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This is my Now page and here’s what’s up for me these days (as posted on 03/02/21)

It’s one year into Covid and I guess I’m doing alright. But as I noted last month, I’ve been really bad at even keeping in touch with anyone, posting here, or following up on anything that’s not work-related. Work has been my main excuse for this since last July, though there’s certainly more to it than that.

Besides, I just clarified my daily schedule for March so what’s work got to do with it? ;)

Assuming I can reasonably keep to that, here are the things I’m up to for the month of March:
  • Taxes & Business Closeout Tasks = From figuring out the finances from my craziest and least profitable year ever, to closing out bank accounts and businesses, there are a lot of things that need timely doing in the next few weeks. Plus corporate taxes are due on the 15th.
  • Selling Stuff = I have my Dad’s old 1996 GMC Suburban that I’m cleaning up and and preparing to sell. Hopefully it moves on by the end of the month before registration is due. I’m also selling as many of the other “to go” things as I can that are over $100.
  • Gaining strength & losing weight = I’ve been hovering around 160lbs for months, plus/minus 5lbs. I’d like to be at 150 plus or minus 3lbs and a lot less squishy in the middle instead. It takes persistence to get there, I’m focused on this.
  • Network infrastructure = I’m still honing my overall tech setup, and making progress. This month I’ll be installing my second (offsite backup) Synology DS216 NAS that I picked up for half price on eBay, and following the advice of folks like Rob Braxman.
  • Birthday = This isn’t a project, but I do like to build in some reflective, visionary, and hopefully fun time around my birthday. March 20th in case you’re curious. Oh and I do have an ongoing public wish list over here but no pressure ;)

So that’s me! How about YOU? Hit me up or leave me a comment below.

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Though it’s practically March already, at work I still feel like I’m trying to catch up to the fact that a new year just started. Sooooo many things!

In the last week I did manage to finally deliver the three user support videos (Learner, Manager, Content Owner) that I’d been trying to make for a month, as well as finalizing the intake forms that can help us manage the flow of new inputs from stakeholders. Not only did people really like these, they really made a noticable difference in how we’re responding to things. These humble assets are points of leverage.

Now I’m blocking off some time in my calendar to chip away at a few weekly commitments to create more points of leverage like this. I believe this will really help our whole team, but most especially it will help with me keeping my head above water in the ebb and flow of Crazy that I’m dealing with in my role.

  • User Interview or Usability Test (30min per week)
    To keep aligned with those we serve, I’ll spend a half-hour either conducting a user interview with someone in one of our identified personnas (Learner, Manager, Content Owner, Business Partner, Auditor, Senior Leader), or conducting a quick Usability Test on one of the key functions they’re supposed to be able to conduct. The smaller the better on the Usability Tests, these are so informal that I’m not sure they even really live up to the name, but they’re super informative!
  • User Support Video (60min per week)
    People need to know how to do stuff, as evidenced in the item above. Sometimes that’s changing the process, and sometimes it’s just showing it to them. For showing, videos work best. I can spend 15min or so testing and setting up for a screencast, 5-10min recording it, and 20min or so editing and embellishing, and another 10min reviewing and uploading and configuring it. This leaves me no margin for getting any part of that process wrong, but I know what I’m doing well enough that I think this is probably ok.
  • User Support Form or Template (30min per week)
    This time will be spent either improving existing assets like this or creating new ones. There is way to much legacy process garbage floating around that requires people to reply in an email or fill out a template in Word or Excel. In 2021, I find it laughably embarrassing. Somebody needs to do something about it! And…(sigh) I guess that someone is me. Microsoft Forms and Sharepoint Sites, here I come ;)
  • Review/Improve Content Batch (60min per week)
    Now that I’ve reduced the number of active learning objects in our training catalog by a factor of 10 (from about 25,000 to 2500), it’s time to improve the configuration quality of what remains. Everyone wants to track hours, for instance. But this can’t be done until this information exists somewhere in the configuration of the learning object itself. Descriptions are missing more often than not. Because we didn’t make Search available until this year, there were no keywords and different trainings could have the same name. All this stuff has gotta get cleaned up. While we can’t pause everything to do this, I can take a batch of 5-50 courses per week and make them better than they are now. I intend to spread as much of this task as possible across the rest of our team too, of course. But I can’t ask other people to do this unless I’m doing it myself as well.
  • Writing Announcements (30min per week)
    All of the above deliverables are good, but they really only count if people know about them. I’m including a half-hour per week to talk about what actually shipped lately. This can go on our forthcoming intranet site as a posting, or in an email or something. Note that this is not what will ship, as everyone always wants to do and asks me about. I’m not going to spend this time talking about what will happen but hasn’t yet, only announcing the things that are now done and ready for who they’re made for. This is the important part, and it’s all I can fit into this tiny time slot.

