About this Blog

The Curmudgeon's Office blog is a spin off from my personal blog, Too Young To Be A Curmudgeon, which is full of random rants and thoughts I have on a whole host of topics. In an effort to be more organized, and also to attract a specific niche of followers, I decided to start a separate blog for my professional postings. At this blog, I'll post my tips, rants, and random thoughts on a host of professional topics from setting up a home office & office gadgets to 5S practices & time management.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Time Budget

When you're the busy bee type, who finds themselves working from home on multiple projects and trying to live a normal family life. Time management is the key to keeping your sanity.

Whether you have multiples jobs or one job that involves working on multiple projects at the same time, you may consider creating a time budget. It's a little trick that helps me out quite a bit.

Just like how I sit down each month and write out a budget for my money, during the busy periods I sit down each day and write out a time budget. I follow similar steps and rules in this process.
  • Start by determining how much time I have to work with
  • Schedule the big items that I can't compromise on first (large projects, lead time sensitive, etc.)
  • Limit time amounts I can spend on a project each day
By limiting time ,such as for me 45 minutes of time per day for blogging or updating my blog sites, can help improve efficiency and productivity. Putting a limit on the time I can work on a project helps me stay focus. Knowing I only have a specific time and a specific amount of time gives me a sense of urgency that keeps me motivated and helps me concentrate.

Before I would let my ADDS (or whatever) take over and I would bounce between project and project. Starting, stopping, starting, checking Facebook, forgetting what I was doing, starting. That was how my evenings would go. Now, with the self imposed time limit, I stay more focused.

Also when you are working on multiple projects, it can help moving forward by switching gears and working on a completely different project altogether.

Even if you are working on one project, you can use this time management technique. You can break up large projects into smaller tasks and dedicate blocks of time to each task. For example, when I design a plastic injection mold; I will dedicate time to work on key items, such as gates & runners, cooling, ejection, and mold base.

Of course I can't always stop and switch tasks when a buzzer goes off. Sometimes I stop a few minutes early or work a few minutes late until I come to a clean breaking point. But overall, setting a time budget can help me work through multiple tasks and stay focused and efficient.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cunctando Regitur Mundus

It seems where ever you work, from time to time you will have to deal with office politics. It may be someone in a managerial position that has no business being there, or someone who is trying to advance his or her career by what I call "the aft career path" kissing butts and stabbing backs. We all need to deal with it, to a point.

I have a very low tolerance for the practice of politics in the workplace. But I also like having a job, so I do my best to stay out of the way of the "politicians" and avoid being involved in their little game.

One thing I've learned over the years is that a majority of these aft career path takers end up having to pay the piper. You can't always BS and brown nose your way entirely through your career. Eventually you'll have to back the buzzwords, empty promises, vague directions, double speak and delegations  If you do your work in a honest, professional manner eventually you get there. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you have to cut your loses and go to a different company to be treated the way you deserve.

I recently read a book with a passage in it that included the Latin phrase Cunctando Regitur Mundus. Please don't ask me to pronounce it. Basically it means the patience will rule the world. I've found this to be a very helpful approach to how I view things at my current office. As I post this, we "waiting a few things out" so to speak at the office. Major long over due changes are looming. And to be completely honest, it's kind of entertaining to watch. Frustrating, but entertaining nonetheless.

Sometimes I have to say it (most likely pronounced not even remotely close to correct) in my head over and over. It does help. And it has a way more classy ring to it than "stick to the plan" or "keep your eye on the ball."

If someone hears you mumble Cunctando Regitur Mundus in a meeting, when a company kissass says "that's exactly what I was thinking, great idea boss!" they may be impressed with your intellect. Even if they can't understand it, Latin has a very distinguished, classy sound to it. Somebody could stand at a podium and read the phone book in Latin, and I would think it was some scholarly words of wisdom.

So as you patiently wait for people to get what's coming to them, Cunctando Regitur Mundus.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mr. Rogers' Office

One problem I have with both working a full job, plus working from home is keeping the two jobs separate. I used to rush home from work, grab a sandwich or a plate of leftovers, and immediately start working again while eating at my home office desk.

I've found that I need time to regroup, recharge and refocus. Now I take at least an hour break in between work sessions. I will take the dog for a quick mile long walk, make dinner and actually eat it at the dinner table, and (if time permits) do some household chores or projects. Since I stare at a computer most of the day, I try to avoid watching TV. Doing this has really improved my productivity when I start working again from home.

The past month has been busier than normal for my already normally busy life. Even taking an hour or two break has not completely helped me switch gears, so I've started a new routine that really works from me. After my time of between work I change clothes and put on a different pair of shoes. It's weird, but it really works.

