seventhe: (Life: stress out and die)
1. I have figured out, through some intense reflection during a boring meeting I wasn't involved in but had no chance to escape, that the answers I actually need to manage my project are an entire layer underneath the questions that I have been asking. (WORKCEPTION????) I've been asking for targets; what I actually need is a more clear fundamental understanding of the way work is supposed to flow from conception into production, and the role my project plays in the entire process, where communication goes and where priorities are. There isn't a process, by the way, and that's why I always feel so goddamn lost, and why even asking for clear targets isn't going to fix the mess I'm wading through. I actually need to go deeper.

I've set an appointment with the visiting Overlords on Monday and I plan to basically bang heads against a table with my newfound understanding of the situation I am in until someone cries uncle and gives me what I want.

2. I just emailed my advisor. I am back in the game. Thesis complete and Masters Degree by spring semester 2013.

Because fuck everything.

3. I am super stressed at the moment. :(

4. Icon (DW) has never been more relevant.
seventhe: (Rydia: whyt)
Sorry, I have been dead as doors lately. I got hit with one of those horrible whirlwind illness attacks I get sometimes, because my body is a failure and I lack a complete functioning immune system. In fact, it's my own complete trash compactor disaster of an immune system that's broken this time; I have an infection in my lymph nodes. I'm on a new antibiotic so stay tuned to see what sort of fun games I'm going to have with the side effects this time (previous records include unexpected unconsciousness, nausea, hallucinations, and being able to feel my own kidneys).

I was all excited about my new gym and Fitocracy and then this happened. Cool work, body. Tomorrow morning before I leave I'm hoping to get in at least an easy run if nothing else; I've had to take this week off so far completely (because I don't think it's recommended to run 5 miles with a fever of ~102) and the Relay is in a month and man, I'm gonna suck at it.

Work has not calmed down. It has gotten worse. We used to only have to meet with the Japanese Overlords twice a year, May and November, which was nice - preparation for these meetings can take a full week in itself, gathering data and making slides and remaking slides and sending your draft to the Overlords and then updating it based on eight peoples' suggestions, and now we're apparently doing this quarterly. It's supposed to just be a Project Review but the Overlords are all coming over here and their expectations are basically just like the (former) biannual meetings and it's just getting ridiculous. Basically this means that a full four months out of my year at this point are spent doing nothing but slides and emails and presentations and meetings and pre-meeting meetings and post-meeting meetings, rather than just two, and ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I'm so tired of my life

Went to physical therapy on Tuesday and as expected it felt kind of bullshitty. I'm not saying it's a waste because I know it isn't, really, but the guy gave me like two exercises to do on my neck and if stretching could fix this shit it would be fixed already because I actually stretch my neck out this way a lot, but hey, sure, I'll give it a try and maybe the $$$$ that I'm paying for PT will make it magically work this time. I don't mean to be so down on PT but it just doesn't seem helpful. I am a skeptical cynical fuck and I have no idea how this tiny shit is actually going to help the problem. I seriously feel like I should stop throwing money down the gigantic toilet of chiropractors and PT and instead just buy a goddamned shoulder massage every two weeks. It would be cheaper than all of this crap.

On the plus side, the August Chocobo Races will be ending soon, and this first month was fucking awesome. There are already 14 works and I'm hoping maybe a couple more will slip in under the wire. Plus, I actually wrote for it, which is amazing because I haven't been able to really write in months, but I managed to spin out some Lightning/Snow/Serah that's more of an idea and may spawn 20,000 words of its own if I can ever find my motivation again.

I think I left it in the box of wine

Anyway there is a lot of awesome small fandom and overlooked character work in there, and I am loving it. Next month's theme is going to be soooooo awesome I am super stoked for it >.>

What else do I do

OH YEAH I have been replaying FFVI in small-ish chunks. I've been reminded of a bunch of things I love about this game, and I have to admit that the story ideas at least are flowing madly. I've been mostly talking about it on Twitter, although this week I was way too sick to actually play and type on my phone at the same time. By the way, the World of Ruin and Kefka's Light of Judgment are mad fucking trippy when you're already hallucinating from fever. There were little colored worms at the edges of my vision and when the screen flashed it felt pretty damn strange I put the DS down shortly after that and just went to bed because it can't really be good but in retrospect it's kind of hilarious.

So yeah, that has been most of my week.

Revelation

Aug. 6th, 2012 05:34 pm
seventhe: (Cats: I LIKE THEM)

So despite the ridiculous number of emails blowin' up mah phone today, this has seriously been one of the busiest AND most productive days I've had in, probably, 5 weeks.

I wrote two reports. I organized some stuff. I cleaned out the gremlins growing in my reactor after shutdown. I was "approved" to spend $5K on shit for my lab. i ran a batch. I answered important emails.

I'm never going to another meeting again.

seventhe: (EDWARD/EDWARD = TRUE LOVE)
My boss is doing what he can to help solve my problems here at work. A longer and more hilarious version later, but for now:

  1. I am no longer allowed to come in for meetings on Fridays, because I do not work on Fridays. If anyone truly wants me at a meeting on a Friday, they have to go through my boss so that I can have permission to change my work schedule. This is not only to scare off people who don't want to deal with my (admittedly terrifying) boss, but to also help me feel less guilty about not being able to attend an important Friday meeting. I love how this man deals with me.

