Daily Archives: May 12, 2014

Remember me

I tried to login to this blog today, and evidently I could not remember my correct password. I had to do the “lost password” email recovery thing. Lame. Embarrassing. Though having only written 1 post here in more than 6 months, why should I be surprised that I forgot how to so much as sign in?

Last Fall was very busy and stressful, and then I guess I just lost momentum. Not to mention that as my current position includes blog-writing, I get a little blogged out at work. Plus most of my good ideas usually did come from work, and now I have a work-affiliated outlet to release those…finds.

I want to come back here, though. I have all the good intentions. I have a list of ideas. But when push comes to shove, I’ve been curling up on the couch with a book and a cat (yes, I have cats now!) or hanging out with my sewing machine (yes, I sew now- quilts!) instead of curling up with my blog (there’s an image).

A few minutes ago, when I was reviewing my post list and bumming hard at how few entries there have been in the past 18 months (gee, I wonder what that coincides with)—Is it really possible that I’ve written 196 posts here? How did that happen?—one of them caught my eye. Actually it wasn’t the post title—“Career Reflections” (Oct. 26, 2012) that caught my eye, it was one of the tags I gave it: “area of destiny.”

Huh?   I vaguely recalled that there was a quotation somewhere that included that phrase; that I must have used it in the entry. And then I was curious, so I thought, Ah hell, and read through the whole thing. It’s funny to read things you’ve written so long ago that you forgot them; it’s almost like reading something written by another person, yet you know it was yourself. But I digress…

I spent a lot of time in the “Career Reflections” post waxing philosophical about how 2012 was the “Year of Big Things” in my career and basically how it all led to this (although I don’t necessarily say that explicitly), with the “this” being my current position as Archivist for Digital Initiatives & Outreach at Wright State University Special Collections & Archives, which I started in November 2012.

I couldn’t help reading parts of it with a bit of extra pessimism (or maybe more of my normal amount of pessimism because let’s face it, that’s a pretty perky entry).

I was particularly amused at this part:

…whatever you’re doing, assuming you have the ability needed for the task, you have total control over how well you do it. Some people have a tendency to do the minimum required. Perhaps because they are just lazy, are happy where they are career-wise and maybe hard work isn’t properly rewarded anyway, or just don’t realize that it’s going to matter to a potential future employer.

In my case, it just seems to be in my nature to not half-ass things. I just have this tendency to work hard and want things done right. (I realize I sound like a pompous asshole right now. Forewarning, it’s probably only going to get worse in the next few sentences.) It’s always been this way. In grade school, I remember getting a “C” on a minor homework paper once, and I cried. I’ve had college professors tell me that they would put my paper on top, grade it first, and use it as a sort of yardstick for the others. (I’m not joking.) I think sometimes I do a lot more work than I need to, but I like feeling satisfied with myself that I’ve done a good job and that I’ve done my best. And if sometimes that happens to have resulted in more work than what was strictly required, then so be it.

You’re probably wondering which part of that I thought was funny. No, I’m not laughing at myself for sounding like such a pompous asshole. That part’s all true, and I realized it at the time.

I suppose it’s mainly the part about “you have total control over how well you do it.”

Now before I explain that, I’m going to tell you this:  My husband the electrical engineer does a lot of project management. A lot. And sometimes I have to hear him talk about it, just as he has to hear me talk about history and archives (it’s only fair). Obviously, most of what he says goes in one ear and out the other, because it’s not particularly interesting to me, or I don’t understand it (again, he could probably say the same about what I tell him, we both know this).

But here’s one thing he’s told me before that I actually remember—and apparently it’s an actual project management “thing” because dear god, I just Googled it, and it came right up (no, I didn’t actually think my husband invented it but I didn’t think it would be that easy to Google):

You can have cost, schedule, or quality. Pick two.

Cost & schedule: You can have it done cheap and fast, but quality’s going to suffer.
Schedule & quality: You can have it done fast & well, but damn it’s going to cost you.
Cost & quality: You can have it done more cheaply, though still of good quality, but it’s going to take longer.

Now, back to that thing I said: “you have total control over how well you do it.” If I had qualified that with something along the lines of “given the constraints of time and other resources,” then maybe I wouldn’t be shaking my head at 2012 myself. Then maybe it would have been an accurate statement.

When it comes to human labor (i.e. something that doesn’t really have a cost in supplies, just work) in a position of a given annual salary, the cost part is pretty much set. I cost the same, no matter what. So what it comes down to is schedule or quality. And actually, I think quantity figures into this somehow, but I’m just not sure where. (I suppose that’s the “scope” part mentioned in that Project Management Triangle from Wikipedia, but it didn’t figure into the particular version of this that I always hear my husband saying.)

If there are X amount of things I’m required to do (scope) in Y amount of time (schedule), I can do them all a little bit, and I might even get them all “done,” but none of them are going to be done as well as I’d like (suffering quality). Or, I can do a portion of X well/properly, and the rest are either half-assed (in my opinion, though perhaps not in someone else’s) or fumbled entirely.

So when cost is basically fixed, making it essentially a non-variable (you can’t get more help); and everything is “important”; and half-assing “important” stuff just to get it all done is basically a soul-crushing violation of who you are, what’s an over-achiever to do?

I’m actually asking you. Wise words welcome. Because for someone who prides themselves on a job well done, a million jobs not-done-well-enough doesn’t feel good.

Because all I can think of is: Fetch me a goddamned Time-Turner.