The week is off to a weak start. Last week I thought things at work would finally start to move along on my project. But it turns out the guy who told me “next week” didn’t expect me to read his email until last Monday. So this week turns out to be the week he thought he’d have something.
No word so far, and he didn’t answer my email this morning.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the data chain, oh, it’s a big disaster that makes me shudder. Late today we got an opportunity to test just one link in the chain I’m trying to build. Tests failed, so it’s back to the vendor.
I’ll rant about that later (and you’ll be free to leave). First I just want to share the only time management tip I ever learned that turned out to be hugely useful.
You can perhaps tell from my phrasing that I’m not a fan of time management and other highly structured approaches to life. I’m not interested in having all aspects of my life work as efficiently as possible. I want to waste time sometimes. I even want to be humanly inefficient sometimes.
You know how Captain Kirk was always arguing with those perfectionist aliens about how great, although yes flawed, humans really are? How our flaws are really what makes us ever so much better than any damned perfectionist aliens with their dead, boring perfect societies? The aliens were usually convinced by the moral authority of his impassioned, yet reasoned… Arguments… And!… Torn shirt. It’s possible they were confused by the odd pauses and emphasis of random words.
There’s actually a very old genre of science fiction, known as humans uber alles.
He was right. I did. (Damned perfectionist nanny Vorlons!)
My point is, I side more with the dynamic, evolving, changing, chaotic side of life than I do with the static, aligned, known side. I’m an explorer. I’m interested in the stuff I don’t know. The stuff I do know is nice, but less interesting.
I live in a world of plowing new ground. I do data integration, so each job is a new field on which to build something that wasn’t there before. Getting two systems to communicate is always custom, unique work. (And I mean “unique” literally.) ((And I mean “literally” literally, as well. Most people don’t.))
[I was feeling too grumpy to write today, but now that I am, I'm having fun. Exercise (and many other things) can be that way, too. They seem like a pain in the ass until you actually get into doing them. And then you have fun. Life lesson there!]
So I’m often askance when it comes to time management and efficiency measures. They’re just not my style or preference. (Could I actually use a little more efficiency in my life? Arguably maybe. But where’s the Kirk-ish, Shadowy fun in that?)
But there was one thing that did penetrate my shields, because it actually sounded smart. And it was very smart, and it’s been saving me money ever since!
It’s a simple tip, called:
And it refers to handling any “document” only one time. In this context, “document” extends to mean any task involving a transaction or payment or other “document” you need to process.
In particular for me it means bills. I grew up poor and still haven’t developed the habit of being casual with money. (On the other hand, my only debt is my mortgage, so that’s pretty nice.) There’s just an inborn reluctance to actually sit down and pay the bills. And unlike writing, it’s never fun once you get started.
So I used to pick up the mail, bring it in and set it down somewhere. Sometimes it would get moved to another place. Then some night while watching TV I’d be bored enough to actually open my mail . I’d arrange all the bills nicely, often tearing off the return part and tucking it into the envelope.
And then setting that new pile aside for processing later when I was bored enough to actually write some checks and go through the troublesome process of closing the envelope (I’m always afraid I’ll get a paper cut on my tongue) and applying a stamp.
Then, of course, there’s a pile for out-going mail….
You see the problem (other than laziness, I mean). I was constantly paying late fees.
The “Touch Once” principle really means you should sit down and do the bills entirely the moment you bring in the mail, but that’s a bit too efficient for me. For me it means keeping going once I open them. No more making a new pile. Open bill, pay bill, apply bandage to tongue, mail bill next day.
And now I rarely pay a late fee anymore. Kinda nice!
I suppose this is very obvious to most normal adults, but maybe for some young folks just starting off with the whole money and bills thing it’ll be new and useful.
I was going to excuse those of you with delicate shell-like ears while I ranted on some more about work for a few readers who are “on the inside” of things. But the writing was fun, and now I’m not ranty anymore.
Instead, let me see if I can find… Yes, of course I can find. Why would I doubt the web? Okay, many years ago I was in a CD club where they’d send you CDs if you didn’t return the card telling them not to. And speaking of not processing mail in timely fashion, I got a lot of CDs introducing me to new music. Happily, in most cases the discoveries were good.
One of the really good ones was Jimmy Buffett’s Fruitcakes album (1994). Until then, I’d just seen Buffett as Mr. Margaritaville and not much else. This album blew me away and showed me that Jimmy is way more than Margaritaville. He’s made some amazing and wonderful music over the years.
So here you are, the title cut, Jimmy Buffett’s Fruitcakes! A delightful tune!!