  2. I am being heavily encouraged to start saying no to any other meetings I do not think are necessary, and if someone disagrees with my judgment, they are to go through my boss.

  3. I am also allowed to put batch work aside if I feel that meetings - ones that encourage communication and collaboration and my project and other actual work things - are more valuable at the time. He and I both expect this to be the case for the next ~6 months -- which doesn't alleviate my meeting schedule, but it does cut the weight of the other project work I have had sitting on my shoulders by a good bit. I should not feel guilty about only attending meetings if they are actually helpful and productive - meetings are work too.

  4. I have been encouraged to selectively accept collaborative work from certain people (who will actually further my project's goals) and not from others (who may be giving it to me simply because then they know it will get done, rather than actual relevance to my project). These lines have been - rather humorously - clarified by my boss.


We still haven't worked out the Overlord Issues yet (I'm not sure I even bothered to post about the upset two weeks ago which basically completely contradicted the directions I was given six weeks ago, threw my entire schedule and project sheet into upheaval, and put a recurring biweekly meeting on my calendar every other Monday for the rest of my life -- at that point I might have just given up posting about everything), but he's at least aware of it, so while I have no more authority than I did previously (already in the negatives), I have increased awareness, and actually increased motivation to stop giving a fuck and just do things whether I have the authority to or not. Forgiveness and permission, etc.

The down side to all of this was that it was bartered on condition of me finishing my fucking thesis and getting my stupid Masters, so now I get to fill up all of the time this gives me back with godsbefucked grad school. I fucking hate school so much. But maybe I can be done with it, soon, and try to have a life that involves a reasonable bit of actual relaxation and shit.

I have to say, though. Completely platonically and in a way that is as non-creepy as love from Sev gets: I officially adore my boss more than anyone else in the world.
seventhe: (Rydia: reversed)
Thanks to everybody for their wise words on yesterday's entry -- this is a very thinky-time for me, and I appreciate all the kindness and the suggestions/advice.

Today I ended up - unplanned - talking to both my boss and his boss about the situation. And there's some tentative hope on the horizon.

I've been reassured, multiple times, that the amount of frustrating stress and overwhelming workload I've been facing on this project is not usual. This is a very new project, but carries stuff from some older projects which were divided out and shut down, so it's a really complicated place to be: I got caught in the middle of a really, really tough situation, combining super aggressive short-term timelines with vague and nebulous future roadmaps, which is why I feel so lost. It involves relationships with four internal branches of the company that don't usually all talk to each other, which is why there are so many meetings. Most of what I'm suffering from isn't indicative of "a project leader", but of being this project's leader in specific.

(Dear management: Thanks. You fucks. Love, Sev)

Even just hearing that this isn't normal was a little reassuring for me. If I'm crumbling under pressure, I like to know that it's super!!!amazeballs!~!!badass pressure, not Everyday Joe Baloney pressure. I feel better that way.

One of the things that has been so frustrating about my current project is that we are working on undefined things without any really clear targets. I'm going to do an analogy here, to try to explain: let's say you work in a kitchen and you have a cookie recipe that's problematic. It's a flavor a lot of your customers want, but you have trouble baking it just right. The Chef Overlords give you this project, and they say, "Develop and improve this cookie recipe." So, okay.

You start looking at your cookie recipe. But no one told you where exactly you are supposed to go improving it. Do you want the cookie to be healthier? To taste better? To be easier to make? To have less expensive ingredients? If you replace one ingredient with another and it improves the taste but is less healthy, is this an okay tradeoff, or no? If you can make the cookie easier to bake, but then it's more expensive, is that okay, or no?

But no one will answer that. You ask the people who sell the cookies, and they say, it has to taste good and be cheap. You ask the people who do maintenance, and they say, it has to be processable, if we can't bake it you don't have a product. You ask the customer, but each one says a different thing, and no one's sure who is actually buying these cookies anyway. You think, well, I'll try to improve all of the things. But first you are not actually made of time, and second there are some trade-offs -- like tastiness vs health, and you don't know how to decide what's a worthwhile balance there.

You ask your Chef Overlords, and they just say, "Improve the cookie." Then they say, "Oh, we want you to look at all our cookies." And there are some cookies made with vanilla, and some with chocolate, and some are gluten-free and some are low-fat and some are bargain cookies and some are designer cookies and some are really simple and some are super complex and they say, "Improve all the cookies."

So you're stuck fumbling around with 8 different directions to go in, and you can't focus your work forward, because any or all of those things could be target improvements - and maybe should - but no one will tell you what's a good range for acceptable trade-off and what's a target range for final product and maybe where you should start first.

That's my project, except that it's worse because there are no cookies here at all.

