JULY 2015 ALSO INSIDE: Booking events | Geraint Jones | Summer fashion special
COMPOSING MASS EMAILS Develop your own killer communications
CONTENTS NOTICE BOARD
J U LY 15 Life is always a little sweeter with the sun on your back and a cocktail in your hand – team Olé is not an advocate of alcoholism – so we’re welcoming July with open arms. We know your mind might be wandering towards your holiday, but don’t amble off just yet – we’ve got a great issue for you. If you’re still wrestling with the finishing touches of your office summer party, check out our guide to booking events. Or if you’re in the smug camp of those who already have their events organised but are struggling to get the word out, take a peek at our piece on composing mass emails. With a summer fashion special, a word with Olympic cyclist Geraint Jones and our roundup of all things fun to see and do this month, it’s another jampacked Olé for you to get your teeth into. Happy chomping…
UPDATE Chocolate elixirs and professional pooches SAY WHAT?! Money talk and excess chat
ON THE JOB JOB NEWS The latest career news BOOKING EVENTS Your guide to booking the perfect event COMPOSING MASS EMAILS Develop your own killer communications 60 SECONDS WITH Geraint Jones
LUNCH BREAK BREAKTIME Catch up with the latest reviews and recipes OFFICE CATWALK Summer fashion special
Editor George Carey
senior account manager
AND ONE MORE THING… A passion for procrastination
Why Privacy Filters Are Important For Why Priv Businesses Are Impo Business
Are you protecting your Are you protecting sensitive information from your sensitive information from prying eyes? prying eyes?
HEALTHCARE More healthcare professionals are relying on laptops and tablets to interact remotely with HEALTHCARE hospitals. Without laptop screen filters, their data Moreforhealthcare profe access in public becomes an opportunity an laptops and tablets to invasion of patient confidentiality. hospitals. Without lapt access in public becom invasion of patient con GOVERNMENT Outside the security of government offices, government workers using mobile devices risk exposing sensitive data. Privacy filters are an GOVERNMEN the security of inexpensive and effective extension ofOutside mandatory government data protection measures to protect confidential workers u exposing sensitive data information. inexpensive and effect data protection measu information. FINANCIAL Whether it’s your accountant or a financial advisor, many financial professionals are travelling or commuting, many working as independent FINANCIAL Whether it’s your acco contractors outside of an office setting. Sensitive advisor, many financial records on-screen without a screen filter financia in place are subject to prying eyes. or commuting, many w contractors outside of financial records on-sc in place are subject to BANKING With the introduction of open-plan customer meeting areas, there is a higher risk of prying eyes stealing sensitive customer information. BANKING Withdata the introduction o Using a privacy screen will help improve meeting areas, there is protection. eyes stealing sensitive Using a privacy screen ™ protection. CORPORATE Corporate spies may not need to infiltrate a ™ company to gain secrets when confidential data CORPORATE ™ can be viewed and photographed over a travelling Protect private information on your laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet. PrivaScreen Corporate executive’s shoulder. Privacy filters can help spies may n Blackout Privacy Filters blackout the screen image when viewed from 30° side angles company to gain secre protect against corporate spying in public places. while keeping on-screen data clearly a straight-on view. can be viewed and pho Protectvisible privatefrom information on your laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet. PrivaScreen™ executive’s shoulder. P Blackout Privacy Filters blackout the screen image when viewed from 30° side angles protect against corpora while keeping on-screen data clearly visible from a straight-on view. EDUCATION The increased use of laptops and mobile devices by teachers and administrators means sensitive EDUCATION data can be accessed beyond the secure Thefilters increased use of l environment of school grounds. Privacy teachers and admin can prevent the possibility of exposingbystudent data can be accessed information in public. environment of school can prevent the possib information in public. MOBILE WORKERS Total Blackout Total Blackout Side View Side View As the number of workers outside the office Clear Front View continues to grow, so do privacy risks. In fact, Total Blackout Total 55%*Blackout of working professionals work on their MOBILE WOR Side View Side View As the number of work laptop in a high-traffic public area at least one Clear Front View continues hour per week.* From libraries to coffee shops to grow, so d 55%*theof working profe to airport terminals, mobile workers need laptop security of privacy filters wherever they workintoa high-traffic hour per week.* From protect the data they handle. *People Security Visual to airport terminals, m Data Breach Risk Assessment Study. security of privacy filte protect the data they h
PrivaScreen Blackout Privacy Filters Privacy You Can Trust! PrivaScreen Blackout Privacy Filters Privacy You Can Trust!
