The Every Business Man

My grandfather lived his life working his way out of debt. Now that he’s free, he still can’t seem to slow down.

I sat in my grandparent’s kitchen over baked potatoes and chicken soup while they fought over details of my grandfather’s childhood. These are the facts we settled on:  He was born in ’47 in Brooklyn, New York in a three bedroom apartment he shared with twelve siblings. He moved to Hackensack, New Jersey by the age of ten (proven by my grandmother who has a picture of him and his brothers in ’57 on John Street in Hackensack, but my grandfather swears his prayer book proves her wrong) where he met my grandmother, who grew up in the house they’re living in now. They had a crazy, hard life. A life they left far behind 20 years ago. As he cuts me a slice of sour cream cake, he tells me, “Kelsey, I was in danger every single day of my life.”

My grandparents’ story begins when they met at a local fair when they were 15. There isn’t one without the other.

My grandfather is an entrepreneur and a master of sneaking chocolate with a love for Subaru cars. He is unapologetically confident. On Sunday mornings, he rocks denim overalls while taking a stroll on his treadmill, shoots hoops on his (grass) basketball court, and has no problem asking construction workers if he can use their porta-potty. Until four months ago, he owned a little red sports car that he took for long drives just for the hell of it.

My grandmother is a small but strong woman who can cook a pizza to perfection and will always remember to call the house every morning. For every occasion (Coming home for a weekend? Dance recital? Birthday?) she’ll make you the meal of your choice, no matter what the request. My grandfather may be the wizard of all of his crazy business ideas, but my grandmother is pulling all the strings. She is the man behind the curtain.

Even through high school, he worked full-time. First as a shoe-shiner, then moving on to an autobody shop. “Soon as I graduated in 1966, I was eighteen, I got drafted during the Vietnam war. I just so happened to work on this guy’s car, Sargent Major, and he was my boss’s neighbor. My boss didn’t want to lose me as a worker, so he pulled some strings and got me into the National Guard.”

My Pop worked for seven years as a welder and recruiter in the National Guard, working one weekend each month. “We just lived our life. We got married, had kids, I started my clean-up business at 23.”

 I’ve heard many stories about his clean-up business. It was filled with dangerous side-steps and complicated rules. He’s had run-ins with the mob, the law, and even brushes with death.

“I bought and sold 55-gallon drums. I would load up the truck and it would hold about 40-50 drums. Making 50,75, a quarter. I was a peddler of sorts. I would get cleaned up, go to these factories, put on my salesman hat, get the job, then go back home, throw on work clothes, and then go do the job.”

He played multiple roles in all of his businesses, often taking these ventures on by himself. I can see that in him now as he takes on side projects on my own house, sometimes without my parent’s permission. He’s stubborn like that. One time, I came home to him on my roof trimming the branches of our trees. He was driving by and they seemed “a little too long for his liking”.

With all these trucks and removal jobs, he needed somewhere to put it all. “I was also in the junk business, I had a junk yard, guard dog, everything”. He shows me pictures of the structure he built by himself. Pretty impressive for a man who was just winging it. He faced everything alone (with my grandmother by his side of course), “One day a customer called and was asking about the facility. Oh today we had a skeleton crew on today, but it was just us. We were the skeleton crew AND full-time crew”. I can’t imagine how lonely and exhausting it must have been to be breaking your back day and night just to get by.

One of his many trucks in his fleet of commercial vehicles

“We owned a lot of real-estate. Two-family houses, auto-body shop, 45 acres in the country. This came with bumps and bruises.”

“They affiliated us with the mob. All the time. It was extremely difficult. The entire industry was moved by the mob. I was in danger every single day of my life. You always feared for your life. You had to do things that were not your makeup. You did what you had to do to survive.”

“Like what?”

“We’ll just leave it at that.” 

But, I couldn’t. The mob has always had ties to the garbage industry. They get into legal businesses while also laundering money. He recalls late-night exchanges on docks, or times where he was constantly looking over his shoulder. “I’ve never gotten directly involved with the mob, no”. But he’s dealt with them doing “check-ins” to make sure that he is going by their rules. They were looking to squash any competition so they could run the industry.

