When You Stop Talking Flat and Start Living Flat

Written in July 2010.

Julie and I just had some great work done from a freelance transcriptionist we found on elance.com and it was hugely affordable. So, I've gone back out to bid from some virtual assistant work and that long list of “I need to get to it” kind of things that are important to me, but I am just one person!

I read 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferris this summer and many things in there hit me.  The book is full of how to live your life by inhaling and using mobile and ubiquitous computing, outsourcing, and work flow software.  It smacked me on the head like textbooks falling out of a locker that I've been studying all of this stuff with my students but as to date haven't used it like I should to automate and improve my life.

1 – Workflow Software
As a result, Julie and I have studied workflow software and for now have settled on fogbugz to help us and Kim Caise manage and administer the back end of our many Flat Classroom projects.  Trying to get things out of email and flowing between us.  Lots of workflow software is out there like Basecamp and Fogbugz and they are not all alike – some are better for project management and others like Fogbugz are good for handling email and providing technical support.

We're still learning on this one, but I can guarantee this.  Our projects will not only study the trends of flattening but we will use those trends and LIVE them as we collaborate globally in an excellent way.  Yes, it is a bumpy road but we're getting better by the week.

2 – Outsourcing
Right now, Kim Caise in Texas helps Julie Lindsay in China and Vicki Davis in Camilla, Georgia on Flat Classroom. But I do have many other things that I need help on — processing video, processing audio, and for me — those of you who know me know that it is a constant struggle of my life right now to stay ahead of email.  So, right now, I'm posting on elance for a virtual assistant — not for a lot of time, but 3-5 hours a week at perhaps less than $10 an hour will add a lot to my life.

I've done it once (used a freelance outsource vendor) and I'm ready to go a little deeper.  I don't know how it will go and there are certain things that I won't outsource. For example, on the list I've typed up — emails from teachers telling me their issues and problems will go directly to me.  In fact, I think I'll respond better and more often if I can get past all of this “stuff” filling my inbox that is not adding anything to my life.

I reached my breaking point this week when my oldest son commented about how much I have to be on the computer.  Sure, I have to be on the computer to blog and to write the books I've got blazing trails between my publisher and me, but do I really have to waste my time slogging through spam?  Or how about the voluminous press releases that don't really apply to me or my readers. (Someone has me on their list.)  If I can pay $40-50 a week and get help with this to free up my time for more worthwhile things, then I think it is time to try.

Outsourcing is about being more efficient yourself.
3 – Boundaries
Friedman talks about being connected anywhere any time.  I think however that he is missing something. Yes, the lines are blurring between work and personal, however, I am drawing lines. I'm establishing boundaries and people to help me keep those in place.  I am a human being not a human doing. Sometimes I've got to just “be.”

Sundays are important to me for many reasons, but I'm pretty much to the point of calling that day OTG altogether. I might check email, but really, that is a day of rest for both me and my computer. Once a month I”m going to have an OTG weekend with my family

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere