Archives for posts with tag: time

Most people are either short on time and long on money, or they’re short on money and long on time.

If you’re the former, it’s because you’re busy and / or important, and while you have plenty of disposable income you don’t have much time to dispose of it.

If you’re the latter, you’ve bags of time on your hands but your lack of money limits what you can do with that time. Both scenarios seem to me to be deeply ironic yet are classic examples of what life is like in the real world of limited resources.

The holy grail is of course to be long on time and long on money. I’m reliably informed that this is known as a financially comfortable and healthy retirement, a concept that feels very distant and remote to me. Then there’s winning the lottery or a similar kind of windfall, which is the short cut, at a distance and remoteness that tends to zero probability. And yet we play it, eh!

Unfortunately, I seem to be spending a good bit of my time in the lower quartile, the bottom left box of your management consultant’s two-by-two matrix. Yes, that’s the short on time, short on money variety. Dashing around the place developing business, creating projects, getting things off the ground, doing good things, for no money.

Yes, I’m happy, and lucky, I know. But a bit more of both wouldn’t go amiss, I promise.

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If you’re reading this post on the day of its publication, I’ve been blogging for exactly six years, to the day. If you subscribe and you’re reading this post at the moment of publication, then I’m asleep, or at least blurry-eyed and limp-tailed at the end of a rather tiring music festival in central Ireland.

Six blogging years. Six bloody years you’re probably thinking, or six blasted years if you’re slightly more polite. Six years ago today I published my first post. 941 blog posts later and here is post number 942. A moment ago I cast my eye over previous blogging milestones and I’ve been rather tearing the seat out of this theme. My ‘sixth blogging year’, ‘my seventh blogging year’ – from a calendar point of view, four years blogging, and so on. I’ve been milking every anniversary and many ’round number’ posts since I started this 3-times-a-week blog.

I promise there won’t be any fanfare for blog post 950, since that’s barely a fortnight away and not really an important enough round number. It is, however, perilously close – 58 posts or less than 20 weeks – to a rather large monument, which is 1,000 posts.

At previous milestones I’ve introduced the idea, more to myself as I think out loud, that I might quit at 1,000. I think as the closer I get there, the more likely that is. Maybe that’s a symptom of me running out of things to say, though since the tagline of this blog is ‘Musings on stuff I come into contact with’, that seems an unlikely reason, unless I lose 3 or more of my senses. Maybe I’ll get to 1,000 and, rather like Forrest Gump running across America for the umpteenth time, stop.

Anyway, I hope you’ve been able to take something from the musings of the last six blogging years. Happy Monday!

Culture, practice and customs seem to highly sway the concept of punctuality. In some cultures it’s considered bad form to be late; in others, it’s considered the norm.

Context is another aspect to punctuality. There’s no point turning up fashionably late for a train, a flight or a show, but in many cultures it’s advised for things like parties. Perhaps that’s why the rather helpful ‘7:30 for 8’ invitation works so well. Don’t turn up any earlier than 7:30, but the important thing starts at 8 so come and have a chat or nibbles and don’t be later than 8. A 30-window is enough for the top 90% of organised people.

Which got me thinking: speaking for my culture, punctuality is one thing, but being early is often as inconvenient to your host or the person you’re picking up as it is being late. If someone says they’ll pick you up in 40 minutes, which gives you enough time to pack, shower and get ready, and then they turn up 20 minutes later, when you’re in the shower, you get a rushed and stressed start to your day.

There always has to be the first people to arrive at a party, but have you ever got the time wrong and arrived early? Misread or misremembered an 8 til late as a 7 til late? It’s a major pain, for you and your host.

Same rules apply in business and work, methinks…

I’ve blogged on the concept of waste before. In fact I’ve done it here and here.

I’m not a big fan of waste. You observe it everywhere. Food waste, materials waste, packaging waste, energy waste, resources waste, and wastes of time.

What about cut flowers? They look lovely, but their lives are literally cut short for personal pleasure rather than longer pleasure that benefits the wider community. In fact, anything we use for something that doesn’t last long enough – and we all make a judgement on the enough part – or doesn’t create anything new, is not a good return. It’s a waste.

