Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ok, so no posting in French

I had decided to post in French, as a way to practice, but it was going to take me so long to post anything, it just acted as a deterrent. So that's out. I have gotten very practical and down-to-earth in the last 5 weeks. Streamlined in every way. I can't imagine how one can keep up with everything that needs to be done without being exceptionally well-organized. I thought I was just that, but I had no idea...

So, 1/3 of the way through the first semester and I am tempting fate here to say that I think I've got it down. Figured out the function of "assignments" view of the things due (rather than calendar of readings and assignments intersperced in there). You have to be able to see exactly what's due when in order to schedule in the time you'll need to get it done amongst all the other things that have to get done over the same time periods.

I just figured out this last week why it's been such a challenge. As an attorney working in an office, I got all my work from either email (about 90%), phone calls, or occasionally, from another attorney in our office. So, all I had to do really was just read my mail and either (1) respond immediately, if the inquiry could be easily taken care of (copyright inquiries), or (2) schedule into my calendar a time to take care of the matter if it needed a block of time that was too long to justify interrupting the other things I had scheduled for the day (from previously acquired work coming in the same way). The really critical difference though is that it was rare than anything that came in would be something that would take me longer than a single short session of time to complete. Average time on task from beginning to end was probably 20 minutes. Some took an hour, some maybe even several hours, but the vast majority were short 10 to 30 minute tasks. This was the result of specializing for 15 years. It made me madly efficient, but it also made me like a machine in a way. I just cranked out stuff.

Now my tasks come from all different directions, from different media, different people, and they all have to be integrated into a coherent schedule. But the critical thing, as described above, is that they can't be done in a few minutes -- not one of them. They all take a long, long time, and in fact, it is hard for me to even know for sure how long they'll take. They almost always take a lot longer than I thought they would, and I am always scrambling to get everything done in the time I have to do it.

So, this is one huge area of learning involved in going back to school.

Then there's the subject matter. Totally cool, wonderful, interesting, exhilirating to be reading such neat things, seeing connections between and among everthing I read and talk with people about. It's like being in wonderland. But it's also way too much to be able to really work with it like I'd like to.

I have two projects. One is a paper and the other is a designing a user interface with 3 other people. Both are giving me perfect opportunities to put everything I'm learning to good use. So far so good. But again, is it supposed to take every minute of every day, 7 days a week?

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