Book Review: Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner

This is the story of Sebastian Haffner, a man who lived in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. I loved hearing the story from the perspective of the average German. I can’t imagine living in such tumultuous times, but reading this book gives me a glimpse. The best part about it is the fact that it tries to answer two very important questions: how on earth a regime like the Nazis could rise to power, and how almost the entire nation where corrupted by them. It’s a wonderful story that I would recommend to anyone that is the bit interested in that period. Remember, it’s by understanding the past that we can best keep from repeating it.

So, I sold my fun little red sports car this week…

So, I sold my fun little red sports car this week and bought a 2007 Pacifica Touring. If that’s not a sign that you’re getting old, I don’t know what is! The Pacifica is now Jenny’s car and will be used for hauling the kids and dog around while our Camry will be my commuting to work car. The craziest part is, I’m totally okay with this! There was a little sadness when I closed the door on the Eclipse for that last time, but I think I’ve successfully entered the sedan stage of life. Of course, I am in the process of picking out exactly what my midlife crisis car is going to be!

In other news, the family is great. The new baby is growing and growing in mommy’s tummy — only 3 months to go! Emma is growing and learning and we’re trying to learn how to handle those fun and crazy “terrible twos”. Work is going good — I’m loving the new job and think that making the jump to consulting was a good move. At church our first grade class is about ready to promote up to second grade, which is always kind of sad, and we’ll get a brand new batch of kiddos in about 2 weeks. It’s been a good summer! We ended up not going on a big summer vacation because of the whole house buying thing, but we made several weekend trips and are planning a big trip to Table Rock Lake on Labor day. I’m especially looking forward to this and getting to take the new car.

Anyway, enough of the rambling update — back to work!

Increase your efficiency (Part 2)

Here is part two of my list of methods I am using to increase my efficiency at work.

Organization – One trap you don’t want to get into is having notes about your projects scattered over a hundred different printed off documents and hand written notes in a dozen different file folders. It will be impossible to find something on a given topic in a timely manner and you’ll waste lots of time digging. Make sure all documents are saved either in plain text or Word on your computer and then use Windows Search when you need to find something on a given topic. Meeting notes and other pieces of information can be stored in Evernote, tagged with their appropriate topics, and easily searched whenever you need to find something. The key is to let tools like these eliminate all of the time it takes you to find something.

Process Notes – This goes hand in hand with the previous one. Here is my current method of taking notes while at work. I have a notepad with me at all times that has a paper clip on the next blank page. I go to a meeting and begin taking notes w/out moving the paper clip. When I am able to get back to my computer, I turn to where the paper clip is in my book and begin “processing” these notes. What this means is I go over them again and transfer them into Evernote (or some other electronic format) so that they can be easily found later. This has worked like a charm for me.

Delegation and Empowerment – If there are any tasks on your list that can be offloaded to someone else, do that. Make it very clear to them that you completely trust them to solve the task and know that they are going to do a good job with it. Don’t micro-manage. Give them the task and trust them. People who feel empowered will rise to the occasion and surprise you with what they will accomplish.

Hide – If you find yourself constantly interrupted while you are trying to work at your desk, go somewhere else to work. Hopefully you have a laptop that you can pack up and take with you. Find an empty conference room, an unoccupied office, or go to the cafeteria. If you really want to get away, go to a coffee shop or work from home. Tell you manager that you need to do this occasionally in order to get better focus and meet your deadlines. As long as you aren’t neglecting anything by not being at your desk, I’m sure they will go for it. Just make sure that you actually do get better focus and have the results to prove it.

Bring your computer – This will only work if you have a laptop. How many times have you been in a meeting in which someone needs some information that is on your computer, so you tell them you will send it to them whenever you get back to your desk. This is a time waster. Take your laptop with you so that you can look up needed information immediately. You can also take out the hand written note stop from “Process Notes” above and immediately capture your notes in an electronic format, although it is still a good idea to get in the habit of reviewing your notes when you get back to your desk.