My grandma was right there with him, “We had the cleanup business for four years. It was starting to get so successful, but in ’74 he stepped in acid and we lost everything. We had to start all over.”

When working in clean-up, you were constantly around hazardous waste. One day on the job, my grandfather and one of his workers were navigating through a site when he slipped into a vat of acid. Without the help of his employee, he would have died on the spot. After a stay in the hospital, he was back and better than ever.

My grandfather is a glass-half full man. No matter the situation, he’s smiling, trying to crack a joke (even if it sucks). As he tells these horrible tales, he’s smiling. He has scars he won’t talk about. For the next year, they lived on insurance checks for a bit while he tried to re-build his life and business.

When dealing with hazardous waste, you had to fight off everyone. “The whole world it seemed was against you. The FBI, the locals, environmentalists. They were trying to crack down on all the wrong-doings of others. What I was doing was legal, but I was the middle man. I can’t say the same for the facilities that I dropped materials off at.”

New laws in the 70’s put the blame on everyone involved in the process. My grandpa referred to this as the “cradle to grave rule”. As long as you touched it, you were to blame. With a small business, legal trouble like this put the company in danger of losing everything. “I loved the business but when you get in hot water, you lose customers, plus I couldn’t afford to keep a lawyer full-time. I went broke doing it.”

Their financial struggles only began there, as it became harder to own and sell property in the 80’s and 90’s.

“I was always in debt. We had a million dollars out in loans. Between the property and equipment, I owed a lot of money.”

He took risks and lost many things, but he also was hardworking and talented. His relentlessness carried him through a lot. When he finally sold his removal and cleanup business, his competitor jumped at the chance. “He told me I was the thorn in his side for thirteen years. And then he hired me for a full year. I worked off commission and I had so many clients that he couldn’t afford to pay me my part, so he let me go.”

My grandma explained to me that after this, they branched off into something new. “We bought a flower shop. What did we know about being florists? Nothing. He thought it was interesting and liked the property, plus now we had a business we could run.” She shows me pictures of how they transformed the ugly, dark space from the 40’s into a cozy shop where they had a cat that she loved (and she’s not even a cat person). “We took this place from a hole in the ground and we made it something beautiful.”

Inside their newly renovated flower shop

They did this a lot in the coming years. Buying into new adventures, investing in the property they sat on. “I always bought for property. To really turn it into something great.” Sometimes it paid off, other times they just felt overworked. “Everything I did was hard work. Never easy, but I did it my whole life.”

My grandma continued on about the flower shop, “We did it for a year. We had a greenhouse next door, but it was brutal. That Valentine’s Day, it was a blizzard. Your grandfather and I spent all day and night delivering bouquets in heaps of snow. We still had people yelling at us for being late.”

After that, it wasn’t worth it anymore. It was time to start something new. During this time, he bought properties all around New Jersey. Houses down south, apartments in New York to rent out to rising Broadway stars. “I thought I was building what could have been my future, and I would have been much more successful today but during the course of all this, I was working then not working, so we couldn’t afford what we had anymore.”

It was a constant uphill battle that worked them to the point of exhaustion. He bought a convenience store, a food truck, and even a Go-Go bar over the span of 20 years. Through all this, they struggled to get by. “You did it by winging it. I truly learned by trial and error. No one was there to help you.”

Opening their convenience store in the late 1980’s

“After we sold the flower shop, I got back into the garbage business.”

“That’s when the Attorney General showed up at our door.”

There was trouble that followed him wherever he went in that business. His boss was doing illegal things, such as improper removal of waste. It was becoming tiring to constantly be running from the law, but he found it hard to let go because he was constantly thinking about paying the bills. “But after that happened again, I never looked back.”

“I worked on average 20 hours a day for all my businesses. It was a rough life. Everything I did was brutal and not worth it. You couldn’t stop me. I was obsessed. I got myself so much in debt and I had to keep going to do all of these things.” He woke up before dawn to drive trucks and open his stores. “I fell asleep in the Lincoln Tunnel once, right there at the wheel.” In his world sleep deprivation was an everyday occurrence that he fought constantly.

