31 December 2009

New Year Goal

Many people take this time each year to cast in stone their resolutions for the new year. I've even done this in the past. Sometimes with success, but quite often, these resolutions are quickly forgotten which is why this year I picked a new years resolution I can stick to: 1440 x 900.

Instead of resolutions, I think people should set goals. You see, a goal provides you with some lead time, a bit of a ramp up until the actual goal is achieved, whereas a resolution is here, now, immediate and absolute. Setting a goal however, provides time for adjustment, learning and experience while the goal gets closer and closer. And, if you are surrounded by great people in life, like I am fortunate enough to have near me, they will have the patience to help you in achieving your goals.

For 2010, I choose to set a goal. Just one.

My goal is to be a better communicator. Just because I work in the communications industry, doesn't mean I'm a good communicator back at the office or at home. In fact, I know I'm not great at it. Sure, I may be able to articulate and explain complex scenarios to customers, but keeping the information flow going at home and at the office is a bit more challenging for me, especially when you have as much on the go as I do at any given time. I'm not making excuses, everyone is busy, but as a business owner and father of three, I have a lot on my mind at all times, a lot more than I think anyone knows except for maybe other business owner/parents.

As a business owner, your mind is continuously multi-tasking, and not always in a good way. For example; going from thinking in the big picture on business development and planning to answering detailed job specific questions, is far more distracting than I think anyone realizes and this happens all day long. Next to Facebook, distractions and interruptions make up the largest part of my day, and this makes it very hard to put much serious thought into anything for very long. This means I have to work after hours and on weekends to complete the things that should have been done during the week.

Complicating things further is the fact that I've been battling fatigue since an encounter with a nasty virus nearly two years ago. This has taken me down a few notches, and although I'm slowly getting used to it, arriving at work in the morning already tired and having a one hour meeting wipe me out mentally is still tough to deal with at times. It's a condition that seems to be slowly getting better over time, and is - my doctor promises a full recovery but it will take a few more years.

When I've only got so many 'productive' hours in a day, interruptions are really costly and eat up my time. As I write this in my home office, I am constantly being interrupted with arguing kids, telephone calls and arguing kids. Did I mention the arguing kids? I love my kids, but sometimes they can sure test my patience.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to micromanage everything in my life, but I need to have some control over what's going on... if even just for my own sanity. Getting bogged down in the smallest of details kills productivity and renders me ineffective in any role - being a better communicator and empowering people to make their own decisions with some direction is where I want and need to be - but this too requires some planning, thought and execution.

Setting expectations is a large part of keeping order and maintaining focus for everyone. So, I believe a good start to this process is with explaining and setting expectations. People need to know what's expected of them in order for them to succeed and how to behave.

So, this is what I plan to be better at in 2010, it will take some time, but I am committed to it. The result of attaining this goal? A better leader and father. Wish me luck, and know that I appreciate your patience while I work on my goal.

13 December 2009

Dog Tired

At the end of every December I swear I'm never going to do it again... be that busy, I mean. December is a crazy time around our office and each year it get's stupider and stupider.

I used to really enjoy December and the lead up to xmas, but the last few years have left me too busy to think about much else other than what needs to get done. December 25 is just another deadline in the schedule and it's a flippin' stat - so we got one less day to completion. It always leaves me dog tired.

We have a few retail clients, and one might think they are keeping us busy, truth is, they're too busy to call us in December. Our retail customers were on the phone with us throughout the fall so that things were in place for December, which is great.

You see, the last few years, most of our calls come from new customers looking to get things started for January. I guess the prospect of a new year and another fresh start is just too much to resist when launching a new product, brand or company. It's cool, I get it - in fact, I did the exact same when I launched Francomedia - so I'm not criticizing, I just needed a topic for my blog.

This is good news for us because January can sometimes be a slow month - but trying to get several large projects and web sites all launched for the same time period does present some problems when you have a finite number of staff and hours. But, we won't complain. Being busy is a good thing, and it's a great way to start off the year.

To add to our misery, and by misery I mean our busy-ness, we decided not to send out xmas cards this year and to do something digital. Doesn't sound like much, but while this would show our clients what our capabilities are on the digital side, it has to be done right - and by that I mean it will take a lot of our precious time, at a time when we have no time. We have to though, xmas comes but once a year and saying thanks to our clients is important - even if it means a lot of extra effort on our end.

So, we'll see what December brings this year; it looks like lot's of work, so much that I'll likely miss out again on that child like excitement with my thoughts buried in the worry that we won't get everything done in time.

I'll do it again this year, but I'm not going to do it again...

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08 December 2009

Sick at Home

With the marvels of modern technology, you can get quite a bit done while being sick at home.

This morning at about 4:00am I woke up feeling very, very sick... at 6:00am when the alarm went off I knew I wasn't going into work, it took me two more hours to get down the stairs to my computer. Which is where I have sat for the last 4 hours.

It's days like today that an IMAP e-mail set up is really beneficial - I have all of my work e-mails with me at all times, where ever I go. This has been helpful, because I've gotten over 50 e-mails today and responded to about 30 of them.

In addition to that, I had a conference call with a new client in Toronto - I guess it didn't matter that I wasn't in the office for that.

The only negative about today (other than the way I feel) is that I had to cancel a lunch meeting and a car appointment... otherwise a pretty productive day so far.

Most of my family have been sick the last two or three days, so I guess it's my turn - on the plus side, they have had full recovery within a day, so here's hoping.

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05 December 2009

Xmas is Coming!

It's been a long year...

It's just under 4 weeks until the big day we all call Xmas and I've got a problem with the whole event, OK..., not the event itself, just the name. And, it's not a problem so much as it's an inconvenience, you see, my keyboard is broken and does not allow me to type the letter X. One of the key letters in the name Xmas.

Even though X is the third most rarely used letter in the English language, it is problematic for me when I work from home. At this time of year with all the festivities surrounding the season, one can understand my dilemma. It takes me great effort to type an X, well..., I can't type it, I have to have one in copied my pasteboard and then paste it in where needed.

If you know me at all, you know I like to wish people the best of the season, and I also like brevity, the word Xmas allows me to do both at the same time, which brings me much joy.

Even e-mails to loved ones are signed only with kisses now, no hugs, which is sometimes misunderstood and considered creepy by some.

Long term I believe this must be resolved, perhaps a new keyboard on my Xmas list... it's been months since I've been able to visit any websites with XXX in the url and this is unacceptable.

This year, it is a struggle to communicate without an X and when doing so, is very labour intensive. So, if you receive correspondence from me while I am working from my home computer and do not get a "Merry Xmas" salutation, please understand that I am merely trying to be efficient and not rude.

All the best of the season and merry Xmas to all.

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