Category Archives: Work

Time/Money

Time is money.

This is the most ubiquitous, clichéd saying of the capitalist age.

Which one do you value the most?

As I look back at my (albeit short) life, I find that I’ve always valued time over money. I’ve always made the choice to live with a little less money but with a lot more time.

Let me put this in perspective. It’s not that I can’t or don’t want to work–in fact, as I was saying on Twitter some time ago, I’d rather work 60 hours a week doing something I love than 40 doing something I hate. In any case, what I really enjoy is the liberty to control my own schedule. And in the end, I will always feel like I have more time even if I work insane hours.

The Passage of Time

Toni Verdu Carbo on Flickr

Having control of my own schedule means that if I want to take a 4-day weekend and work 12 hours a day for the rest of the week, I can. It means that if I want to take a 2-hour lunch, I can. It means that I can run my errands on weekdays and take naps in the afternoon if I feel like it.

Resource

Time, as someone who’s smarter than me said (it’s Steve Jobs I think), is the most precious resource humans have.

Everyone would love to have more time, but most of us end up squandering a lot of it without really realizing.

Mindlessly watching TV. Spending too much time on social networks. Wilfully wasting time.

If you want more time to do the things that matter to you, are you using the time you do have to achieve those goals? What would you actually do with more time?

Would you use it to make more money? Would you use it for leisure, spending more time with your loved ones, practicing a hobby?

Would you be willing to take a pay cut to have more time for yourself?

How do you balance your need for time with your financial requirements? Share your stories in the comments!

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Employment–at last!

There are things that happen when they must. These last few months have tried my patience beyond anything I’ve ever had to deal with before. But finally, patience has been rewarded (along with a lot of time spent praying to those watching over me).

After three interviews, a translation test, a reference check and five days of waiting, I finally received a job offer. In Victoria. In a position that I am skilled for an interested in doing as a profession.

Which is weird, because I rejected this profession when I started my degree at Concordia. I doubt I would have found this position (and would have lived in such a beautiful place) had I followed through with my first impulse, but it seems that all the roads lead to Rome after all.

So, no more moaning about not getting called back or scrunging for clients or doing terrible work just for the pay. I will do the writing I want, use my French on a daily basis and generally be gainfully employed communicating messages to people in their own language. Which is awesome and meaningful, in its own way.

Oh, and it comes with a salary, vacation and a benefit package. But that’s just the icing on the cake!

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Giving Up on the Rat Race

I woke up this morning with a strong feeling that I would be better off giving up on my job hunt, and this post by Stacey of Yarn Salad spurred my mind.

Of course, I won’t be better off financially. Like everyone, I have bills to pay and I have to feed myself. But I don’t need to make millions for that.

I’ve been to a ton of interviews this past five months. None of it has worked. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s something else, but it doesn’t matter anymore. If I start trying to understand why I’m not getting any calls, I just start doubting my decisions for the past seven years, and it’s not healthy. I’m smart and talented and I don’t need a skewed job market to destroy my self-image.

crowded

Difference in sameness. By linus_art on Flickr.

In the end, though, I think I’ll be better off personally and emotionally.

I often fantasize about getting a cabin in the middle of nowhere, preferably on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and spending my days writing and reading. Like I used to do as an undergrad, but more fun, because I can read and write whatever I want.

I often say I’m a city girl, and it’s true, but to a point. I’ve decided I won’t stay in Vancouver just for the sake of being here, especially if it’s making me miserable. But this city has proven disappointing in so many ways that I just can’t handle it anymore. I’m echoing Steffani here a lot, and I was only here for six months. I can’t imagine what a lifetime would do to me.

So, that’s it: I’m off the job boards. They won’t make me happy, or give me a purpose in life. For now, at least. Maybe in a few months, when I’ve figured out what I really want. It’s a slow process, figuring out what you want… and I need more time.

And seriously, I really love my pajamas. Clothing is so overrated.

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Filed under Life, Personal, Thoughts, Work

The Importance of Figuring Out What You Want and Making Goals Out of It

Whoa! Long title.

During the past few days or so I’ve been looking at different continuing education programs in a variety of topics. Of primary interest is BCIT’s new Social Media Marketing certificate, but I’ve also been eyeing the writing programs at SFU.

Ever since I left grad school, choosing what to do has proven to be a difficult task. What jobs do I apply to? What kind of courses should I take? I’m interested in both writing jobs and community management jobs, but I think I’m more attracted to writing.

Then I thought, “what do I really want to do with my life? Write.” And so, the choice becomes easy: I will take courses that will let me expand and improve on my writing skills.

When your desires and needs are clear, your goals become easy to identify. No matter how many times you read it in a book, though, it’s never as obvious as when it happens to you.

Was there a time when you had trouble identifying specific goals? How did you manage to get out of it?

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Teachers are Community Managers

Sometimes, thinking outside the usual box lets you realize that your otherwise quite specialized training may have applications outside of your field.

