Monday, August 31, 2015

Music while working

I am one of those individuals that enjoys having music playing while I am working most of the time. Yes, I do enjoy the times where there isn't any noise around me when I am focusing on something that needs a lot of focus.

In my home office area I am very lucky and have a small bookshelf stereo system and it is wonderful. It means that I can listen to music and not always the radio which I do find distracting quite often. For me hearing the voices talking on the radio distracts me from what I am trying to write.

Now the music I listen too are various MP3's that are on a usb drive that I can plug into my stereo. I am also once of those that puts the music on random and then I don't listen to the same singer for an entire alarm or more. It is great to have a variety but there are times I get frustrated with the music as the system seems to like the same order after the first day unless I unplug and replug in the usb drive.

I don't have the music on very loud when I am writing but at least it is something in the background that I do enjoy. I am finding that when I like the music I can get more writing done quicker by doing this. I have also found that I can escape all the things going on around me when I have my music playing.

I know that there are people that can't work with any music on and I understand that. Of course, everyone also have the music that they enjoy listening to and the volume that they have the music on. Working from home most of the times means that I can have my music with me and I can enjoy it at the volume that I enjoy. There are times when I turn it up and then times when I turn it down depending on my own personal mood and the other sounds that I am hearing around me.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so think about why you enjoy the music and is it just background sound or do you hear the actual music.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Training sessions

Being in IT there always seems to be different sessions and webinars that are available for us to attend. Some of them are free and some of them do have a cost. Most webinars that we have been attending are free and normally you walk away with a little bit of knowledge from them. Now for me sessions are entirely different because quite often I don't get much of out them.

The way I explain a lot of the sessions that I go to are “the plane took off and flew right over my head”. These are the sessions that I am totally lost from the very beginning because the instruction makes a lot of assumptions that everything knows a lot about the topic even before they say anything. There are then the sessions where “the plane took off and just touches my head” and of course this means that I may walk away with a tiny bit of information but again not much.

What I haven't normally been able to say is “the plane took off and made a direct hit” but now I can say that because of a feeling from a session I recently attended. We took a day and went to a vendor training session and of course I walked into it figuring that I was going to be lost from very early on. The session was about network switches and that material and of course when someone even mentioned those things to me I kind of wanted to run away and avoid dealing with any of it. Well, I decided that after talking to my business partner I would give this session a try and see if I got anything out of it.

I am very happy that I went to this session because I walked away feeling like I had a lot better understanding of network switches and even IP addressing which I also thought was very difficult. There is still quite a bit of work ahead of me to really understand all the material that was covered in the session but I got a very good understand of it during the day. After we left the session I was lucky and we spend some time going over all the material that I learned to make sure that I really did understand it. The instructor did make sure that everyone understood what he was talking about before he moved on but I never felt that I was the one holding up the rest of the group.

The instructor that lead the class really understood the material and made it easy to understand. In a lot of cases he didn't talk in a lot of IT terminology which was also nice. If he used a term he also made sure that everyone had the same understanding of the term before moving on. In IT there are a lot of terms that have different meanings based on what you are dealing with.

Now I can finally say that there are some really good training sessions out there and I am very happy to know what it feels like to have “the plane take off and make a direct hit”. I learned a lot and am really glad that I went. A good instructor really does make a difference when covering material and this instructor really did make a difference.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Taking one day at a time

For so many of us to get things done we need to focus on one day at a time instead of worrying about what is going to happen in the future.

I was one of those individuals that was always worrying about what could happen in the future but then I decided that I didn't have any control over it so why was I worrying about it. Of course there are still times I feel a little stressed when I know that I have a lot on my plate but at least it isn't as bad as it was.

Taking one day at a time means that I don't worry about how I am going to accomplish everything that is on my plate. Instead what I focus on is getting a few things done from start to finish and that makes me feel so much better than bouncing around through a lot of different things. Yes, the bouncing just meant that nothing really got finished and of course that meant I stressed and worried about everything even more.

The taking one day at a time means now I realize that I can only do so much and that is my limited. I don't worry about what lays ahead but what I am working on now. Of course, my to-do-list is still something that I look at and review all the time but it isn't something that adds stress to my life like it was. My to-do-list just gives me the guidance of what I need to be working on and then I pick a couple of things and work on them until they are complete.

Taking one day at a time has given me the chance to enjoy the time when I walk away from all the work. I try most evenings to send some time doing something that I enjoy and not worrying about what I didn't get done that day. My to-do-list will always be there and now I get to enjoy things a little bit more.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Community Events

During the summer there are so many community events in and around our city.

What is really amazing to me is how many events there are even in my own community and we don't hear about them until the very last minute if at all. If event organizers want people to attend the various events they need to ensure that people are aware of them.

When you live in an area with a lot of apartment buildings even having a poster or something on the main floor as well as the basement floor of each building would help. Letting people know what is going on would be wonderful. In some ways knowing what is going on in the area can help you decide what you are going to be doing at a given time.

