Time Management, Efficiency And The Big Picture

Hello world.

It’s no secret that my day job is in IT and have been for over 15 years now. I joined this wondrous and treacherous world about a minute and half before that infamous IT bubble burst, and with it a lot of illusions (Not to say delusions).

See, back in the day, IT was code word for fast track, money, terms and excitement. To a great degree it still is (mainly the excitement part) with technological advances and what have you.

It started (way before my time) in old fashion computer labs with a general idea of what they wanted to achieve, and when companies realized they need more structure, methodologies were developed, changed, adjusted and made new on a regular basis. Then came the start-ups with – in very broad strokes – a single goal, big payout in mind, and though very few were very successful, the ones that were, threatened to change the market.

But in the end, and a lot due to that bubble situation, as is normal to many other industries, things “normalized” and the current structure prevailed.

That is not to say the market isn’t changing. A statement such as this couldn’t be farther from the truth, as everything, from investment strategies trough training models and constant re-assessment of working models is heavily impacted by these changes. They may seem small, or trivial, but the slightest shift can make very big waves.

If you work in IT, you don’t need me telling you that.

And that is why we’re here today. Not to talk about the business side of this, but rather to take a brief look at what that means for the individual. The one behind the keyboard. A lot of effort was, and is being made to ensure that the time we spend at work is used effectively and that there’s time remaining for other things in life. We call that – Time Management, Efficiency models and other such names.

I wanted to paint a picture, and you’ll have to excuse me but the data presented is gross estimation, based on personal experience, many conversations with people I’ve met in these 15+ years from different IT companies and others. Though it may not be accurate to the 0.001%, I believe it’s very close to the mark. I can also say that some of it is how people may feel about their lives in this line of business.

OK, we’ve talked enough for the time being. Let’s look at some pie charts like good IT people:

How our time was/is divided:

Before the “IT revolution”:

beforeITRev

During the “IT Boom”:

DuringITBoom

If you worked on a Start Up:

StartUp

How is it now? Well, I guess that depends on many things. Where you work, what line of business, what environment, etc.

It’s probably none of the above charts, as none of these are sustainable for the long haul (and thus, seen less frequently). I’d estimate that we’re somewhere between chart 1 and chart 2.

What other big changes impact the person inside the machine? Of course, the cycle. It makes perfect business sense that as the market changes, so would the work cycle. Terms like TTM determine how often our work would peak. Competition. Pro-activeness and response. These things are by no means what they used to be (and will not be tomorrow). Again, not exact science, but I’m pretty sure you’d agree with the following generic development.

Looking at the below graphs, You’d see the general trend as the industry reacts to the market needs:

g1

g2

g3

As time progresses, not only do we have more peaks, but the so-called “valleys” are higher up than they used to be.

Hopefully – for my fellow IT people – that means you get a lot of work and that is good, especially in today’s economy. On the flip side of this very coin, there’s the time you have for anything other than work.

In order to handle these changes better, many techniques and methodologies were developed, and are being adjusted as we speak. In business terms they translate, again, to time management and efficiency.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the demonstration in this video (this is just an example. There are many others out there):

This demonstration hits the nail on the head. It’s a classic because it actually works. Go ahead, try it, I’ll wait.

But I’d like to finish this post by giving a single advice. Whether you already work in IT, or planning to (and don’t be scared by any of the above), you have to remember that while that bowl is being filled to capacity with the big and small tasks of our working day – that bowl is within a far bigger bowl we call life. And the space left in the bigger bowl should be filled and refilled with anything but work. I have my writing, among other things, but you don’t need my help to identify which “rocks” to fill yours with. They’re yours.

So go on. Get a life!


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Someone Call Billie Joe Armstrong

Hi everyone.

Not sure why, but this September has been very slow on this here blog. Well, I do have some pretty convincing reasons, not the least of which is being a busy little bee, plotting a novel. I also, you know, work and otherwise committed to householdy things, so there’s that. But even if I did have the time to sit and actually write a post, it seems like my brain (or that  part of it in charge of coming up with things to say) was as foggy as the Georgia skies have been these past weeks.

And so, I find myself humming Green day’s tune “Wake me up when September ends”.

Although the original video for this song can be considered a leading candidate for “cheesiest video in history” award, the lyrics say something else. They talk about transformation, which is what we’re here to talk about.

Quick shout-out before we continue to Christina, whose workshop – the 60/60 method is as good as it gets. A real eye opener!

I rarely “promote” anything, so when I do, you should know it’s something of real value. Not your usual “come see what a great writer I am” scheme. This is the real deal folks. Ask me and I’ll say (a lot) more.

The reason I bring this up is that I was reminded again, that transformation is THE heart of our writing adventure.

It’s pretty clear that the most significant lines in this song are:

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

Change is not easy (Well, no shit Sherlock). But transformation, a real change that make one who s/he turns out to be? That – in most cases – involves pain. It could be an agonizing, seemingly unbearable pain, or a sudden jolt. It could last a long time, or not. But while sitting comfortably, we rarely come to any real revelation. Why would we? If we’re nice and cozy – what’s the motivation?

That’s true in fiction to an even greater extent.

If in real life, the pain can vary depending on the individual and their tolerance, in fiction we simply can’t settle for anything less than dramatic. Losing a job in this day and age could be extremely difficult and bring about severe repercussions. That would be a heart wrenching story. In a newspaper article.

In a book, losing one’s job (and I am generalizing here) doesn’t quite cut it. As opposed to real life, where we wish everyone a smooth journey to happiness, as writers of fiction, we cannot expect a reader to accept a transformation based on something less than dramatic. Nor can the reader accept a transformation based on a single event as tragic as it is.

Come to think about it, there’s a lot to be said about real life transformations, in comparison to fiction. But that is for another post.

Just like Billie Joe, some things must come to pass and our hero must be drenched in pain before emerging, renewed.

  • How was your life transformed?
  • How was you your hero’s?

Let me know what you think and otherwise feel free to comment and share the pain.

That’s all for today, wake me up when September ends.

All in all is all we are (This world sucks!)

Welcome back folks,

Last time we spoke, I said that this world is hell on earth and other pretty harsh words to that effect. I closed by saying that we’re here to serve a purpose and that if we resist the understandable urge to “check out” early, we may find meaning. I used that word – meaning – because it’s exactly what I want to talk about in this post.

Before we go any further though, I want to categorically state that Ursula Le Guin is a fantastic writer. As I see it, when it comes to drawing up a universe and completing it with every aspect of life, including the philosophical depths of each society, she is indeed Asimov’s peer. And that is by no mean a trivial statement.

I just  finished her great book “The Dispossessed” and at some point, the protagonist – Shevek muses about the meaning of life. It’s what Le Guin put in his mind that crystallized something for me. I can spend days (and have) trying to put into words what I think the meaning of life is. Why we are here, what do we do with the time we were given. Then comes along this fictional character and says it all in less than a paragraph.

You will excuse me, of course, that I would take more than a paragraph to try to explore the meaning.

Shevek muses about the means and the ends. What’s important? Is there an end? What does it mean?

We look differently at how to reach an end. Some people consider the end that thing you want to achieve and will try to achieve it by any means. Others will say they’ll only try to achieve the end if the means are worthy/moral/etc.

I ask (echoing Shevek’s sentiment) – IS there an end? SHOULD there be an end? What are we trying to achieve in life? And does it justify the means?

As you can see, the word mean frequently comes up in this post, and not just because of language. It’s not semantics. It’s important to understand that the meaning of our life is directly linked to the means of our life.

Many of us want to achieve success. Be it financial, professional, or success in relationship etc. We’re geared towards achieving something. Something that can be defined, qualified, quantified. Something that could be used perhaps in our eulogy? “He was a great scientist.”, “She was a fantastic filmmaker.”

We feel that unless we do something with our lives, time was wasted, we don’t get recognized for our achievements, we disappointed someone. We have nothing to show for.

But what if the end is not important? What if there IS no end? What if all that counts are the means by which we live?

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like there is nothing that we can achieve in life more important than the means by which we live. Can great achievements (be it tangible/quantifiable or praises) go hand in hand with great means? Sure. There are some pretty good examples.

