Monday, June 29, 2015

Why - my favourite question

Over the last while I have been asking a lot of questions to my business partner. I have been doing an analysis for a client and of course I have come up with a number of questions through this analysis. Of course some of my questions were gaining an understanding about the software and also the client environment. Some of the other questions were the basic why don't people do such and such and why do they do things this way.

As someone who deals with policies and procedures, not having a procedure documented really does bother me. In so many cases companies do something the same way as they have always done it without really having a method written down, it's done like this just because it's always been done that way. I have also found that the method is written down and it is entirely different than how something is being done. I know that I have heard that quite a few times when I am been talking to various individuals. The biggest challenge is the time to go through the procedures and see what has changed and what needs to change.

Another good answer to why something isn't document is because, “If I document it, they can replace me”. This answer was the one that got me the most because if you are the type of person that documents and improves the procedures you are showing your value. If you just do because that's the way it is, you are showing that you are replaceable by someone else.

For my the “why” can help show that there is a need to change a process or even in some cases set up a process because there isn't one. The idea of having things documented is very important because if you aren't available to do a specific task someone else can look at the document and do most of it. It may take them a lot longer to do because they aren't familiar with all the steps but at least they can assist in getting a specific task done.

Ask yourself “why” when you are doing a process and see how you answer it. Do you just “that's just the way it's done” or can you actually say “it's the process that is followed and here is the document to show it”. When you even look at the document for the process do you see ways in which it can be improved to make it easier to accomplish.

Why seems such a simple question and being able to ask it and see the answers you get can be very interesting.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer vacation

Summer starts today for children that went to school. What does this mean?

Reduced transit service for everyone for the next two months. Wait, why is transit reduced because adults still need to get to work on time. The reason we are given is that during these two months adults especially with children taken a vacation. It isn't like the parents are taking the two months off.

I understand that there aren't the high school students on the business during morning rush hour but that's it. What is amazing is how transit figured students are such a big impact on the number of riders. Sure there are some routes that are effected but other routes the ridership isn't really impacted.

Summer does impact a lot of other things in and around the city. There are a lot more tourists in the city during the summer and that is wonderful for all the different businesses that benefit from the extra business.

This summer we have an even bigger impact of tourists to our city and the surrounding area as Toronto is hosting the Pan Am Games and Parapan Am Games. It isn't just Toronto that is hoping the event is a lot of the cities around Toronto that will also be hosting some of the events. The Pan Am games run from July 7th through July 26th and then the Parapan Am Games are August 7th to August 15th. I know that there have been lots of road changes that are going to be in effect during these periods so that means we will have to deal with some changes to the routes that we have been taking.

Of course all of the various activities and tourist attractions are going to be extra busy during the games so it is time for someone that doesn't have to travel much to stay close to home. I know that we are planning to spend more time at home just so that we aren't impacted with all the changes and the extra vehicles are the roads. We are pretty luck because getting too and from our office isn't effected at all but it would be trips to client sites that are going to be a bit more of a challenge.

Summer in the city is always something that we enjoy because it means helping individuals that are looking a little lost. A quick answer to a question means that the city is known as a friendly and helpful city and that is one thing that helps bring the tourists back again and again.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your briefcase

If you are anything like me you probably wonder why your briefcase is so heavy most of the time. I say that quite often and think it is time that I really go through my case to see what is causing the weight.

My briefcase does go a lot of places with me as it carries the work that I am doing for clients as well as the current things I am working on for myself and our business so it can mean quite a few files. Now besides the files that are in my case which change in size I seem to carry a lot of other things.

Here is what is currently have sitting in my briefcase and adding weight to it:
  • Umbrella
  • security cable
  • ethernet cable
  • small mouse
  • cable for mobile device
  • business cards
  • post it notes
  • pens (way too many)
  • small collapsible bag
  • vitamin d tablets
  • tea bags
  • small stapler
  • snacks (some small bars)
  • small kitchen knife with blade protector
  • little notepads
  • coffee cup sleeves (cardboard ones)
  • files I have to work on (of course this varies in size)

So now you can see why my briefcase weighs so much because I do have a lot of different things in it that I shouldn't have in it all the time. Maybe today once I am home I will go through all the stuff that is currently in my briefcase and remove some of the things that aren't really needed or at least reduce the quantity of some of them.

I think we all end up with too many things in our briefcase if we don't have just one location where we work. When I was working in one office I normally only have my computer and a couple of files with the work I was taking back and forth. Now that I work at different client sites and even different locations it means I end up having more and more things that seem to just stay in my briefcase so that if I need them I have them.

If you happen to start complaining about the weight of your briefcase really take a look at everything you currently have in it, you may be surprised like I was.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Narrow shoes

I am one of those individuals that has very narrow feet so finding shoes can be a major challenge at the best of times.