In the 90’s, prices of property shot up, preventing him from being able to easily buy houses and rent them out. Many of his investments once again became too expensive to keep up with. Now, he still owns one property around the corner from their house. “That was where we had the food truck, it’s still my favorite spot.” Now it’s occupied by a trucking company who uses it to store equipment. It’s the last piece he can’t let go of.

Their debt didn’t last forever. They got out of it one by one, with smart investments and a little luck. After much success but many failures, he began to want a more stable lifestyle to help support his family and to fit his aging body.

In 1999, he began working for a fencing company, a place he would stay until he retired seven years ago. Even now, in retirement, he goes out and does estimates for them every day. You could chalk it up to boredom, but to me it’s that obsession that he’s had inside him for the last 55 years.

My grandpa is a wonderful man who is full of life. He’s also a stubborn man who pushes things until he’s hanging by a thread. Is it a bad thing? I think there’s two sides to it. It’s gotten him where he is today and it’s rubbed off on those around him. Across all generations of my family, we’ve become hard-working individuals determined to succeed in our own ways.

On the other hand, he seems conflicted when telling me the story. He worked his life away to feed his initial obsession that sent him down a path of physical danger and financial turmoil. The mental strain he felt during these times must weigh on him even now. Before this, I never knew the full extent of what their lifestyle meant.

But what pushes him to still work himself into the ground? He’s in his 70’s and debt-free. Some part of him can’t seem to escape the mindset of working to pay the bills. It’s been his routine for 50+ plus years and he can’t relax. Like many successful figures, he’s always wanting to keep getting better, beating himself up to the point of stressful breakdowns and health problems. He’s thrown out his back twice in the past year trying to do simple tasks. This is the way he’s always lived his life, trying to beat himself at his own game.

After two rounds of soup and three slices of cake, it was time to head back to work. He had three more appointments that day that he needed to tend to. He continues to feed the fire that’s deep down inside and I don’t know if it’ll ever go away.

Finding a Balance: Writing For Yourself and Others

Audience plays a pivotal role in writing. After all, in order to qualify something as “good” or “bad” you need to have an audience. But writing for your audience can prove difficult. How do you attract and keep readers? Each one will have a unique experience because every reader is different. Although there are many technical skills that one can perfect, there is a huge part of it that depends on creativity. The question I want to tackle here is what role does the audience really play and how much do they really affect a writer’s style?

            In William Zinsser’s On Writing Well, he poses an interesting question: “Who am I writing for?” This has a complex answer. While writers should always be considerate of their audience, should they be aiming to please? Zinsser says no. He believes that writers should write for themselves, rather than the audience. He recognizes the challenge of keeping the reader’s attention while also not worrying about their opinion, “I’m talking about two different issues. One is craft, the other is attitude. The first is a question of mastering a precise skill. The second is a question of how you use that skill to express your personality” (Zinsser, 25). The reader will lose interest if a writer throws form and good English out the window. Technical skills that should be up to par when writing should help form a good backbone for a piece. The “attitude” that Zinsser discusses is how a writer uses their voice. This, he claims, is how the writer should be writing for themselves, not others. They shouldn’t push issues or force humor to gain attention from readers or publishers, but instead, write about how they truly feel. Genuine writing will succeed with audiences because the passion will come across the page. I think Zinsser makes a great point when he says “Don’t try and guess what sort of things editors want to publish or what you think the country is in a mood to read. Editors and readers don’t know what they want to read until they read it” (Zinsser, 24). No one sets out knowing how they want to be entertained. That’s the job of writers, actors, or any other type of performer. They figure out how to entertain and the audience comes to them.

            The writer needs to be cautious when speaking to the reader, whether it be the Average Joe or a superior at work. Sometimes they can overwhelm the audience in a phenomenon called the “curse of knowledge”. In his book, Sense of Style, Steven Pinker explains the “curse of knowledge” as “a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know” (Pinker, 59). While writing about a subject someone may be an expert in, it is easy to slip into complex terms that sound like gibberish to everyone else. While this isn’t always intentional, it takes an effort to simplify explanations to help readers understand things fully.            