Of course, time is the greatest waste of all. It’s what I feel most keenly when someone dies before their time, if you pardon the clumsy pun. Even if it’s someone I don’t know. The lost potential, the lost possibility for them to further touch and improve the lives of others. We’ll never get that back.

Which is why the exclamation ‘what a waste’, for the smallest detail like a missed shot on goal, or to express the biggest ideas, is probably the biggest criticism we can make. It’s a huge, damning insult.

So, calling someone a time-waster is a deep criticism to level at someone. They’ve wasted your time, and the time of others, and that is indeed a heinous sin.

People often say that you have to look back in order to look forward. This can apply on both personal and work contexts, but obviously has certain limitations.

Past performance, as we’re reminded by companies looking to separate us from some of our money, is no guarantee of nor indeed guide to future performance. It can provide a pattern that might be useful in our future endeavours, but it can’t predict things. Economics, after all, is very handy for explaining what happened and how it happened, but not so great for saying what will happen. Look too at consumer polls over the last few years, and their record with the last US Presidential election and UK referendum; 2016 – the annus horribilis for the polling industry.

I’m not a huge fan of looking back, personally speaking, and in a personal context. I’m not one for nostalgia. I’m happy to reminisce about certain episodes in my past, but I don’t look back on it with fondness or envy. I think I’m afraid to. It’s done, it can’t be changed. What’s the point of going back to a time when we were younger. We’re the age we are right now and there’s nothing else we can influence except the present and future – unless we’re crazed historical revisionists of some crackpot empire.

The other day her Ladyship lent me a novel to read called ‘A Started for 10‘. I hadn’t heard of it, and I later discovered it was made into a film, which I have never seen. It was set in 1980’s university, and revolved around growing up and answering quiz questions. I thought I would love it.

I read it quite quickly, as it’s a well told story, but after a very enjoyable first third I only enjoyed it a little. It was really well observed, but too close to the bone, reminding me of a time when I knew so little about anything, far less than the modest amount of knowledge I have amassed some 30 years later. It was so accurate, and I didn’t want to revisit that level of detail from that time.

I understand that if we don’t look back, we can sometimes take a headlong accelerated journey into what’s around the next corner, and risk wishing away the present. But, looking back for any amount of time, and to any depth, well that’s not for me. I’m not sure it works in work either, as the set of circumstances and factors we deal with changes all the time.

"Streets Clock Acrylic Orange 2" by Individual Design is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Streets Clock Acrylic Orange 2” by Individual Design is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When you’re publishing something, or thinking about publishing something, it’s great to have images to lift and amplify the message. Better still are those copyright-free images you can use without having to go to the photo stock library vultures.

If you’re getting an image that’s in the public domain or is free to use, you want to be able to attribute it properly. After all, some generous soul is putting out their creativity for you to use gratis, so the least you can do is to give them the proper thanks via the proper shout out. This can be tricky to do:

  • You have to find the image
  • You have to check the copyright or licensing for it, to make sure it’s OK to use for your purposes
  • If it fits your requirements you have to collect the name of the image, the author and the type of creative commons license it falls under

This is fiddly, especially if you’re sourcing a lot of images. Enter the Creative Commons automated image attribution feature. You can access it here. As I write this it’s in beta, and it hangs and falls over a fair bit, but who cares? It’s invaluable. You search for your image, click on the one you like and the entire attribution text is pulled together for you in 3 different format options, like in this example.

A massive time-saver. Genius.

I was researching a certain industry vertical the other day. I was trying to decide if I should start learning more about it, becoming more knowledgeable, and acquiring some domain knowledge so that I could target it and sell to it. There’s a lot of it where I live.

So I went onto the web to get the skinny on the sector. What’s it really like? What makes it tick? How does it really work? What are the drivers, the things that affect its shape, size and speed?