Should we feel like we failed if on our death-bed, “all we have to show for” is a modest and loving family? I think not.

If I die a poor man who never hurt a soul, I’d consider this the greatest achievement possible. Other than dying a very rich man who’d never hurt a soul of course. But you see, even when we understand the meaning, we still think about the end.

Which brings me to the second part of Shevek’s musings. There should be no end, because what happens when we get there? Instead of working towards an end, should we not work always and without exception towards the means? Should we not consider every single decision we ever make, small or big, as the meaning of life? If the answer to that is “no”, then I truly give up hope to ever find the meaning of life.

Kurt Cobain, god rest his soul hit the nail on the head, whether intentionally or not, when he finished Nirvana’s “All apologies” with the immortal line – “all in all is all we are“. What we are comes down to what we do, with our means. And like life, this is not something that simply ends. It goes on and on, with every choice we make.

All in all is all we are.

Are you confused? in agreement? Want to challenge? By all means (see what I did there?) – let me know. Like, Share or comment and may the force be with you!

Until next time remember – this world sucks! But there is a meaning. Know what I mean?

The “Dead at 27” club (This world Sucks!)

Welcome all!

Let me start by saying that this world we live in is (and quite frankly, have been for some time) hell on earth, and getting worse. Let’s face it friends, we – the most intelligent creature – the peak of evolution – fucked up. big time.

God gave us this great planet with a friendly atmosphere, tons of water and trees, animals and other companions, and what have we done with it?

To summarize – we conquered pretty much every corner of the globe, built a bunch of stuff, burned it to the ground, built again, ruined again etc. Reached amazing technological heights and invented money. Segregated everyone based on religion, skin color and general physical resemblance and fought each other endlessly. Oppressed and depressed women, children, animals and anything that was weaker, watched people starve to death even when there’s food for everyone… I think it’s safe to say we’re a bunch of Jackasses!

Depressing huh?

Well, let me tell you how that whole thing looked to the 16-year-old me, somewhere in the 80s. Of course, this would be difficult, as I blocked that decade in my mind for so long, I sometimes forget I lived through it.

See, I used to be this big romantic dreamer, turned cynic, turned lost, turned cautiously optimistic pessimist. I knew that “the Russians” were evil, but I also knew that Reagan wasn’t the answer (“Born in the USA”… ‘Nuff said), so there wasn’t much hope to hold on to, right?

So, in this 16 year’s old mind, the only solace (excuse the drama, speaking as a teenager in case you forgot) was music. Musical heroes included Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison. Later on, it would be Kurt Cobain, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The point is, some of the people who “got me” were dead geniuses. So, at 16 one has to think –  “what does this say about me then?”

So, for a short period of time, I was thinking about how cool it would be to join this D.A.27 club. You know, live fast, die young etc.

Besides the fact that I kind of forgot about this plan shortly after it was conceived, there were a few problems implementing it.

First of all, I was no musical prodigy, nor did I have that quality that separated some of these musical geniuses from the rest of the herd – the undying passion for making music. I loved listening to music. I liked (and still do) playing my guitar. But I didn’t play like Hendrix, didn’t write like Morrison and my voice is nowhere near Janis…

Also, when I turned 20 I had a new musical hero who was still alive. Kurt Cobain provided the balance I needed so much (like so many others) after that dreadful decade… So there was plenty to hang around for, right? That whole Seattle scene, alongside of Metallica, GN’R, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others. There was something to live for after all.

Then I turned 28. Too late. Maybe next time.

But seriously though, many people believe that we came here to this life, this existence, to serve a purpose. I’m not even talking religion here. We could try to make short cuts of course, but 9 times out of 10, that’s not such a great idea. You never know what’s around the corner, do you? You could be “checking out” just before you find something beautiful, learn the answer for the biggest question that always troubled you, find meaning.

I’m going to leave you with this for the time being, but you can expect a “Part B”, because I’d definitely want to run a couple of sentiments by you – which will require a whole new post.

So stay tuned, stay warm (What the hell!??) and take it easy.

Until next time, you’re welcome to like, share and comment. What’s the worst than can happen eh?

CONTINUE READING HERE

Just a moment

Welcome one and all. Hope the hangover is gone, and that all is well.