So what role does the audience play? It’s not cut and dry, as there are many aspects of considering an audience. While a writer should be concerned about technical elements and how well audiences will understand the topic at hand, their writing should be in their own voice, and they should talk freely about what they are passionate about. I think that Zinsser makes a great point. When I open a book or an article, I’m looking to be informed but also entertained. A huge element of writing is to provide a piece of entertainment. I think that entertainment comes naturally to writers and they should trust their gut when it comes to how they write.

Emilia Clarke: A Real-Life Warrior

On screen, Emilia Clarke was a fierce warrior who conquered many things, but off-screen she was fighting her own battle, and we had no idea.

This long-form piece, A Battle For My Life is written by Emilia Clark, an actress that I was introduced to as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones. She speaks out about her untold health complications that struck directly after filming her first season of GOT. If you were to tell me that she suffered serious health complications while tackling intense filming and being in the public eye for the first time, I wouldn’t have believed you. Clarke brings her friendly and humorous personality into this piece. She is able to talk about her serious health complications while still making me chuckle.

Her word choice is simple, but it’s this element that really draws me to her story. This ties to her being aware of her audience. While she rarely speaks directly to us as the reader, it’s apparent she’s considered things from our point of view. While her medical journey is complicated and probably filled with many technical terms that anyone shy of a brain surgeon would understand, she still manages to tell me exactly what happens in digestible sentences that leave no room for confusion. As someone who is the furthest thing from a doctor, I am able to grasp a good understanding of her condition. For example, she does a great job here of breaking down exactly what had happened to her.

Finally, I was sent for an MRI, a brain scan. The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture. As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter. For the patients who do survive, urgent treatment is required to seal off the aneurysm, as there is a very high risk of a second, often fatal bleed. If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery. And, even then, there were no guarantees.

Clarke’s essence has come alive in her roles in television, movies, and press circuits. I know her well as a bubbly, slightly awkward and warm person. In her piece, I can really hear that voice everyone knows and loves. She does a great job of transferring her on-screen personality onto paper. In this light-hearted section, she talks about the night she sealed the deal on her role of Daenerys Targaryen.

I could hardly catch my breath. I went back to the hotel, where some people invited me to a party on the roof. “I think I’m good!” I told them. Instead, I went to my room, ate Oreos, watched “Friends,” and called everyone I knew.

The flow of the piece is interesting. She begins with the scene of the crime, telling the tale of her first aneurism. It’s a shock to the system, grabbing my attention with violent vocabulary and gritty details. From here, she travels back in time and lets us in on her humble beginnings. She takes the reader on a journey through her career, leaving out no bumps in the road. This vulnerability helps really break down a wall between her and us, the reader, building a sort of trust. This element gives us a reason to read on. By grabbing us in the beginning and then continuing that raw emotion to the end, the piece reads almost as a diary entry, where we feels as though we’re getting in on her deepest and darkest secrets.

Overall, this is a great example of an online long form piece. From the first paragraph to the last, I was fully invested. It teeters between a serious and light-hearted tone and she finds a good balance that makes the piece easy to read. Her awareness of the audience cuts out all the fancy jargon and tells her story in simple terms, breaking it down to a level understandable for everyone.

Good vs. Bad Writing

With more and more personal blogs being put out on the internet, journalism has experienced a shift. Now, stories can be told in a variety of ways. Journalism can be casual or structured. This has come with the increased use of social media to tell stories.

The blog post, “How Peloton Has Blown Its PR” written by Ed Zitron for thefuturebuzz.com explains how Peloton, the high-end spin bike for your home, has failed to make a good reputation for themselves in their PR campaigns. This article has several well-done elements that begin with the title. “How Peloton Has Blown Its PR” tells the reader exactly what they should expect from the article.

The piece is casual and conversational, making the reader want to read on. In this post, Zitron puts his own spin on this topic. Sometimes topics such as marketing and PR can become dry, as they are largely informational. Here, he adds his inner thoughts that enhance the reader’s experience. For example, during this excerpt Zitron talks directly to the reader.