For us there are days when being home doesn't work as well for some of the events and other events we would like to be part of. Also if you are having guests over it would be nice to know what else is going on in the neighbourhood which could effect parking or even the enjoyment of your own apartment unit.

Everyone says there is a community newspaper that is for this area but I have never seen one for years and years. I think we were getting the paper on a regular basis we might know what is going on and not feel like it is only word of mouth that is used to promote any of the events that are being held in our area.

If you are organizing an event in any community it is very important to ensure that the community is aware of the event. Don't assume that word of mouth will be the best way to advertise. Knowing that an event is happening would really help attendance.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Time management

I have been doing some research on various time management techniques. What I have seen is you are suppose to document everything that you do in a day. If I were to do that I would need at least another half of a day just to keep track of what I do.

I understand the tracking of what you do when you have specific tasks that you do. For someone that works with client's it is almost impossible to track every thing that can get accomplished during a day. Yes, we do track the time we spend working on the various tasks and projects for clients but that is it. If I were to track everything else that I add in during the day it would look really bad.

The other big thing with time management is they say plan your day the night before. I would like to be able to do that and can do it sometimes. There are days when I can't get things done because something important has landed and I am dealing with it instead of what I originally planned on working on.

I do some time management to ensure that I am getting things accomplished and meeting deadlines and such but I cannot schedule my day too much other than putting a general list of things that I would like to achieve down and hope that they will be achieved through the day.

A calendar is always handy to mark down the specific events, webinars and such that I plan on attending. Sometimes I put in events that I may attend if time permits but I also note that these can be dropped if necessary.

Knowing what time management works for you is the best. Not everyone can use the same process because it really does depend on the individual and the work that they do.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

High density living

Living in an area that has a very large population does have it's challenges.

We live in an area that is all apartment buildings so it does have it's benefits but also some disadvantages.

  • Close to groceries and drug store.
  • School is within walking distance (we don't have children going to school).
  • Transportation is very close (transit stops outside the apartment).
  • Easy to get onto the highway from where we live.
  • Library within walking distance.

  • Lots of people always around the neighbourhood.
  • Traffic can be very heavy at times when late at night.
  • Noise can be a little much due to the population.
  • Shared laundry facilities.

For me I grew up living in a residential area where there were no apartment buildings around us so it is different living where we do. I know that I like being close to transit because it means getting around Toronto is easier.

Some of the challenges that we do deal with are the number of people around at all hours of the day and night. Our street is never quite due to the traffic and the hours the people that live here work. We have people that work all hours so yes there is always traffic around us.

When you have lived in a residential area and then move to a high density area there are a lot of things that you have to learn to deal with. In the apartment it isn't easy to just go out the back yard for a few minutes. That involves leaving your unit, taking the elevator down to the ground floor before you are outside but then the back yard is basically a parking lot so there isn't much green space around you.

High density living takes some time to learn how to deal with it but when owning a house isn't something you currently want to do it is one way to still live in the city and close to the things that you want close by.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gym memberships

It is very interesting to investigate the various types of gyms and their memberships. There are gyms that offer swimming pools, fitness classes, personal trainers and all of that. There are some gyms that offer just a few of those things and then there are the gyms that offer you the equipment and you set your own routine while you are there.

As you can guess, the prices of these gyms vary a great deal as well and that is something that you have to consider when you are going to get a membership. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want in a gym and what you don't want. It is always fun to look at the gym memberships and see what they include and what you are really going to use.

For me I want a gym where I can go and work out and not be looked at because of my weight or fitness level. I have always looked at people going to gyms and said that I would love to be able to go but I just wanted the freedom to go when I wanted without the pressure of a trainer looking at me and trying to focus things on me.

I have finally found a gym where I can go and do what I want to do without the pressure of anyone looking at me and saying that either I don't belong or I need to do specific exercises and how often I am “required” to do specific exercises. I now have a gym membership where I can go and do the exercises that I want to do each time I go and I am not forced to do other things. There are no personal trainers, classes, pool or even showers but it is what I want in a gym. I am looking forward to getting fit and that is the main thing about all of this. I want to be happy with my accomplishments each time I go and that is the only person that I need to make happy.

A gym needs to be for you and you need to figure out exactly what you are looking for in one. Of course, price is something else that is probably going to impact your decision. For me, it is a gym that I can walk to from home and now to see how I can continue to get fit. Off for a work-out and then will see what else I accomplish today.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Let me write for you"

It is amazing what searching on the internet can show you. Recently we saw a vehicle with a slogan on it, and with it having to do with writing, I had to check it out to see what the competition is like. Well, searching the words didn't lead me anywhere so I decided to search on the phone number as it was also available just under the slogan.

