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What I'm doing now

I created this page to help me focus my time and energy on what I need and want to do. I'll do my best to update this page monthly, so I can fine-tine what I am focusing on each month.

This page was inspired by the /now page movement founded by Derek Sivers.

To say the past six months since my last update to this page has been action-packed would be an epic understatement. Here's what's happened, in chronological order:

  • Judy's daughter Melissa married long-time partner and all-around great guy Thomas "Tommy" Firestone in July. Mr. and Mrs. Firestone have both had recent promotions at their jobs and will become proud homeowners next month!
  • My daughter Emily married Kyle Timm in October and I could not have been more happy for them both. Kyle is a wonderful man, and I enjoyed getting to know my new family members from the "Timm side" during our weekend-long celebration! Kyle continues to amaze his superiors at work, and Emily is doing great things at the Cleveland Clinic in her professional career. Interesting trivia fact: Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Nutrition. Her post-marriage initials are now E-A-T.
  • Judy's daughter Samantha started her Senior year at Salisbury University in September and is an Elementary Education major. She will soon begin her final semester as a student teacher and is looking forward to graduating this coming May.
  • My son Jonathan is preparing to open a new restaurant in Frederick, Maryland this month with his business partner. He has been working hard on this project for months, and this will be the second restaurant in their restaurant "empire". He is steadfastly supported by my ever-smiling daughter-from-another-father, Katie, who is working on a genetic research project while also putting in quite a few shifts at one of Jonathan's restaurants - Nantucket's Reef.
  • Judy's son Ryan graduated from high school in June and entered UNC Wilmington (UNCW) in August. He earned over a 3.0 grade point average in his first colleger semester. Well done, Ryan!
  • Oh...and one other minor announcement...Judy and I got engaged at Thanksgiving dinner! We will celebrate our sixth year together next week, and are looking forward to our wedding on November 24th, not to mention a tropical honeymoon afterwards!
  • On the professional side, I continue to enjoy and be challenged by my work at ePlus (NASDAQ: PLUS). I am fortunate to work with a great team of people, and to have the opportunity to continue to learn and grow in my position every week!
  • I've made an unexpected job change, which is what accounts for the long gap between postings here. After a chance meeting with an old friend, I was presented with anopportuntiy too good to pass up. I am now a Solutions Architect for ePlus Technology, inc. (NASDAQ: PLUS), where I am specializing in products from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE). Essentially, my position takes what I liked best about my last job, removes the least desirable parts of the old job, and applies my skills to ALL markets (except Federal Government, which I don't like that much anyway!). The focus on HPE solutions is a by-product of a renewed, closer relationship between ePlus and HPE, which includes hiring some 30 new sales and technical resources at ePlus.
  • While still negotiating with my new employer, I spent my last full week at the last job attending Aruba Atmosphere in Las Vegas at the very comfortable and ideally located Cosmopolitan hotel. This was a great technical conference with some fun social events mixed in. Soon after starting my new position, I went on travel to Florida for most of a month for various conferences and trainings in Tampa and Orlando. There was some excellent training in Tampa with our main HPE distributor partner, Tech Data. Then I had the opportunity to attend the huge HPE Aspire technical training / conference at Disney's Dolphin and Swan hotels in Orlando. And I wrapped up my whirlwind training tour with the ePlus National Sales Meeting (NSM2016) in Orlando at the Omni Championsgate Hotel/Resort, which was an amazing combination of team building and training sessions.
  • I'm continuing to really try to apply Deep Work concepts at work as reported previously, and I've also started to use Evernote a lot more even as I continue to manage projects with Todoist. Not surprisingly, the combination of SaneBox to help tame e-mail, Todoist for managing tasks, and Evernote for managing information is a common trio among many productivity experts whose podcasts I listen to or whose books I have read. They are also helpful for either fully or partly implementing the highly regarded "Getting Things Done" (or "GTD") methodology popularized in David Allen's eponymous book (hey, I got to use that word -eponymous- yet again - woohoo!).
  • Personally, we have entered an incredibly busy season with my girlfriend's son graduating from high school and preparing to enter UNC Wilmington in the Fall, her daughter's wedding coming up in July, and MY daughter's wedding following in August! All fun and positive events - but boy is it going to be a busy Summer! (No time or money for vacation this year...)
  • I've really been trying to take things to the next level at work, so this month I am delving into "Deep Work", as described by Cal Newport in his eponymous book, "Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World". (I've also now fulfilled a New Year's resolution by using the word eponymous properly in a sentence. :-) ) In the book, Professor Newport emphasizes two attributes that, while they are less common in today's world, are the keys to success for most people in their working lives (I'm paraphrasing here):
    • The ability to master difficult new concepts and learn to apply them very quickly.
    • The ability to produce both a high quantity and high quality of work that makes use of the complex concepts you have learned.
  • However, as Newport goes on to explain, engaging in Deep Work requires an ability to allocate long stretches of focused, uninterrupted time on rapid learning followed by intense application of knowledge to challenges and/or new ideas.
  • But modern life - with our beeping texts, pinging e-mails, and the ever-present draw of social media alerts - actually pushes people toward "shallow work", or, essentially, processing a large volume of input but not necessarily having a lot to show for it.
  • In tandem with learning to incorporate more Deep Work into my professional life, I have expanded the repertoire of podcasts that I listen to regularly to include several leading ones on productivity. One favorite is The Productivityist by Mike Vardy...another is Beyond the To-Do List, hosted by Erik Fisher...and yet another is the somewhat Mac-centric Asian Efficiency. There are a few others too, but those are good places to start.
  • Next month, perhaps I'll be able to report on some initial successes from applying these new concepts to my work!
  • First and foremost, I endeavor each day to focus on what Stephen Covey called "Quadrant II" priorities in his seminal work "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Quadrant II includes priorities that are Important, but not Urgent - the activities that best reflect your strategies for life and work, and your personal and professional values. There's a great diagram that summarizes Covey's priority matrix here. And there's an outstanding yet straightforward explanation of applying the time management priority matrix here.
  • Professionally,
    • 2015 was an important transition year for me. I closed my small technology support and consulting business after 13 years, and began working for D A L Y in Clarksburg, Maryland. My position is as the Enterprise Solutions Specialist, but my actual mission is to support our Sales and Technical Services teams in creating and delivering robust, effective solutions to our customers' enterprise technology challenges. Our customers are all in the "SLED" market - that stands for State and Local government and Education, so virtually all of them have compelling, important missions they fulfill for their constituencies. Yet, virtually all of our customers must work within tight budget constraints. So my ability to find the RIGHT solution to a customer's problem can have a very real impact on the delivery of vital programs and services. This makes the work both challenging and very fulfilling - I have a sense that what I do each day really matters, and that is very important to me at this phase in my career.
  • Personally,
    • 2015 was a big year as well. My daughter got her dream man, home, and job all in a 30-day period! My son and his long-time girlfriend moved into the condo we once all shared, and have done amazing things redecorating. He also completed plans to become partner in a new restaurant with the owner of the restaurant where he is currently the General Manager. As for me, after 4.5 years together, I moved in with my girlfriend and her son, AND her famous dog. It has been an adjustment for us all, but a very positive one.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

     -- Arthur C. Clarke