Sidenote: if you’re gonna read that as me complaining that I’m being pushed too hard, in my first year of cycling from zero fitness I did two 100 mile days, and my latest 45 minute PR was off an Alex Touissant class. Email me at shutupidontcare@edzitron.com if you’d like to discuss further.

It is sections like these that grab onto the reader and make them want to continue. Without this style, this piece would drag on and probably lose the attention of the audience within the first few paragraphs.

Another element that makes this a good writing piece is the clear structure that Zitron gives it. He begins with an introduction, where he lays out his argument as well as sets the tone of the post. Each point he makes in defense of his argument has its own section with clear titles so that the reader can easily see what he is trying to say. This flow lets the reader know what to expect at first glance. With online reading, users often scroll through first before deciding to read further or not. Zitron’s article is appealing to the eyes and easy to navigate.

Not all blogs are created equal. A blogging site called The Flack publishes content related to the PR world. Their site isn’t as user-friendly as others such as the previous site, TheFutureBuzz. When I clicked on the post entitled, “Superhuman or Not” written by Peter Himler, I had no idea what the main points of the post could be. This immediately deters me from clicking on the piece.

Another aspect that confuses the reader is the structure of the post. With no clear subheadings, the text is awkwardly broken up by screenshots of tweets. Unlike in the Peloton article, the reader gets lost in the content and may have trouble understanding how things relate to each other.

This post is opinionated, but in a different way than Zitron’s Peloton piece. The author lacks a backbone in his argument. Because his main points are unclear, the reader has difficulty fully understanding what Himler is really saying.

What makes a piece of writing “good” depends on many factors, but the main goal is to keep the attention of the audience. With most reading done online, writers have to take into consideration what their writing might look like on-screen. What used to be “don’t judge a book by its cover” is now “don’t judge an article by its length”. These two pieces demonstrate how important it is to make a good first impression in order to keep their audience.

Professional Biography

Kelsey Bross is a current undergraduate student studying public relations at Quinnipiac University. She has a wide range of skills that she has accumulated in and out of the classroom.  With intern experience in corporate and agency settings, she has worked with a multitude of clients, including the Television Academy, Naturalizer Shoes, Alfred Coffee, and an array of bridal companies. Her areas of strength are writing, social media strategy, and talent relations. Academic achievements include multiple PR campaigns, a crisis communication plan for Spotify, and being a member of Lambda Pi Eta, the communications honors society. With the help of fellow classmates, Kelsey is currently working to complete a PR campaign for the Bradley Airport in Hartford, CT.

Upon completing her Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Quinnipiac University in 2020, Kelsey will continue her education by pursuing a Master’s degree in Interactive Media and Communication. Following, she hopes to enter the entertainment PR world in New York or Los Angeles.

Bringing It All Together

Throughout this course, I feel as though I’ve been able to grow both as a writer and a critical thinker. Both of these skills I have been able to apply to my undergraduate program, Public Relations. In this paper I explore why deep work is important in a field that I’m truly passionate about, crisis communications. A vital part of today’s corporate world, crisis communication requires a strict focus with quick reflexes. In a highly competitive world, deep work can bring great value to any workplace that will make you and your company stand out among the crowd.

How Social Media is Taking Advantage of Your Data

What began with meaningful purposes to help connect friends around the world has turned into a money machine that misuses user’s data daily, Facebook has seen its fair share of backlash. Social media is relatively new and with that comes trial and error. It has been quick to become a fabric of today’s society, making it extremely hard to avoid, especially for me, a college student in their early 20’s. I use different platforms in different ways, utilizing Facebook in particular for my sorority and other college related groups. Over the course of the past three years I have come to face the truth of what Facebook has become, manipulative and secretive.

