Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photos featured above are explained below and are part of the “Lives of Service” message in this month’s update.
Lives of Service
The University of Iowa celebrated its 175th anniversary this year. [Learn More] The photo at the top of this page is of the Old Capitol (15 May 2021) and a quotation from the Iowa Memorial Union (2 Dec 2017). The quotation is one of my favorites about higher education, and reflects the mindset of those who instructed me while I was at Iowa.
“And if this magnificent structure is to fulfill the dreams out of which it has arisen, it can only do so by stirring the impulses of the young men and women of Iowa to lives of service to mankind.” ~ James Weaver, 1926
I manage a curated news feed on Facebook and Twitter that focuses on public interest related news about the University of Iowa. Subscribers include University departments, faculty, and area journalists as well as students and others interested in the University. [View on Facebook]
Resources for Life
About 25 years ago, I established Resource For Life as an outreach initiative focused on self-funded public interest work. Consistent with that theme, an early name for my tech support consulting business was Public Interest Computer Consulting (PICC). The tech consulting and public interest work continues today.
About a year ago, I took the main RFL website offline and replaced it using a simpler HTML version with just a few pages. I took a year to reflect on the direction of the project. This month, I’ve brought back the full dot COM website under a new simple WordPress design. Some of the older outdated content has been removed. [View dot COM Version]
The dot ORG version of the site is designed using pure HTML pages. It is intended to have a singular focus on public interest and reference resources, without the additional superfluous content on the dot COM site. Being developed with pure HTML pages, the content loads extremely quickly, regardless of the device being used, even for people in areas of the world with slow and limited Internet service. [View the dot ORG Version]
Just a few days after the redesign launch, Google was gracious enough to reindex the site and put the content on the first page of search results on many terms — allowing me to retain the position and rank of a website with 20+ years of history. So, site visitors began streaming in from all over the world, including visitors from Moscow and Kyiv. It’s encouraging to see such an interest in the project.
Going forward, I’ll be making a greater effort to have content on the site less likely to become outdated. Also, instead of having monthly newsletters, I’ll be focusing on four announcements per year to coincide with quarterly seasonal news. The purposeful streamlining and simplification of the site will help me spend more time on other projects.
Giving it Your Best
We’re all familiar with the term “giving it your best” which conveys the idea of doing your best or working your hardest on a project.
In my life, I have developed the habit of spending the early morning hours on writing. These are the most focused, efficient, and productive hours of the day. Much of my writing would be technical reference guides or social commentary writings for the Resources For Life website.
Over the past eight months, I’ve been using those best hours of the day to work on a very worthwhile project involving a public interest research website. [View Site]
I’ll plan to share more about the project in the months ahead. It’s very aligned with my own interests, so a good fit.
My daytime hours can be very chaotic with multiple requests coming in simultaneously by phone, text message, and email. I triage those requests, and refer most people to other service providers, or provide free phone support for those with simple questions.
Sometimes I get to the end of a day, having responded to numerous request, and I feel exhausted from having helped so many people. Yet, it’s hard to charge people for brief text exchanges, email replies, and short phone calls. So, I’ll work 12 to 16 hours with little time for a break and have no income.
These numerous daily disruptions interrupt my income-producing work and make it difficult to track billable time. So, I don’t get paid for the numerous short support requests, and am unable track how much cumulative time I’ve spent on substantive work requests.
A project that might normally take an hour, could take 3 to 4 hours with numerous interruptions.
This past month I’ve been developing a paper-based task management and time tracking system. It’s extremely simple, efficient, customizable, easy to setup, and easy to use. The system facilitates greater focus and documents how every minute of the day is spent.
I’ve used computer software and smartphone apps for time tracking, but those have a big learning curve and require some fumbling to use. They are a distraction and use up time to track time.
The paper-based system I’ve developed works much better for my purposes.
My Long-Term and Short-Term Plan
I’ve created a page for my long-term and short-term plans. It’s something I’ve been developing and thinking about for many years. [View Page]
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Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.