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GOOD MORNING HABITS FOR A SUCCESSFUL DAY The early bird catches the worm. In this Lifehack post Quynh Nguyen lists five things morning people do for a successful start to the day. 1. THEY GET UP AN HOUR EARLY It is easier for a morning person than for an evening soul to wake before the crack of dawn. Successful morning people don’t take this ability lightly. They consider it one of their many strengths to be nurtured. When you make waking up early a habit, you will have an extra hour a day, everyday, to do more and achieve more. 2. THEY DO EXERCISE When morning people work out, they get their circulation going and clear their mind. Would you agree that it would be a big push for a day of productivity? Then, pick up your running shoes or a yoga mat and gety your blood going. You will be grateful for it later. 3. THEY GO OUTSIDE TO BREATHE IN FRESH AIR The freshness of the morning air is good for both the body and the mind. One of the first thing a highly achieving person often does in the morning is step outside. The morning dew reminds him of a new day when they can again start afresh and strike for the best. 4. THEY LIST THE PRIORITIES OF THE DAY Everyday you have a lot of things to do. Finish up a project for the new client. Take your kids to school. Reply to the emails that have been piling up in your inbox. Pick up the dry-cleaning for your wife. And so on. Before digging into any of those many things, a morning person will take a few minutes to pick out a few priorities. Those are the things that you consider most urgent or matter the most. 5. THEY VISUALISE THEIR DAY An effective strategy is to plan ahead. These people plan the day before they start it. What needs to be done? How many steps it involves? Everything can be planned roughly, say, in the shower.
CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR THE HEART New research has added to tentative evidence that eating chocolate in modest quantities may be good for the heart, according to the Guardian. Scientists in Britain looked at data from nearly 21,000 people who filled out questionnaires about their lifestyle and had their health monitored for more than 11 years. Their average daily consumption was seven grams (0.25 ounces) of chocolate, ranging from none to 100g. The top fifth of chocolate-eaters were 12% less likely to develop heart disease and 23% less likely to suffer a stroke compared with the bottom fifth. The study, published in the British journal Heart, noted that most consumers of the confectionary ate milk chocolate, not dark chocolate which famously has a higher percentage of protective molecules called flavonoids. “This may indicate that not only flavonoids but also other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association,” it said. The team, headed by Phyo Myint of the University of Aberdeen, admitted the probe had limitations. The study was observational, meaning it could not show cause and effect, merely an association which may be circumstantial. Another question mark was to be found in “reverse causation”: participants who knew they had cardiovascular problems may have followed a healthier diet and eaten less chocolate. The team also reviewed other studies, covering more than 130,000 people, and said they had found beneficial association with chocolate too.
IN BRIEF Air sickness A plane was forced to make an emergency landing after a strange odour sparked a chain reaction of vomit. The scenes took place after take-off from Tel Aviv Airport in Israel when a weird smell wafted its way through the US Airways cabin. Soon after passengers and crew members began spewing up and down the aisle. A total of 14 crew members and two passengers fell seriously ill – prompting an emergency landing in Rome.
Egged on Officers in the Isles of Scilly were called to a break-in at a shed and were surprised to find a fried egg on the grass nearby. A police spokesman said: “Somebody has forced open the door to the shed at the playing field. There are few clues as to how this happened other than a fried egg left at the scene. We are just looking for the person responsible to own up.”
We give you our pick of the top comedy viral videos this month. Click on the text below and enjoy. Tweet us your top videos @olemagazine
T A H W S AY
WA N T I N G M O R E
I’ve been with my employer for 18 months. My supervisor gave me a performance review after twelve months but they never mentioned a pay increase. How should I bring it up? Jerry, Hull
I work in an open-plan office and have two co-workers that talk to each other constantly. It disrupts the office and keeps the rest of us from concentrating on our work. How do I address this without causing problems? Sue, London
You’ve brought up a subject that can be uncomfortable to address but it’s best to be direct in these situations. At an appropriate time, ask to privately speak with your boss. Reference your performance review and ask when you can expect a pay increase. Try something like: “When will an annual pay increase take effect, and how much should I expect based on my previous employment evaluation?” This way your boss shouldn’t become defensive. Of course, prepare yourself that you might not be getting one, but at least you’ll know!
We understand – an open-plan office can get loud. You want to interact with colleagues but get on with the work at hand. Finding the right balance between friendly ‘banter’ and disruptive conversation can be tough. To avoid causing friction by complaining to your supervisor, first try making a request directly to your colleagues. Ask them in a neutral, yet focused, tone to change first. Try something like: “would you mind being quieter when you’re talking to co-workers?”
This month’s picture
Last month’s winner: Emily, Kent
Clarkson didn’t agree that his career had sunk since leaving Top Gear ”
Win £50 worth of M&S vouchers! Email your captions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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on the job
JOB NEWS GERS MIDDLE MANA BAD COPY BOSSES` t’s irror managemen m s er ag an m e dl Mid r regardless of thei bad behaviours, research from individual ethics, of Management, Rotterdam School ch shows. The resear ity rs ve ni U us m Eras ses of unethical reveals that in ca t managers will trea e dl id m , ip sh er lead al unfairly if the soci es at in rd bo su r ei th and ce between them an st di l ia at sp d an this ent is low. In turn em ag an m p to e th ee dissatisfaction, oy pl em to ad le ill w and nal commitment tio sa ni ga or er w lo effect ee turnover. The oy pl em d se ea cr in l social and spatia e th if ed rs ve re is top n managers and ee tw be ce an st di ers gh. Middle manag hi is t en em ag an m sses, treated by their bo y irl fa un e ar ho w r ployees fairer if, fo em r ei th t ea tr ill w nt e based in differe ar ey th e, pl am ex e managers, and th r ei th om fr es fic of high. social distance is
DOES YOUR DOG COME TO WORK? On Friday 26 June 2015, businesses from across the UK welcomed their dog-lov ing employees into the workplace, along with their loyal (and well-behaved!) four-le gged companions. This year the event is raising money for All Dogs Matter, a charity that re-homes hundreds of dogs every yea r in London and Norfolk. Just a small don ation of £2 could be used to buy food for one day, while £10 is enough to buy new bed ding for these rescue dogs. Businesses can donate online (minimum of £50) to take part and become a sponsor, while individuals can don ate online or via text (minimum of £2) . Upload a ‘pooch selfie’, or give £5 online to be entered automatically into a prize draw worth over £700. “We’ve been blown away with the traction this year’s Bring Your Dog To Work Day has had with businesses and the public. All kinds of businesses – such as new s media websites, hair salons, car dealers, pet product manufacturers and marketing companies – have donated,” explains Jo Amit, cofounder of HOWND, the company behind the initiative.
on the job
STUDY DEBUNKS ‘QUEEN BEE SYNDROME’ A study has shown that ‘queen bee syndrome’ – displayed by leading professional women who keep other females out – is a myth. Researchers at Columbia Business School in New York claim that a lack of women in top roles is down to men’s determination to retain control, the Sunday Times reported. The finding, which will be presented at a conference of leading girls’ schools on Wednesday, contradict a 1973 study which suggested that women in authority were more critical of female subordinates. The new research reportedly looked at top management teams in 1,500 companies over a 20-year period and found that where women had been appointed chief executive, other women were more likely to make it into senior positions. But when a woman had been given a senior role that was not the top position, the likelihood of other women following them to executive level fell by 50%, the academics found. The research team said: “Women face an implicit quota, whereby firms seek to maintain a small number of women on their top management team, usually only one. While firms gain legitimacy from having women in top management, the value of this legitimacy declines with each woman.”
FOUR REAS ONS YOU MIGHT NO T GET RECOMMEN DATIONS ON LINKED IN
On Careere alism, Kristi n Johnson lists some reasons a c onnection might not re commende d you. 1 . Th e y m a y not know how to respond . It’s possib le your connection is a bit of a luddite. If this recom mendation is worth it, offer a less on. 2 . Th e y m a y have forg otten. It’s okay to send a rem inder message, o r also send your request ag ain. 3. Maybe y ou fell off th eir radar. While you s hould avoid trading requests pe r se, surpris ing him wit your own re h quest of him might jog their memo ry about yo u. 4 . Th e y m a y have a re ason. You might not want to hear it but maybe the ir memory of you isn’t quite what you though t.