I guess Mr. Rogers was really a trend setter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Portable Speaker

If you were told that you could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, while you update your TPS reports with the new cover letter; you might like one of these.

It's a portable speaker with no wires or cords. You can sync it with your MP3 player, smartphone, tablet, or iThingy via Bluetooth. This model has a built in rechargeable battery that last about 4 hours and the Bluetooth range is about 30 feet or so. It also has volume, play/pause and skip buttons on it for easy control.

I gave it it's trail run today and was quite pleased. With it being wireless, I was able to move it around my work space whenever without unplugging or moving cables around an obstacle. Sound quality was decent enough for the office. 

I like to listen to a few podcasts in the early morning before the rest of the office comes in. Having music in the background during the afternoons helps me to stay focused. If your the same way and get annoyed with extra cords, a portable speaker like this would make a nice addition to your office gadgets.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

not just what u write but how u write it 2

it's really starting to annoy me how some people no longer capitalize letters in their writing. i see it on facebook now. the beginning of sentences, names, even "i" is left lower cased. i guess it's just too much work to press that shift key. i can understand doing that with an old cell phone with no qwerty keyboard, but i know people who type like this simply because they like the style of it.

one acquaintance of mine told me she likes to write like this, because it makes her stand out. she said that not only she types like this when on facebook or texting friends, but in emails and even hand written notes. i won't argue with her. it does make her stand out, but not in a good way.

it's even worse when people use text shorthand in email or other communications. i can c sum1 doing it 4 twitter or if they're txting with a phone w/o a qwerty keyboard. but there's no other excusable reason.

as you can easily notice from my posts on this blog, my grammar, punctuation and spelling are far from perfect. i'm an engineering by trade, we're a type that are much better communicating with numbers, drawings, graphs and tables. but i do try my best.

it can be hard to get ahead in the professional world, please don't make it harder for yourself. little things like writing interoffice emails like this can damage your potential for advancement. how you do and say things are just as important as what you do and say.

in the workplace if you send your emails out typed like this post, how do you think it makes you looks to the recipients? someone who stands out as an independent thinker, or somebody too lazy and sloppy to hold down the shift key?

More Good Gmail News!

Check out this article on Wired.com

This is huge for someone like me who uses gmail on  iOS devices.

The Best Secret Gmail Feature Is Hiding In Plain Sight - Jesus Diaz

Saw this gmail tip today.
I'm sure it's old news to some of my more technical friends, but I thought it was pretty cool.

Quick Tip #4: Office Shirt

Have you ever spilled your lunch on your shirt, right before an afternoon meeting with some new customers? Or decided to test the limits of "Causal Friday" only to discover the owners of the company our in the office with some new investors, and they want to meet with you?

Bad Picture of My Office Shirt
I have been in those situations several times. That's why I keep a spare "office shirt" hanging in the back of the cubical. Just a simple plain light blue shirt that will match pretty much any pair of pants I wear. That way if I spill coffee or lunch on myself before an important meeting or find myself under dressed, I can quickly recover.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Welcome To The Team! Now, Just Stand Around For A Few Hours.

Today a new Design Engineer joined the team. You would have thought he showed up on a cold call sales visit. He was hired a month and a half ago and his start date, of today, was known for weeks. Yet when he showed up this morning, he had no desk chair, no phone, and his computer was not ready for him. Plus the CAD software, which is required for his job, was not installed yet.

Nothing says "Welcome to the Team!" like showing up for your first day of work and; find your new boss unavailable because he's in the Monday Morning Production Meeting, have no place to sit, have a computer you can't log into (and even if you could, you can't start working), and not having a phone to let IT know they haven't finished the task they had a month to do.

There is no excuse for this. Even before he was hired, the powers that be knew there needed to have a work space set up. There should not be a scramble by IT and fellow team members to set things up while the new guys stands around. It took half the day to get his work area setup. Granted the first day is never productive, but this is just pathetic. Now the new hired might have seeds of doubt sown about his new job. Another example of a bad first impression that is totally avoidable.

Quick Tip #3: Turn Off Smartphone.Email@Work.com

If you have your work email on your smartphone, turn it off when you're in the office.

The thirty seconds it takes to disable the email account will boost your productivity. There's no benefit to have your phone beep to let you know it received the same email that you are currently looking at on your computer. Plus it's a distraction in meetings. Who cares if you find out you have a new office email while you walk down the hallway, it will be at your desk when you get there.

It will take you thirty seconds to turn it off when you get to the office and to turn it back on when you leave. How much time do you spend through out the day marking the emails "read" on your phone that you already read on your computer?