Allow me to take just a moment of your time here on god’s green earth to talk about… time.

As I write these words, the time on the clock is 13:23, which means that, apparently, some thirteen hours and twenty-three minutes have passed since last midnight.

I don’t think I’ll be making some earth shattering revelations here. But I don’t see it as wasting time because… what is time? carving out the day time and night-time into neat segments? measuring these segments by smaller fractions? It makes sense to the human brain I guess, to think this way. You start with a second (you could go smaller of course, but we’re talking about units that could be easily observed by our un-aided mind) and you start multiplying. First by 60 to make an hour, then by 24 to make a day. You can multiply that by 7 to get a week, then by 52 to make a year. Or you can go with months if you’d like. In the corporate/business world there are “work days” and “Man months” which are measured by units of time that vary from the “standard” depending on some social-economic preferences.

In other words, the consensus is pretty much the mathematics of time. Again, makes perfect sense to our brains. The brains who seek comfort and convenience, order and clarity. It enables planning, measurement and drawing conclusions. How else would we be able to know if anything is a success?

Now, we talked about the unit “minute“. But how about the unit “moment“?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a moment is a very short period of time.

Now, since we know that ‘Short‘ is a relative term, is that definition complete? What exactly does it mean? a short period of time?

The mathematicians among you, as I expect many others who have grown to adopt the agreed upon measurement of time, would argue (and with some validity) that it’s probably a few minutes, a few seconds, as those are the smaller fractions used to mark the passage of time.

“Just a moment” normally says “in a few minutes/seconds”.

But I’d argue that “a moment” is merely an undefined period of time. One that could extend far beyond a couple of minutes. I’d argue that because in my book, time is not passing. If anything, it is us who are passing.

If I was to define time, I’d say that it is the infinite. Does time stop? Not even under the current accepted definition of the term is the answer to this ‘Yes’. So if we all agree at least on that statement, then what is ‘a very short period of time’? Could it be an hour? A day? A year?

Can it be our life span?

Think about some of the expressions we use:

  • “How time flies when you’re having fun?”
  • “They grow so fast!”
  • “It seems like only yesterday…”
  • “Life it too short!”

These don’t exactly put too much stock into that whole ‘Time is measurable’ concept, do they? Cause if time was absolute, then time wouldn’t be flying any faster when you’re having fun. Nor would life be too short and the kids? They’d be kids for exactly the same time as any other kids.

“Ah!” I can hear the chorus, “But it’s how we perceive time that makes these statements valid.”

But of course it is. It’s exactly how we perceive time. But can perceptions be changed? Sure they can.

So, what is ‘a moment’?

A moment is whatever the hell you’d like it to be. It could be those two minutes we mean it to be. But in the long run, and that is how I like to view it, our life is a moment. It’s a moment in time, the infinite.

Whenever I bump into that internet fad ‘YOLO’ or whenever I think about the rat race we live in, I try to remind myself that life is simply a moment in time. When I think about it that way, I feel no need to rush anywhere, to run down any kind of bucket list. Regardless of what I do, or not do, for the moment that my life span is, I’d have accomplished a hell of a lot.

Upon further reflection, regardless of what I “achieved” in that moment, the more important thing for me is who I am at the end of that moment.

I sure hope you don’t feel like you wasted your time reading this 🙂 If you’d like to leave a comment, you can take a moment and do that down here.

Until next time (whatever that means…),

About the size… Does it matter?

Hello everyone, and thank you new followers. I shouldn’t take that for granted of course, so if I haven’t told you lately that I love you, there you go 🙂

As you may have noticed, we’ve been talking about matters of life or death here lately.

So if I may (and let’s face it, I may. My blog my rules!), Allow me to indulge in a question that’s on many people’s mind which is not a life/death scenario, yet intrigues men and women alike. The question of… sizedoes it matter?

See, from my experience, these things come in all sizes and colors. There are big, thick ones. There are big but thin ones. Small and thick, small and thin. Personally I don’t care, as long as they give me enough pleasure. Of course, there are times when I look at one and say “How the hell am I going to take all this in???”

