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Multitasking During the Holidays

I have decided this year to give myself the gift of MADNESS. Not just because I love myself, but because I felt the need to gift something I truly needed in my life this time of year.

</Sarcasm>

I’m moving January 2nd. Excited by the prospect of making my own delicious food and not living in a basement anymore, this is something to look forward to. And I am, very very excited.

But this was a bad idea.

Christmas Holiday season is that wonderful time of year when us procrastinations suffer for our yearlong pastime of not taking care of shit. This of course leads to a multitasking nightmare that, each year, I’ve progressively become better at managing.

2011 though has smacked me in the face with awesome.

1)   Making a cookbook from scratch at my day job, while still conducting my other duties

2)   Christmas Gift shopping (which is done) but sacrificed my NaNoWriMo for

3)   New freelancing opportunity of fantastic that will be elaborated on soon. It is perfect, and although the key word in this freelancing activity is ‘free’ I’m going to love every time consuming minute of it.

4)   I will be going to four Christmas Dinners; the 17th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th.  Wait, scratch that, FIVE Christmas dinners. I will say this (and not as bitterly as you might assume) Divorce =’s LOTS of turkey during the holidays.

5)   Oh, and you know. Moving.

Ultimately I plan to have a mental breakdown on the 25th in the morning after all my presents are unwrapped and then realize I haven’t packed a thing and now must re-wrap all said unwrapping to prepare for the move.

So, for those who’ve done the same and have decided they want to challenge of maintaining sanity this holiday season here are my ‘Multitasking Tips’ to share with loved ones.

Don’t go to lots of holiday dinners: They won’t miss you. They’ll be too busy eating all that food you ate the last three nights so there’s nothing you’re missing. Turkey comas are great, but remembering the holidays is a nice treat, you should try it.

Use your vacation time before the end of the year. 2012 you might be pissed but 2011 you will love the sleeping in and the cuddling with stuffed animals you swore you’d get rid of when you were 12. And, if you’re a work alcoholic, do your other job while vacationing from your main one!

Give cards, not gifts.  They come in bulk, easily wrapped and is a perfect space for money. Because that’s all that will fit in there and for those distant cousins who you never really have anything to say to: it’s all they really want.

Don’t take on more jobs unless you just really can’t turn them down. And then, when you accept them forget how wonderful sleep is. Believe you are a vampire (sans sparkles) that needs no nutrition or sleep. Stay out of the sun too; you’ll probably burn up if you’ve been hunkering inside on your computer all day for the last month.

Stay away from malls.
Stay away from mall parking
Stay away from mall Santa
All of these things ARE holiday vampires that will suck and consume not just your soul but your precious multitasking time. Not done your shopping? Refer to the Cards cop-out. The only shop you need: Bank Machine.

Have that extra drink and decide you are not the DD tonight. If you need my tips, first I say you should seek real help, and second I know you are stressed. I don’t condone alcoholism, but I do think we need relaxants from time to time. Alcohol happens to be an effective and quick working one readily available at most holiday functions.

Ultimately try not to burn out. If that means putting some things on hold until the New Year, do that. You can’t always multitask everything: you can try, but it won’t end well.

My little holiday gift to you.

Cheers and Happy Hunting.
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Managing People: Never Easy

I’m not a manager in terms of title but on a day-to-day basis at my job I am in charge of up to 10 freelancers. It’s a wonderful aspect of the job, I get to talk to them about the projects (proofreading and .html epub ‘fixing’), most of them are or were in the publishing program so we have a great deal in common and we’re all in the same boat: trying to get into the industry.

The opportunity is fantastic, and although the pay isn’t amazing most of the freelancers express a sincere excitement to the process and we always encourage teaching and expanding their knowledge in any way we can.

I like managing them, keeping in touch and answering questions. Why just yesterday I created a lengthy walk-through on how to create a TOC and meta TOC in Sigil for our epub’s and quit a few thanked me for the walk-through and have already started including it in their work. It’s is probably one of the best introductions to a management position I could imagine.

But with the sweet comes the sour. And when you manage people you have to manage the problems. It would be unprofessional and disrespectful to relay any specific issues but this morning I had to tell an employee to find new work. It was not fun and I did not like it in the least. But when managing people you have to do just that: manage them, and if they are unmanageable or not meeting the goals required it is best for you and them that it’s said and dealt with.

I at first went online looking up standard policy as in this profession there is a high turnover rate, most freelancers leaving us instead of the other way around. Standard policy was cold and cruel so I started approaching it my way, which was not clear, and probably misleading in some way. So I turned to my mother, who despite not being a ‘manager’ manages people everyday.

She helped. Helped me understand people don’t always need the traditional helping hand, that although kind I also need to be clear, firm and unwavering in my decision and that I should prepare for a bad reaction no matter how kind, clear, understanding and friendly I may be.

The message is delivered and I still don’t know how I feel. I’m not comfortable with the uncomfortable, and I expect the worst in all cases. But I did my job and that is why I am in this position.

I don’t have any real advice if you’re looking for it. I don’t know if I’ve been fair really, and even if I think I have the employee may not. All I do know is that managing people has it’s up and downs, and someone has to look out for everyone even if it means they are the ones to say the hard things.

-Lisa

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