Sunday, April 3, 2016

Using Proven Strategies to Improve Time Management

Time Management Improvements:

As part of my coursework with Five-Star Technology Solutions, LLC, I am completing an interesting class called; ‘Successful Online Learning’, and that course has a Time Management component where I took a quiz on my time management skills, discovered I could improve on my prioritization of tasks, and I learned strategies for how to apply that new learning by making improvements over the past few days.

Over the last few days, I have been evaluating the choices I make with my time based on the ‘Urgent/Important’ matrix from Grantham University’s module because I know that I sometimes chose easy fun tasks first, even though they may not be the most urgent or important, because I think that I will later have time to get to less pleasant or more tedious tasks, and as a result, I sometimes end up more rushed on those than might be desirable. I tend to prefer to work to get five quick and easy things off of my list so I have a feeling of accomplishment and don’t have to think about them anymore, and then work on the two or three more demanding tasks afterwards. 

Reprioritizing my time and actions by asking myself if it is urgent and/or important has helped me chose which of my many responsibilities to work on first. This has been helpful for me to structure more of a schedule to meet the most urgent needs and accomplishing them, and consider what is most important. One example was getting the update done for the board meeting tomorrow night, and choosing to schedule time for that over other choices.

Secondly, I also considered what was said in the TED talk on Health and Habits from November 10, 2012, where the professor spoke on starting with a small change that can be associated with another activity that triggers you to do that new change, such as starting with flossing one tooth after each time you brush your teeth and then working up to more teeth flossed over time, rewarding yourself with cheering yourself on. He also gave the example of starting with two pushups six times a day, and working up to ten pushups six times a day, triggered by a regularly occurring activity, followed by praising yourself for doing a good thing for yourself.  

I actually do need to work on flossing more regularly with brushing, so I chose this, and saw some improvement. I notice that it is not natural for me to do positive self talk as a reward.  During part of my formative years, I was raised by a very modest grandmother who did not believe in boasting about accomplishments, so I find myself feeling it is vain to do so, and it would be good for me to work on allowing myself to feel proud of my accomplishments and saying to myself that I am doing a good job on something. This was the hardest part of the assignment for me, because I want to say to myself that I should have been doing this good change all along, so I am negative towards myself rather than positive, which probably does the opposite of providing an encouraging support for the behavior. I praise others all the time, but to do so for myself feels silly, and that was interesting to learn. I wonder how much of this response comes from a gender based culture mindset. 

I also benefitted from the ’26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20’ by Etienne Garbugli. I was most intrigued by the statement to; “Only plan for 4-5 hours of real work a day”. I have always over planned and over booked myself, and things always come up that cause delays. Additional processes get added, or more people are included in the process, requiring time to coordinate and bring them up to speed, or it just takes longer, sometimes because I do focus on quality more than completion, another mindset addressed here.  I have tried to plan ten to twelve hours of work because that is what my life seems to sometimes demand, and then I end up staying up late trying to finish.  I probably need to work on accepting that things I would like to do may never get done. It was further mentioned that; “More work hours does not mean more productivity. Use constraints as opportunities,” and also stated that is it best to stick with one project per day rather than toggle back and forth between multiple projects.  I certainly lose a little time toggling between things as I switch gears, but sometimes I have to stop a process to work on something that has become more urgent, or wait for another person to contribute their piece, so while I can sometimes work on finishing one thing at a time, I see this will still be a struggle because of constraints that are probably beyond my control.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Observations of Responses to Various Novelties Presented to A Growing Child

Response to Visual Novelty 

Explanation of Purpose: 

This blog documents the responses of a child, Christine, to various novelty stimuli. This is an informal observational narrative. The writer has a background as a teacher, holds a M.Ed., and is a mother of five children. The child shows some developmental abilities that the writer hopes to document over time to form a basis and understanding of the child's abilities, and perhaps at some point, an explanation for the oddities of the child’s variations from high or advanced ability to delayed or disabled presentations of the same skills.

Background of this Observation:

On March 22, 2016, Christine, age six months, was presented with a never before seen book; Flying High by Sue Whiting. The book is three dimensional, with six differently colored plastic jet airplanes, each approximately two inches in length. All jets appeared on the cover of the book, and then, as the book is opened, holes appear to reveal cut out spaces for the airplanes. As each page is turned, one jet 'disappears'. 

Christine has seen airplane models before. Her father builds them and has hung some in her room, and she has seen models during a tour of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., but she has not seen them presented in color in a book previously. She has been presented with other books before, but not ones with airplanes.

The book was presented directly in front of her while she was in a seated position. Once it was presented, her heart rate increased, and she reached for the book with both hands, with the left hand in a slightly raised position compared to the right hand. The cover of the book was opened to reveal six cut holes on the left side where the airplanes had been seen through from the cover side. The right side contained the six airplanes. With her left hand, she reached for the cut out holes first, rather than the airplanes. Approximately two seconds later, she reached for the airplanes on the right with her right hand, and made an audible sound of excitement, now holding each page. 

As her mother verbally labeled the airplane colors, she continued to lift her hands up and back down on the pages in about the same location, repeatedly. At one point, she turned around and lifted her head to face her mother. As each page was turned for her, one airplane 'disappeared' with the previous page. When the fourth airplane 'disappeared', Christine grabbed the page with both hands to stop the motion of the page turning.

By the last page, her heart rate had dropped a bit, and her behavior changed from banging her hands on the pages simultaneously as described above, to grabbing the remaining purple airplane with her right hand and moving her fingers along its edges, her focus more fixed on the individual airplane. 

It should be noted that each page provides a similar background of various shades of blue and colored con trails. On one page, a cartoon crowd appeared, and Christine noticed and looked at the crowd.

Normally, she is more verbally expressive, but she was notably not this time.

Conclusion and Speculation:

Christine receives occupational therapy to work on a variety of goals, but she shows considerable ability and coordination. Christine shows some bilateral control of the shoulder grapple muscles, brief eye contact with the reader by turning her head momentarily, and excitability at a novel book. Her sight is sufficient for her to immediately detect differences in book pages and cut out, demonstrated by her quickly grabbing the cut out when the cover was turned. She responded to the action of the pages turning by grabbing a page as it was turned, showing planning, and a purpose of action and thought. She made only one sound of excitement at the beginning of the book, but made no attempts to repeat or mimic the words read to her or the colors identified for her by the reader. She altered her behavior by the end of the book to a more focused fine motor activity of grabbing the individual plane, closing her fingers around it, and then moving her fingers along its edges, shows more control than her initial action of banging the earlier pages as a whole with an open hand. 

From my studies as a professional educator and mother, I think her behaviors show fairly typical development, with some indications of high intelligence and coordination, which I can address in later blogs. I might write about some of her perhaps atypical presentations in future blogs,

If others with a background in infant and childhood development which to respond, please do so appropriately.

The book can be seen here on Amazon: