Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fifteen Minutes At A Time






  I have established that, at best, while working from home, that I can work for a maximum of fifteen (15) minutes at a time.

  It's not that I lack the concentration or focus to enable me to perform for several hours.  It's the needless distractions that have to be attended to which limit my output, to fifteen minutes at a time.

  Today, I woke and sat down at my desk. Booted up the computer and during the morning email review, checked on the elderly parent that I care for. Thus endeth the first fifteen minutes.

  The dogs barked fifteen minutes later. Check and verify that they are barking at the wind.

  The cat started bitching about something. Get up and verify that the cat is just bitching about nothing.

  The landline telephone rings, it's a scam caller, so naturally, the elderly parent answers it.

  That's the first hour. I've risen four times for outside distractions, broken the train of thought and been distracted from my work.

  The second hour. The dogs again. Fifteen minutes later there's a truck driving by that makes a loud sound; and the dogs go apeshit. The usual swearing and cursing at the dogs hastens their retreat to the elderly parents lap. I no sooner return and the elderly parent is moving about in the kitchen - investigation required. Fifteen minutes later, there's a door slam inside the house - elderly parent has taken to their bathroom.

  While the current health situation has put a lot more people to work in their residency, there are a couple of thoughts about this. If we can work from home during a health issue, why can't we work from home after the health issue? The roads would be freer, the commute time would be reduced, people would still be earning an income.

  And then the dogs bark again, this time at a leaf falling...three miles away.

  And now I know why people go to their corporate office.  It's not so they can accomplish any additional work, it's so they are not working fifteen minutes at a time distracted by ridiculous home matters.  Far better to be distracted at work every fifteen minutes by the phone and loose two hours of your day in the commute back and forth, than to stay at home and complete the same volume distracted by..leaves falling every fifteen minutes. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

How To Work From Home in a Pandemic





  Across the United States, employees are being told to "work from home" as an attempt to stem the flow of the Corona Virus, CoVid-19. As people do so, they are some techniques that can be employed to ensure that you actually accomplish "work" while at home.

GET DRESSED
  You wouldn't report to workplace in your pajamas, nor should you report to your home work station in the same clothes you slept in. While you may not exercise the same dress standard as the work place, getting dressed is a psychological tool to differentiate between being at work, and working from home.

HAVE A PLACE TO WORK
  Even if you have to clear a spot at the dinning room table, have a dedicated work station. Sturdy chair, flat surface, lighting and ventilation are the hallmarks of establishing the invisible boundary from home and work. Coaches, beds, and floor space are not work stations.

KEEP A SCHEDULE
  Your mind functions better if it maintains a schedule of events. If you are an office worker with office hours, maintain that schedule while you work from home. Your employer will still need to reach you, your co workers will need to collaborate with you and your subordinates will still need to report to you. While you may no longer have to clock in and clock out to the minute, don't be the guy who misses the video conference because you weren't "at work".

MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS
  This is, in my opinion, the most important. The access to you by other family members may be taken for granted, or that movie you haven't seen may be starting in ten minutes. When you are "working from home" you're no longer available to attend to the domestic chores or ask, and a television should never be on in your work space. It is too tempting to be distracted b the comforts of the home when you should be working.

EXERCISE
  In the workplace, you walk between offices, the lunchroom, maybe tour the facility in order to get your steps in, or to stretch out from your work station. Maintain this approach and ensure that during your "work day". that you try to maintain the same level of physical activity. Walk the dog, leave the car in the garage if you have to go outside, but make allowances that let you continue to exercise. Long hours sitting at your desk and hen flopping into bed is counter productive.

   There's a method to how I work from home. I maintain the same schedule: rise, breakfast dress and report to my work station prior to 7am. Email are no more than 15 minutes as it's too easy to be distracted. I break for lunch at noon every day and return about 30 minutes later. Around 1.30pm I get up and walk the dogs, come hail, rain or shine. Returning about 2pm, I check emails one more time and write till about 4.30pm. There is no television near my work station, although I have a CD player I occasionally put on low volume.

  Jacob, the cat, is my sole co worker at home, and I often engage in workplace conversations with him. Though working from home can be a solitary assignment, there is no reason why you have to be "alone".

Saturday, February 29, 2020

29 February





  Deadlines come and go. Occasionally, I will not start a project or submission until the deadline is approaching. Having a deadline is a good thing - the time constraint to be done by a prescribed moment keeps the work on focus.

