Sunday, 19 July 2015

- Agility -

This blog was initially called "Don't Leave your Head at Work (or your heart at home)" Having renamed it a little while ago, I have found that the original name still suits. Just as I once experimented with pronouncing my name the way others did, and found it didn't ring true, I am reinstating this blog's true name, albeit in a slightly amended form.
I have learned all manner of new technology, software and strategies to help me manage my work in the past two years**. All of these new ways of working are teaching me agility.
It's not about perfecting everything, it's about using the right tool for the right job in the right way. It's about being able to switch to the right form of communication, and adapting.

I have lost count of the number of email templates I have set up in Microsoft Outlook's Quick Parts, Quick Steps and signature tags, that mean I don't even have to think about many things any more.
I have been astonished to learn how much thought can go into even the simplest of emails; writing the subject heading, choosing the addressee, remembering (or even selecting) the right email address, deciding all the people who need to be copied in, and that's even before you have begun composing the email itself!
Then there's the salutation (do you use Hi/Dear), and the sign-off.
It was only when a colleague introduced me to Yammer, a social networking tool, that I realised this. Because on social media you don't have to spend time even thinking about any of this. It's open, and you know you are addressing the right person. If you want to create a group for a particular topic, you can and you do. It's instant and you dip in and out, and most importantly, you can connect with anyone no matter where in the world they are, and this opens up your world.
I now use a myriad of programmes, software, communication methods and technology to get my work done. In part this is due to some of the assistive technology, such as the Livescribe smartpen and MindView, mind mapping software, that I have been given to help me manage my Dyspraxia**.  

The rest has been discovering the full range of technology that was already available to me as well as everyone else in my place of work.  
Sometimes I even just pick up the phone and talk to someone.
I've heard over and over I need to be flexible and adaptable, when what I really needed to learn was to be agile.
"Agile" is a much easier word to remember, and it suggests speed *and* ability as well as quality performance. It suggests being able to switch, and bend and turn and twist like an accomplished gymnast or ice-skater. 
However, the image that comes to mind for me when I visualise myself as agile is a champion slalom skier, who needs to constantly adjust to ski in and around the flags, to stay on track to get to the finishing line. The finishing line is straight ahead, but the skier has to navigate the flags successfully to swish to the left and swoosh to the right, to stay on course. And if I can keep my balance, I can make it to the finishing line.
And that's why I am constantly learning, I have become curious about the world, especially my world of work. It has almost become an adventure, and I am exploring the landscape, mapping it out and discovering new landmarks and features.
I am constantly practising, to get better, to progress, to be better today than I was yesterday. As I wrote about in a previous blog post, repetition of a task helps me to learn, and I am always looking for ways of making a task just that little bit easier each time I repeat it.
This way it becomes fresh and a new task, and I am able to approach each task with the intention to learn from it, and I can see I have become more flexible and adaptable as a result. Since I am not tied to the way I did it the last time, I am open to learning a better way, to learning from others, to sharing that learning with them and learning in turn.
It really is a process of continual improvement and the more I learn, the more I share, the more I learn from others, the more we all benefit and grow.
What are you learning?

* (or your heart at home)
** If you are interested and would like to find out more, you can read more on my blog "Dyspraxic Pioneer" where I write about all that I have learned since being diagnosed, about the condition, about the technology, strategies and help available, as well as what I have learned about myself, which has helped me learn to work with my strengths and recognise areas of development.

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