Tag Archives: time

My four-day weekend

This June I’d expected to be completing a three-year contract and looking for new full-time employment (without dismissing the possibility of a part-time role). I’m lucky enough to love my work but regard my paid employment as more of a cause than a career; I describe all purposeful activity as ‘work’ – sometimes it’s paid, sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes that relates to the same activity! The line between the two has become increasingly blurred and I have concluded that work-life balance between different types of work is what determines my level of health and happiness.

Back to my non-career career, and what was planned for this June didn’t happen. My previous employers cut short my contract six months early but, luckily, I was able to seamlessly take up another role which, seven months in, I find really rewarding. That reward may be partly because the role is part-time – I enjoy a four-day weekend and can recommend it!

As an aside, I can confess to having worked an unofficial four-day week many years ago. I’m a believer in the principle of getting paid for work done rather than ‘hours on the job’ – a not insignificant difference. I was in a full-time job, which wasn’t office-based and I honestly felt I could get it done in four days (and I don’t mean by working 9.5 hours on each of those days). I was thinking of trying to make it official – discussing the idea with my employers – but my brother-in-law advised I simply do it unofficially. Which is what happened – I kept my phone on and was available for the five working days, but I reduced my hours to give me more time to be a father (commuting for six years I’d missed out on my daughter’s development). I got the job done, never missed any meetings and, to the best of my knowledge, no one was any the wiser about my ‘informal arrangement’.

But now I work Wednesday to Friday by arrangement and I can confirm I don’t get that dreaded ‘Monday feeling’ on a Sunday afternoon, nor even on a Tuesday! I don’t really know whether I can afford to be paid for only three days a week (the sort of charity jobs I enjoy are never particularly well paid…) but I do know the non-monetary compensation is massive. It’s taken a little getting used to; I have to keep my head down on a Friday afternoon when full-time colleagues around me are, understandably, winding down for the weekend. But for me the prospect of the four-day ‘weekend’ ahead keeps me going, committed to making sure my three days are fully worked.

Planning becomes all the more important when you know you’ll leave on a Friday and, in theory, you’ll be unavailable until the following Wednesday. My work involves 1-2-1 meetings so, with my flexibility reduced, almost invariably some of that planning has to happen on one of my days off, but that’s a price I’m prepared to pay for my re-balanced life.

Which is not to say that my ‘days off’ are spent sitting back doing nothing; I don’t even have enough time for some serious reading for pleasure, something I promised myself when I knew I was going part-time but have not achieved… yet. I have too many other interests to sit around idly but I now have half a chance of ticking off most of the items on the same to-do lists that I previously tried to cram into a two-day weekend.

Meanwhile, I’m also following with interest a national campaign for a four-day working week – something about which I blogged some years ago. How many people on their death-bed say with regret ‘I wish I’d spent more time at work’? Time for us all to focus on what really matter maybe…

The three day weekend https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/time-trials-3-the-three-day-weekend

4 Day Week Campaign https://www.4dayweek.co.uk

Regrets of the dying https://bronnieware.com/blog/regrets-of-the-dying

 

Eight tips for business start-ups    

Share your start-up ideas

You may be tempted to think your business idea is so clever that others will steal your idea as soon as they hear about it. Chances are your idea isn’t so unique, and you have more to gain from telling everyone who is prepared to listen than keeping your cards close to your chest. Unless you have a potentially patentable product, don’t waste time and money on protection – even with a patent you probably can’t afford to defend it. https://youngfoundation.org/social-innovation-investment/social-enterprise-mistakes-worrying-that-someone-will-steal-your-idea/

Consider a lean start-up

We talk about finishing a business plan before launching a business to lay solid foundations to give the business the best chance of success. In reality, a business plan is never finished – it’s a promise not proof and sometimes waiting to ‘get it right’ is an excuse for doing nothing. Sometimes it’s good to jump in before all the details are worked out. At that ‘test trading/ piloting’ stage you’re doing real life market research and you’ll probably be more willing to make changes because the plan is less fixed and you’ve committed less time to it. https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/running-on-fumes-a-case-for-lean-business-start-up

Things always take longer than you want/ expect

When you’re fired up about your business idea, you don’t want to be told that it won’t develop as quickly as you’d like; that things won’t follow the time-line in your well-worked business plan. You’ll want to keep the momentum going but remember – your timetable is no one else’s. If you’re collaborating with others and depending on the support of partners who have less interest in your success than you do, you may have to be patient – they have their own timetables.

Passion is rarely enough

People are too eager to say that passion is all you need for starting a business (it certainly helps) and if you want it badly enough you’ll succeed. The latter is not true and sets up people to fail. Some business ideas and the people behind them have no chance of success and ‘managing expectations’, if not actually damping down their enthusiasm, is often kinder in the long run. That said, being proved wrong is always a delight! https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/lesson-1-roots-wings-and-balance

Be prepared to stop making products you want to sell and start making products that people want to buy.

The paying customers is (almost) always right – if they want it, make it. Business is business – don’t let your personal views stop a sale (unless it’s a commission that simply won’t work).

If you’re making products, you’ll probably take pride in your creation having spent a lot of time and effort in the process. But you have to let go – in business you must be prepared to sell your favourite pieces, even to people who don’t appreciated your talent. You may also have to compromise your standards and at times; accept ‘good enough’ to operate competitively. https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/the-paying-customer-is-always-right

Keep it simple and limit choice

Whether it’s pricing and discounts / membership processes and application forms / product and service ranges, keep it simple. You shouldn’t need a degree to work out the price of an item after taking off the discount, adding delivery and VAT etc. It’s also proven that limiting choice will result in higher overall sales. So, don’t display 15 different ‘bespoke’ mirrors – put 5 in the spotlight and keep 10 under the counter.

The ‘right way’ is rarely clear cut

‘Getting it right’ is usually a question of balancing different options. Whether it’s balancing social and financial objectives, pricing for affordability vs pricing for viability, and balancing quality against cost-effective production, there’s usually a judgement to be made. Making 150 bird boxes is good for business but not for the wellbeing of workers who want to be creative.

You can’t run a business on fresh air and goodwill

You can go a long way by appealing to your friends and family and tapping into the time and expertise of volunteers – there’s a lot of free support and advice around, particularly for start-ups. But sustaining a functioning business in the longer term, is likely to need at least some paid staff input. A contract of employment is important for underpinning commitment and reliability.

For more start-up lessons go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/learning-about-earning

 

Time Trials #3 – the three day weekend

HourglassFor all the talk about flexible working we still seem to be incredible wedded to the Monday to Friday working week with the weekend giving us barely enough time to unwind before we get that Monday morning feeling (from early Sunday evening, or worse).

And there’s also still an emphasis on payment for hours put in, rather than work done. Many years ago I was in a job where I could get the work done in four days a week, I was advised to take off the ‘extra day’ unofficially, because the system couldn’t cope with the idea of someone doing a full time job in 4 days!

Which got me thinking…

What if everyone in the country had a three-day weekend? Individuals would agree with their employers whether the extra day was Monday or Friday, so the business could operate the full five days. What might happen?

Personal productivity would probably go up following the increased rest time over the weekend. I could argue that people would do the same amount of work in the four days and should therefore be paid their full salary – but I know this is unthinkable for many employers and I have no evidence to back up my argument.

The leisure industry would effectively have a four day weekend – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday – with a great boost to that part of the economy and, in most cases, benefits to our personal health and wellbeing. I bet absenteeism and sick leave would go down.

That’s it – simple – what’s not to like?

I haven’t really given it a second thought but other, wiser, people have looked at the advantages and disadvantages of a shorter working week. For starters, try http://productivemag.com/22/lessons-from-a-4-day-working-week (on one company’s experience) and https://neweconomics.org/2010/02/21-hours (looking at national/ global implications)

See also

https://www.4dayweek.co.uk,

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/other/this-is-how-ai-could-support-a-four-day-work-week,

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/11/four-day-working-week-tuc-proposals-workers-rights

Time Trials  #2 – precise time

HourglassMy dear old dad used to say he was baffled by people who spent good money on a watch that would be ‘accurate to within a 1,000th second over 100 years’ (or whatever the claim) because no one needs that accuracy.

True – but time and some precision is surprisingly prevalent (some would say dominant) in much of our lives. The other Saturday I made a day trip to York. To summarise my day in terms of times …

5.15am Rude alarm awakening

5.59 Three trains to arrive in York (on time) at 8.31

9am parkrun time 23.32 (9 seconds off my personal best for York)

11.30am and 1.00pm – Two meetings

3.00pm  York City vs Tranmere Rovers (my team) – 90 minutes + 9 minutes extra time

18.31 Two return trains arriving (4 minutes later than advertised) 21.11

The first blog in this pair on the theme of time [https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/time-trials-1-precious-time] shows how the importance of time depends on the context.

At The Repair Shed – our burgeoning social enterprise in Hemel Hempstead – we’re enjoying funding support from the Innovation in Waste Prevention Fund. The implication of this is that we have to account for our spending (how much) and demonstrate our achievements (how well) in a time-limited period that ends on 30 November 2015.

I’m the first to say that, when spending someone else’s money (and even when we’re not -see https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/building-a-shed-the-second-100-days) we should be accountable, but the clocking is ticking. We now have to try to realise the plan of action we submitted to the funders according to the timetable we presented with our bid for their support.

But where ‘innovation’ is concerned there’s inherent risk that things will not happen when/how it was intended – assuming the innovation is real. And we’re working with volunteers who can simply walk away, so there’s no guarantee of having feet on the ground and hands on deck to make it happen at all!

So the time pressure is real and I’m reminded once again of Olive Quinton‘s insight around starting a business (she created social enterprise Lofty Heights) – be patient; other people’s timetables will be different from yours.

I’ll try to be patient Olive, but it won’t be easy.

PS Here’s a tip when organising meetings. If you advertise an unusual start time – 2.13pm say – people are more likely to remember it and turn up on time!

 

Time Trials # 1 – precious time

HourglassImagine a bank that credits your account each morning with £86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.

What would you do? Draw out all of it of course!

Each of us has such a bank – its name is TIME.

Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.

It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you.

Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

There is no drawing against ‘tomorrow’. You must live in the present on today’s deposits.

Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success.

The clock is running. Make the most of today.
To realise the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.

To realise the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realise the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realise the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realise the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.

To realise the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.

To realise the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.

Source unknown

Coming soon – Time  Trials #2