Adventures in Grad School, Work, Productivity & Driving

It’s been a long week…fortunately I’m looking forward to three days off starting Sunday.

My graduate school classes are stacked so that you do one class at a time, thirty hours a week, for six weeks per class, for two years. I have to say, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve done more reading in this one class than I probably did for every three undergraduate classes…and that’s just the required readings, not even the further research. I’m having fun with it, and it’s helping me out in my current position, because what I learn in class I put into practice at the office…plus, I sort of like it’s working out.

This week my accounts payable clerk is on (a well earned and deserved) vacation, and it’s my last week of my current class, with two papers and a final exam coming up…so…I’m glad that Rosh HaShanah is Sunday night, so I can take Sunday, Monday & Tuesday off to reflect a lot, and relax a bunch (…and sleep), and take care of some personal things around the house (not work…de-stressing…de-stressing through cleaning, and laundry folding, and organizing, and packing for our eventual move…and totally not work…not work at all…and HaShem will totally understand).

Now that I’m on the cusp of completing my first course, I have a much better handle on the time management necessary to be even more successful in my second course, which is coming up in short order (I’m holding down a 4.0 at the moment – and this is the hardest I’ve ever had to work at school, hands down). I’ve also been modifying my work environment for a lot of reasons (better organization means better productivity, and better health).

On the productivity end, I’ve started using a Datexx Cube Timer to help me focus and stay on task. The principle isn’t mine, but is actually FlyLady’s. Briefly, the way it works is that you set a timer for fifteen minutes and, during those fifteen minutes, you only concentrate on one things, don’t stop working on that one task until the timer goes off, don’t bother looking at your clock or worrying about how much time you have left…just stay on task for those fifteen minutes (‘come on, it’s only fifteen measly minutes!’). When the timer goes off, you can then review how much you’ve gotten done, re-start the timer if you’re not done yet, or restart it (for only fives minutes!) and take a break, etc.

While it sounds silly, it really does help. I remember in Basic Training and in my NCO course, we’d be given a task to do, and say…three minutes to complete it, we’d fail, do some push ups, and then be given two minutes to complete it. We’d fail again, do some push ups, and then be given a minute and a half to complete it…and we’d finish before time because we focused in…we were in the zone. The timer method can help you do that. I had identical results with my cadets when I was a commander and Instruction NCO later in my service. While any timer will do, I chose the cube primarily because of it’s ease of use – no buttons to get distracted with, no settings, no nothing, just four options: 1 minute, 5 minutes, 10 minutes & 15 minutes. Flip it to whatever side you want and you’re done, it automatically starts. I have one on my desk at work and one on my desk at home and I can already see a difference in my work output.

Speaking of desks, I’m battling the battle of the bulge, and going from an active job, to a desk job in accounting is…it’s a change…and one that going to the gym (as much as I’m able to) and Weight Watchers can only help so much with.

I’ve written about the benefits of standing desks before, and so have these other smart people and I decided that I needed to incorporate a standing desk into my work routine. However, not wanting to shock the easier-to-shock partner by de-constructing my current desk and having a custom desk built to my liking (at my own expense, of course) I opted to order a much easier (and, quite frankly, cheaper) option and purchased the Ergo-Stand desk converter, which basically just plunks it’s 40lb bad self down on the current desktop and makes the tabletop the right height to be a standing desk…it also creates a lot of storage space, almost perfectly sized to the old fashioned account ledgers I use, directly underneath it.

It arrives on Thursday, and since I have to go in on Saturday to do bank reconciliation (I haven’t had time to do it any other day, because it requires quiet and someone else to answer the phone…and we don’t have a receptionist…and whatever, HaShem will totally understand) I figure I’ll make the changes over the weekend so as to not alarm the locals during the work day…it took me weeks to calm everyone down when I brought in my mac desktop to function as the social media and web-design computer…learning from that mistake, my office will have changed over the weekend and the creatures that inhabit the magical forest will have the ability to come in, one by one, and sniff the air and determine it’s safe at their own pace, on their own time…just be very slow around them if you observe one, and use hushed voices when talking to your fellow adventurers at all times, remember to turn off the flash on your camera so you don’t startle them…look, look how precious they are in their natural environment…

The one thing I’m not really thrilled with at the moment though is my commute. As much as I love my cow mobile:

What I don’t love is the trail of death that I navigate every morning as Long Islanders attempt to make their way to work, seemingly indifferent to reality and the laws of physics…why are you honking at me, ginormous Hummer H2 behind me? Your monstrous height should show you that there’s half a car blocking me…and, while the laws of physics may be confusing…I can’t actually drive through him (two objects, occupying the same space, at the same time, while not having sex…or something)…and car that’s half blocking me…the thing you’re half-straddling is the turn lane…I promise, there’s more than enough room for you too…seriously, try it…just move forward a bit more and me, the Hummer H2 that the guy with the tiny dick behind me is driving, and all 400 other cars currently being backed up because you HAD to eat your McMuffin while driving could then easily keep driving right past you…and then when we pass that little bump in the road, and then say it’s raining…Long Islanders (native born Long Islanders) are finely tuned to rain and hurricanes…that’s our shit…we get them…we know better…so it’s raining, I’m in the right hand lane, doing the speed limit, and observing all School Speed Zones…and, without a beat…the harder the rain pounds down, the clearer the left lane is, not a car in sight…without fail…the more often some asshat will feel the need to tailgate behind me…in the right lane…going brokeback all over my Toyota…dude…the left lane is EMPTY…my Toyota is a 1993 Camry…this is it’s speed on a good day…my car is named Ethyl for a reason! This is as FAST as she goes! Want faster…turn your head less than 90 degrees to your left!

I miss public transportation…and sleep…which is what I’m going to go do now.