The most noticeable effect of this is that when I get home in the evenings, I am much less restless than I used to be. After standing all day, I don’t mind sitting, whereas before after sitting all day I would get home and feel like I needed to be up and moving.
Yo dawg! I heard you like desks, so I put a desk on your desk!
I have survived a week of standing on my feet all day.
I think the most surprising part is that none of my coworkers seem to think that it’s weird. It just is accepted, “Jason is standing now.”
I know the question you all have… how does it feel?
To be honest, it feels… fine. I’m not experiencing some dramatic boost in energy and weight loss – it has only been a week after all – but I am also not in terrible pain. I’m learning. If I wear my hiking boots, my back is cool but my legs get a little sore. If I wear my running shoes, my legs are fine but I get a little pain in my lower back. Of course, sitting all day resulted in different pains. My posture isn’t horrible, but it could be better. I’m trying to make sure I stand with a neutral spine as much as possible, and it helps.
I also still make sure to take little breaks. Not to sit down, but to do some squats or walk around or just bend over and touch my toes a few times.
I need a standing pad. Two reasons. One, to provide a little more cushion. The carpet in the office has cushion, but I suspect after a few years of me riding a chair over it the padding isn’t as good as it used to be. Two, despite all my attempts to ensure proper measurement of the height of the keyboard shelf, I came up a little high… well, it’s about perfect in my hiking boots, but in my other shoes with thinner soles the shelf could be lower.
All in all, the new world order of standing at work has been successful. I’ll report in again when I hit the one month mark.
And because of the stupid caption on the photo, I now have a song stuck in my head. Enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago, I purchased the items I needed from IKEA to construct my standing desk. I had already gotten permission to make the desk, and then it took a while for me to remember to go to the store and buy the bolts I needed to finish it. But it is done.
Yo dawg! I heard you like desks, so I put a desk on your desk!
After getting it set up, I set about my day – standing instead of sitting. I had done my reading and knew to expect some foot and/or leg pain since I’m not used to standing for so long. I did sit for lunch, and toward the end of the day I found myself leaning on the other part of my L-shaped desk.
On the whole though, smashing success. I hurt a little, and I’m a little more tired, but in general I actually feel better. We’ll see how I feel in a week…
Let me begin with a video. Take 12 minutes and 21 seconds and watch it. I’ll be here when you are done.
I love TED talks. I’ve posted a number of them before. This one, however, struck a chord with me because it touches on ideas that I have had for myself for years.
Be happy now, not later.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short post about my philosophy on work. Whether you saw it at the time, the central premise behind it is that you should be happy with the job you have while you have it, even if you don’t like it and are looking for something else. Being happy with your job, even if it is just being happy with doing your job well although the job itself sucks, is the beginning of a ripple that will affect everything else in your life and everyone around you. You might hate your job, but face it, if the boss pulls you aside to tell you how awesome you are at the job, you feel great. And if your job is managing people, remember that telling people about the good things they do can actually have an impact on places they need to improve. Lead with bad news, then close with a few comments about the good stuff they do. You’ll actually bolster their spirit and that alone may be enough for them to improve in those problem areas. If all you do is yell at an employee, perhaps you should do both of you a favor and let them go, because your constant berating and never telling them anything positive is, for most people, actually going to make them perform worse, not better.
There is an old saying about crying over spilt milk and how you shouldn’t do it that no one these days really understands because who would ever cry over spilt milk? But the point of the saying is another thing I’ve talked about for years. The point is, once the milk is spilt, just clean it up. You gain nothing from being distraught or upset over the loss of the milk. It’s trivial. It’s not like a parent died or anything. Too many people spend too much time worrying about and being upset at things that have already happened and can’t be changed. They wind themselves up in knots, making themselves unhappy over past failures when they should be accepting them, learning from them, and moving forward.
Now, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t care about stuff that happened, but it does mean that you shouldn’t let it cripple you. And you aren’t going to just wipe it off and move on like nothing happened. No, the point is that you understand what happened, resolve to do better, and integrate the experience into who you are to make you better. Why did you spill the milk? Could it have been avoided? In the future, let’s try not to spill milk.
But how do we get better and being better?