The first piece of good news: So right now, because I made a really good case / big stink about this at the meeting with the Japanese Overlords, the project is in somewhat of a holding pattern / waiting period, while the Overlords do some internal investigating and discussing and decide what our targets are on both short- and long-term. (I threw a very professional and polite fit and 'refused' to work on a lot of this stuff until we know where it's going, because I feel like we're wasting our time. We spent six months basically looking at a special baking soda until somebody (who wasn't the Overlords, even -- but since the Overlords were having fun with their thumbs up their asses, I decided that any guidance was better than joining the thumbs-up-asses club) decided what they really wanted was tastier chocolate chips, and then we spent six months looking for better chocolate chips before this somebody changed their minds again and said, fuck, we do still want the better baking soda, the chocolate chip taste may not be important and actually what we really want is not better tasting chocolate chips, but ones that don't melt.

Fuck. My. Life.)

The first bit of this decision is deliverable to me by September, according to our agreement. So for the next ~3 months, possibly longer, I get a bit of a break, because there is a lot of work that will be put "on hold" until we have some targets with which we can prioritize and determine direction.

The second piece of good news is, my boss has put things in motion for me to get a co-op of my own, hired by me, working specifically for me, in my lab. And not just a co-op, he is working to get a co-op position installed there, meaning when one co-op goes back to school I will have hired another to take his place, and I will basically always have a set of hands to support me, until I move on to other responsibilities.

The baddish news is that that won't be able to happen until January, because it's the end of the school year and most engineering students who want to co-op have already lined one up.

The goodish news is that if the workload actually decreases for the next couple months, I think I can survive until January. And if the workload ramps back up at the end of the year, by January I'll have a co-op to help me with some of it.

Sure, it isn't an immediate solution. And I need to have a more serious talk with my boss about my Masters degree and this workload in general. Before I continue to commit myself to this job, for example, I'd like to make sure I don't get handed a SURPRISE!!!!COOKIE!DISASTER project every two years, or there will be no vodka left in the world. But as for right now I really do feel like maybe there are some paths out I can take to help deal with all of this shit a little bit better.

One other thing I realized today is that I need to learn to delegate better. I need to stop looking at things other people have done and deciding that I could do them better and that that means I should just do them so that it's done right the first time. I need to stop claiming lots of work for myself because I want to do it my way. I need to learn to better trust people, and let them work on things in their own way -- and if I think they're fucking up, I need a better way to deal with it other than ripping it out of their hands and finishing it myself. (Sadly, sometimes this is the easiest way to do it, because I work with a lot of equally stubborn assholes who think they're right - this is Research - which means they don't listen to me; doubly so because I don't have a ~sacred PhD~.) Even if it takes more time, even if it seems like more work having to redirect and guide people, I need to learn how to do it. I need to learn to let go. I need to learn that even if someone else doesn't do something 100% perfectly, that maybe 85% is actually okay. I'm very invested in a lot of the things I do and I need to take a couple steps back.

The problem here is a) I am a control freak; b) I don't work well with others (despite the surprising trust of my management) and I don't like talking to people; and c) I actually legitimately don't trust about half of the people I work with, because they are either c1) idiots or c2) ambitious backstabbing assheads. But I need to find a system I can work with, and learn to delegate more.

But, yeah.

WHINES

May. 17th, 2012 02:22 pm
seventhe: (MAC Batman)
THINGS I HATED IN SCHOOL: GROUP PROJECTS

THINGS BEING A PROJECT LEADER IS LIKE: FUCKING GROUP PROJECTS

Sure, I can edit your 10 slides down to 5 and fix all of your typos

why not



that's certainly what they pay me for
seventhe: (Default)
[personal profile] novel_machinist is trying to pull together some resources to help younger graduates feel better about finding jobs and more confident about the things that they do! This is a(n) small LOL RIGHT essay I've pulled together to help share my own experiences with interviewing and hiring. I hope it helps someone!

The information here is a lot about me and my experiences. I come across as a really grumpy asshole. But guess what! That's who is interviewing you. I don't come to work to make BFFs, I come to get shit done. I recruit in the same way. Lots of other people do too. Here's the list of ~secret~ things we're really looking for, and how you can make even a grumpy buttface like me want to bring you into my company. SPOILER: They're not so secret.

Some Information On Interviewing From The Other Side Of The Table, or: What Too Much Of Sev's Job Has Become and How You Can Hopefully Make My Life Easier When I'm Hiring. )

All of this advice can be boiled down to the following: We want to hire someone who wants to be hired by us for this specific job. We are not looking for people who want "a job", "any job". We're a puzzle piece looking for a piece that fits well, that improves us, not just any piece that's close enough. Your job is to use the interview time to determine whether or not you are a good fit, and if you are, to show me why you're the best puzzle piece out there. Because there are a lot of other puzzle pieces very similar to you, and if I don't see that tiny two-pixel difference between you and the last person I spoke to, I may throw you both into the "meh" pile.

I win at analogies forever.

Enjoy. And good luck. And if you have questions, or you want to hear the horror stories, just ask.



...Also I pick on Taco Bell a lot in this and I want to make it perfectly clear that it's just an example and I love me some shameful 3:30am TBell just like every other engineer in the world.

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 03:50 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags