Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Work’

Deadlines are good for you

In Innovation on August 26, 2016 at 8:17 am

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We all have one thing in common: Not enough hours in the day.

You get up before the sun, shower and brush your teeth. You plan dinner, put out the trash, pay a couple bills over a bowl of cereal. Maybe you have kids to rouse and rush to school. You fight traffic. … All this before you land at work for a full day.

And work is filled with dozens of tasks that conspire to keep you from your bliss. If you are a writer, you probably have a story that has been rolling around the back of your mind but just can’t seem to get to it. If you are a manager, you want to spend more time coaching and helping your direct reports succeed. If you are a publisher, you could be shaking hands with advertisers or soliciting testimonials or planning the next magazine if not for all this busy work.

But there just is no time. Right?

This isn’t a guilt trip. You really are as busy you feel. Yet…

When the race is run, you might not be remembered so much for all the little things you do throughout every day as for the true accomplishments that stand like peaks in your life. It might be running a marathon or writing a novel. It might be redesigning the front page of your newspaper. You might feel like there is no time for any of that. The truth is, there is time for nothing else. And you know what? If you had more time, you likely wouldn’t reach any more of those peaks. … Read the rest of this entry »

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Like sand through the hourglass…

In Management on May 6, 2016 at 8:19 am

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Where does the time go?

I imagine that all of us can relate to the notion that some days time just slips through our fingers. At the end of a day like that we might feel frazzled and as if we really haven’t accomplished anything. Those days, which somehow don’t feel particularly productive, sometimes feel like the busiest of all.

It was after a day like that that I resolved to try and capture the shifting sands of time in my hand – or rather on a Google Sheet. The results were certainly imperfect, but they do point to what I would call “a situation.”

Over the last two weeks, I’ve asked the Half Moon Bay Review news writers to humor me and try to jot down the time they spend on various tasks. I left it pretty unstructured on purpose. The image above shows how I measured my own time over the week. I made categories for a story I was working on (Foyer), mundane tasks like email, time spent representing the newspaper in the community, on The Kicker, etc. At the end of a week, I went through, tallied up the hours and then figured out the percentage of the total time I spent on each category of tasks.

One wise gal on the staff said she needed a separate category for time spent filling out the silly form. Point taken.

The categories for each of us varied a bit, but for me the takeaway was that we all spent between 20 and 47 percent of our time on what I would call “job maintenance.” That is email, planning, answering phones, filling out the weekly news budget, going to meetings, etc. It’s the stuff that in one way is the scaffolding upon which more meaningful work is built, but it is also not that meaningful work itself. (I outlined those tasks in red in my Sheet, which showed that I spent 28 percent of my total time on clerical, planning and email tasks.) … Read the rest of this entry »

Help wanted

In Marketing on March 4, 2016 at 8:38 am

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Think back: When you have applied for jobs in the past, what attracted you to the position?

It could have been many things – the pay, the reputation of the company, the location of the job, fascinating work. Were you first alerted to the position by a help wanted ad or an online job posting?

I submit to you that you can get an indication of the company you are interested in by looking carefully at that ad. And I mention it here because some of us have occasion to place such postings, and I believe our success in finding just the right person is linked to the wording of that posting.

If you look at job boards, you’ll see some are extremely specific, with dozens of requirements like, “must be able to lift up to 15 pounds from the ground” and so on. Others are breezy, almost like a friend telling you about the job over coffee. What might you surmise about those two workplaces?

Now, what if you saw an ad for a writer that included misspellings, poor grammar and strange syntax? Does that seem like a place you would trust to edit your life’s work?

Of course not. … Read the rest of this entry »

Stop waiting for inspiration

In Ideas on January 14, 2016 at 2:56 pm

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Ah, yes. The dreaded blank sheet of paper. Er, I mean the empty white screen that stands between every writer and a job well done. It can be a veritable blizzard of white space, and you can be as lost there as in any snowstorm.

But here’s the truth and you’ve heard it before: The way out is straight ahead. Just. Get. Started.

I was reminded of this simple truth again while reading Tobias von Schneider’s terrific blog post, “The Inspiration Lie.”

The problem with finding the perfect inspiration is that it’s just a romantic dream. Waiting for inspiration to show up and solve my problems is really nothing more than an empty promise.

Inspiration is a little bit like love. Seeking for the perfect love is like seeking for perfect inspiration. The harder you try, the longer it will take. It’s like magic, maybe even luck.

Now you might think that luck is not fair and rather unpredictable because some have more and some have less. For me luck is more like an attitude.

You might not be able to control your own luck or inspiration, but you can definitely enhance it’s chances by putting yourself in positions where luck & inspiration is more likely to happen. …

The key is to start doing something, RIGHT NOW! — It’s about to start working immediately even if you don’t feel inspired or know where you are going yet. Inspiration will only hit you once you are already in motion, not while standing still doing nothing. …
Read the rest of this entry »

Do you need a new title?

