I want to be social. I don’t.

Joking aside, I do need to guard that professional distance and I do need control over with whom I socialize and how often. I am also more interested in deeper relationships. If I am busy, real friends don’t give me grief if I disappear for a few months on a project. Also, they know that if there were a serious issue, I would drop that project to help them cope. (My one exception is bailing people out of jail. Don’t call me from jail. I’ll just hang up on you. That’s what bail bondsmen are for.)

Speaking of social media... This leads me to the requirement now by many publishers to have a “platform.” In translation, please do my job for me. I understand that I need to be supportive of the publisher’s efforts but if I need to do my own copyediting, my own publicity, make my own name... what the heck do I need him or her for? Shouldn’t I just hire out these functions myself and publish directly on Amazon and iBook and get 40-60% of sales instead of my one lousy dollar per book? What incentive do I have of selling books (or making my students buy them) if I only get a dollar a book and have to do all my own hustling?

Have any of you read Jeff Vandermeer’s “Booklife?” In it, he talks about what is expected of authors now in the US and tries to balance the inner booklife (i.e. being a writer) and the public booklife, which now includes the platform, social media, publicity etc. Interesting but depressing book. If there is interest, I will start a separate thread to discuss his book.

However, the point of mentioning this book in this thread, is that Vandermeer tackles this very question of balance. He dedicates several chapters to protecting one’s inner writing booklife. Writers write. When all we do is publicity, then we are no longer writers. He addresses the social media aspect in detail. He has a very strong web presence and reviews how he became ensnared in his own “platform” and how he pulled out. Some of you who have platforms might find this book useful.

Apollo16

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kewms
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:40 am Post

dafu wrote:One of the more frightening parts of an Aikido black belt test is dealing with a multi-person attack. Decades of teaching how to handle this have shown me that everyone, without exception, tries to deal with all five at once. Not a good idea. What you do is move in a way that stretches out the group into a raggedy line so you can deal with them one at a time. As each one draws close, you throw them however you can. Don’t try to make it perfect—you’ll get caught and the rest will descend on you in less than a frenzied breath. Just do it, and move on to the next.


Another aikidoka? Cool! Where do you train? I'm at George Ledyard's dojo near Seattle -- he's spent a lot of time thinking about what works in randori; you might enjoy comparing notes if you haven't already.

More relevant to the thread, one of the especially useful tricks in a multiple attack is to drop person A directly in front of Person B. That slows them both down, giving you time to deal with person C. There's not always an analog way to deal with business interruptions, but it is sometimes possible to say, "you are both asking for chunks of my time -- go fight with each other to decide who gets priority, then come back." Or, with students, "you both have different questions about the same problem -- maybe you should work together and see if you can solve it without my help?"

Katherine
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dafu
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:37 am Post

kewms wrote:Where do you train? I'm at George Ledyard's dojo near Seattle


I trained and later taught with Jonathan Eley at the Chicago Ki Society. Haven't met George but we did used to regularly run into his teacher Saotome Sensei at demonstrations.

Dave

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Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:00 am Post

I am required to use an older version of GroupWise and Novel Web-Access by my University. Please, don’t laugh. I will start crying. I would actually prefer pine. I’m not kidding.


No, wait....that's crazy. Pine was outmoded YEARS ago. I never heard of the other two. Oh, you mean NOVELL. Aargh. Worst platform in the world.

Can't you set up a free Gmail account and tell your host server to forward all mail to the Gmail address? Just say it's a necessary backup for all of your vital files. Or set up Apple Mail to read your University account? Once you have Spotlight access to your mail files, your life will become better organized.

Jaysen will doubtless have better ideas. Mine are more nefarious. :mrgreen:

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kewms
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:26 am Post

Apollo16 wrote:Speaking of social media... This leads me to the requirement now by many publishers to have a “platform.” In translation, please do my job for me. I understand that I need to be supportive of the publisher’s efforts but if I need to do my own copyediting, my own publicity, make my own name... what the heck do I need him or her for? Shouldn’t I just hire out these functions myself and publish directly on Amazon and iBook and get 40-60% of sales instead of my one lousy dollar per book? What incentive do I have of selling books (or making my students buy them) if I only get a dollar a book and have to do all my own hustling?

Have any of you read Jeff Vandermeer’s “Booklife?” In it, he talks about what is expected of authors now in the US and tries to balance the inner booklife (i.e. being a writer) and the public booklife, which now includes the platform, social media, publicity etc. Interesting but depressing book. If there is interest, I will start a separate thread to discuss his book.

However, the point of mentioning this book in this thread, is that Vandermeer tackles this very question of balance. He dedicates several chapters to protecting one’s inner writing booklife. Writers write. When all we do is publicity, then we are no longer writers. He addresses the social media aspect in detail. He has a very strong web presence and reviews how he became ensnared in his own “platform” and how he pulled out. Some of you who have platforms might find this book useful.

Apollo16


For an alternative point of view on social media, you might visit
http://pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2010/06 ... tigue.html

It's by a very prolific, NYTimes bestselling author who has managed -- even before hitting the bestseller list -- to say no to most social media demands. Money quote:
I'm not as fast as you think, folks; I simply don't squander my creative energy on things I suck at anyway.


Katherine
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kewms
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:34 am Post

dafu wrote:
kewms wrote:Where do you train? I'm at George Ledyard's dojo near Seattle


I trained and later taught with Jonathan Eley at the Chicago Ki Society. Haven't met George but we did used to regularly run into his teacher Saotome Sensei at demonstrations.

Dave


Saotome Sensei's randori is just sick. Beautiful to watch, but not something I'm likely to duplicate in this lifetime. :(

(For non-aikido folks who'd like to have some idea what we're talking about, there's a good video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs1l0BPl7Ck That's one of our senior students dealing with three attackers with weapons on his third degree black belt test.)

Katherine
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Jaysen
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Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:01 pm Post

druid wrote:
I am required to use an older version of GroupWise and Novel Web-Access by my University. Please, don’t laugh. I will start crying. I would actually prefer pine. I’m not kidding.


No, wait....that's crazy. Pine was outmoded YEARS ago. I never heard of the other two. Oh, you mean NOVELL. Aargh. Worst platform in the world.

Can't you set up a free Gmail account and tell your host server to forward all mail to the Gmail address? Just say it's a necessary backup for all of your vital files. Or set up Apple Mail to read your University account? Once you have Spotlight access to your mail files, your life will become better organized.

Jaysen will doubtless have better ideas. Mine are more nefarious. :mrgreen:

The only thing I can offer is a sympathetic shoulder to lean on while you cry.

Druid does have the right idea. Point Apple Mail or even pine (it is available for apple) at the pop3 server.

My sympathies in your dealings with the "preventers of IT"†.

I actually typed perverters but that is not true to Adams' title for Mordoc.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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