Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The importance of a support team

Have you ever bitten off more than you could chew?  Were your eyes bigger than your stomach?  You know what I mean.

In the four weeks since I've been back from vacation, I have racked up FOUR CD transcription jobs, one civil appeal, several small civil hearing transcripts, and a couple of criminal cases to transcribe.  Who can do all that on their own?

I can't.  But thankfully, I have a crew of very helpful and professional folks who are willing to work with me.  Two scopists, a typist, another court reporter, and a proofreader.  They are the ONLY WAY I will be able to meet all my deadlines and get some sleep.  One has a degree in journalism, another is a paralegal, another a recent court reporting school grad.  All have experience with vocabulary, legal transcription, and the English language.  They are good businesspeople; they do the work asked of them well and on time.  I know I can count on them.

As a matter of fact, they are the reason I don't worry too much when I see the stack of projects on my desk.  I'm not Wonder Woman, but they sure make me look as if I am.

It's wonderful to be walking this path with my friends/colleagues/support team rather than walking alone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taking stock and being thankful

It's that time of year... where we start to nest because of the cooler temperatures, where we eat more soups and stews of root vegetables for the comfort of it all, and that we take the time to reflect on just what we've accomplished in the past year and what we are truly thankful for.

Any who have followed this blog for the past year know it's been a pretty rough year in my world in the professional arena.  But what any challenge will do - if we pay attention - is teach us lessons.  The biggest lessons I've learned?  That what I think I want may not really be best for me AND how incredibly blessed I am by the friendships that I have developed throughout my professional career.

As I found out this weekend that I will not be reimbursed for the four nights at the Chicago Hilton that I had requested, I reminded myself that my friends took up the plate and passed it such that they raised enough to cover that expense.  Who has friends like that?  Me.  I am humbled.  The decision of the governing body will have profound effect on my participation in the national association.  No final decisions have been made, but this year has taught me to really delve within myself to see what's best for me and make decisions accordingly.  The highest and best effort for the nurturing of the soul. 

I am reminded of a decision I made about 10 years ago to stop taking voice lessons professionally.  When the joy is no longer there and your lesson becomes something you dread instead of something you look forward to, something has to change.  When your professional association fails to meet your expectations, how do you respond? 

It's a challenge and sometimes painful to look that closely at oneself.  However, at this season of the year especially, we are called to do just that. 

I am thankful for the opportunities that have been afforded me in this, my chosen and beloved career path.  I am thankful for friends and family whose love and support has never been in doubt.  I am thankful for the ability to make choices instead of having them made for me.  I am thankful for a job to go to every day.  Oh, I am so thankful.

No matter what, it's very important to never lose sight of our blessings.  A very wonderful Thanksgiving to you all.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Looking back and being thankful

This weekend is the first board meeting of the newly seated NCRA Board of Directors.  You know, the one I was NOT elected to serve on?

I think back, yet again, to the doors/windows of my past posts.  I'm currently in the midst of preparing an appellate transcript of close to 2,000 pages.  This weekend I'm planning on spending most of my time in front of the computer; had I been elected to the board, I'd have lost all this time for my production.  Of course, one could say, "But, Tori, you'd have planned for that and your scopists could have done more of your editing," and that might be true.

Nonetheless, I'm here, working on what needs to be done for MY career, not necessarily in furtherance of the profession, per se; but I'm making a difference where I need to for the moment.  I'm good with that.

I hope the Board has a very productive meeting up in the DC metro area; I know I'll be productive here in Wake Forest.  All is as it should be and I am thankful for the small blessings of unanswered prayers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank you, scheduling gods

so I got a gift today - more production time.  thankfully!

I sure don't mind reporting a criminal case if that's what I'm scheduled to do; indeed, it's my job.  But with a looming appellate deadline and a few hundred pages still to be edited, I could use some more edit time.  I got my wish.  The defendant who was set to have her trial today (Friday), decided over the Veterans Day holiday to plead down and take probation.  Instead of being in court all day, I was on the record for about 40 minutes and done for the week - court adjourned sine die.

After a quick trip home (about 75 minutes to drive it), I was back at my computer working on my transcripts by lunchtime.

What I've said before about putting it out there to the universe works.  The question is now, of course, will I take advantage of all the extra editing time I've been given.

(hopefully the answer is yes - I'll let you know when it's time to deliver that transcript!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

How NOT to Prepare for a Certification Exam

We all strive to improve our skills on a daily basis, and several times a year we are allowed to test our skills.

Don't kid yourself into thinking, "I do this every day.  Why should I practice?"
Why?  Because testing is NOT the same as the real-world environment in which we work.  In the real-world environment, there are breaks, small pauses, misspeaks, breaths, variable speeds.  In a testing environment, the speed is regulated and you get ONE CHANCE (at least in a realtime setting) to get everything right. 

You might say, "Well, yeah, but at work, I get one chance."  I disagree - you've already told your clients there may be errors or sound-alike words that come up, or phonetics, or a dropped period or comma; that it will be a clean transcript upon final delivery.  In testing situations, every last detail must be perfect because you can't go back and fix it.

Five minutes at 180 words per minute is 900 words.  Plus punctuation.  Testing allows you to make 36 errors.  That is all.  And all it takes is a moment of distraction - say you didn't write a word correctly and you KNOW it, go back to fix it, make it worse - and you could potentially kill your chances for a passing grade.

Not to mention you may have just regular test anxiety.  Nerves.  Your heart is beating too fast.  Your environment isn't familiar.  Uncomfortable chair.  Cold room.  Bad night's sleep (that's mine this last time - woke up at 3:30 and couldn't go back to sleep).  Bad breakfast.  Any number of things.

What's the answer?  Start practicing.  NOW.  Be honest with yourself.  What do you need to work on?  Is it your conflicts?  Concentration?  Speed?  Take practice tests and gauge where you are.  Don't wait until the last week before the test and think you can cram.  This is NOT the kind of exam you can cram for.

In the end, certification gives you an added boost to your confidence (to some, to their paycheck as well!).  Being prepared is key.  See you in May - and this time I promise to be ready.