Today’s example: teaching and community management.

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One job type I always end up looking at twice is community manager. I already blog a lot and write a ton of content as a self-employed writer. I love Twitter and Facebook and I do believe I understand how they work. My new friend Roch is a community manager himself, and I feel like I could be a great one, too. But without the communication or marketing degree, how do I show that I can do the job?

Yesterday, it hit me: teaching.

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School Desks

School Desks by DQMountaingirl on Flickr.

 

Teaching and content

The first thing you need in a good class is interesting content (or at least an interesting way of presenting boring content). Composition is especially challenging: universally hated by students and professors alike, “academic writing” courses always seems to be the one that students avoid taking until the very last minute. And don’t get me started about the remedial writing courses; it’s even worse.

Teachers have to develop original, engaging ways of presenting their material. We learn about learning styles to make sure that each student gets something that fits their way of engaging with the world. Not everyone engages through writing and reading; some need to listen, others to manipulate objects, and others to feel an emotional connection to the material.

Producing content follows the same principle: write for the readers, make podcasts and videos for the listeners, produce games for the manipulators and develop community ties for the emotional learner. A wide diversity of techniques ensures a wider audience.

Teaching and community building

It’s important to build a learning community that feels safe, especially in composition courses where people feel very protective or self-conscious about their writing. Students must feel like the teacher is on their side, not there to judge them but to help them along the way.

A safe community is one without sexism, racism, homophobia or classism. When such issues come up, teachers address them respectfully but swiftly; a good teacher never assumes that a racist or sexist comment was meant to hurt. Instead, as one of my teaching professor said, you “back out in theory”, you question the person and examine their assumptions without turning it into a personal attack.

Building an online community is also about building a safe space where people feel free to express their opinion without being judged. Users, customers and readers want to be heard and feel like they matter. This also means taking take of the trolls and other disruptors who might monopolize the conversation around useless things, but always with the utmost respect for the people with real grievances.

We all know how companies that have unilaterally deleted negative comments on Facebook, blogs and forums have received furious backlash from users and customers. By approaching these comments respectfully, like good teachers do, they would have avoided all of it. Good teachers, like good community managers, are honest and transparent and address issues when they come up.

Teaching, authority and participation

New models of teaching are centered less and less on authority and more and more on community. Yes, teachers know the subject matter, but students have opinions and knowledge that can enrich a classroom. Providing occasions for students to participate and teach each other is as valuable as the professor standing in front of the room and giving a lecture.

Community management also works on the same model: the manager (or company) isn’t omniscient. User feedback and crowdsourcing are amazing ways to involve people in your content or product. Give them an occasion to connect to each other, not only to you, and you’ll build a community with stronger ties and deeper involvement.

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Teachers are natural community managers–a rose by another name. Why do you think Raul Pacheco of Hummingbird604 has developed such an amazing community around his blog? Because he’s also an amazing teacher.

For the teachers: how do you feel your profession makes you understand community differently?
For the community managers: do you think that you could learn things from teachers?

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Today I Am Reading

Let go

Let go by Pinelife. On Flickr.

 

I’ve been spending so much time writing and grading and worrying about work that I have barely opened a book in weeks.

This morning during my freewriting session (something else I’m trying, warming up my brain every morning) I started writing about how I missed reading books all the time, no matter what kind, just reading.

Producing a lot of writing is good, but I feel I’m running out of fuel these days. Like all the timber that’s been accumulating in my brain has been burned. I need to recharge, to get rid of that pain my shoulders that’s been nagging me for a week (a hot yoga session tomorrow would be lovely) and lower my stress level. Reading is a way for me to rebuild my mind, to inspire me.

Like all the similar moments in my life when I feel like things are helpless, it’s when I start letting go that good things happen. So today I am letting go and doing something I enjoy.

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Why Teaching Writing Matters

I am currently working as a teaching assistant for an online course given by the University of Calgary called Professional Technical Communication (yes, I do that, along with writing and blogging and social media-ing. It’s the toe I’m keeping in academic waters for now).

If anything is going to convince me that English studies still has value, it’s through the teaching of writing. If I am allowed to have a modest opinion given my experience in academia, I would say that English departments could gain a lot of credibility by emphasizing the writing and analytical skills they develop.

Studying literature has intrinsic value, of course; it’s important to understand our culture and the major form of art that is literature. However, except for the few courageous ones who want to go all the way through the PhD, studying literature might not be as practical as departments want to believe.

Where I see value, however, is when I get an email like the one I got from one of my students today. Essentially, the student wasn’t happy with their grade, but thanked me for my constructive criticism and said they would apply my suggestions for the final report.

During this first batch of grading, I was often depressed at the thought that some of these students seemed to have put less time in writing the assignment than I did grading it. But this comment really raised my spirits. If my work helps students write better reports and have more success in their future careers, then I will have done something right.

To the small successes in life!

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