In chapter 7 of Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism, he talks about how Facebook presents “itself as a foundational technology, like electricity or mobile telephony- something that everyone should just use, as it would be weird if you didn’t” (Newport, 218). This is cultural need to use their software keeps the eyes and interests of billions of people. Because they rack up so much revenue from their mobile advertising, the emphasis on making their software vital at all times was important to their company. Their mobile app allows users to access Facebook when they’re out or away from their computer, which makes them more money. In recent years, users have used Facebook for possible benefits, rather than specific and meaningful purposes. Newport emphasizes the importance of using these sites for particular activities. For example, I first created a Facebook account and used it every minute that I came home from school. I used it for no real purpose, other than to be on Facebook. I saw who was online, randomly poked people, posted random statuses, and waited around for others to post. As I shifted into a high school, it became a little more tunnel vision. I would post albums for family members to see or to catch up with old friends. As I transitioned to college, Facebook began to have a meaningful purpose to me. Like I stated earlier, I use Facebook almost exclusively to receive updates from my sorority and to receive invitations to events.

I  may have escaped Facebook’s grasp on my attention, but they still sell my data and they also have billions of others who have yet to filter their uses. Facebook already has a profile of me to sell to advertisers and just because I habitually scroll through my news feed anymore doesn’t mean they can’t make money off of me anymore. The social media site has had its troubles recently with its privacy policy, but that isn’t stopping them. In 2016, the Cambridge Analytical scandal shocked the nation when we learned that user’s data was being used without consent to create targeted political ads, Business Insider explains (Chan, 2019). If someone you were friends with on Facebook had taken a quiz created by Cambridge Analytica, they could also use your information.

This issue affects us all, not just those who are using social media habitually. Facebook has manipulated society more than we think. Because they have already made their mess, they already have all the information they need. They have gotten over many scandals by throwing bones at the public, vowing to make changes to their privacy policy so that people will continue to use their software all day and every day. These changes still allow for them to use your data, but allows you to see what they are doing with it. This promise to become more transparent is still in its early days, but people are buying into it. Because Facebook has become such a huge social aspect of our society, they are able to push the envelope and still regain loyalty from MOST of their users. While some deactivated their accounts after Cambridge Analytical, many didn’t and still continue to use it as normal.

Circling back to Newport’s point, by taking part in the attention resistance movement, we as a society can help others break their attention away from Facebook and other sites that are abusing our data. We cannot fully remove social media, but we can tailor how we use it. I have been trying to focus on what purposes I have for visiting certain apps and sites. What am I looking to accomplish? How can I find that focus before slipping into endless scrolling? I urge you to take a deep dive into your social media habits. How can you use it to enhance your professional and personal life rather than as a time filler?
 

Parents, It’s Okay to Give Your Child Access to Technology

When reading the article, “The Art of Staying Focused in a Distracting World”, I became angered. I felt as though I needed to speak out against the author and challenge the interview. I am not a parent, but I have witnessed close friends and family raise children in modern times. This article seems puts the blame on the parents for exposing children to technology. It is not that this is a bad or negative approach, it is just different. This is shifting from methods that once had children exploring and learning out of natural curiosity. Now that parents have phones in their hands, babies want that instead of whatever toys parents used to hold in front of infants prior to this iGeneration.

I want to talk about continuous partial attention. This is defined by the author, James Fallows, as “the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything” (2013). Linda Stone talks about this is “neither a good or a bad thing” (2013) and for good reason, because there are some things that only require partial attention, such as leisure activities but in other cases, this attention theory simply does not cut it, like driving a car or watching a child. Technology has made us used to this attention strategy, and it is here that things get overlooked. Before technology, when children were left alone, they retreated to a state of “relaxed presence” which the article stated allowed them to explore and be creative out of a place of pleasure and joy. I believe that this is still true. Because the fabric of our society is changing, the way that kids are raised is also changing. Everything in society is taking a turn towards the digital landscape, so why hide that from children? They must be able to learn and adapt to it at some point.

This article also suggests that technology is creating a sort of separation between parents and their children, as if there wasn’t bad parenting before the introduction of technology. While I agree that technology could aid in distancing the parent and the child, it is not the only underlying issue. I also agree with the statement that babies mimic (from a very young age) what they witness. Meaning, any bad habit that Mom and Dad have (ex. cursing, fighting), the baby may pick up on. All of the soundbites that Stone speaks of (“My mommy should look me in the eye when she talks to me” (2013)) cannot solely be blamed on technology.