Recently I have been looking for some nice shoes to wear to the office but keep running into the same problem. I go into the stores that sell shoes and start looking only to discover that the only shoes they sell are for medium and wide feet. The biggest frustrations are when the sales person looks at me and says “No one wears narrow shoes” or “No we only sell medium and wide shoes not narrow”. The last comment normally goes with a laugh in their voice almost saying “No one wears narrow shoes”.

Yes, finding narrow shoes can be a major challenge and when you do they aren't the ones that are on sales at a good price. Of course, my sister is one of those individuals that can go even to the sample shoe sales and find shoes for a good price, around $20 for a pair of dress shoes. Me, well when I find shoes that I like they are always over $50 and that is the sale price. I was lucky once and found a store that had a lot of narrow shoes and yes I got a few pair.

Narrow shoes of course aren't a big seller like the wide shoes are but there are quite a few people that do have narrow feet. The other thing people say when I ask about narrow shoes is “Just put an insole in them and then they will fit”. All the insole does is make the height of the shoe less not the width. I had one sales person that actually put the insole into a shoe to prove me wrong, well instead of them proving me wrong I proved them wrong by walking out of the shoe.

So having narrow feet means that I need the back of the shoe to be a lot narrower than the normal person. I have found a couple of pairs of shoes that feet lately but of course they are closed shoes and I have been looking for summer type shoes. I guess I am off again to see if I can find some shoes that will fit and maybe I will find a store where the sales people don't laugh at me when I ask for narrow shoes.

Remember, not everyone fits the norm and when you are laughing at me when I ask such a question you are discriminating. I have been very upset in quite a few stores and I have let staff know when they have crossed the line when they have said “no one”, I am a someone and I sure let them know that.

I am now off to see if I can find a pair of shoes today. Wish me luck because I think I am going to need it.

Update:  Well after some looking and some frustration I did have some success and found not one but two pairs of shoes that I really liked.  I have found one store that sometimes has narrows and that is Naturalizer so that is where I was able to find these two pairs of shoes.  Yes, good news they were sale so now to start wearing them and enjoying some nice shoes for work.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Icons on your desktop

Have you ever looked at someone desktop and discovered that they seem to have icons for all the different documents that they are working on visible on their desktop. If you have the icons on your desktop they are probably causing you a lot of problems as well.

These icons do have an effect on your start up time for your computer and even the overall performance. The icons that are the worst are the icons that are a link to a specific folder because then the system has to read the entire folder each time it refreshes. If you need quick access to a specific folder you are better to have it as part of your start menu and not on your desktop. Actually once you have started opening a bunch of things on your computer you don't see your desktop anyway.

Having the different folders available as part of your start menu means that you can access them quickly even with other items opened and you don't have to minimize anything to do that.

Making sure that you have access you need is important but you also want to ensure that if you are complaining about the performance of your system that you aren't doing the things that are causing the issues. A slow computer isn't something anyone wants considering we are expected to do things faster now than we ever were.

For me, I have the applications that I use the most as part of my start menu and anything else that I need are in folders that I can easily find on my system, yes I have a very detailed file structure which means I can find the files quickly that I need. I am not talking about the users that have a few icons on their desktops I am talking about the users that have an entire screen full of icons and most of them are either files or folder icons. I am thinking that some people figure that the more icons they have on their desktop the move important they look. To me what they are communicating is I can't find the files that I work on because I don't have a good file structure.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Graduating as an adult

One of the things that I enjoy is taking various courses and seeing what diploma or certificate or certification I can receive. I have been very lucky and have a supportive husband that actually likes when I am taking courses. He always says that he learns a lot when I am taking the courses.

Now, the reason I am writing this entry is because I am now graduating from my third program and second from the same college. It is amazing to sit and think about the length of time it is between the two programs and what else I have done in my life. The first time I graduated from Centennial College was in 1985 and I am now graduating again in 2015. Of course I have been taking programs and courses in between this time and have another certificate and a certification between these two programs.

What is amazing about this time is, I am going to be attending my graduation ceremony this evening. Of course this does add additional nervousness as I am not really certain what to expect from the entire evening. I am very lucky as my husband and nephew will be attending with me.

I am not sure what graduating as a continuing education student is going to be like but I know that it is going to feel different than when I first graduated at a full time student after finishing my first program.

If I look at all the different programs I have taken and I see a long list of different programs.
Diploma in Accounting and Financial Management
Certificate in Instructing Adults
Certified Associate in Project Management
Certificate in Fundraising.

There have also been quite a few other courses that I have taken along the way. It is a really different feeling thinking about graduating again and walking across a stage. It is now time for me to get ready to head out to my graduation and know that I am not alone during this experience.

