January 3, 2010

My Not New Year’s Resolutions

Filed under: Uncategorized — heratech @ 2:14 pm
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New Year's Resolutions At the end of every year I like to reflect on where I’ve been, and make plans for the coming year as I break in my new calendars. Over the past couple of years I’ve moved away from New Year’s Resolutions (which are made only to be broken) and toward setting goals for the coming year. As I was considering my professional goals for 2010, I kept coming back to Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which I first encountered back in 1998 when a friend gifted me with a Franklin Covey organizer. Being a biblioholic, I had to purchase the book too.

Covey’s Third Habit is “Put First Things First” and addresses time management. His simple little Time Management Matrix, solves the mystery of why you never seem to be able to accomplish those New Year’s Resolutions. All that self-improvement you resolve to take on falls into Quadrant Two on his matrix, where activities that are important but not urgent reside. If you don’t schedule time, they never seem to get done. At the moment I’m only working part-time, and even though there has been mention of adding a fourth day to my schedule this winter, that still leaves me at least one free day a week. I do not have the excuse of being “too busy” to keep me from accomplishing at least some of the goals on my 2010 list.

I’m an avid reader, so it’s no surprise that the first item on my list is finishing some work related reading. Some of these books are recent purchases, others have been waiting patiently for me to get to them for some time.

1. Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation by Anne Gentle
2. Managing Writers:a Real World Guide to Managing Technical Documentation by Richard Hamilton
3. User Stories Applied For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn
4. Do It Yourself Agile by Damon Poole
5. Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Mary and Tom Poppendieck
6. Managing Enterprise Content: A Unified Content Strategy by Anne Rockley
(And since it’s on my mind, I’ve pulled out my copy of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People for a re-read.)

At my last job I was using Madcap Flare. I spent two days with CSS The Missing Manual and was able to create a usable template. But I want a little bit more experience before I feel comfortable adding CSS to the skills I list on my resume. So another goal is to spend some time learning more about cascading style sheets this year. It’s also a skill that I’ll be able to use as Web mistress for my reenactment group’s Web site. (I love when I can kill two birds with one stone.)

Another goal for 2010 is to continue to build my professional network. I’ve gotten every single one of my technical writing jobs through networking. When I was an intern the woman sitting in the next cubicle was good friends with a doc manager who was building a department and suggested I send her my resume. My next job came when a former co-worker called to inform me that he’s lined up an interview for me. I found my current job when one of my coworkers notified her social network that the company was hiring. We have mutual friends, who passed along the opportunity. I’ve also been able to pass along the favor and helped two fellow TWs and a trainer find positions. [Before you dash off and send me an invitation on LinkedIn, you should know that I am a very conservative turtle, and only link to people who I 1) know personally, and 2) would feel comfortable recommending for a position.]

In 2010 I plan to attend more STC meetings than I did in 2009. I live in an area that gives me access to both the Boston and New England chapter meetings. I will also continue to attend the monthly meetings of the Nashua Scrum Club as often as possible. And I’ve recently joined The Agile Bazaar, and signed up to attend their next event.

I’d also like to attend at least one professional conference this year. I’m disappointed that our local conference promoter has fallen victim to the economic downturn, as I don’t often have both the time and the budget to travel. I’ll be keeping an eye out for technical writing or Agile conferences in the Boston area. If you know of any, please leave a comment.

I also plan to continue to blog in 2010. Even though I started HeraTech less than two months ago, I’ve found that being forced to think about my work, sort through my experiences, look at what I’ve been reading, and consider some of the big issues for Agile technical writers has been a beneficial experience. It will also be the nudge I need to accomplish my other goals, as I need to “feed the blog.”

What are your professional development goals for 2010?

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