Monday, December 17, 2012

Task Based Time Management is for Stingy Losers

Every morning I commute to work by taxi. The fact that it costs nearly S$100,000 for a Certificate of Entitlement to merely purchase a car in Singapore has excluded me from the car ownership club. And the fact that it halves my commute time to travel by taxi rather than MRT, and that it takes one third of the time to travel by taxi rather than bus made my decision quite easy. Yet I am constantly met with criticism from people who do and don't own cars in Singapore, because it's just so expensive to travel by taxi in the morning.

At first that criticism stung, because I'm not good at taking criticism lightly. It also took me a little while to see the criticism as a cultural norm for Singaporeans rather than rudeness - money and how others spend it is open for conversation. Eventually I was able to meet that criticism with the reasoning that my partner doesn't usually get home until after 9pm, and for us to spend time together I prefer to stay up late with him instead of going to bed early to catch public transport. But now I'm just going to shut it down with this:

"Values Based Time Management is expensive."

After I walk away, people will look perplexed and then decide I'm a dick. But I don't care, because I doubt they could answer these questions, like where do we get this ridiculous premise that a life well lived means being stingy? That it means having the Best One at the Best Value? That it requires huge decision making and reasoning in order to be valid?

Louis CK nailed it in this stand up routine from his television show Louie, summed up best as: "when he describes the absurdly arduous job of the consumer to research his or her purchases by reading long reviews online from people crazy enough to, “murder-suicide their entire family,” after describing the “counter intuitiveness” of a Blu-Ray player remote." (I highly recommend listening to the routine, it is actually very funny.)

Personally, I think it comes from our traditional concept of Time Management as being about tasking and micro managing aspects of our life so we will have time later for more important things. It's that good old delayed gratification thinking, which Carrie from Sex and The City sums up so well: "But isn't delayed gratification the definition of maturity?"

No Carrie - it's all bullshit.

Those hours we are investing for later will never come. They will be used on other tasks or emergencies. The only time we've got the ability to spend is this very minute, as of right now. So effective time management for me looks like investing in my values of nurturing deep relationships with family, being a good friend, owning beautiful things I like and enjoy, staying open minded and being creative. Because when I die, those are the things I will have treasured - not a completed to-do list that would later allow time for those things.

So why doesn't everyone just do that? What's the point of this blog post? 

Ummm - because it's fucking expensive to live that way.

The minutes I'm spending on my values now actually cost money, rather than the future hours I am supposedly investing for that will only cost me at that time (which is never). 

This is what the monetary out lay looks like:

Penelope Trunk said it way better in her post titled 5 Time management tricks I learned from years of hating Tim Ferriss. Interesting title, but awesome take away. Effective time management ultimately comes down to what is the most important thing to value, and that is good relationships.

Task Based Time Management is for losers who believe the concept of delayed gratification actually applies to time. When we're smarter than that and aren't stingy, we pay those few extra dollars to enjoy the instant gratification of investing in our values. Straightaway our lives feel purposeful and centered, and in most books that's a pretty excellent return on investment.

And you know how I know? Because when I pay that big taxi fare in the morning, it actually makes me feel pretty good to put my money where my heart is - time with my loved ones.


Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.

This couldn't fit in the post, but I thought it's a great article about learning to let go of getting the Best One at the Best Value, so I wanted to share Wendy Harmer's piece of Too Much Choice is Bad For You. It can be the tough step in between being a task based time manager and starting to manage your time by values - that step of accepting things that are "good enough".

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dear HR, Please Stop Giving Gifts at Christmas Time

I'm heading back to Australia for Christmas this year - it will be the first with my family after 2 Christmases in Singapore. And it's awesome, because my partner is Muslim, so we never fight over which family we're spending Christmas with! Every year it's Christmas with mine and Hari Raya with his (or whatever our bank balance can afford). do I love Christmas!

My favourite part of Christmas is the giving. Well duh - my personality type is "the giver" - so yeah, I am pretty kick ass at gift giving if I do say so myself. But this is what I think HR should do for every organisation that isn't Christian: Stop Giving Gifts at Christmas Time.

Give gifts because you appreciate someone, or something they've done. Give gifts because it's their birthday, or because they've had a baby. Give gifts because it will just make their day. But for the love of a dog, don't give gifts at one time of the year because it's a previously dominant religion's celebration.

You know what would be really cool? Just a random month not linked to any religious event, where the organisation appreciates its employees and tells them how important they are. And a token 'have a nice break' gift if the organisation is shutting down over the Christmas break.

So, some ideas for a token 'have a nice break' gift ideas:

Corporate Gifts

Corporate Gifts by whippasnappahr on Polyvore

1: Designer desk wares - like an awesome calendar that doesn't have your healthcare provider's logo plastered all over it.
2: Starbucks or other coffeeshop gift card - coffee and corporate are just two cute peas in a pod. Are there any religions against soy mocha frappes?
3: An extra day off to be taken at their choosing - cos employee's religious events generally take more than one day of celebration (i.e. have you seen the food at Hari Raya?!)
4: Awesome headphones - save some employee hearing from those crap cheap things they blast on their commute, or maybe give them some comfort with noise cancellers if they travel far.
5: Grocery vouchers - basket full of junk food on the boss? Cheers mate!
6: Magazine subscription - for some reading on a topic that's not to do with their profession. Might make for better reading than the crap sitting on the lunch table in the staff room - out-of-date supplier advertisement filled mags anyone?

Hopefully some good alternatives to giving alcohol and ham to your diverse and multicultural workforce. And now, I'm off to think of all the ways I'm going to over consume alcohol and ham this December 25th.

Have a wonderful holiday break, whatever way you choose to spend it!


Btw, if you're wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR - here's my explanation.
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