The sticking point for most people is that everything they’ve been taught in their lives has led them to the road described in the video: that happiness comes after success.
I suggest taking to heart the list at the end of the video. You need to actively work at changing the way you approach life. Make sure you take the time to acknowledge and dwell on the positive good things in your life and not spend all your time focusing on problems and the stress of working toward future success and future happiness.
If you need a little push, you might consider giving SuperBetter a try. Jane McGonigal has been pushing “gamification” for a long time, and she’s finally unveiled her new project. This website isn’t going to fix your life, but if you work it you might find that using your old/current mindset of chasing achievements can be redirected into things that may help you be happier now and not later.
I haven’t spent much time at that site, so I can’t speak on its effectiveness. But if you know me, or can sleuth out my email from the site, feel free to hit me up as an ally.
So, I just started doing this Drawing of the Day thing where I was doing a drawing based on the word of the day as posted by either reference.com or Webster’s. I did four of them and stopped. I haven’t given up, but I had a thought.
First off, doing something daily is a bit hard and actually detracts from my ability to do other things. Also, some of the words of the day are just odd to think of alone. It’s just a word with a definition, no direction, and what I wanted was actually a bit more of a directed exercise.
You see, I can always sit down and just make shit up. My problem has always been that when I return later to the work from the “make shit up” session, I find it hard to continue the work. So, what I’m really looking for is more like the writing prompts you can find all over the place where they give you a subject and a direction and you are supposed to write on it. But with drawing.
To that end, I’m changing the project from Drawing of the Day to something like A Picture is Worth a Week of Words. Instead of using just a single word, I’m going to take seven words, still using the reference.com and Webster’s sources (I’ll choose all 7 from one source, and either I’ll do one, the other or both), and I’m going to do a drawing. I may also do some writing to go with it. They’ll go up on Sundays and use the words from the previous week (Sunday to Saturday).
I’m excited. I was excited before but quickly became drained. This less intensive version should be exciting without the exhaustion.
Earlier this year I began doing the Insanity work out. And then I quit doing the Insanity work out. Last year, around November-ish, I started feeling not-well. I hedge a bit at using the word “sick” because for the longest time I was never full-blown sick. It was mild (and I mean really mild) congestion with the feeling that something was stuck in the back of my throat. Coughing and the constant swallowing in an attempt to dislodge whatever was stuck there resulted in frequent sore throats, and as time went on it got worse, but never really horrible.
I stopped doing Insanity because it seemed to get really bad while working out. I’d end up way more out of breath than I should be and coughing, and I’d get more congested. When I stopped doing the work outs, it got better.
On Halloween this year, we had a guy come out to inspect the heating and air units in the house. As usual, he changed the filters. The filters were really really filthy, especially in the second unit, the one that handles the basement/media room. When he popped that bad boy out and started changing it, he started coughing and so did I. That night I had a terrible sore throat and a head ache to go with the coughs, and by the next day I was is horrible shape. I stayed home from work the rest of the week recovering. While I got better, I never got well. I didn’t even return to the pre-Halloween me.
I went to the doctor and got some medicine to treat bronchitis, which I may or may not have had – but since I haven’t been given antibiotics for anything in nearly a decade I don’t think my taking some now is going to hurt anything. However, even with the meds, the coughing didn’t go away. So it was time to try something else.
On Sunday morning last week, I woke up and made a concerted effort to stay upstairs. Within a couple of days I was coughing less. It didn’t go away entirely, but it lent credence to the theory that the problem was allergy related, and that I was allergic to something downstairs. So, we called up a company that cleans out air ducts to come and clean ours.
They came on Wednesday and cleared a handful of trash bags worth of stuff from the vents. Dust and mold (probably the culprit), and nails and bottles and cans… it seems that when they built the house many years ago, the construction guys would drink a soda and then just put the waste in a nearby air duct rather than throwing them away. You’d think that perhaps a duct cleaning would occur when the house was finished being built, but apparently not.
With all that out of the way, I found myself breathing a little easier. And yet, I still have the feeling that there is something stuck in the back of my throat. I decide to give in to my 21st Century Internet tendencies and go to WebMD. For over a year I’ve been telling doctors that I have this feeling, and they’ve continually told me to take allergy medication. Over on WebMD though, I find that this is also sometimes a symptom of acid reflux. You see, acid gets out of your stomach the wrong way and into your esophagus, and your esophagus tightens to prevent it from going further or something like that, hence the feeling that something is stuck in your throat and why coughing doesn’t help (coughing is air coming from the lungs, and while air and food go in the same hole, there are two different tubes they travel down, so no amount of air from the lungs will help a problem coming from your stomach). I get myself some antacids which WebMD recommends to combat acid reflux, and lo and behold I’m feeling better. I wish I could get back the money I spent on doctors and prescriptions. Oh well.
And I’m feeling better just in time too! I’ll start exercising again this Friday… after Thanksgiving.
If you have ever spent any significant amount of time interviewing for jobs, you’ve probably had someone ask you, “What do you think is your greatest weakness?” Most people don’t spend any effort on seriously considering that question, and often it’s just a wankfest of trying to come up with something that also sounds like a strength. “I work too hard.” “I do too much unpaid overtime.” “I sacrifice my social life for work.” Personally, I’ve never liked that, and whenever I’ve been a part of the interview process from the other side and heard a prospect give one of those answers, I’ll either write them off as being useless or if they’ve shown real promise before that get them to answer again, with a little truth this time. If I’ve bothered to ask you that question, it’s because I want to know that you are capable of not seeing yourself as perfect and understanding that you can improve. I certainly don’t want to hear how even your flaws are assets, because if it is an asset, a strength, it’s not a weakness.
For me, my answer has often been that I’m better at fixing or finishing than I am at starting. When asked to explain, I do so by telling them about issues I have with narrowing decisions. For example, I am told to build a webpage. In what language? The choice of language will dictate, down the road, what you can do. Some languages are great at some things and weak at others, and so at the beginning stages of a project I will often spent an incredibly large amount of time trying to think of and map out every possible feature we could want in the site in an attempt to make sure I’m choosing the best language, the best approach. If instead of being told “build a webpage” I was told “build a webpage in PHP” we can eliminate a lot of time and effort. I end by saying that while it is my greatest weakness, it can be greatly tempered with information and direction, and lessens over time as I become more comfortable with my working environment.
I’ve gotten better at that over the years, both through knowledge and speed of research, and by gaining confidence in my decision-making by having decisions I’ve made work out well. And so now my answer has changed.
My greatest weakness these days is that I expect other people to do their jobs. My job is software development with a little support thrown in (small company, everyone does lots of jobs). When I’m asked to write software or if I’m handed a support call, I do it. And when doing my job requires me asking someone to do their job, I ask them and expect it to be done. Too many times, it isn’t done quickly, which holds up my ability to do work. The delays lengthen and eventually I’m missing deadlines.
In my opinion, I shouldn’t have to yell at people to do the job they are being paid to do. They should just do it, as I do in my own job. Instead, I often find that part of my job becomes checking up on other people at other companies to make sure stuff gets done.
I call in and report a problem. I’m not asking for new service, I’m reporting that my existing service is broken. When people call me for things like that, I drop what I’m doing and work on the problem, because a customer who cannot use my service now is infinitely more important than that feature I’m working on that no one is using yet. So, I’ve reported the problem and am told someone will be calling me shortly. Two hours later, I haven’t heard from anyone. I call in to get a status update and find that no one has been assigned the call yet. I am assured the call will be assigned and someone will call me within a couple of minutes. Thirty minutes later I’m calling back in again because no one has called me. They transfer me to the guy who was assigned the call, he tells me he needs to read the problem. He does, we talk, he says it needs to go to another department, and they’ll call me back. This keeps repeating, over and over.
In the end, it takes three days to fix a problem that should have taken a couple of hours at most. Probably because they are dealing with the same stuff I am when they have to call someone about part of my issue. And I know, because I used to have their job.
My weakness boils down to this: I don’t like to yell at people because I shouldn’t have to yell at people.