THEY SAID “Most people chase success at work, thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that it’s happiness at work that will make you successful.” Alexander Kjerulf
on the job
THE MAIN EVENT Every year brings a full calendar of important business lunches, conferences and parties to organise. GEORGE CAREY looks at the subtle art of organising events
on the job
rganising an event for your company can be an extremely stressful affair, often plagued with ambiguous criteria and uncertain deadlines. As the organiser you will need a solid grasp of what sort of event you are trying to design and what your business would like to achieve from it so you can find the perfect venue to host it in. THE BIG SCHMOOZE Booking a client lunch is tricky, and the more important the meeting the worse it gets. The venue will vary with the type of client and the outcome that your company hopes to achieve. It should be in accordance with the message you are trying to deliver, so find out as much as you can about the company or individual you’re hosting beforehand. In a perfect world, if it’s a very important client, you would have an idea of their preference of cuisine. It could prove to be disastrous, for example, if you spend time and effort booking an amazing seafood restaurant, only to discover that the client doesn’t like fish. Some client meetings are less formulaic and require high levels of attention and research – especially when the impression you give could make or break a business deal. Tailoring the venue to your client will demonstrate that you are astute and empathetic. Taking a bit more time could greatly improve your business image, essential for meetings that carry a lot of weight. Most importantly, be aware of the sentiment of the specific meeting and what both parties are trying to achieve as a result of the encounter. Judge the playing field and determine the venue based upon these criteria – for example, if you are arranging a serious business meeting with the objective of finalising a contract, ensure that the venue you pick is practical with impeccable service. If people are going to negotiate it is probably best that there’s little else for them to think about. COMPANY CONFERENCE Finding a suitable conference venue is all about
“The venue should be in accordance with the message you are trying to deliver” practicality. Conferences provide an opportunity for members to network, attend speeches and lectures and see what the future of their company has to offer them. The conference venue will need to accommodate a large number of people, so ensure that your venue has enough seating and space for people to wander around – find a site that is big, shiny and accessible, and you can’t go far wrong. People are going to have to sit in a room from nine to five so make sure that the accommodation is comfortable and conducive to training. And after being bombarded with speeches and information, people will want to relax and socialise with coffee and snacks, so make these abundantly available and accessible. OFFICE PARTY The criteria for what constitutes a great office party venue will fluctuate depending on your theme and budget, nevertheless there are still a couple of basic principles that will stand you in good stead. Make sure there is sufficient private space for your party to disperse into as the evening progresses. No matter how amazing your building is, don’t be tempted to have the party there. This kind of opportunity for team-bonding needs a new environment with no reminders of the working day. Avoid the need to move from one venue to another. Any element of movement will give some people an excuse to go home and detract from the festivities. One thing that can sometimes be overlooked at office parties is your public image. Try to have as good of a time as possible without infringing on the privacy of others – if you ruin someone else’s evening they could find out your company name and bear it in mind for the future. Above all, remember to have fun yourself. After all that planning and hard work, you deserve it.
on the job
R E P LY TO ALL Whether communicating with the whole office or reaching out to clients, mass emails can be a powerful tool. Expert PA and email communicator NICKY CHRISTMAS shares her top tips on getting the most out of your correspondence
uring the course of my career one of my favourite tasks was creating newsletters, marketing emails, company updates and bulk email messages from my executives. I did this task in a number of roles and found
it to be a really creative outlet for me. I used a few different systems â€“ Concep Campaigner, Dotmailer and MailChimp to name a few â€“ however, I always found that no matter what message I was creating the emails all followed a similar pattern. Here are my top 10 tips for creating bulk emails.
on the job
1.MAKE IT EASY TO SUBSCRIBE If you are working on external emails it is a good idea to collect data on those that are receiving the emails. Most bulk email systems will have a function available to capture names and email addresses. Remember the person that you send the email to might forward this on to someone else who would like to automatically receive the emails in the future. You may also like to include an ‘unsubscribe’ link. 2. SCHEDULE EMAILS IN ADVANCE If you do have a schedule for your emails it is a great idea to create as many as you can in one sitting and schedule them to go out over a period of time. Most systems will also allow users to schedule the emails to go out at various times depending on where the recipient is located and their timezone. 3. LET EVERYONE KNOW HOW OFTEN THEY SHOULD EXPECT AN EMAIL If you are working on your office’s first monthly newsletter do let people know to expect this once a month and what the newsletter will entail. If you are sending important information via a bulk email you must ensure the subject heading states that people should read this email. When receiving something that looks like a bulk email (rather than a personal email from one person to another) it can be easy to ignore it. 4. DESIGN THE EMAIL TO FIT YOUR FIRM’S BRAND Again, most bulk email systems will allow you to choose fonts and colours similar to your company’s and you will be able to upload the logo. If you are creating an internal email try to be a little creative with your colours. Remember this is one of those tasks that will showcase your creativity! 5. USE SHORT PARAGRAPHS AND LOTS OF IMAGES Most people don’t have time to sit and read a massively long email. Instead, they will skim the email for the information they require or are interested in. So make sure you use lots of images, short paragraphs and, if you can, links to more detailed information on the company website, or intranet if it’s for staff. 6. REMEMBER TO TEST YOUR EMAIL If you are sending this email out to thousands of people you really don’t want any mistakes! Send yourself and a colleague or two a test email to make sure all of the links work and there are no obvious errors. 7. IS THE EMAIL MOBILE AND TABLET ENABLED? Most systems are now mobile and tablet enabled, which means the email can be easily read on a number of devices. It is worth double checking this function because most people will read your messages on the go these days.
“Use lots of images, short paragraphs and links to more detailed information on the company website” 8. ADD SOME SHARING BUTTONS Add sharing buttons that enable recipients to send the email on to colleagues and also social media sharing buttons. Most systems will have these automatically available - you will just need to add your organisation’s details. 9. CHOOSE A BULK EMAIL SYSTEM THAT HAS ANALYTICS Depending on what type of emails you are sending out, you don’t need the analytics to be too detailed. But it is worthwhile having something that shows who is opening the emails, which links they are clicking on and if they are sharing the information. This level of detail will be really handy when you report back to the senior leadership team. It is also useful if a colleague says they haven’t received the information because you can check to see if they actually opened the email! 10. KEEP YOUR LANGUAGE INFORMAL Again, this depends on what you are sending and to whom. However, I have found that informal language works really well with newsletters. Remember, you want the recipients to enjoy reading the email so make it fun and engaging. FAMOUS EMAIL BLUNDERS Just desserts On Gordon Brown’s return from a trip to China, Treasury press officer Robbie Browse sent an email to friends mocking Chinese people’s eyes. He accidentally copied in his press list containing 83 newspaper journalists. One recipient promptly replied: “Will we all be invited to your leaving party?” Blunt response After a local resident sent a complaining email to St John’s School in Wiltshire about pupils climbing over her garden fence, she got a rather frank reply. After the school’s bursar forwarded Mary Kelly’s complaint to headmaster Patrick Hazlewood, he simply replied: “Tell her to get stuffed.” Unfortunately he’d hit ‘reply all’. Can you keep a secret? Claire McDonald, a schoolgirl from Devon, was rather surprised when she started getting top secret emails from the Pentagon after being added to a mailing list by a navy commander. It’s beautifully ironic that one of emails offered advice on preventing secrets being leaked.
on the job
6 0 S ECONDS WITH…
GERAINT JONES The Olympic cyclist raps about his life on two wheels Do you think this is a golden age for British cycling?
Hopefully it will have turned into one of the biggest sports in the UK. It pretty much is one now, but hopefully that will solidify over the next 10 or 15 years and we can become one of the biggest nations in cycling, like Belgium, France, Italy or Spain. We want people to put GB next to those traditional countries.”
And what are your personal hopes for the future?
“I just want to keep that momentum going, keep improving, learn more and keep training hard. I’m going to keep pushing it as far as I can go. If that’s being the leader at a grand tour or a leader of a team at Flanders, I’m not too bothered at the moment. There’s still a lot more to come.”
I hear that even cycling stars aren’t immune to theft
“I’ve had a couple of bikes nicked, actually. The worst one was when I left my TT bike in the back of my car that was parked at one of my mate’s houses in south Manchester. When I came out later that night I’d noticed that the back window had been smashed and the bike was gone. It was brand new TT bike, so that was expensive too!”
So what’s your answer to these problems?
“With more people cycling there will be more bikes around and therefore more theft. The more people have bikes, the more likely they are to get nicked. I’ve become an ambassador for insurance provider Protect Your Bubble, who will insure bikes worth up to £8,000.
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BREAKTIME desktop dining WEST END W AT C H
SUNNY AFTERNOON If you found that We Will Rock You, the Queen stage show, didn’t quite push your buttons, perhaps you’ll be more inclined to enjoy a Sunny Afternoon with The Kinks. Focussing on the band’s frantic and energetic rise to fame, it’s chock-full of all the usual rock ‘n’ roll clichés you’d expect, but in an enjoyable (rather than hackneyed\0 way. Fans will love the delivery of all their favourite classics, that feel more like you’re in a dingy back room gig, rather than a grand theatre and the costume and set design is a joy to behold. This is a rollicking good time that die-hard fans and novices alike can enjoy.
PA R M A H A M , G O AT S ’ C H E E S E A N D AV O C A D O B R U S C H E T TA
Serves: 10 Prep: 25 minutes INGREDIENTS 110 thin slices of ciabatta bread olive oil 1 clove garlic 5 basil leaves 2 avocados, peeled, stoned, sliced and drenched in lemon juice 100g crumbly goats cheese zest of 1 lemon 50g pistachios, roughly chopped 2 handfuls mint leaves, roughly chopped 10 slices parma ham METHOD Brush ciabatta slices with olive oil and toast on a hot griddle. Rub the toast in basil, garlic and seasoning. Top each bruschetta with slices of avocado, goats’ cheese, lemon zest, pistachios and mint leaves. To serve, drizzle with olive oil and top with parma ham.
T R E AT Y O U R S E L F WATCH THIS
LISTEN TO THIS
Motive If you can’t get enough of whodunnits from across the pond, this Canadian police drama offers something fresh that’s sure to leave you on the edge of your seat. Demonstrating a departure from the crime thriller narratives we’ve come to expect, this series begins with a murder – but instead of revealing the identity of the shadowy murderer at the end, these script writers let us in on the secret from the word go.
Andreya Triana is best known for her smoky and soulful collaborations with well-known artists like Bonobo and Mr. Scruff. But in this album she takes a leap into something a little lighter and, well, happier. Featuring stamping, clapping and a selection of catchy beats, this album is sure to be a fitting soundtrack for the summer days ahead – so whether you’re on a relaxed road trip or going for a wander with your headphones on, give it a listen. Look out for Gold – it’s a winner.
POWER HOUR BURN 360 Burn 360 is a new all-over body-conditioning workout moving away from the Jane Fonda ‘bums and tums’ classes of the 1980s and 1990s. It’s based around stretching out all the tissue that surrounds and connects muscles, giving definition and muscle tone as well as improving posture. Classes start with a stretching warm-up for the entire body, then focuses on different parts. Expect to find yourself doing body-weight exercises to strengthen wrists, shoulders and core. The aim is to move the body in all directions so that niggling injuries generally caused by our sedentary, desk or chair-bound lifestyles can be avoided.
BOOK THIS MIYAMA If you’re feeling a little flush this month and fancy sampling the best Japanese fair that London has to offer, get yourself over to Miyama for the ultimate dining experience. Whether you’re a sushi aficionado or you’re more inclined to the delicious combination of theatre and taste delivered by teppanyaki, you’ll find all of it and more at this Mayfair hideaway. The black cod or the delicious range of sashimi are notable standouts. 38 Clarges Street London
LOVES The temperature’s rising and it’s time to hit the coast, but not before you’ve checked out our beachwear special
MEN WOMEN 1 Burton, Pale pink rivieria swim, £22
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7 Oliver Bonas, Orange pocket front dress, £49.50 8 People Tree, Billie stripe tunic, £21
AND ONE MORE THING ...
I’LL DO IT IN A MINUTE Business owner TERRY HAYES sometimes finds himself putting off those all important tasks
I Terry Hayes Business owner
Did you agree with the columnist? Think you can do better? Email us with your “And one more thing” of approx. 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org
s there any greater enemy of productivity than procrastination? If so, I haven’t found it yet. It’s a grenade that can, if thrown unexpectedly into my day, destroy any chance of getting anything useful done. I generally think of myself as proactive and focused – in my line of work you have to be – but when the ‘p-word strikes’, I can be trapped in a cycle of ineptitude and inaction for hours. I say inaction but I’m always doing something when I’m procrastinating, just nothing constructive. I suddenly realise that the books in my office need to be alphabetised, or that I really should have an itinerary if I’m going to get the most out of that long weekend I’ve got planned a few months down the line. I simply must call my mother; family’s important. And then it hits me. How have I got to the age of 35 without knowing how to tie a proper bow tie? A spot of Youtube tutelage should remedy that. Oh… it’s five o’clock. A BBC forum on the subject came up with an example that puts even my exploits in the shade. A reader reported on a school friend who said he would do anything to avoid A-level revision. At one point he found himself weighing the cat, convinced that he would only be able to settle down to work if he had that data to hand. As a result, some 25 years later, the act of procrastination is referred to by his family as “weighing the cat”. I read that article while avoiding my tax return. I do, at least, find out some interesting things during these extended periods of fecklessness. I’m convinced Wikipedia wouldn’t be the worldwide phenomenon that it is today if it weren’t for similarly afflicted individuals. So next time you’re struggling to get down to the task before you, make sure you at least gain a little trivial knowledge while you’re at it. Your friends will be impressed at the next pub quiz, although your boss might not be so enamoured during your next review.
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