Making the Most of the Journey

There was quite a bit media attention a few weeks ago, on the subject of wage equality ….. or inequality …..between men and women in the workplace. One radio article I heard, mentioned that the average male employee is more likely to ask for a pay rise than the average female worker. My initial reaction was ” why do average employees think they deserve a pay rise?”. I know …..I was twisting the point!
But why are some of us more comfortable asking for what we feel we deserve, than others?
Is it that some of us have greater self-worth? Or, perhaps our upbringing plays a part in conditioning some of us to feel uncomfortable about asking for things? Possibly, for some, money is not the most important aspect of their job and therefore goes neglected. Whatever the reasons, spending a little type considering such things can spur us in to actions if we feel justified in doing so.

This applies to most things we do. It is pretty easy to stop noticing a lot of the elements in our lives -particularly the finer details.
We may have an overall goal or long term target but realise we are overlooking the finer details. Breaking down that bigger picture in to day to day detail usually results in a greater likelihood of reaching that goal or target. The target of achieving an increase in turnover by X% by the end of the year is much more effective if is broken down in to monthly, daily and in some businesses, hourly targets.

This is important in our personal lives too -it is important to enjoy today, this week, this month and this year. Sometimes we can be so focused on a point in the future that we don’t
notice that we are neglecting the present -or feel that ‘now’ can be sacrificed for some time in the future.  It is good to remember that happiness isn’t usually something that just happens to us -it is something we build over time -and that time includes today.

Noticing what is happening today and next week also flags up the things that aren’t working as we want them to, giving the opportunity for change. If something isn’t working and we continue to do it in the same way, it stands to reason that the likelihood is that it still won’t work. One saying I like is  “the mind is like a parachute …..most effective when it’s open”. Being open minded and trying different ways of doing the things that aren’t working has got to be a better option -and if that doesn’t work either then try something else. The challenge is to take charge of our lives …………..starting with ‘now’.


The Unforgiving Minute

600600p82931EDNmainEd_Reid_imageThere you are, 13 or 14, having a game of cricket with your mates or fixing your bike – or plucking up the courage to talk to the girl next door.

“Edward,” your mum says, “Time to come in and write your thank you letters.”

You sigh. Was there ever a bigger waste of time? After all, your auntie will cough up again next year. And at Christmas. She has to: it’s in the rules.

What’s emphatically not in the rules is taking time out of your day to wish someone happy birthday nearly thirty years later. But several of you did – so thank you. I had a lovely day on Wednesday and I really appreciate all the messages – even the less complimentary ones, pointing out that the years may have taken their toll…

I was going to write about testimonials this week but somehow the words wouldn’t come. I managed the electronic equivalent of a great many screwed up pieces of A4 – so let’s consider wasting time instead.

Shortly after I started my first job the sales manager took me to one side. “You want to be successful, Ed?” he said.

“Yes. Absolutely. Definitely. Yes. Obviously,” I said, eloquence not being my strong suit at that point in my life.

“It’s simple,” he said. “Do a full day’s work every day – including Friday. And that’ll put you ahead of 98% of the people out there.”

At the time I didn’t pay too much attention. I may even have been a little dismissive. ‘Do a full day’s work every day?’ That was obvious. How did you become a manager if all you could do was trot out the obvious?

Over the years I’ve realised that ‘do a full day’s work’ is probably the best business advice anyone ever receives. It might even be the best advice for life in general – as Rudyard Kipling pointed out:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…

…Which was fine when If was written in 1895. It was even fine when my sales manager gave me the advice a hundred years later. But it’s not fine now – because since then the internet has come along and the ‘unforgiving minute’ has very definitely become the distracting minute.

Had the Dark Lord spent a large slice of eternity on a project to disrupt your work he could hardly have come up with a better plan than the internet. It will be there all the time in the background, my Lord. With everything on it that they’re interested in. Instantly. At the click of a button. ‘Have a look at this recipe. Why not check the cricket score as well? Here’s your favourite song: it’ll only waste three minutes…’

I’m as guilty as anyone – my particular bête noire is online banking (how many times, Ed? You do not need to check the cash flow every day). Then there are everyone’s updates on LinkedIn, the cricket scores, football, the BBC Sport site…

Staying focused shouldn’t be a problem. But, increasingly, it is. So I’m always interested in articles that look at time management, productivity and getting things done – and last week I came across this one, promising that we can all get the same amount done in half the time.

It’s a subject that I haven’t written about for a long time, and maybe I should return to it – especially as “finding the time to get it all done and still see my family” is such a recurring theme round the TAB boardroom table.

So let me finish this week with two very simple questions. What’s the website that wastes the most time for you? (Please remember this is a family blog – and yes, of course there’s a prize for anyone who replies TAB York.) And what’s the technique/trick/habit/act of will power that most helps you stay focused during the working day?

I’ll look at one very simple technique next week, and then I’ll pull all the collective wisdom together in the following post. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and please rest assured that sitting back with a glass of wine very definitely does count as ‘sixty seconds’ worth of distance run…’