TITLE: Early Lessons on the Job
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: August 12, 2005 12:06 PM
DESC: I am learning small lessons as I come into contact with the basics of my job as department. They are not Big Ideas, just ones that make up the substrate of sufficiency necessary to do the job.
After a couple of weeks in the Big Office Downstairs,
I've been reminded how important some elements of
human psychology are to group dynamics:
A close friend of mine is police chief of a small town
back in my home state. When I was visiting him a
couple of weeks ago, he shared some of his experience
as an administrator. He jokingly said that his job
consists in three roles: manager of budgets and
schedules, leader among his staff and community, and
daycare provider. We both knew what he meant. Neither
of us really thinks of our administrative jobs in such
a condescending way, but it is clear that working with
people is at least as important as the "paper pushing"
elements of the job, and in some situations can dominate.
That said, the paper-pushing side of things creates
challenges, too. I am already finding the constant
flow of information -- new things to do, new items
for the calendar, new ideas to try out -- to be
overpowering. In response,
have become my friends. (As has the
Remind is a plain text Unix calendar tool. I considered
for a while, but my preference for plain text data and
low-frills interfaces pushed me toward Remind. After
only a week, I was quite happy. I can add new entries
to my databases with any editor, and I can script other
applications to add them for me. The one thing I'd
like is a better way to view weekly or monthly calendars.
By default, Remind prints out days in fixed-width columns
that result in the squashing and breaking of words. Of
course, that's the beauty of a plain-text tool: If I
want a different interface to my data, it is straightforward
to write one. (I feel a student project coming on...)
VoodooPad is just way cool. I tried
for a few months after first accepting my new position,
when I was busily creating list of ideas and to-dos.
I liked it all right, but it never felt natural to me.
VoodooPad makes it easy to create links to new pages,
or command-L on any text selection, so I get the effect
of collapsible sub-lists in wiki form. The program is
also integrated with other OS X apps and services, such
so I get free linking to my other on-line data and
can launch an e-mail message with a single click.
In one tool, I have a note taker, a wiki, a to-do
list manager, and a decent text editor. There's a
reason that VoodooPad is one of MacZealot's
top 10 shareware apps
Using great tools means that I can eventually focus
my energy on the Big Picture. I say "eventually"
because, right now, mastering some details is
the Big Picture.
- People want to be valued and respected for what
they do and know.
- When a person interprets any disagreement as a
sign of disrespect, communication becomes difficult,
if not impossible. (When two such people come
into contact -- watch out.)