Project (Management)

“When you are not optimistic, you cannot achieve anything.” Ban Ki-moon, UNSG

Long-time no write blog post. 好久不见。So many goals and I feel like I’m not reaching any of them. Fitness program has been tabled essentially for months. I’ve been having trouble focusing – not physically, but mentally – on what to focus on. Maybe I’ve spent too much effort on the big picture. Time to turn to the little things, the details that color in between the lines and make the big picture worth looking at, worth analyzing in the first place. Time to get out the crayons, the watercolors, the charcoal, the oil paints.

What details should I paint in? I think that first I need to assign myself a project. From rereading earlier posts and reviewing my sewing project ideas of the past few months (currently on hold after cutting my thumb open on broken glass two weeks ago, but alive and well in my head), I think that each detail can be a project. Projects I would like to tackle include:

1) Improve general knowledge and vocabulary at the general knowledge level in English and in German.

For starters, I’ve bought a book called Hausaufgaben für Erwachsene. Essentially a review of stuff learned in school that is now fuzzy because I didn’t major in it and therefore ignored it after the last test. It’s in German and so it can be a fun exercise in reading and making glossaries. Also, I now own Trivial Pursuit in German. Trivia is not necessarily knowledge, but perhaps a fun form of testing.

2) Be more meticulous in my own writing/translation. Writing and translation overlap, but are very different at the editing level especially. That level is something I need to figure out how to do better and more thoroughly.

Not so sure how to approach this one. I’ve ordered a book that might help at some level, but at some point it really is all in my head and brain output connection to the real world.

3) Improve specialized knowledge in a series of areas. This one is important for once I’ve garnered sufficient general knowledge to move deeper with confidence.

4) I’m really great at having a social life when I’m in a defined area with other people. I.e., structured situations with rules about when people are where and situations that have defined boundary lines about free time and work time (school, camp, conference, etc.). When I just have some time defined (i.e., working hours), but the rest is essentially free time, I’m horribly unadventurous. I take that back in part. If it’s cold outside, I avoid doing anything like the plague. If it’s warm, I do crazy things like take the train somewhere, walk 10km, climb a tree-top path for 45 min, jump a bus back to the train station, and return to my point of origin. By myself. And that’s my issue. I’m really great at keeping myself entertained. That’s usually a trait praised in children. When you’re not a child anymore, though, it doesn’t make you any friends. I’ve seen a meme floating around recently on the sentiment that there are certain friends that you can go five, ten, twenty years without seeing, run into each other randomly, and pick up exactly where you left off that day ten years ago. I’m that person. I’m ecstatic that you’ve decided to hang with me for the day and I’m okay if another ten years elapse before we see each other again. I once made a New Year’s Resolution to be more socially proactive. I’ve tried periodically, but it’s never been something I’ve been able to keep up with in the long term.

The long term is apparently not my thing, hence why I’m now going to “make friends” with the short term for the long term.

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Pausing to reflect

In an InDesign file, a style-driven workflow means that you take the time to set styles for each part of your document upfront. Then, later, you can simply put it together by assigning the pre-defined styles to the different parts of the document. This is instead of laboriously inserting some text and formatting it afterwards, inserting more text and formatting it again to match the previous bit. Once you have a set style, you can simply set this before you put anything in the box. Once you do put this in, your text will automatically be formatted.

In line with the geeky analogy, I think it might stretch to planning a way of life. Some things can, of course, be adjusted over time, but for many situations, it might work better to set some ground rules before you do them. Financial planning both for the near term and for the longer term is one of those things that you want to have the big picture on. How much do I have? Can I break it down monthly or weekly? What are expenses that recur? What sort of extra expenses do I have that I could limit or eliminate entirely? The month of July will be a somewhat irregular month of spending for me because of startup costs – a deposit in addition to the rent, acquiring sheets and blankets, and getting the basics for first cooking then baking.

As I adjust to having work be the thing that I spend the most time on, I’ll also need to plan what to get into the habit of doing regularly during the rest of my time. Not just planning what times I can go grocery shopping or take care of administrative things, but also planning in activities that are enriching. I have my flute with me (though I somehow managed to stick all of my music in the book box that won’t have shipped yet!) and I have previously sung in choirs or choruses. I’ll need to find a church near here since the once I regularly attended a couple of years ago is too far away. (I still plan to go back there periodically at least, so that I can stay in contact with the friends I made there.) I do plan to leave some time (and money, budget-permitting) to have some fun. I now live close enough to the river to be able to take some nice walks (or maybe actually go jogging, though I’ve never seriously gotten into the habit of doing that) and close to a couple of parks. I also plan to spend some of this week getting lost in my new neighborhood.

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Interesting quote to ponder: “Thinking about the role of delay is a profound and fundamental part of being human. Questions about delay are existential: the amount of time we take to reflect on decisions will define who we are. Is our mission simply to be another animal, responding to whatever stimulations we encounter? Or are we here for something more? Life might be a race against time but it is enriched when we rise above our instincts and stop the clock to process and understand what we are doing and why. A wise decision requires reflection, and reflection requires a pause.” Financial Times, 24 June 2012, ‘Waiting Game’, pg. 19

I especially like the phrase “reflection requires a pause.” It is a much different way to think about ‘delay’, a word that I have a rather negative association with.Image