Good parenting can (and should) involve the integration of technology into a child’s life. Education games on iPads and pieces of technology that are helpful to an infant’s development should be utilized by parents, but they should also be involved and engaged with their child. In a Huffington Post article entitled, “Parenting in the Digital Era” it discusses finding a balance in today’s world of parenting.

Parenting, as is often said, involves giving kids wings to fly and roots on which to stand. Parenting in the digital age can only be more so. The only path ahead involves conscientious and conscious participation, rather than outright techno phobia or philia, to provide an inclusive life where the parents join children and schools in balanced technological engagement that does not compromise on the ability of society in general, to stop and smell the roses. (Ramasubbu, 2015)

This approach is similar to what Newport is talking about in his book Deep Work in his second rule, Embrace Boredom. He discusses this approach that involves scheduling time to give in to distraction, which helps give the mind what it wants but helps you remain in control of your focus. Parents shouldn’t ban their children from using technology, but allow them to use it as a part of their routine. This obviously doesn’t encourage free-range use of the iPad, but doesn’t restrict them from technology completely.

Combining the thoughts of Stone, Newport, and Ramasubbu, there is a certain strategy for taking on parenting in the digital age. It shouldn’t be shunned, but parents should not be passing their addiction to technology onto their baby. With anything, technology should come in moderation. Parents should work with their child to learn and explore new toys (even if they are electronic!) so that their child can be raised in a healthy and loving environment.

Getting Organized

Sometimes when I start huge projects, they seem intimidating, sometimes haunting. If there is too much information for me to process, I start to get confused and often have a hard time knowing where to start. Something that I have relied on heavily for the past year is my planner. Whenever I feel myself beginning to stress, I make lists. All kinds of lists. To-do lists, daily lists, weekly lists, grocery lists. I am constantly re-organizing my lists to see if I could see things in a different or easier way. As I have gotten older and more independent, I have since increased the amount of organizational tools I use. I am looking forward to Trello because my planner becomes messy and confusing at times. This way, I can have a neat and visually pleasing to-do board.

For this Project Management project, I was excited because it allowed me to lay out the rest of this Foundations of Graduate Studies course. Something that at first seemed daunting now is laid out in a way that is best for my mind and is much more manageable and personalized.

How I choose to set up my Project Management: After looking over a few of the websites, I decided to go with Trello, a site that was really visual and easy to set up. I began by making lists for each module. This way, I could set all my tasks for each module and I could easily see due dates without it getting confusing. I also added descriptions to most of my blog post tabs, brainstorming ideas I could write about based on the articles and book reading for that week. One of the features of Trello that I enjoy is that you can check off when you complete a task. As a person who enjoys the gratification of checking an item off of a list, I could not wait to watch the top bar turn green! This is also a living document. I have the ability to change, add, and delete anything that I please.

How do I see this changing my work habits? I’m looking to really to have a digital copy of my to-do list. It is often that I forget my planner or forget to write something down in it. This way, I can double check my planner with my Trello so I can make sure I’m not missing anything. Also, I have a huge project coming up for my senior seminar class, Crisis Communications. This project is overwhelming, with 15 different moving parts. I was so excited when I started using Trello because I now am going to use it to organize my bigger project. I am looking to hold myself accountable for different parts of this project because I can’t leave it all to one week or one night. I plan to complete a different task each week so that I can keep up some sort of schedule.

How does this promote deep work? Deep work requires focus and organization. In Deep Work this week, Newport talks about the importance of a schedule for your deep work. He uses the example of Jerry Seinfeld in the early days of the show when he was still doing stand-up. He talks about creating a chain. Each day that Seinfeld would write jokes, he would make an X on his calendar and it motivated him to write everyday so he wouldn’t break the chain. I am hoping to develop similar habits. I want to make working on bigger projects as part of a routine so I become motivated to complete what I need to in order not to break my chain.

Can I use this in the future? These project management sites are used in a lot of workplaces and I believe that by using it as tool as a part of my educational journey, it will aid me in my future jobs. It also seems very helpful for collaborative work. As someone who often likes to know that the people I’m working with are going at the same pace as me, Trello can help me keep track of where they are and also help me pace myself according to others. It would allow me to share what I’ve done and also see what others have done.