Sunday, May 6, 2012

Juggling Priorities

It's not that I haven't *wanted* to write a blog post. I've got about a dozen ideas for posts rattling around in my little pea brain. None of them are particularly well fleshed-out though. Which shouldn't be surprising to me (but somehow is), given that the fleshing out doesn't usually happen until I'm halfway through writing the actual post. So, I guess I've been using that as an excuse.

Or, rather, I should say one of a few excuses so that I don't feel bad simply about not making the blog a priority where it belongs, up there with all the other *must-do* priorities I have right now. Needless to say, I haven't been doing a good job of managing my time, with the ramp up of time at work to about 60 hours a week.

I realized about half-way through last week that I was getting more sleep on KISKA, even when XO and I were port and starboard, standing six hours on/six hours off of watch, than I have been lately. But getting home at 7 pm, finding dinner, and getting everything ready for the next day, which kicks off a short time later, at 5 am, doesn't leave much time for oh, much of anything, never mind sleep.

Lots of things have suffered. I finally got around to cleaning the house yesterday. The dust bunnies I vacuumed up from underneath the bed had very nearly morphed into dust elephants. And thankfully, I was able to clean up the brush pile in the back yard before the city started charging me a $10/day fine for encouraging pests. And then there are the things I'm just not willing to let suffer...daily workouts (though I have started biking to work...call it multi-tasking) and reacquaintancing conversations, even if both cut into sleep. I've said it before -- I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Last week was particularly bad. There were a couple of largish projects due that I just didn't have any idea for the best way to proceed. I asked other people in the office how they were going about completing their portions of one specific tasker, and got some good advice. Nevertheless, I found myself procrastinating until the absolute last minute, and then staying until 7:30 pm to get the information together. Interestingly, once I actually sat down to add my contribution, I found that it didn't take me as long as I had expected. I think I got stuck in my own linearity...the first item on the list of things for which I was supposed to be providing analysis had me completely stumped. I never bothered to look beyond that first item to see if any of the other topics might have been easier. Someone else took over that first item, and I soared through the rest of the stuff. There's a lesson somewhere in that.

Once I got done with that project, I took another hour to clean up my email inbox. Good *lord* but do we get an insane amount of emails through that office. I've been gone from my desk for an hour long meeting, to come back to a couple dozen emails or more. Some are spam, some are FYSA (pronounced fye-sah, means "for your situational awareness"), some are taskers. Somehow the FYSA ones take more time than I think they should...one of the things I'm learning in this job is that the Big Picture matters. That random FYSA email talking about the House budget proposal actually does have relevance to what I do.

Which brings me to think about why this job is such a time suck right now for me, when things are supposed to be relatively mellow ("relative" being the operative term. I've heard things get quite a bit busier with longer hours in another month or so when we start getting into negotiations with the Department about our FY14 budget.). None of any of the issues I'm dealing with are particularly difficult by themselves. Some are very technical (oof, the things I'm learning about FTE, FTP, PPAs, CIFPs, and all the details of how they are reported in the budget), but none of them is rocket science (I actually know a rocket scientist, and he *is* wicked smart, so it always makes me smile to use that analogy.). They're just tedious and intricate and oh, yeah, *important.* And inter-related.

That's where I'm having the troubles. I'm still green enough with personnel issues that I've got an almost debilitating case of not knowing what I don't know. I'll ask a question, expecting to understand, and be able to bound the answer, but instead find that the answer just opens up a whole 'nother can of worms that I have to untangle and identify. I wish I could share a good example, but I have to leave this in very general terms. And then I'll ask another question about another topic, and find that it relates to the first one. I feel like I'm studying a road map, but missing all the intersections because I don't know what half the streets look like.

I know it will all come together with time and the experience which I am slowly gaining. I just have to hope it happens quickly enough so that there's not a major collision between issues I don't even know are issues.

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