Chris Croft's Personal Blog

May 23, 2012

Thoughts about lawn mowing

Filed under: Assertiveness, Happiness, Time Management — Tags: , , , , — chriscroft @ 8:47 pm

Three things I want to say about this:

First – it goes against my No Crap Policy (NCP) but then again, there is my “Make Wife Happy” policy to consider as well.  There is a theory called the total utility of happiness which says that you should do whatever maximises the happiness of the whole system.  So if it makes me only a little unhappy to have to mow the lawn, but makes her very happy, then I should do it. Otherwise I would be being selfish. (Conversely things which I really hate and which only make her a little happier should not be done – otherwise SHE would be being selfish).

Second – mowing the lawn may be urgent (getting long, almost too long to mow, and rain coming soon) but it’s not important (spending time mowing isn’t one of my life goals).  The fact that it HAS to be done doesn’t make it important.  So because it’s not important my objective is to spend the minimum time on it.  An example of something that is the reverse, i.e. important but not urgent, is phoning my mum for a chat.  Let’s suppose I usually spend 45 minutes on the lawn and 10 minutes on my phone chat with my mum, this is not ideal as the less important thing, the lawn, is getting more time.  But that’s unavoidable as it HAS to be be done and is a longish job.  But if I could reduce it to only 35 minutes by efficient methods (or reduced quality) then I could have 20 minutes with my mum, and that’s the essence of time management: identify what’s really important rather than just the junk that has to be done, and maximise the time you spend on the important things. So it’s not about absolute time spent, it’s about squeezing the less important things in order to maximise the more important ones.

Third – I should get the most happiness from everything, even the unimportant things, perhaps by making them fun.  I could listen to my favourite music through loud headphones as I dance my way around the lawn, or use my (usually bad) personality drivers to advantage – use the Be Perfect driver to enjoy doing a really nice job, and use the Hurry Up driver to try finding the most efficient mowing pattern so there is minimal double cutting and easy turns at the end (e.g do rows 1 and 4, 2 then 5, 3 then 6, because doing 123456 means turns that are too sharp…etc!).

… and that’s what I’m thinking about today!


PS – Lawn mowing fits perfectly with my 5 options for unimportant tasks:

1 – say no to it (rejected in this case for reasons given above)

2 – negotiate (maybe get something back for it or avoid something else instead?)

3 – delegate it (pay kids or a gardener)

4 – more efficient systems (e.g. good mower, good mowing pattern)

5 – do it less well (less often, less carefully)

Hmm, maybe I need to add “Make it fun” as a sixth option….


iPhone tethering

Filed under: Computer tips, Gadgets — chriscroft @ 8:25 pm

I thought this would be a real hassle but it’s turned out to be easy.

If there is no wifi and you want to use your laptop to get email or whatever, you just go to settings on your iPhone and slide the Personal Hotspot switch to on.  It is now broadcasting its own little wifi hotspot.

The first time you set it up you have to put the code (the iPhone shows it) into your laptop, but every time after that you just look at the list of wifi available on the laptop and select Chris’s iPhone, and there you are, connected to the web.

I’ve used it quite a few times this month and am still well within my gig of data, so for the things I use it for it seems to be great.

No need for the cost and hassle of a dongle ever again!

Give it a go if you have been nervous about trying it.

May 21, 2012

Is money a motivator?

I had an argument with an arrogant tyrant today who was convinced that most people are only motivated by money.  “They wouldn’t come to work if you didn’t pay them!”

I think the truth is that money makes people do things, but it doesn’t make them WANT to do things.

“What’s wrong with that?” you ask.  As long as it gets the results.  But my point is that money will only get you the minimum that you’ve paid for – you’ll never get your people to go the extra mile, to be creative, to give great quality, to CARE.

In fact money does the reverse.  Once there is a bonus to be had, you get the following problems

1 – it will always be seen as unfair, and demotivate lots of other people

2 – the focus will be on the money, and things like “Doing something worthwhile” or “helping customers” are more likely to get forgotten

3 – the focus on the money means that anything that isn’t paid for won’t get done.  And you can’t pay for everything, so important things won’t get done in the rush for the bonus.

4 – people will be amazingly creative in finding ways to cheat.  All that effort that could have been put into looking after customers.  And all that extra expense that you will have to pay out as the bonuses creep upwards.

5 – How do you set the bonus?  There will be pressure for low targets, which is exactly what you don’t want if you are trying to be worlds class and reach for the sky.  Everyone should be ambitious and prepared to take risks.  They won’t do this if bonuses are at stake.

The question I would ask you is “If I arranged for you to be paid a bit more, would you work harder?”  I really hope the answer is no, because if the answer is yes then you already don’t really care about your job and you are wasting 5 days out of 7 of your life and you need to find a better use of your time!  Given that you HAVE to work to live, you might as well do the best you can once you’re there.  Otherwise, how do you live with yourself?

Similarly the question “If I arranged for you to be paid a bit more, would you do better quality work?”  For the same reasons as above, I really hope the answer is no!

Of course if your pay was cut then you might work less hard – motivation is asymmetric, and money is a hygiene factor.  But this is irrelevant, the question we are discussion is whether bonuses will motivate people.

Once you have a bonus culture then you’re stuck with it.  Taking the bonuses away will indeed reduce motivation, so yes, those people are indeed working for the money, because they have been damaged.  They no longer care about the bigger picture, just themselves.  As do people who have had bad management in the recent past.  They no longer care.  It’s not their fault, it’s a result of how they have been treated. They are now damaged.  You’ll never be world class, or compete, or even survive in the current climate, unless all your people care.

How to get them to care?  Well not with money, that’s for sure!  It has to be involvement, understanding the vision and their part in it, recognition and thanks, teamwork, interesting work, continued learning, ownership and belonging.  Not as easy as money but a lot more effective in the end!

Should better people be paid more?  I think yes.  How to do this?  Promote them to bigger and better paid jobs.  But while they’re doing a job then it’s inflation pay rates or whatever, the same for all.

May 6, 2012

Walking or running to iPhone music

Filed under: Computer tips, Gadgets, Sport — chriscroft @ 12:34 pm

I finally got something I’ve wanted for years – music at the right speed on my iPhone.

1 – Download Mixmeister (free) onto your PC and use it to scan all your music and put a BPM number onto every track on iTunes. Very simple little bit of software, obvious how it works.
Until now I’ve been using this to make playlists on my ipod, so for example I have a walking playlist of music that is from 115 to 125 BPM.
For running it’s about 90bpm, so you’d want a playlist of maybe 85-95bpm songs since you won’t have enough songs that are at exactly 90, or whatever your exact ideal cadence is.
If you were keen you could sort them into order with maybe a gradually increasing cadence, or a rush at the end.
But a much better solution is……
2 – Buy Cadence Run DJ for £1.50 and tell it to use all your music. Worked immediately.

So now I can slide a slider in the Cadence app to any speed I want and it will select music from my collection that is at that speed. If I want to speed up or slow down slightly I just slide the slider. Brilliant!

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