bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Training Wheels

4:16 AM. Can't sleep. I keep dreaming that I'm at work, training my
replacement, which is what I do during the day, and I'd really rather
not do it at night. It's more exhausting than I thought it would be.
We worked together a couple hours in the morning all last week, and
this week we've been working together full time. Tomorrow's only
wednesday and already I feel like I've worked harder than I do in a
regular full week. So pulling overtime in my sleep is less than

My job isn't really hard, there are just a lot of things to know in
order to do it properly, and imparting all that information is time
consuming, and it's difficult to do so in an orderly fashion. There's
the added problem that people learn differently. My brain is kind of
an information dump site. I tend to internalize information very
rapidly, usually remembering things after having been told about them
once, and being able to quickly sort out what information is important
and what isn't. Other people learn better by letting things soak in
over time through repetition. I'm a mental note-taker, and I trust my
brain to retain information I will need, or to be able to understand
what questions to ask should I forget. Other people need to write
things down, not being able to trust their brain to filter and retain

I'm having a difficult time not getting frustrated over these types of
learning differences. I'm trying to be very patient (not a virtue that
comes naturally to me), and I'm trying to cater to my replacement's
needs as best as possible, but it isn't easy. I've made tutorials on
economizing one's efficiency when preparing letters and paperwork,
because there is a lot of repetitive information that needs to go into
those documents, so I prefer to type it once and then program shortcut
codes to streamline repeat typing. It saves enormous amounts of time.
But I'm finding that what is obvious to me is not necessarily obvious
to others, so even though my tutorial is very explicit, it seems to be
creating unnecessary confusion and complexity.

I've also been making diagrams illustrating the big picture of patent
and trademark prosecution. I find that without proper context, it is
difficult for me to function. I need to know the big picture in order
to understand what questions need to be asked. Without a big picture,
things don't make sense to me. I remembber when I started at the Firm,
I spent a lot of time being confused because I was being trained on a
small, uncontextualized level. "When you get this in the mail, you
draft this letter. When this pops up on the docket, you prepare this
paperwork." etc. I wanted to know why. I think the people that
trained me wanted to not overwhelm me with details. But I needed a top
down approach, and details generally do not get in the way of my
understanding, but rather they assist in it. If I knew the big
picture, I would understand what questions to ask.

So now I'm trying to create this big picture for my replacement and I
think it's not working for her. She seems to be more bottom up. "When
A happens, do B." Like a computer. It's just such a different tact
from the way I see things, and I find that hard to reconcile.

We will be working together until my last day, which is thursday next
week, and I think it will be the longest week and a half of my working
career thus far.


miss. chief said...

agh i'm exactly the same way. i get so confused unless i know WHY i'm doing something. don't just tell me to put something somewhere, tell me why it goes there.
and then you ask the big questions and they go "don't worry about that yet"

hope the training goes smoothly this week!

Dena said...

I'm the person you're training! I need to have it written down and I have to know the "why", too. But I also have to DO it. You could tell me until you're blue in the face but I'll probably just give you a dumb, blank stare until I actually DO it. It's something about myself that changed once I had children. Once upon a time, I used to be like you.

B.R. said...

This seems to be a deep structure/surface structure in Chomsky's terms. I also find context indispensable to decoding all problems. Naturally, I privilege it as it's my MO, as well.
Learning differences are alas not addressed at school and the best one can do is provide the necessary info, be as helpful as one can, and look forward to Thursday and a well-deserved cocktail after.

Post a Comment