   This week I was talking with a First Fan when I mentioned that I had two deadlines looming on the same day - February 28.  (It turns out, it wasn't the same day, one of the deadlines was in fact February 29, as 2020 is a leap Year. But for the sake of this entry, the deadline was "the last day in February".)

  The second deadline was finished with with...a day to spare. The first deadline zoomed right by me without a word being written.

  On the last day, that is, February 29, I was in my car mentally revising the submission made on February 28 when I come to the conclusion that a lot of submissions I make center around transport and traveling. Some of my best published non fiction has the critical element of "traveling" in-bedded within the story. Then there are other good fiction stories that I have had published where traveling, or rather, "the journey" has been the strength of the story.

  Looking back, I began to recall some of the "transport" focus of my youth. In the Police Department, I wrote a paper for the National Transport Road Forum on truck driving hours. In College I wrote an assignment of early transports affecting education in the outback. In High School, I wrote an English assignment which documented the travels of the protagonist. (It might have been Jude The Obscure.) In primary school I did a project on Transport for the new schools open house, that featured a model railway and identified thirty seven different means of transport. Even earlier, than that, I was collector of the Weet Bix cards that featured motor vehicles.

  A writer of travel. Who would have seen that coming?

Monday, February 24, 2020

I Am Done







I am Done.

A letter today from the California Department of Child Support Services reads "According to our records, your support obligations are paid in full ....Do not send further payment."

It is almost 23 years to the day since I was divorced. Along the way I have battled the Commonwealth of Australia, set precedent in the San Diego Appeals Court against the Dept. of Child Support, had my fight against the oppressive Child Support machinery published locally and in Australia, and been on radio talk shows.

I was fortunate that I knew how to read law, prepare briefs of evidence, compile witness statements, and handle a court room. I became schooled in the Hague Convention Child Support rules, and put a stop after their financial gang rape. But at what cost?

The swiftness of the system to take is not replicated on correcting their errors. I've not owned a house, but their mother bought a beach house with my child support. My credit report is obliterated, had my drivers license in peril, my passport attempted to be revoked by a foreign country not authorized to, and worst, emotionally hurt another women as I failed miserably in a relationship.

I was lucky - not everyone gets to win almost all their fights. Others may not have had the knowledge, or the staying power, or maybe they were beat down more than I was and could not go on. The one I truly needed to win though - is a loss. My daughters are now 31 and 25; alienated from me by their mother. I last saw my eldest when she was 18, her sister - when she was 12.

It's too late for my girls. I am done.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Fifteen Years





  Fifteen years ago, today, I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac at San Diego International Airport.  There was no one there to meet me.

  Today, I am still working alone on much the same arrangement that I had when I first arrived in the United States - commissioner per submission.

  Along the way I have had moderate success.

  I'd like a little James Patterson success in the next fifteen years. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

One Submission Is Better Than None






  On the last day of the first month, I made this years first submission to a publishing house.

  Not a great track record for a writer, but one submission is better than none.

  As the "First Fans" are aware, the care of a parent is draining my time away. Being accountable for a toddler in an adult frame is a time consuming job, You can't just instruct on what it is and what it should be, - because they are elderly.  Instead, grace is needed.

  After spending two days and a night back and forth to the emergency room of a local hospital, it was late yesterday when I realized the deadline was approaching. Unsatisfied with the third, or fourth version, I submitted the version that I thought better -but not award winning.

  One submission is better than none.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

James Patterson Writes in Pencil





  For those that came in late...when I write, I write with a pencil.  Always have. There is something about the lead of the pencil on the yellow of the legal pad paper that makes the writing seem... historical. It feels alive as I scribble it down.  

  As one of my goals for the year involve more published works, I began taking online lessons in Masterclass. Masterclass is a series of video tutorials given by experts in their field of expertise. One of the contributing authors is James Patterson. Patterson has multiple books that I have read (as a fan) where his protagonist (Alex Cross) is employed in an industry that I once was.

  About the fourth lesson in, I was not enjoying the tutorial as much as I like. Though the format was similar to Stephen Kings "On Writing" book, I was not enjoying Patterson's class as much as I had enjoyed his book.

  And then it happened.

  James Patterson said that he writes in pencil on a legal pad.

  James Patterson writes the same way I do...or more accurately, I write the same way as accomplished author James Patterson does.

  And suddenly I was enjoying Patterson's class much more. I went back and started his Masterclass again, and although the links to a number of discussions with previous students is broken, the class became more poignant to me. It became more real as a one on one class because....James Patterson writes in pencil.

  I am hopeful that one day a fan will have the same connection that I had when they relaize their favourite authors (that would be me) writes n pencil.