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When Mobile Tech Sinks In the Overwork Swamp



MeThis has been a trying several weeks for me and it looks like that is going to continue for a number of weeks to come. We’re in the final throes of our major theatre renovation. I’ve had to step in and take over directing our Education Department’s production of Romeo and Juliet. As if that wasn’t enough, we’re at the crucial point of hiring and casting for our next season. And, we’re also in some intense negotiations to continue operating our second venue that we opened so we could perform while our theatre was under renovation. Every day brings new challenges and new wrinkles to any of the above mentioned tasks, as well as the continuation of the successful run of our current show.

Normally I’m able to stay on top of quite a few things at once in my multi-tasking world, and how I use technology makes a lot of that possible. Lately though I seem to be losing ground and I find that even my mobile arsenal isn’t helping cut through the chaos. Here are a couple of examples.

A Shift Away From Email

In the casting and hiring process I’ve long used email to communicate with potential new employees. It is quick and efficient, and by writing everything down, both parties in the negotiation have a record of, what can be several weeks of talking back and forth, before a decision is reached. It saves a lot of time time as we don’t play phone tag. This has served me well for years. This year however, I’m finding that more and more of the folks I’m negotiating with prefer phone calls and not email. I’ve hardly had a chance to figure out why, but three phone calls yielded this information yesterday. Three potential hires all said they were having problems with spam and lost emails and couldn’t rely on that. All said they were relying much more on text messaging than emails these days. I know in at least one case this is absolutely true as all of a sudden I got a batch of emails from one of them that had been delayed for some time. This individual’s urgency was apparent when a batch of emails came in and fortunately they did, as I thought he had decided not to be interested in our offer. All is good with that at the moment.

It Takes Two To Tango

In ongoing negotiations about our second venue I’m our point person. I, and a number of our negotiating partners, have all been traveling during this process. That, to me, isn’t really an obstacle as I’m reachable and can reach out from just about anywhere I am. But, when the other side of a communication isn’t as connected it can cause critical delays in the process. I’ve also dealt with more faxes during this negotiation than I’ve dealt with in I don’t know how long and I find that frustrating. That is largely due to the personal style of one of the principals I’m negotiating with, as he doesn’t like to use computers. I’m not judging that (well, maybe a little bit.) Selfishly, on my crazy schedule, it has thrown a real kink in how I keep track of ongoing work. I’ve got several partners to disseminate faxed info to once I receive it and humorously, once this negotiation got started, we found that we had to retrain a number of folks on how to use our office fax machine. In the middle of all of this my scanner decided to die and that has delayed me getting most of this information scanned into OneNote to help me keep track. So, I’m lugging around a file full of faxes as we continue this trek. (Side note: it is impossible to find a decent flatbed scanner in a retail store anymore, at least here in my area. Everything on the shelves is a multi-function device, which is much more than I need.)

Location, Location, Location

The location (a local high school) where we’re rehearsing Romeo and Juliet is a broadband and cellular dead zone. I can’t get any sort of signal, so for hours each afternoon and evening, in addition to weekends, I’m completely  out of touch. This has resulted in more than one occasion in one of my employees hand delivering faxes or important messages so that I can deal with them on breaks in rehearsal. I’m also finding myself drive about five miles on dinner breaks to an area where I can get coverage so I can check my email. Talk about a waste of resources!


I’m finding I have to set more time aside each day to organize so that I keep things on track, and that’s time I don’t have at the moment, so I’m shifting how I do things a bit and contemplating some other shifts as well.

Because I have to drive back and forth between meetings and rehearsals constantly during this time period, I’m saving phone calls so that I can make them on the road. I use an Aliph Jawbone BlueTooth headset so I can work hands free.

I’ve so far resisted using a fax service that allows me to get those faxes via the Internet, but I’m looking into that. While I know I can send faxes via this method, I’m not even sure that there is a service that will allow my luddite negotiating partner to get faxes to me through that method. (If anyone has any hints on that I’d greatly appreciate it.)

I have to insist that folks I’m communicating with contact me prior to my going into rehearsal. While that is successful in some instances, it isn’t in others, especially as some of the issues we deal with during our construction happen at the most inopportune times.

Honestly, this has been a quite a struggle, and admittedly some of the obstacles have to do with things beyond my control, (a high school in a wireless dead zone between two mountains) and some have to do with the fact that we’ve just got too many large projects moving forward at the same time. It is frustrating when you find that the tools you rely on don’t match the circumstances you’re working with.



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