2008-02-26

Dyslexics Untie! #1: Whistle While You Work

As this blog becomes a further menagerie of my thoughts, I thought I might touch on the subject included in the title of this blog, dyslexia. Or rather being a dyslexic in the working world. I wanted to share some things that have allowed for me to focus on my job and improve my work output. I won't begin to believe that this is a bible for people to live by (although it may sound that way), but instead processes and attitudes that I have followed to “function” in the working world.

Know what you are good at.

I am a hands-on individual, and my job is the same way. I need to touch things and visualize things to complete my work. So I never go looking for employment that is strictly a desk job. If I worked in a mousetrap factory my hands would be all torn up. In interviews I make these facts known so they don't get the wrong impression. That doesn't mean you don't grow your skill set, it is just setting the foundation of what could be a successful career for a company.

I also ask for flexible schedules. I always work in periods of high productivity and then in low productivity. If I am in a highly productive state, I will just keep working right along until the problem is solved. I will ignore eating lunch for hours just because I am making progress on a project, it's just my nature. Alternatively, sometimes I will have to grind away for hours just to make a little bit of progress. Either way a flexible schedule helps get work done, and sometimes let you go home early.

Know what management styles work for you.

I don't handle micro managers well, nor do I handle narrow focused management well. I need a work place that encourages creativity and allows for you to speak your mind. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy mentoring, because I do, it means I need a manager that allows some space for me to work on my own. Some dyslexics prefer the opposite as they can keep you in line and on target for project completion dates. The key is to know what type of management works for you.
Work inside the box.

I have seen it happen more and more where “hip” businesses think open, quarter-office cubicles lead to greater sharing of ideas and a sense of camaraderie. It's crap, I think it leads to massive distraction and people who aren't doing their own work watching and critiquing yours. To me it is like school all over again, look at the guy who does things different therefor it must be wrong. If you can find an office with a door or at least a high walled cubicle that is shared with no one, protect it with your life. Otherwise, share cubicles with quiet, mousy people. They typically don't care what you are doing and will leave you to your own devices.

Put clocks and calendars up.

Dyslexics are known to never have a good sense of time, but unfortunately the rest of the world doesn't care.. I counteract that issue with several large clocks that are within my constant vision. A big clock rests right now on the wall just behind my monitor. Right next to it is a three month calendar that is nice, big, and bold and can constantly remind me of due dates. Without those two simple tools I would miss meetings, miss dates, and probably miss my job.

One notebook to rule them all.

I carry one notebook around everywhere I go. I carry it so much that if I forget it somewhere people instantly know who's notebook is left behind. I carry only one notebook for a reason, if you keep things on the computer, and have a notebook for this project, and a notebook for that project, what is keeping you from not looking from one thing to another? One notebook means I will consistently see the same pertinent information over and over again, nagging me to get things done, preventing me from ignoring work to be completed.

Shut up and listen!

I tend to jump the gun on solutions whenever someone is going over something with me. I think my input needs to be shared immediately and end up blowing off whatever a coworker has to say next. I will tell myself, “just listen, just listen, just listen”. Their input is important, and I need their feedback. Again people don't care that you are dyslexic. This behavior is seen as rude and that you really don't care about their words. Know when you are doing this and remember to shut up.

Take notes and listen!


Now that you are listening, make sure you are processing your coworkers ideas. I take notes about whatever anyone is telling me. This makes sure that I, the dyslexic, am listening and comprehending the words being spoken. Those notes will come in handy when you are trying to remember that information later.

Make yourself heard.

Now that you have actively listened, make sure people hear your input. Don't be afraid to share, don't be afraid to convince people that your ideas are right. Dyslexics tend to see the big picture or maybe the whole process at a different angle. If you don't speak up, no one will guess what you think is right.


That's it for now, what else has worked out there? If you have any other good practices please don't be afraid to email with your ideas.

3 comments:

Grant said...

Great post, MJ! I've got a lot of the same quirks that you do, and I'm not dyslexic... or at least I don't think I am.

Another thing I do is use post-it notes. Some people hate this idea, but it seems to work for me.

I always write down a task or a thought that needs further attention on a post-it note and stick it to the surface of my desk. My rule is that before I leave for the day, every single post-it note must be addressed and "filed". Either round filed as already complete, or elaborated on in a task in MS Outlook. A due date and time, and a reminder is then added to the task...

I like the notebook idea. I started using one to keep track of major accomplishments during the year. That way, during annual review time when they ask you "so Grant, what did you get accomplished over the last year?" question comes along, you don't have to sit there and think about trying to justify the many of thousands of dollars they paid you over the last 12 months!

-Grant

Mike said...

Hi MJ..

I also use a process to help me remember things. Like you, I stop what I'm doing and listen.

Then, like Grant, I almost always write important things down on paper. I then read the note, then say it to myself out loud.

This way, I use a different part of my brain at each step. True stuff.. It actually works.

Then, like many good dsylexics, I pray to DOG.

Okay, okay.. bad joke at the end.

MJ @ Dyslexic Research said...

@ Mike

That's awesome...I will get your blogs link up on here if you would like. You can benefit from my audience of ones and ones of readers.