Saturday, May 29, 2010

Night owl or Early bird?

So what are you? A night owl, who stays up late to be productive in the quiet hours of the night? Or an early bird, who rises with the sun and finds their productive hours before everyone else is stirring?

I ask this because you will probably need to find out which one - and I say ONE for a reason- and try to implement your working hours around your body's clock. While we can be productive during the daytime, many of us are bombarded with "real life" during those hours - phones ringing, kids having to go places, assignments, doctor appointments, errands - and find that we can lose great chunks of time to these seemingly mundane tasks. If we try to work only during these hours, we may lose a lot of "productivity."

Instead, if you know you can block of two or three hours in the evening (or morning) to dedicate solely to your production, you will be that much more efficient!

A word of caution: Don't do both. Burning the candle at both ends is physically and mentally debilitating. While it may work in the short term, it's detrimental to health, well-being, and possibly career.

Don't look for me to be an early bird - if the sun isn't up, neither am I. Coffee is required for me to begin moving in the morning. However, I am quite often up past midnight. I seem to do my best work in the evenings. (Maybe it's because I'm married to an early bird, and he's out cold by 10p?)

Use your time wisely and efficiently.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ask for Help

Sometimes we think that asking for help shows weakness. Not so. Asking for help is an act that shows incredible self-awareness. You know you don't know something.

In this profession of court reporting, we all need help from time to time. The new reporter should ask for help - from everywhere. But most especially, the new reporter should ask an experienced proofreader to assist in the production of their transcripts. Why? Because the proofreader - whether it be a former court reporter or someone with a good English language background - is going to catch things that the newbie may not see or be able to assist in some other manner, like formatting or ethical dilemma.

The experienced reporter should ask for help too. When you get more pages than you can produce, why not hire a scopist so that you don't have to spend even more time in front of a computer? The idea of having a REAL LIFE is just so appealing. After all, we only get one shot at this.

If you're learning software, if you're trying to market yourself, if you need help in a volunteer event, or if you want to understand about some little facet of your profession - or life - ask. You'd be amazed. Sometimes the people are just WAITING FOR YOU to do so.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Being aware of your competition

There's a lot of talk out there about now within the stenographic association about having a competing method having a seminar at our national convention; the working title is "ER/DR, what it can and can't do."

Now to me, knowing what your competition is, how it works, what it can and cannot do as compared to you seems like a good thing. If you know its strengths and limitations, uses, problems, etc, it makes you stronger and more well prepared to argue against that position and to advocate for your own.

I've always believed that knowledge is power. Some would say that because of my willingness to listen to all sides that I have no loyalty to my profession. I would say that absolutely, because of my ability to listen and to hear and to evaluate, it makes me that much stronger as an advocate for my chosen field.

Never would I say that you should abandon your strongly held opinion - that is, unless and until you have sufficient evidence to sway you otherwise. But to hold yourself away from information that is available to you, perhaps, is keeping yourself in the dark and more close-minded than you really wish to be.

Simply an observation. I will always opt for more information than less; but, as with everything in life, personal choice is the prerogative.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Garth Brooks and unanswered prayers.

So today was the second day for the court reporting manager. He had to be at work yesterday at 9:00 a.m. and work all day in an office. I was in court yesterday, with some fun lawyers - playing "whack-a-mole" with them at a hearing. Really, it was fun!

Today I got the gift of being on the board - time to produce my transcript pages. If I had gotten the job, I would've been in that office, going through paperwork and my transcripts would have been sitting here, not being worked on. My proofing wouldn't be as far along as it is. And I'd have a huge list of things to do for a new job with a huge learning curve. Right now, I'm pretty comfortable with the responsibilities before me.

So I've mastered the disappointment - and sometimes you really do have to thank God for the unanswered prayers. Life is good and you just have to let go and let God.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Closing doors, opening windows.

Well, sometimes you can have a letdown. You can't let it get you down, though.

The position of court reporting manager looked like a perfect fit based on the job description. The interview went well. My skill set and curriculum vitae, I would say, stacked up to the competition. But the job went elsewhere.

Now, being the competitive soul I am, I am very disappointed. I still believe in myself. I just can't linger over it. Negative energy is detrimental. The decision is made and I can't change it. I can only be a professional and move on. I've written a thank-you note to the judge I called at the last minute to thank him for at least giving his opinion of me. I've sent a note of congratulations to the person who got the job. I've had a good wallow in self-pity. And now it's time to get back on the horse and realize that the bigger picture may be that there's something better out there for me.

Just because you think you're right for the job, you may not be. Take a moment to step back and reflect on what you want for your career. Look at the big picture. Maybe there's something inherently off about the fit for the position. Maybe there's something looming right around the corner. Whatever it is, jump back up and dust yourself off. This is your life. You can spend it in negative ways or positive ways.

I choose positive.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Work Smarter

We court reporters spend a lot of time in front of our computers. We have specialized software that helps us be efficient. What many people don't do is learn how their software can make their lives easier.

Take advantage of training sessions. Most of our CAT (computer-aided transcription) programs have user groups that meet yearly, if not more frequently. Some groups meet in exotic locations (Las Vegas, NY, LA, etc) and make for a nice business trip/escape/networking opportunity as well as a training experience. If you can't make a big trip, join with a group of local reporters who also use your software and have a little meeting quarterly and share tips and tricks.

My software has its annual user group meeting in Las Vegas. We spend 2-1/2 days learning about how to make our lives easier, do tasks more quickly, learn new features. Our software developer takes our suggestions - and usually implements them into the next development version.

This year's trip paid for itself: I learned - really learned - how to make the transcript indexing portion of the software work for me. Instead of manually typing an index - on every transcript - I can literally hit a button and it is made for me. A little work up front - maybe an hour or so - to set up how it should look will save me hours for every transcript I ever produce in the future.

By working smarter, not harder, I have freed up just that much more time for a real life. And in the end, isn't that why we work, to enjoy our life?