The Desk

March 2, 2017

Terms of Art: Multitasking

Multitasking gone wrong

Multitasking gone wrong

The job ad called for someone who know how to multitask. The interviewee said they’re an expert at multitasking. In actuality, they were probably talking about being hyperactive and distracted while doing multiple things that are not in any way related to the other. What they’re actually talking about is double (or even triple) scheduling several tasks that aren’t related and then getting burnout because the person’s attention is being simultaneously pulled in many directions. Guess who’s going to drop the ball. Guess who’ll get blamed for the mess that results.

Terms start out meaning one thing. They’re an evolution of the language we use. Eventually the term becomes accepted and used without having a sense of what it actually means. It just gets used at an increasing rate and in more places until it’s just a more sophisticated sounding term that people assume means one thing. But in actual practice, what the person is thinking it means is a totally different situation.

In a business sense, you might think of multitasking as similar to supply chain management or SCM. SCM is a large scale multitasking endeavor. It involves more of the picture and more points of reference to track and manage. It involves managing and coordinating different parts of a process so that the entire thing comes together at the same time. This is very important when you have schedules that need to be kept. The degree to which the project is well organized and orchestrated indicates there will be few glitches.

Still in a business sense, a prime example of multitasking would be in the kitchen of a restaurant (or even a fast food establishment). You start with preparing the tools in order to cook the food. Then you begin the food preparation while the stove (or oven) is heating. Maybe it’s the pot or skillet that needs to hold the food. No matter. While those are in process, it’s time to cut, peel, dice the items that will go into the cooking container. Likewise, the food that needs the longest duration for cooking will be the first into the container. Meanwhile, whatever utensils that were used and are no longer necessary for the preparation can be washed and stored as the dish continues to cook. All the items for the plate are being processed to reach the plate at the same and with the same temperature.

In a domestic setting, it’s entirely possible to start washing a load of laundry while another load dries. Since neither of those activities need to be monitored, it’s possible to start the dishwasher as well as vacuum (or sweep) the floor. The machines are minding the long duration, automated activities while the one task that requires human management is done.

So when you’re talking about multitasking (or any other jargon of the day), make certain you know the proper definition of what you’re doing and discussing. To do otherwise may bring you to the end of a conversation filled with misunderstandings and disappointments. Make certain you’re both talking about the same thing and that you understand the concepts behind the definition.

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July 8, 2014

Vocabulary Builder: STEM

Filed under: Vocabulary Builder — Yvonne LaRose @ 11:20 PM
Tags: , , ,

It’s an acronym that’s been popular in the world of education since 2001. It has to do with encouraging youth, especially girls, to consider challenging themselves with certain subjects that are not the usual curriculum for girls. It encourages all youth to enjoy the subjects and fulfill their natural curiosity about something called

  • S
  • T
  • E
  • M

Who can tell me what these letters stand for?

There’s a new focus that proposes that STEM should become STEAM. Any idea what the “A” stands for?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could encourage more people to be more involved in these subjects? With the popularity of things such as Androids and iPhones, not to mention the advancements of online games and moving our lives into actually living Star Trek lives, it would seem there would be few who are shy about delving into STEM and the things that relate to it.

So What does STEM mean? Maybe we should be talking about STEAM.

Maybe a better question is what are you doing about bringing it into more lives?

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March 28, 2013

Tipping the Success Scales

Some people seem to have all the luck. They toss their presentation materials (resume, cover letter, work samples, portfolio, profile statement and URL, and so on) into the social stream (not to be confused with the jet stream of all the others zooming past in order to gain attention) and get snatched up in short order. “Well just how did that happen?” some will pout. “I’m just as qualified; maybe even more so. And I definitely got my materials delivered before that Johnny-Come-Lately!” Maybe you did. In fact, the time stamp says you were a full two days ahead of your competitor yet they got the tap for coming in to do a face-to-face meeting. Drat!

Patrick McFadden writes the Indispensable Marketing blog and indirectly explains this phenomenon. He calls it using power words or words that enrich. Patrick provides 50 power words in his enrichment post and then tells a reader that the 50 is not the exhaustive representation. Good point, too, I might add. While the list is fantastic, it doesn’t include the word “open” as one example of what could be included. Some other synonyms not in his list are words such as “alluring”, “receptive”, and “ready” but that doesn’t prevent them from being just as effective when it comes to delivering consistent results.