Do I have the time for any of these things? No. No, indeed I do not. I’m on 10-12hr days these days. Sometimes more, rarely less so far in 2021. Adding another 3.5hrs of new stuff to do (that will easily turn into 4hrs overall) and that doesn’t satisfy any existing requests doesn’t make me feel joy.

But I also don’t have time not to do them. If something is gonna drop, it’s going to be a one-off request from someone whose hair is on fire about something that broke or that goes live today but they forgot to tell us about. Those emergencies are real, and I’ll do my best to help, but unless my manager tells me otherwise, the above items happen first.

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Whenever I get too stressed, I start charting out my daily routine. Y’know, that thing that I’m not doing at all and it’s stressing me out? That.

I’ve been working way too much (12+hrs at a computer in one sitting). Making notes about my imaginary schedule doesn’t help anything happen in the real world, of course. But it does allow me to an opportunity to express and refine and essentially reconfirm my intentions about how I spend my time.

Here they my refined intentions for at least all the weekdays in March:
  • 5-6am up & at’em
    morning routine (hygiene, water, coffee/tea, food prep, writing, 20min exercise & walk to work), no internet
  • 6am-3pm work
    online & working in as kind a way to my body as I can, food after 10am only
  • 3-5pm anti-work
    stop & disconnect, greenhouse/gardening, go for a walk around the lake (weather permitting), errands, phone calls & followups, podcast/music listening, avoid all screens
  • 5-6pm family meal
    make/enjoy/cleanup dinner and remove any other food/drink temptations, possible entertainment, airplane mode
  • 6-8pm project
    focused project time (work, relationship, household, learning, etc.) according to calendar & to-do list, flex with energy available
  • 8-9pm rampdown
    evening routine (hygiene, reading/writing, making music, cleanup), airplane mode & avoid all screens

The point here is to avoid getting in the trap of working from 5:30am to 7pm, which I’ve done a few times lately. Or opening the computer again at 8pm and working until midnight, which has also happened at least once a week so far this year. The truth is that I will burn out if I keep doing that, as I know all too well from previous experience. The above schedule will keep me sane and healthy, and has enough flexibility & maintenance built in that my life doesn’t feel too rigid or risk falling apart.

For the next month, all my weekends are already all spoken for with irregular exceptions or day-long projects for a while. I try not to let any of the above projects spill over. We’ll see how that goes.

What do you think of this? How do you manage your time now that we’re a year in on this Covid-era? Comment below as you please.

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Most of the time when I talk about data within the Learning & Development community, people get very confused. They expect numbers and formulas and things they can calculate.

But that’s not where it starts, and that’s not where it ends. That’s just the “show your work” part in the middle. It’s gotta be done right, sure, but…who really cares about that part?

The most important elements of measuring anything are knowing what you’re measuring and why it matters.

L&D folks hate it when I say this, because they usually don’t know. Which is why I keep bringing it up ;)

What is the decision at hand, and what are the factors that have the power to sway that decision? This matters. We measure training to decide how to manage it better.

Yes, of course there are other things we could measure, other things we could know, but again…who really cares about that part? If the answer is just you and your L&D people, then do not pass go and do not collect 200 data points. You are creating waste, not value.

Here are some examples of decisions that data can better inform:
  • Should we cancel this program, or continue it?
  • Will this stand up in an audit or legal review?
  • Can we subtract expenses without affecting the overall outcome?
  • Is it time to automate some part of this process?
  • When is it time to scale up this solution?
  • What successes can I tout to argue for more more resources in the future?

That’s what people really want to know. The important people, anyway.

Start here. Finish here. All the parts in the middle tend to get very esoteric and complicated, but with the decisions in mind we can keep ourselves sane and on track along the way.

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When I was 19 years old, it was a pretty expansive and opening time. I don’t know where I got the following questions from, but I think I was 19 when I started using them to transform my life. They still work!

Whether I’m teaching music or tech or healing or anything, I always encourage that students ask these questions of themselves. There is a certain self-awareness and safety that appears when we keep asking these questions. Please do :)

  1. How relaxed can I be and still do this well?
  2. How much fun can I have while I’m getting this done?
  3. Where should my attention be while I’m doing this?
  4. Am I being who I choose to be in this moment?
  5. How can I put more kindness into this simple act?

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