Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hello, on Saturday (again)

What in the world happened to this week?! It flashed through so quickly! And here I am in the disorder of my office on Saturday morning again.

Is it over? I'm referring to the Presidential election. McCain has really not stood up well to the financial panic, because he is a man with not a lot of depth intellectually; he is someone who reacts instinctively, and his instincts are not tutored as, say, Reagan's were. And the Democrats, aided by their many sympathizers in the MSM, have done a good job of assigning blame to the Administration, both for creating the problem and now for not being able to solve it quickly. And it has been difficult for McCain to disassociate himself from Bush.

I don't watch TV or listen to the radio much anymore, but when I was near a TV or radio, I was apt to hear an Obama ad during the last two weeks. And the ads are all over the internet as well. He has been waiting to spend that cash hoard, and now he is doing it on advertising, and I would think that it is very effective.

One topic of several of the ads I've seen is an attack on the McCain health plan. If one knows anything about the topic, one can see that the ads, selecting fragments of truth, are false and misleading. But there is no answer to that attack coming from anywhere that people who are not well connected to the internet might hear. Health care is a tough and complex subject, and most people have no idea what the issues concern, except now the Obama ads tell us that McCain will tax us on the benefits provided in his plan and send the tax savings to the insurance companies. Is this just campaign puffing or is this how "information" will be managed during his administration?

There has been a messianic dimension of the Obama campaign all along. He didn't create it, necessarily, but he provided the platform for it by essentially having no history or, better put I think, denying any history. Thus he is an attractive blank slate upon which people write their fantasies of a political figure who will right what is wrong in their worlds. He enables us to act that way not only by disconnecting himself from any story line coming out of his past, but also by promising anything and everything in a broad, remarkably charismatic and pursuasive way. How will a man like this actually perform as President? I think people who have invested him with messiah like qualities will be greatly disappointed. It is one thing to be disappointed in George Bush, whom we knew or should have known to have significant weaknesses, but Obama followers are in a sort of denial about their man. What will they do when they come out of that fog?

Back to David Allen. Carol and my assistant Nancy came back from a seminar for office managers about 10 ten days ago. The speaker was Laura Stack, who bills herself as the "Productivity Pro." Nancy and Carol were greatly enthused, had some great tips about handling emails, and described Laura's "handling the in-box" method. Her approach is so similar to that of David Allen that I picked up Getting Things Done again. And I spent six hours last Saturday doing the sweep through my office, setting up the 43 folders in a new way, filling out single sheets of paper with "the next thing", filing them appropriately, and enjoying every minute of it. I didn't finish the job, but got a very good start. I'm encouraged that I will carry this through, and I will spend more time on the sweep and set-up project today.

One thing I have done is radically change the way I use my office. When we moved into this space about five years ago (five years ago??!!), I purchased some very nice furniture, including a stand-up desk arrangement for the first time, along with the standard sit-down desk, with desk chair, etc. As it turned out, I used the stand-up desk furniture simply as an extra credenza, and it became, most of the time, a place to pile things. The traditional desk remained the center of my work universe.

What I have done is to move my computer and telephone over to the stand-up desk, together with a personal laser printer. Most of the day, then, I am standing up, with the main exception being when I have meetings. But even the meetings are often with the participants standing up, especially when the meetings involve just me and one other person. Those meetings seem to be greatly facilitated by both of us facing one another and both of us able to spread out something on the stand-up desk and read it together, side-by-side, or both of us able to view my computer and it being easy for the other person, if helpful, to keyboard the computer, as I step back. Not having the big desk between us at these one-on-one meetings somehow improves the flow of ideas.

The stand up desk runs along one side of my office. It is 3.5 feet high, about 13 feet long and two feet deep. Propping up one end is a book case and the other end two sets of lateral file cabinets. One set of file cabinets is immediately at my right hand, and I can simply roll out the top drawer - and there are my 43 files. (I now maintian them, rather than my secretary.)

We are doing some office rearranging at the firm, and my big desk will be going to someone else's new office. To replace it, we will bring in a round conference table that we already own and seems to be just the right size.

When I get the office all set up, I will make a short video and post it.


Sean Meade said...

as an Obama supporter i am disappointed with the misrepresentation oh McCain's health plan by the Obama campaign.

all the GTD stuff sounds good. i have made a desk refinement myself recently (which i posted about).

Paul Stokes said...

I noted that desk post, Sean; I enjoyed it. After I put up this post, I thought about your desk post and wondered whether those photos you put up had been kicking around in my subconscious as I thought about my office.

As to Obama, one thing I have noticed is how quiet people are about not liking him very much. I find that people are very careful about talking negatively about him until they have an idea of how the other person feels. I think part of the reluctance is not wanting to risk being accused of being a racist. Another basis for the reluctance is not wanting to engage someone who may be a sort of "true believer", that is, one who will refuse to engage in a reasonable discussion.

Paul Stokes said...

So I especially appreciate the way you reasonably engage on the Obama subject.