Actually, Patrick’s words are intended for those who are marketing their business – whether a service or a product. His intent was not to provide advice for job seekers. When you stop to consider the process that’s occurring, however, it becomes obvious that the principles are essentially the same because what’s being marketed, in the case of job seekers, is a basket of talents and skills they possess. Even freelancers and consultants need to pay attention to these power words and integrate them into their daily vocabulary (to get into the habit of using the words; to get into the mindset of those adjectives).

A word of caution would serve all of us well at this juncture. Marketo is a partner of About.com’s Marketing Channel. Marketo is offering a free ebook called 10 Tips for Successful Email Campaigns. Once you have that download on your screen, you’ll discover Marketo discourages use of some of Patrick’s 50 because when used in email, they become spam magnets and will prevent your message from being delivered.

One word in particular is guaranteed to be counterproductive when seeking new opportunities and contracts – “free.” We’re not in the business of surviving off the land and being charitable to a fault. In the early days of The Net, tons (literally) and scads of stuff was free. We got really accustomed to that. But the IT bubble that burst back in 2000 taught us that exorbitant salaries countered with no price tag will eventually be the death of all things we like and admire. (I wonder if that works on weeds?) There’ll be a lot of people walking away with all that free advice and examples. You’ll be standing there watching the backs of those who received. They’ll be headed to the place where they can get the model made, the services delivered (on time), and getting paid for all that knowledge of yours that you so generously allowed them to convert to cash. And they’ll have paid someone else for the reaping of those benefits.

Don’t be too liberal with use the word “free.” Think “freely expand” or “generous benefits.” Do be free with use of the Indispensable Marketing words in your writing, in your networking, and in your normal vocabulary so that you convey the rich rewards of being associated with you.

January 12, 2013

Vocabulary Builder: Peek, Peak, and Pique

Filed under: Vocabulary Builder — Yvonne LaRose @ 12:22 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Homonyms are such tricksters. They sound like their sib[ling]s and cousins but they mean entirely different things. Those who are familiar with the family of homonyms find it difficult to have anything profound to say about them. Each one has a different meaning associated with a different matter but they’re spelled differently while they all sound the same. Unfortunately for the one who isn’t familiar with the family, Word will tell them they’ve spelled the word properly but won’t tell them that it’s the wrong word in relation to the concept they’re attempting to relate. Use of the wrong homonym tells the reader who is being enticed (and is familiar with the family) that the speaker still has a lot to learn.

The good part of having a lot to learn and misuse is that the speaker is open to learning. That is a definite saving grace. Another that accompanies that is learning the differences quickly and applying use of the correct word in the correct situation – no subsequent misuse of that family of terms.

So let’s take a look at today’s group of homonyms.

We sometimes “peek” at or into something. What we’re doing is peering into a thing that’s being kept secret for some reason. Maybe it’s a gift. In the alternative, there may be a keyhole opening through a lock or some other aperture and we’re attempting to find out what’s on the other side. Having that knowledge would definitely help us know whether what’s on the other side is worth pursuing or not.

Then we reach a “peak” and wonder where to go next. In this instance, we’ve reached the top of something, be it a mountain or hill, a performance level, or even something that’s stacked so high that it can no longer support additions.

Which brings us to “pique.” As you can tell from the spelling, it comes to us from France and means raising an interest in something. It also means being stung with insult or irritation about something. Interesting word that “pique.” These days, it’s mostly used in reference to having one’s interest aroused. If we look at it from the Latin and relate it to Spanish, we realize it’s closely related to the term “picador” which is the word used for the person who jabs a bull with barbed picks that stir the animal to action and make it angry enough to charge in order to defend itself. So let’s pique someone’s interest but not their ire.

The other thing we should do is be mindful of what words have homonyms and make certain the correct word is being used lest we expose how new it is to our vocabulary.

Sponsored Link: Dictionary of Homonyms (Wordsworth Reference)

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