The search using the phone number actually lead me to the seedier part of the internet which wasn't what I expected. It is amazing how a simple search can show you things you aren't expecting. Of course, I did try the same search a couple of ways to make sure I correctly entered the phone number and I had.

For me, a search of someone that I thought would be in the same field as I'm in led to something entirely different. My word of advice, a slogan can sound interesting but it could lead you in a direction that you don't expect. I am probably like a lot of people and with the technology that is now available I wanted to find out a bit about the company prior to making any phone call. Well, I learned about the company and it didn't have anything to do with writing.

So did I learn about someone else writing? No. I learned that a slogan and a phone number can lead to such a different place. Well, if you like what you read in my blogs let me write for you.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Respecting others

We live in an apartment building and there are times that I think some people figure they are the only ones that live in the building.

Lately we have been dealing with some noises that have been a lot nosier than normal and it is frustrating. We have had a little child that lived above us and they figured it was ok to let them run around the apartment and jump up and down all the time. It sounded like that they would run around the apartment and then jump onto some furniture and then back off the furniture and this would go on for hours at a time. It didn't seem to be just at one time during the day it varied when it happened and there were times it was around 11pm when this was happening.

Now, the people above us moved out and they are renovating the unit for the new tenants. We found out they were doing renovations when we saw a couple of the guys on the elevator going back up and we made a comment. This was a day where we ended up going out because of all the banging that was going on. The renovation was a total renovation of the unit so they were pulling things off the walls and taking up the flooring. This happened a couple of weeks ago so we figured that it would be the most noise we heard through the entire renovation. Well, you guessed it we are still hearing lots of noise as they do the renovation. It would have been really nice if the apartment management would have let us know about the renovation and roughly how long it was going to take to complete. We could have arranged our schedule differently if we had of known about the renovation.

If you live in an apartment building or condominium it is important that you remember that there are other people that are around at various times. Not everyone goes to work everyday and not at the same time as you do. For us, we do some of our work at home and both of us have been known to be doing the work into the evenings as that is when it can be done or when for me the thoughts seem to flow.

Remember when you are doing something that makes noise there are people in most cases above and below you. Try to respect them as well because making noises are all hours of the night isn't appreciated by most of us as we are trying to sleep.

Well time to go and see if I can get out of here for a while to get away from the noise from above.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Customer service

Over the last while I have noticed that there seems to be some problems with customer service. The simple helping a customer and focusing on them until you are finished servicing them seems to be gone.

Recently we were in a mall and at a fast food counter, the server was talking to a friend when we arrived. She quickly took our order and immediately went back to her conversation with her friend. Yes, she did prepare what we ordered but it wasn't her focus. The conversation with her friend was her focus so therefore the product we got wasn't up to the standard that we normally expect from a chain fast food location.

It is very important when working in the service industry and part time jobs at fast food counters are part of this that you realize that you need to pay attention to the customer. What should be normal practice is, if you are talking to a friend and a customer appears you immediately put the conversation “on hold” until you have completed the entire dealing with the customer. The customer is the one that is making the business the money, not the friend and that needs to be understood.

The comments are not just about individuals working at fast food counters, it is individuals that are working in any retail business. I have found that even in stores, the conversations between co-workers are sometimes viewed as more important than the serving of the customers.

Good customer service makes a big difference if a person returns or not. In some cases you will never know why a customer has not returned and in other cases you may find out. If you lose one customer due to bad service you may have lots more based on word of month. The comments that a person makes to their friends and co-workers can really impact a business.

Remember customer service is very important because you never know who you are service and what impact their comments can make.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Helping others

So many people try to help others are then get frustrated when it didn't work out how they expected it to work out.

If you are going to help someone out make sure that you understand everything and there is an agreement between you. Here are some things to think about:
  • Understand your abilities and your available time.
  • Understand what the other person requires and the time commitment.
  • Make sure the two of you discuss the needs, abilities and timing
  • Don't exaggerate your abilities as it could come back at you.
  • If you are donating your time the other person needs to understand what time you have to do this thing.
It is very important to make sure that when you are helping others that there are some discussions as to what is expected, when it is expected and how it is to be delivered. I have heard of cases that a person has had just a couple of hours to donate to do something and the original job was going to take that long but the person or organization kept changing their minds so the job took a lot longer and took a lot longer than the couple of hours.

Making sure that there is a clear definition of what is expected is sometimes a challenge to get because in cases of organizations they are unsure of what is needed until something is started. Sometimes an organization may want something and they expectation is it will only take a couple of hours as they are just making some basic assumptions and don't understand the requirements.

As an organization it is also important to understand that individuals donating their time need to understand what is expected of them. It is also important for the organization to know that not everything is going to be available all the time to help with issues or projects. You also need to understand that a project may not be completed by one individual if the requirements keep changing.

Helping others especially when you are donating your time can be a challenge. Make sure you know what time you have available and communicate that up front so that everyone knows.