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

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Does your job title matter?

Perhaps. Traditionally it mattered. The pay scales at many businesses reflect titles and descriptors like “senior” and “vice president” and “director.” Bank loan officers surely treated CEOs with more respect than fry cooks. Now, of course, the tech savants spend days trying to outdo themselves with stupid, meaningless titles that can only lead to confusion in corporate halls. Microsoft has an “Innovation Sherpa.” There is a “Digital Prophet” at AOL. Chances are, if you don’t know what the title means, there ain’t much real work attached. (If you have too much time on your hands, generate your own title...)

What about journalism titles? Does it really matter whether you are called “managing editor” or “editor?” About the names of beat? Do they matter?

I ask because of this collection of thoughts from Ken Doctor at the Nieman site. It riffs off Gannett’s “newsroom of the future” idea.

I offer two thoughts:

First, I think some journalism titles are stifling. A “cops reporter” is only going to write breaking news about crime. There is a place for that, but what if you called her “health and safety reporter” instead? If that was her title, would she have a wider understanding of her role and perhaps offer stories that hadn’t already been tweeted before she picks up the phone to find out what happened at the crime scene? I like relatively open-ended beat titles – community, education, family, safety – rather than cops and courts and government. I think it leads to fewer process stories and more stories about people. … Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping track of time

In Ideas on December 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I’m a little bit obsessed with time management. I certainly wouldn’t call it a strength of mine. I waste as much time as anyone I know. But I’m always on the lookout for the holy grail – that one tip that will add hours to my day, serenity to my life, more value to my work.

Well, this isn’t it. It’s an idea, though.

I ran into this column in the Wall Street Journal and I think it had interesting ideas.

  • Fragmentation: I agree that I seem to get the least done on those days when I have the most unrelated things to do. I think multi-tasking is really a myth. To do anything well, you have to focus on it. I just don’t believe you when you say you can focus on more than one thing at a time. What you mean is that you can focus on several things for short spurts at a time and you add all that time together and you have several productive fragments. We all have to do that out of necessity, but I don’t think it’s optimal, do you?
  • Time oasis: I love the idea of carving out some time, however limited, for the one thing that is most important to you. You can even schedule it. Get out of the office, close the door – do what you have to do. Make sure you see the forest and not just the trees. … Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with distraction

In Management on June 3, 2011 at 5:22 am

Yesterday, I was trying to explain to the Daily Iberian’s Jeff Zeringue that I consider people a distraction … the kind of distraction that makes life worth living. The point of newspapering is to connect with people. We want to reach readers. We want to be friends with our colleagues. We want our work to bring together government officials, teachers, football coaches and everyone else in our communities.

Of course, people can also be a real pain when you are trying to get stuff done. The trick is having an open door you can figuratively close halfway in order to concentrate on the task at hand.

I’ve found that, when I’m about to need an hour or so of more or less uninterrupted attention, my best course of action is to take a leisurely stroll through the newsroom. I try to talk to everyone or at least make eye contact if they are on the phone or otherwise engaged. I want to give them the opportunity to catch me in hopes that they won’t need to do so in 15 minutes time. … Read the rest of this entry »

The newsmaker test

In journalism on September 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm

This week, one Wick managing editor grappled with a pleasant kind of dilemma. He thought he might be asked to join the local chamber of commerce board of directors and he wondered aloud whether that was such a good idea.

As newspaper quandries go, this was a good one. As I told him I thought it was wonderful that local civic leaders think of him as a leader, a man of vision and someone with good ideas. And we want to be engaged in our communities. However…

It’s pretty easy to imagine a conflict down the road.

  • What if he learns sensitive details about a new business coming to town and is told that if word leaks the business will look elsewhere?
  • What if he learns in closed session of trouble within the organization?
  • What if he’s asked to vote on whether to support a tax increase measure?

Well, you get the picture… Read the rest of this entry »

Find joy in the fishing

In Motivation on April 16, 2010 at 8:17 am

Recently, we did a story about the opening of salmon season here on the California coast. A reporter and a photographer spent hours bobbing up and down on a fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean. Eventually, the party returned without any fish. I’ll never forget the boat captain’s quote:

“It’s fishing. The name of the sport isn’t ‘catching.’”

Substitute the words “work” and “fun” for “fishing” and “catching” and he might have been talking about the workplace. Tortured, I know. But bear with me.

Work, even work that you are passionate about, can often feel more like fishing than catching. If you don’t sometimes feel like you are reeling in seaweed over the course of a long day lost at sea, well, you are luckier than I, my friend.

I was thinking about this as I read on the Web about a TV executive who was asking his staff to differentiate the station’s “battery chargers” from its “battery drainers.” He wanted names, presumably so he could take some punitive action… Read the rest of this entry »