Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Down Time

Court reporters often complain about being TOO BUSY.  In fact, I think many of us wouldn't know what to do with down time if we had much of it.

When your calendar falls apart (freelance OR official), try to look at it as a gift.  What's really awesome is if you're caught up with your transcript pages and filing.  Then it is REALLY a gift.  How often do we have a day that is solely our own?  As in, you don't have to be anywhere or do anything.  It's rare.  Treasure it.

There are so many things we just don't seem to find the time for anymore.  Like a walk in the park.  Or a movie.  Or a nap.  Our souls cry out for just these things - time to just stop for a moment and BE.

If you get one of those rare gifts of down time, remember to look at it in a positive light.  There will always be more work to do - in our profession, especially in times of recession and bad economies, we actually have more work than less - so do something just for yourself.  You'll emerge from your free time more energized and also more relaxed (I know that sounds funny), not to mention more mentally ready for your next assignment.

Honor your down time!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It really IS a team sport!

When someone asks you if you interrupt the proceedings, what do you say? 

I say ABSOLUTELY.  My duty is to the record, not anyone's ego.  When I started the job in the court system, I was a little worried about how that would be welcomed.  In depositions, I was pretty confident and had no trouble asking for help of the parties/witnesses.  In court, I was really hoping it would be the same. 

When I met my current judge, we chatted, and he agreed that he would have NO IDEA what I was or was not getting and that it was incumbent on me to let him know.  PHEW.  And whenever I go out of county, I introduce myself to the judge I'll be working for and let them know that's how I operate.  All have welcomed it.

Today it came up in spades!  It was a civil case, wherein the plaintiff was a member of a corporation and their attorney was asking to withdraw... All the parties and their attorneys were present.   It was starting to get a little hairy in there, and I glanced at the Court and he suggested that they only speak one at a time, or "she" (me) would yell at "us" (the participants, including His Honor).  Another 20 pages or so, and I did interrupt.  Loudly, abruptly, but politely, "I'm sorry.  One at a time, please."  To which the offending party took offense and wanted the Court to admonish ME.

I do so love my judge.  He said, in no uncertain terms, that NO, it is her JOB to do that, and the only way she can retain the words is to do it suddenly and loudly so that we stop.  We have to respect that she cannot take two people talking at the same time.  It is PHYSICALLY impossible.

We had no more problems the rest of the day.

Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself - AND THE RECORD.  This is our DUTY.  If you are NOT GETTING IT, you MUST say so.  Don't rely on audio.  More often than not, there will be a malfunction; you MUST use your brain to recognize when you just can't get something.  The true professionals will appreciate your record consciousness.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keeping up with the Administrivia!

Have you ever had a day where you just couldn't see your desk and KNEW you had to tackle it before it got even worse?  That was my day yesterday. 

My computer was running slowly and had a lot of files on it.  My filing hadn't been done (in fairness, I had been gone for two weeks) and was getting to be a big stack.  My backup documentation wasn't in order.  Accounting.  Et cetera.

I've tried in the past to have a routine time when I do my backups.  I wanted to do it on Fridays.  Doesn't always happen that way.  Wanted to do it weekly.  Again, not really.  What I did yesterday (yes, Sunday) was back off over two months' work from my notebook and burn to my backup drive.  And caught up my Excel spreadsheet that I use to refer back to when attorneys call asking for a transcript from a date, oh, two years ago - so I can tell where I was. 

It took a long time, but it was well worth it.  My computer will run faster - after I defrag it - and my desk is amazingly clear (not totally, but now only the urgent stuff is left so I can get to it!).

Don't do as I do.  Please.  develop a routine and stick to it as best you can.  Otherwise, you may lose a Sunday - or worse, a whole lot of data.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thinking about Those Windows and Doors

Remember a few months ago when I got passed over for that job?  After about 48 hours, I realized that it probably wasn't the best fit for me.  After having a bit of a pity party, all was well in my world and life went on.

The same thing happened last week in the contested election.  Remember how excited I was to have been nominated?  I went through a pretty lengthy process to get to the nomination stage, but in the end I was defeated by a candidate who got on the ballot through petition.  Now, I will readily admit to being offended that I was the only nominee for Director to be challenged.  My qualifications, I thought, were good.  Time of service, state leadership, etc.  In the end, it was a close vote (65 votes) and the challenger took the seat.  For about, oh, 24 hours I was in a pretty deep pity party/funk.  The number of hugs, e-mails, and kind words pretty much sent me over the edge; my emotions are usually pretty near the surface, and they kind of bubbled over.

After that 24 hours, though, I realized it wasn't such a bad thing.  Three years committing to an organization - volunteering, no less - is a long time.  Especially at a time when my state's budget for reporting is in flux and I don't want to be the one let go.  By the party on Saturday night I was smiling and laughing - and dancing with my opponent/colleague.

So those two doors that closed... it was just God's way of saying, "Nah, you don't really want to do that.  I've got something better."  Of course I have to wait for it, but that's all right, too.

In the end, we have to follow our hearts and then when we are handed disappointments, be willing to see that little window opening up down the hall.

Best wishes to all the successful candidates for NCRA board service.  See you in Las Vegas in 2011.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What a Great Place and Time!

It's that time of year, time for Annual Convention for NCRA.  This year we're at the Hilton Chicago - as we were a few years ago (2004) and the hotel is wonderful!  What a great location and a wonderful professional opportunity.

This year I came early to watch the Board of Directors meeting and then to participate in the election of officers. Then, of course, comes the actual educational experience.

This opportunity to meet with our fellow colleagues from across the country only happens once or twice a year - and it is so worthwhile.  Friends you make at convention become lifelong friends.  Friends you've made on chat boards are finally "flesh and bone" and you can connect all over again, in person.  Governance of your professional organization - strong participation by members - is available!  Challenging skills tests - realtime and speed - are also available for you to see just what you can do. Banquets, cocktail parties, plenary sessions, small groups.  The opportunities are endless.

For me, I'm really looking forward to it.  Except there's this pesky little speech I still have to finalize.  I have until Wednesday night (want to give the CART provider some time, anyway) to wrap it up.  I'll see you back around in a couple of days, probably; sooner if I get that speech done!

Come play in Chicago, NCRA members!  It's an opportunity you don't want to miss.