I’ve heard people say “but it’s too short.” or “It’s too thin”. I’ve heard people complain that it should be bigger. Hell, I even heard people say it should be shorter. Much shorter. But really, what counts? The quality or quantity?

Let me ask you people this then – What do you intend to do with this thing? Well, can you do it regardless of size?

Oh, excuse me just a second.

Just so we’re all on the same page here (pun intended) – we are talking about books here. You knew that, right?

What else did you think I was going on about? Oh, do you kiss your mama with that mouth!?

But I digress.

So. Sizes.

As I said, I don’t really mind how thick a book is. I’ve read a series of 4 books, with north of 800 pages each by Tad Williams and enjoyed them just as I enjoyed a 180 pages book by Ursula Le Guin.

The answer to this question, at least in my book (notice the crafty word-play…) is shorter than a novel.
Your book should be as long as it takes to give the reader your story from start to end, but no longer than that. Now, putting aside style, editing, and other aspects of writing without which there shouldn’t even be a book to begin with…

Consider these:

  • Your plot is complete, from the introduction and through to a satisfactory conclusion.
  • Your sub-plot/s have been resolved.
  • Your characters, mainly the protagonist and the few other significant ones have gotten the chance to come to life.
  • Your story delivered on its premise.
  • Your book includes only what is necessary to move your story forward

Well, in that case, does it matter if it took a 100 pages or 1000? Well, putting aside questions like “Who would buy a book with 1000 pages?”
Of course, different genres have some “standards” and you might want to think about these points above if you’re way off.

In other words – “Too short” likely means you didn’t tell your story (not all of it), and “Too long” might mean you either should have stopped writing sooner, or you may want to check for “filler” (Those pages where there are a lot of words but little story).

I’m going to stop this post right here, as to not make it too long. If you think it’s too short, and that I missed something, why don’t you tell me about it right here?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Thank you all for stopping by. I appreciate it year-round.

Save lives, Don’t Shoot!

Hello everyone and welcome to the dot-com.

As of today, we’re still awaiting the verdict with regards to Syria, the possible attack and what it all means for the rest of the middle east and as it stands, the rest of the world.

My instinctive response to the news of chemical weapons use in Syria were outrage, disgust, fear and sadness. As many of us, I thought that this is something that cannot go unpunished. I thought of my ancestors who were in concentration and death camps in Europe during the holocaust, and my blood boiled. Surely the world can’t ignore the Syrian people‘s suffering.

Then, I thought of a few other things.

Impact. Should Syria be attacked by the USA or the UK, they would be under pressure to retaliate. Since they don’t have the military option to hit back at the superpowers, the obvious response would be to hit anything that’s associated with America in the neighborhood – Israel. So now we’re thinking about initiating an attack that might result in Israeli casualties? Is that a decision that would be taken by… whom?

Impact. Russia is sending warships to the Mediterranean sea. Iran speaks up. Hezbollah threatens. Who’s bluffing? Who’s serious? Who blinks first? More importantly, do we want to find out?

Impact. Syria. Yes, that same country in question is in the midst of a bloody struggle and so many lives were already lost. Just saying.

Still, I stand by my initial statement. Use of chemical weapons, especially against civilians, kids, women… this cannot just go past us. It is outrageous. The international community has to stand up and DO something!

Then I saw Russel Brand.

In addition to being a hilarious comedian, it turns out that Russel is a very intelligent guy (not that comedians are normally not…).

So what should the international community do?

Take care of the living, that’s what.

Help the refugees, heal the wounded, feed the weak.

Attacking Syria will result in one thing. More loss of life. Who will suffer? Likely some people who deserve to be punished. Along with many more innocent bystanders and people who had nothing to do with this conflict to begin with.

What do we do about the chemical substance that was used (and here I disagree with Brand’s comparison, I believe we have solid proof that it was indeed used)? I honestly don’t have an answer for that. I can only speculate that Russia and the USA can work together to ensure that this never happens again. I can only speculate that the US armed forces have ways to take care of these weapons in a more “elegant” way (can’t think of a better word).

My hopes are that the Syrian people will find peace soon. I hope that common sense will prevail and the people of Syria go back to normal (as they define it).

Check out this Facebook page, I support their message.

Peace out.