I couldn’t find anything useful on the web. Nothing that gives you the inside track on the sector. Not even wikipedia. Not necessarily how big the sector is and how many players are in it, but how does it really work? What’s it all about? Is it worth getting into?

I wondered why it’s so hard to find a couple hundred words that give you a steer on a sector you don’t know much about. Not an introduction to the industry that is a book in its own right, but something enlightening – a blog post perhaps – that takes 5 minutes to absorb. Is it too hard to do? Has no-one thought of it before? Can no-one be bothered to write it and make it easy to find?

In the end, I went the old fashioned route and asked someone from the sector to have a coffee with me, which will take a couple of weeks to schedule. If only I could have found the answer in a couple of minutes.

 

 

 

The role of marketing is to generate demand for a product or service, and positively influence the chances of a sale or a satisfactory exchange. The role of production or operations is to have it ready so that when a sale happens you can deliver.

Stand and deliver, as the highwaymen and a certain 80’s pop band used to say.

This is not as easy as it sounds. It’s helpful to know your sales cycle, the length of time between when you start creating the demand and the customer wants to buy. Sometimes the sales cycle is miniscule, like in ecommerce, so you need to be ready to deliver on the upsurge in demand. Otherwise, goodwill wanes proportionally to the amount of time you have to wait after you’ve placed your order.

Last year I ordered a rather nice brand-name top from a website I’ve used for a couple of years. They used to send me a daily email with their offers. They complete on value and totally wing the service and delivery side. I ordered the top the 3rd week of February and it arrived the second week of May. I don’t know why it took so long; the possible reasons are many. Once I got the top I unsubscribed and they get no more business from me.

In the business to business world, it’s also helpful to know how long it will take you to build your product or service, and also how long it will take for your people to be able to deliver and support the product or service. If you’re lucky, you can do some of these two things in parallel and save a bit of go to market time.

 

Consider these 4 statements:

  1. As I write this I’m on the top of a mountain
  2. As you read this I’m on the beach
  3. As you read this I don’t know where I’ll be
  4. As you read this you could be anywhere

I once read a book by Stephen King on how to write a book. He put forward the idea that writers are in the business of thought transference. He described a specific situation very clearly and argued that he had achieved thought transference since the reader had a clear picture what he was thinking about and describing. He put it better than I have, which perhaps illustrates our different places in the writing world.

I know where I am when I write a blog post, and if I like I can describe it to you. When the blog post is published, and you read it, I might be somewhere completely different. And then, in the future, when you chance upon the post, I will be somewhere else again. I might even be pushing up the daisies, who knows.

Of course, you’d be entitled to ask ‘why are you telling me this,’ and ‘who cares?’ and you’d be right in both cases. The thought transference has to be worth it for you.

What’s not important is where I am when you read what I’ve written, unless it engages you. What’s almost always important is where you are when you read what I’ve written and whether or not you’re into it. That’s your unique perspective – on everything.

 

It’s impossible to resist the slow, glacial and inexorable movement of father time. Father time, but mother nature: what’s going on there?

Once you’ve reached the peak of fitness, be it physical, sporting, cerebral, intellectual and so on, or if you’re lucky, a long, luxurious plateau of a peak, you’re on the decline, fact. You have to work increasingly harder with each passing year to keep your skills at the level they were.

I have noticed this with the sport I have played most of over the last 4 decades, table tennis. It’s hard to judge how you compare with your much younger self, even though I still think I’m as good as I was in my peak, but I have a general sense that my abilities are in decline, that my skills are dwindling. Table tennis is one of those sports where you can have a long career of being at or close to your best. It’s not like some of the other speed and power sports where the window is much narrower.

That said, when I’m playing against people half my age, or less, I see that the sport has moved on, it’s played differently, and my approach to the game is outdated. I’m pushing against the tide of better ways of playing the game, and younger, faster and better players.

The enjoyment is still there, but the proficiency is such that you’re competitive against the standard of player on your way down that you were on your way up. The only way you can reconcile yourself with the march of time is to confine yourself to playing against your age group or to be in competition with yourself, and not others, on a daily basis.

I’m sure it applies to work as well…