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Overwhelmed? Distracted? My 15-minute plan to increase productivity plus lose that belly fat

I lied about the belly fat. But not about my 15-minute plan. Here’s the deal. Right now I have a lot of work to do and much of it is not that interesting. Motivation is low. So, when work gets like this, I jot every item down on sheet of scrap paper, set my stop watch, and spend 15 minutes on each thing. 15 minutes is enough time to make progress and you feel productive when you can cross stuff off a list. That’s it. Clocking out…

Friday, and I’ll always have Paris ™

Paris Las Vegas, that is….pictured here with Bellagio basin in foreground

CTO in Vegas: The Last Day

Tomorrow I leave Vegas. I have new respect for engineers, odds makers, and for little people in shamrock-themed costumes with microphones hawking people into the bar to gamble on beer pong. Also, for the triumph of the profit motive over the natural environment–for now. Meanwhile, I worked for an hour yesterday and the day before and I still have 72 unread emails. Ah, work.

CTO in Vegas: Get Those Stakes Up Higher

I’m in Vegas on a vacation with my parents. Last night, when we stood on the edge of the gigantic 8-acre basin watching the Bellagio fountains shoot 20 stories high and shimmy in perfect sync with the extraordinarily loud recording of Elvis singing “Viva Las Vegas” all I could think of was what it would be like to admin those fountains. They go off every half hour and draw enormous crowds. THEY CAN’T GO DOWN! BABIES ARE DYING! MONEY WILL BE LOST!

Perhaps I’m going about it all wrong…

One of my staff members used to work in London. She reports that at lunch, everyone would take several hours and frequently have a drink or two. One of her British co-workers was horrified in hearing that in American people pull out brown lunch bags at noon to eat at their desk. “But that’s not civilized!” he said. Then he said, “You know, we’ll just let you Americans run the world…” and then he laughed an evil laugh.

Economy’s tanking, yet fewer are going to grad school?

For the first time ever during an economic downturn, the number of people taking the GRE is decreasing. The GMAT is still increasing though. So we’ll just have a lot of MBAs. That’s nice. I think I still have my 1980s shoulder pads and scrunchies….

It’s the perfect storm: are you prepared?

Hey there, now’s that time of year when everyone starts going crazy. Why? Because now’s when:

  • semester ends and students are desperate to finish their classes
  • semester ends and faculty are desperate to grade students
  • semester ends and staff are desperate to wrap up their fall projects
  • winter’s here and weather can be sketchy
  • winter’s here and the days are still getting shorters
  • holiday’s are here and, um, you know, no pressure to hang with family and friends and have fun and shop and eat and drink, yeah, no pressure….
  • economy’s tanking, which adds a soupcon of insanity to all the above

So, everyone relies on IT now … Continue Reading

Can I get a hairnet too?

Today my boss’s assistant stopped by to drop off my new name tag! It’s spiffy: with my name, title, and our institution engraved in white on the plastic maroon-colored background. Instead of attaching to my clothes with a pin or a clip, there’s a magnet on the back. I wasn’t sure how to respond to the “gift.” I mean, it’s not as if the other staff wear name tags. I figure it was meant to wear to Trustee meetings, etc. where folks might not know who I am. Still, there’s a bit of “I got promoted and all I got … Continue Reading

Friday, and the atheists’ sign is on its way back

At our state capitol, the atheists posted a sign to accompany the traditional nativity scene. It was stolen, but has been found and is on its way back:

The Holiday Party

We’ve discussed elsewhere the torment of team building exercises and the wretchedness of retreats, but not yet the horrors of The Holiday Party. My staff seem to want to have one, and the general climate here suggests that I can’t do as I’ve done in the past: host it in a bar where I made up for the lack of holiday spirit (because I hate holiday spirit) by giving people Real Spirits. Mmmmm spirits.

Here, I think it will be more traditional, except I’m being cantakerous and have asked the Party Planning Committee (yes, it is like “The Office”) to keep … Continue Reading

President’s Cabinet presentation

on cloud computing went fine. I noted that one of the upsides to having inadequate bandwidth is that we get fewer letters from the RIAA…. no network, no piracy!

Run and hide. Run and hide.–Terry Benedict on e-discovery

What sucks up all your time, cannot be discussed, and will never be acknowledged to your satisfaction? Legal stuff. Been there, done that, and it’s not dead yet. It’s like dealing with the cops: give them what they ask for, don’t ask any questions, and for God’s sake, don’t point out to them any faulty assumptions or volunteer alternative approaches.

Happy Thanksgiving!

You can buy the pattern.

Blame it on the monkeys

Shared this funny New Yorker essay with my staff. Why do IT plans sound so much like this?

Bad Meeting

Last week a staff member in human resources asked to meet “just to check in.” My calendar was booked and I was stressed due to the budget presentation. But, I thought, “how nice to just check in with me to see how it’s going. It’s true I’ve been under some strain, and it’s really sweet to make sure all’s going well…” So I scheduled the 30-minute “coffee break” and showed up on time. What a fool! It’s like I got trapped at an Amway presentation. The staff member had a list of questions regarding database projects and priorities and the … Continue Reading

Moody’s Oct. report on higher ed

In October, Moody’s issued a special comment to subscribers on the impact of the credit crisis and the weak economy on U.S. higher ed.  The report doesn’t sound many alarms and mostly suggests that good management and governance are more important than ever. However, they do ask the question: has tuition reached a tipping point? If so, we will see higher priced private colleges lose students to lower cost public and community colleges. If you’re at a high-priced college that is heavily tuition dependent and where students tend to graduate with greater debt than at peer schools, then, perhaps, you … Continue Reading

Educause: Fear the Spirit?

One of my staff is here for his first Educause. His initial enthusiasm has shifted to a bit of fear and uncertainty. He described the environment here as like seeing a tsunami coming. He feels it’s clear some people will ride the wave and others will be swept away. The theme for the big shindig tonight is “Feel the Spirit!” I think they’re thinking Halloween, but all I can think of is a tent revival–maybe I’ll start speaking in tongues?

My Dog Is Older in Human Years Than My New Consultants, or My New Consultants, in Dog Years, Are Not Yet 3

Today I met with my new organizational consultants, Kyle and two other guys whose names I didn’t catch. All three are undergraduate business majors at the college. We have a course here on organizational management and I asked the professor if she needed some case study fodder. She went for it and now I have these three guys who are going to take a bunch of data I’ve thrown them and propose a reorg to create more agility and better services for less money. So far, they are enthusiastic. I also tried to get the computer science students to work … Continue Reading

Today. Was. Interesting.

My day started with my boss’s monthly 3-hour team meeting. I wasn’t looking forward to the meeting because I think no regularly scheduled meeting should last 3 hours This one ended early when an out-of-control car drove by our window on the sidewalk, crashing into parked cars, shrubs, light fixtures, and ultimately into another moving car. Students were screaming, etc. but no one except the driver was hurt. Still trying to figure out what happened there.

I returned to my office to get a call from my boss about how to embed a photo in a campus-wide alert. I assumed it … Continue Reading