Of course, you forget, Peter, I was present at an undersea unexplained mass sponge migration.

Some days are just not good days for staying focused at work. Today happens to be one of those days.

I've tried a few different strategies for fostering and maintaining focus. I've tried the Pomodoro technique, where you set a timer for 25 minutes and you work, ignoring all distractions for that time period and then follow it up with a 5 minute break. You repeat that process and every fourth 25 minute session you take a longer break. If you come up with any distractions during one of your 25 minute "pomodoros" you write them down and just move on without acting on that distraction.

The technique generally works pretty well for me – but not alone. I need to combine that with some sort of auditory distraction as well. I love listening to podcasts, but generally listening to something that's giving me new information can be distracting. I need to listen to something that I know – something I've listened to many, many time. Beatles music works really well for me since I was *completely obsessed* with the Beatles from age 15 to 18. I've been having a bit of a Beatles renaissance lately, actually, and very much enjoying listening to them pretty much non-stop. But this afternoon I knew I wanted something different. Music wasn't going to do it for me.

It had to be "Ghostbusters". I've seen the movie hundreds of times – it's one of my favorites and I know the movie by heart. The only drawback to half-watching this movie while I work is that I keep laughing out loud and I keep catching myself speaking the lines aloud. I wonder what my coworkers think… "Oh, the crazy girl is laughing/talking to herself again."

I'm able to watch "Ghostbusters" at my whim, by the way, because of StreamToMe on my iPhone. I <3 it. There's a small app that runs on my iMac and that, in combination with the StreamToMe app on my iPhone, allows me to stream my entire iTunes library as well as media content from any other folders I specify. The iTunes stuff can be streamed without an app through Safari, but this app allows me to output to a TV via the component out cables (and I don't think I could do that through Safari (though I've never tried)). I love that feature because we don't bother with cable and so when I want to watch something while I'm working in my sewing room, I can use the cables to output Netflix or, now, whatever I stream from my iMac downstairs (without having to wait to sync it to my phone!) to the little TV I have up there.

I'm sure that technology and the web play into my inability to focus in the first place, but I love that I can find ways to use them to solve the problem as well. My Pomodoro timer tells me it's time to get back to work now, so I'll pour some fresh coffee (yes, have some) and get back to it!

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Life at a Real Company

Preface: I feel OK with this title because The Big Boss himself at my last job said, “…at a real company, they won’t let people do that.”  So… I guess the last place wasn’t a “real company”.

So far, I’m liking my new job.  Going from a company of less than 50 employees to a company of around 10,000 employees is, of course, a pretty big culture shock.  There is a lot of bureaucratic process that I need to get used to – and that is really the biggest change.  Instead of figuring out everything yourself, and then, once you figured out what you need to do, doing everything yourself, there is a process for everything and a form, or system, or procedure for requesting something be done.  So that whole thing is very confusing for me and difficult to get used to.  I’m sure that will come with time, though.  The thing that is not very straightforward right away is the politics behind everything.  I will be working with some high profile individuals during the course of my projects and I’m pretty good at sensing when there’s some sort of political issue at play in the background of a discussion, but right now I have no way of knowing what it is.  Fortunately, I have a pretty good relationship with my boss so far and she has been pretty forthcoming when I ask questions about that sort of thing.

Beyond that, I’ve already begun working on my first project.  Now, I’m over a week in, so it’s kind of funny to me to say that I’m “already” working on my first project because I’d thrown PM’s into projects on day one or two at the last place, but I hadn’t anticipated being able to be this semi-independent for a couple more weeks.  So that’s exciting.  I have a kick-off meeting to start the really big project that I’ll be spending most of my time on over the next six  months in two weeks.  My boss and I worked on some prep work for it today and that was a pretty productive session.  I had a slow start wading through the bureaucracy last week trying to get my laptop and all of my credentials set so that I could be on the network and start some work and so now it feels good to start to be productive.

There is one random weirdness that I have to get used to that is apparently the “norm” in “real companies”: people aren’t as… well, friendly isn’t the word because everyone is certainly friendly and I like everyone I’ve met.  My department just doesn’t have that same family feel like the old place had.  Alex says that’s because we were weird at the old place and, like family, too into each other’s business.  I was a little surprised my first day that no one really takes lunch together or walks out together at the end of the day.  In fact, they don’t even really say goodbye to each other when they leave!  That’s what makes me notice it the most: at the end of the day, you don’t hear everyone shouting goodnight like the Walton’s.  I guess I always knew that we were a little weird in my old department, but I guess I miss my bunch of weirdos.  ;)

But, so far so good.  It’s amazing the difference in my general outlook without all of the stress of the other place.  I feel like a person who is on mood stabilizers after suffering unbearable highs and lows for years.  Oh!  And my back is hurting a lot less.  I don’t know if it’s just the overall reduction in stress or if my chair at the new place is so much better than the old place or what – but it’s a definite (and welcome!) improvement.  Actually, in general, overall the career change is a definite (and welcome!) improvement!

The Final Countdown

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My last day at TF has finally arrived!  Today is going by pretty fast, actually, and I’ve got less than five hours to go.  There’s really nothing for me to do… My replacement bought pizza for the team for lunch and it was nice to have some time to chat with everyone.  I’m really not great at keeping in touch with people and so, realistically, I know that today is the last time I will see/talk to some of the people here.

I’m generally an overly sentimental person, so I knew that today would be bittersweet, even though things haven’t always been great here and I’m happy and excited about moving on.  It’s definitely surreal that I won’t be coming back here on Monday.  Along with the bad stuff, there has been an awful lot of good stuff that”s happened here for me over the last five years and, at times, this could be a really great place to work.  I’m done, though.  I’m ready for change and I hope I’m up to the challenges of my new job – starting Monday!

Highs and Lows

So it seems like with every little bit of good news, we get bad news these days.  I’m all for balance in the universe, but, frankly, I’d rather have a bit more in the happy stuff column for a while.

Our cooktop broke, randomly, in the summer (bad).  We really don’t like cooking with electric, so we decided to replace it with a gas cooktop and over the range microwave so that we could free up some counter space (good).  After spending $1000 on appliances (a clearance Electrolux cooktop and Frigidaire Microwave which we’re excited about and got a great deal on (good)), we had torrential rain which brought to light an issue with our roof that the roofer we had out last year didn’t properly fix and will cost us around $1500 to repair (bad).

I finally realized that I was working in a toxic environment (bad), and so got a new job (good).  Meanwhile, all signs point to layoffs in the fire department and Alex will likely lose his job (bad).  Oh, and since we have a corner lot, the curb fee proposed in the city budget will be pretty high for us, given that it’s a per-foot charge based on a property’s frontage with city streets (bad).  So, we get to pay the city more while we lose an income (bad).

Oh yeah, and then today my doctor’s office called me and said that my thyroid levels were low (bad).  I don’t know at all what that means for me yet or what it means for our desire to start a family; I have a doctor appointment in the morning, but for now, all I can thinks is, “bad”.

And, can it please stop raining?