Smiling on the outside

Have you ever considering how many people may have a smile on their face but they are not smiling on the inside. More and more you are hearing about people that are showing the world a happy face but are really hurting on the inside.

A smile can mean so much and in some ways it can even be used as a defense so that people don't ask questions about what is bothering you. I know that there have been times when I have put a smile on my face when I just didn't want people to ask what is bothering me.

To smile and be truly smiling on the inside as well is something that we all like doing but there are times when you smile in self defense. If you ask someone if something is bothering them and they don't want to talk about it, let it go because the more you ask questions the more likely they are to get upset.

If you see someone and it looks like they are only smiling on the outside let them know you are always there to listen but don't pester them. Knowing how to handle these situations is something that we all need to learn to deal with. Being a friend is great and that does involve being a good listening to the person. If you can't listen to their situations and only want them to hear about your issues you aren't doing them any good. A true friend is someone that will listen as well as be listened to and that is a key to a true friend.

A true smile is something that is great when it can be achieved. A smile to hide a true feeling is something that we all do and we need to be aware of it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Greeters in stores

Have you noticed the number of greeters that there are in some businesses. It is nice when you are greeted but these people need to also respect that in some cases you are not in the mood to talk to them.

Greeters should also have their area where they are to be in and that is it. In one case during a car service time they have a greeter that was great when you first arrive and they need to keep the service agents busy.

Now once the service demands have decreased for the day this same greeter than started to do laps around and around one section of the service area. It wasn't too bad at first as I understood that she was a little bored but it gets to the point that she was getting on my nerves.

Greeters do have they place and I am not complaining about their role but I know that they need to be kept busy so they don't look bored to the customers that are waiting for their vehicles. Having the floater around when a service area is busy is great because they can also answer the basic questions and guide you in the right direction.

For businesses please remember that greeters are there for a task but once they have fulfilled their task for the day try and find them something else to do. A simple task can make a big different on how the person is looked upon by customers and even fellow staff. A bored looking staff member doesn't look good for a business.

Monday, June 1, 2015

food allergies - the emotions

For those that live with food allergies there is always a concern of having a reaction to something that we ate. I am one of those individuals that grew into all my food allergies whereas a lot of people have had them most if not all of their lives. I have what is called Adult Onset Anaphylaxis as I grew into my allergies as an adult.

Food allergies always mean we are double and even triple checking ingredient lists and talking to staff and management in restaurants to make sure we stay staff. Even the best of us can have reactions to something even after all the checking and double checking that we do. I know as I have had a couple of those reactions and got really upset when they have happened.

Now the reactions that I think are even worse then the known food or medicine reactions are the reactions that we get and don't know why. I have been dealing with that issue lately and have to admit that it is a major concern. I have been watching everything that I have been eating and still have had a couple of reactions that I am not sure why. For me, I have a number of food and one medical reaction and I grew into each of the items at a different time. With having this reactions lately I am now thinking am I now developing yet another food allergy.

The emotions you go through after having a reaction are very difficult to explain. In some cases there is a fear of food, especially if you don't know what caused the reaction. I have been dealing with the fear of food for the last little while and it does really effect a lot of what you do on a daily basis. I have been fearful of even going into a grocery store because I don't want another reaction.

The reaction that I had a week ago was when I was eating two hard boiled eggs and had taken my vitamins like I normally do. Now, I know that I have some issues with what they feed chickens to help with the egg production and that is ground oyster shells. Normally I can have eggs without feeling too bad but this time I had the reaction where my face swells up and I don't feel that great. No, I don't have the problem breathing but it does take a lot of my energy away as my blood pressure does drop. The other thing about this reaction was it happened within me having a couple of mouthfuls of the egg so now the issue starts. Is it the egg that caused the reaction or was it a combination with the vitamins that I took. Later on during the week I decided that I needed to get back to taking the 3 vitamins that I had been taking for over a month without any reactions so I took them and had another mild reaction. As you can see it is rough when you aren't sure what is causing the reactions.

So for now I am eating a lot of very basic foods: salads, fruit and meat without a lot of extras because I am very afraid of having another reaction. I am not happy not knowing that has caused these reactions because I am still not sure if I now have an allergy to eggs.

Food allergies always are a challenge and they don't just effect the person that suffers the reactions as they impact the family as well. I know this as my husband worries about each of my reactions and is there to watch over me while I deal with them. He also tries to make sure that everything we have in our house is safe for me.

If you suffer from food allergies know that you aren't alone and having a great support system is very important. So now, I continue to see what is causing the reactions and hopefully soon I will be back to eating foods and not being nervous every time I put something in my mouth.