Issue 50 – Do Your Dishes
December 1, 2008
by Sean Hull
Here we are into the holidays already. I’m happy to have reached the 50th issue of Open Insights, and plan to bring another 50. Thanks to everyone for reading.
2008 has brought us a lot of surprises, none of which need further repeating. Let’s take the downturn as an opportunity to dig in, work harder, and get creative in business.
With that, I wish all of you a peaceful holiday season, and happy new year 2009!
In This Issue:
Many people ask me how I manage time. The truth is I’m pretty good at staying on top of things but I wasn’t always. There was a time, I guess everyone had their moments in college, where I was quite the procrastinator.
So people wonder how did I get a hold of the discipline to start a business, and keep it going for a decade?
A Funny Analogy
Even if you haven’t had roomates, you can probably appreciate this story. Perhaps you’ve lived by yourself, or just didn’t have someone around taking care of you. So it was left up to you to do the dishes. You know it doesn’t matter how lazy you are, or how on-top of things you are, we all have to do the same amount of dishes. That’s right, you can either do the dishes AFTER you use them, or BEFORE you use them.
What do I mean? Well on the one hand there’s the person who stays ahead of the game, does them right after dinner. The other person doesn’t feel like doing them, so they leave them sitting around. But when they need a dish, they have to do it before hand. So really, they end up with the same amount of work. The only difference is the on-top of things person had a clean smelling kitchen, and the procrastinator had a smelly kitchen. The procrastination didn’t really save them any work. Actually it probably caused *MORE* work.
So there’s the theory. In practice people need to use this method for a while and start to like it before they will really feel it.
Back To Consulting
Doing freelance consulting is much the same way. You always have the opportunity to put off work until another day. And it’s tempting, like a credit card, or like not doing the dishes. However the advantages of staying ahead of your game are legion.
For starters you come across professional. If you have things done on time, this is immeasurable. And it turns out to be somewhat rare, so your clients will really appreciate it.
Next it allows you to have contingency plans. If something happens, you’ll be able to absorb the distractions, mess, or other detours that can derail your timeline and prevent you from delivering on time.
One of my favorites though is always being available. If you’re waiting too long, you’re dealing with crunch time. It sneaks up on you, and starts to impinge on your social life, or other important things you’d like to do. What’s more if someone contacts you during crunch time, you are definitely not available. However, if you stay ahead of your game, distractions are a pleasant surprise, and a needed respite. Get some air and come back, and your productivity will probably improve. And this availability doesn’t just extend to new projects that appear on the horizon, it also applies to your social schedule. You have more options to shift things around if you are way ahead of deadline.
But probably the most important reason is it’s just less stressful. If you stay ahead of things, you don’t have that deadline weighing on the back of your mind. If you wait for two weeks until the last minute, you enjoy that interim time a lot less than if you did the work at the outset.
In the end if you want to be together, run a solo or small business, you really have to keep up with things. That means doing the dishes at the earliest opportunity, and keeping yourself organized, focused, and ultimately, carefree!
Data mining is a hot word these days if google search results, or technorati are any indication. Baker charts a course looking at entrepreneur mathematicians he dubs "The Numerati". They are using data mining in new ways to put the vast array of data to use, customizing our buying experiences, or offering us products we didn’t know we’d like. It’s an interesting if sometimes cautious look at what the future may hold.
I’ve been trolling through iTunes in the last few weeks, and have found some real gems. With that in mind I decided to add a new section to the newsletter to focus on interesting, and technology relevant shows that I find. By far the best one I’ve stumbled upon is Financial Times – Digital Business.
For instance the September 10th episode of this year talked about Mesh Collaboration, Globalization, and Social Networking. Definitely worth a listen.
You can read it online with updates almost everyday, and the print edition comes out on alternate wednesdays. The podcast you can find here.
Though we haven’t added a new audio interview in a while, we certainly plan to do some new interviews in the coming months. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, please listen to our past audio interviews.
In our last interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.
Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.
Sadly, even with humor we have to make a nod to the stockmarket meltdown. With that I give you the 401 Keg Plan…
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