I know this blog isn’t read by many people, but perhaps just putting thoughts out into the universe can make them heard. Do your job, as well and as fast as you can, because if people are waiting on you, just imagine how you feel when you are waiting on other people. Unfortunately this is one of those “Pay It Forward” types of things where you may never benefit directly, only if it loops around and the people you have to wait on decide not to make you wait. But it’s worth doing, at the very least you can be completely justified in your ire at having to wait on other people since you don’t make people wait.
It’s August and that means it’s time to start the final prep work for Dragon*Con. I’ll be working staff again this year. If you are going, drop by the MMO Track (we own the Sheraton and can always be found in the Savannah room, but at other times will be in the various ballrooms of that hotel) and say “Hi!”
Speaking of the MMO Track, one of about a dozen reasons I haven’t been posting here lately is because I’ve been working on a series of posts for the track website all about what we have in store for the big weekend. The first post is up, six more will follow.
Going along with my last post, I was reminded that the Atlanta Radio Theater Company performs at the con each year. I’ve been having lots of fun listening to other radio shows recently, so I think I’m going to make an effort to see them.
In any event, last year I was sort of a deer in headlights. While I had gone to con for many years, however my first year working it I had lots of fun but I felt like I was always hyper-vigilant, trying extra hard to make sure I didn’t screw up too badly. This year, I know what to expect, so I can relax a little bit. I’m also incredibly excited about our line up. The Darkmoon Faire looks to be awesome, and we’ve got a couple of panels for The Guild (and a marathon viewing of all 4 -maybe 5- seasons). I can hardly wait!
One thing that has been increasingly difficult over the years as there has become more focus on metrics for measuring call center success is actually getting help. Too many companies appear to have a policy of denying responsibility first, pushing the problem off on someone else, and only later doing any work once someone else has definitively proven that the problem is theirs to solve.
In my current job, I deal with a lot of phone companies. From AT&T all the way down to podunk local cable companies branching out into VOIP. Our company is an answering service, and whenever someone calls us with a problem, we take ownership of it, work out all the details in an effort to either a) find and resolve the problem, or b) conclusively prove that the problem isn’t our problem and direct our customers to the right place to resolve their issue. As an answering service, the one thing we fundamentally depend on is calls being forwarded from our customer’s location to our servers. Once we get the call, we can do our magic and answer the phone properly and perform all the duties they pay us for. If we are getting the call and something isn’t going right, we work to resolve the problem. If we aren’t getting the call… well, there is only so much we can do.
What we don’t do is just shove people off, tell them to call someone else, and leave it at that. No. Even when we are certain that the problem isn’t ours, we walk the customer through some simple tests and see what results we get. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred (probably more, but I don’t want to get into large numbers or fractions) the problem is with their phone company. (Half of the remaining times the problem is with their physical phones and the other half it is with us or our phone service provider.) Either the phone company isn’t forwarding to us, they are forwarding to the wrong number, or they are forwarding to us but their service lacks the basic call data that most “real” phone companies send us and we are unable to process the call properly. For the third option, we have a simple solution, takes 5 minutes on our end to resolve and then it’s up to their phone company to change the forwarding number – which should be another 5 minutes, but can often take 3 business days. The first two options, however, is where the fight begins.
We do our job, then we say, “The problem is [insert exact problem here]. Please call your phone company and tell them [insert solution here]. You can have them conference with us if they don’t understand and we can get it sorted out.” They thank us and then call their phone company who more often than not tell them, “Our stuff works fine, call your answering service and have them fix it.” It usually takes about five rounds of this before the customer starts yelling at us. Why us? Because for some reason people trust the phone company. Even when it’s a podunk operation serving the people of Greater Backwater with their fine assortment of tin cans and string, they trust the phone company as a utility and distrust us as some sort of money-grubbing for profit evil business.
Eventually, we get a conference call going and I get to explain to the phone company tech how to do his job. The worst part is, when I’m doing this, I can hear the contempt in their voice. They know how to do this, they don’t need me to explain it, but they don’t want to do it. They want someone else to fix it without involving them.
And the phone companies aren’t alone here. I run into it everywhere.
It really irritates me because I would never run a business that way. Never. Your customers pay for service, you should give them the best service and support you can give. Of course, the scary though being that perhaps this half-assed responsibility shirking service is the best they can give…