When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

Strategic Partnerships 1

There is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to building your business. I block off a section of time each quarter to think about and work on strategic partnerships.

Strategic partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. In essence it’s an agreement between two or more companies to work together in some way that results in increased revenue for all with limited monetary expenditure.

When I was starting my current business free run 3.0 v3 femmes and didn’t have a lot of capital, I approached companies that specialized in the services I needed and offered a service trade: They provided their expertise for free in exchange for my company providing our expertise for free.

When I say free I mean that neither company had to outlay the usually expected fee. Neither of us received cash for our transaction, and each company covered their own cost of getting the work done.

One of the partnerships we established was with a web development and marketing company. We matched apples to apples between our service and theirs. They wanted to become a vendor to the Federal Government and we had the expertise to get them set up. We wanted a fully optimized website and one year of technical support. Each side had to bear only the cost of in-house labor. For my company it amounted to about 15 percent of what we would have had to pay if we had purchased the website service on the commercial market. Both sides made additional sales that would never have been realized, all without a big layout of money.

I read an interesting article some time ago about two fathers who worked and cared for their children from home. They created a type of strategic partnership by trading off days: One of the fathers would watch both kids while the other focused on working. The children’s days were enhanced (they developed a stronger friendship and had nike lebron 11 undivided guardianship) and the fathers had more unfractured time to focus on work.

Strategic partnerships are not easy to put together. They require a very well-thought out and scripted agreement. But if approached properly, they can yield big results with limited investment.

Dirty Laundry

We can’t create extra time. We can, however eliminate unnecessary lost time.

I define “lost time” as time spent doing something that could be done faster by changing the process. Lost time cannot be recovered, but it can be prevented. When I save time, I can use it to catch up on work or to spend more time doing things I enjoy.

The key is to project the time savings over the course of a year — that’s where the real value of enacting this philosophy becomes apparent.

For example, if I can save two hours per week (while getting the same result), that totals 104 saved hours per year. That’s over two and a half working weeks (at 40 hours per week) per year free run 3.0 v5 femmes of saved time. That’s a lot of hours that I can use for working on my business or taking off special days to spend with my daughter or wife. If I can save four hours per week, I earn over a month of extra time per year.

Consider something as simple as laundry. There’s not much about washing clothes that I can control. The washing machine takes the time it needs, as does the drier; and loading and unloading either doesn’t present much opportunity for saving significant time. However, there is one big part of doing the laundry that I can control: the time spent separating clothes.

In the past we spent about one hour per week doing nothing but sorting whites, darks, baby clothes, linens, etc. Today we save that time because we made one small and simple change.

I still take off my clothes when they are dirty and throw them directly into the laundry basket. The difference now is that we have four baskets rather than one: One for each person and a fourth for towels. (Actually, some of them are net bags since those are easier to carry together.)

The result is that I lose no time throwing powerlins ii femmes clothes into separate baskets, but I gain all of the time that I would have spent separating them later. This one simple step saves an hour per week, or 1.25 working weeks per year.

I think about this concept with everything I do. Any time I save betters both my business and my quality of life.

Visualizing the Workload

Time is of the essence in my world. Knowing what has to be done with company work, household work and learning time with Lydia is critical. Priorities can get clouded when tasks and due dates start to logjam. Depending on my mood, the logjam can make me feel terrible. I limit that feeling by using simple tools and communicating well with my customers, employees and my wife.

Before my daughter was born my strategy was very simple: I would keep working until the work was done or I had to sleep. Sixteen- hour workdays were the norm. air jordan 3 That strategy is not realistic in my life today.

To help me maximize the time I do have, the most effective tool I have found is free and easy to use: My wife Courtney and I share an online Google Calendar. We can each enter appointments, tasks and priorities, and can make additions and changes on the fly from our phones or computers. Absolutely everything that needs to be done is there, from checking fire alarms to birthdays to company meetings to doctor appointments, etc.

The calendar has a note section where I can remind myself (or where my wife can remind me — thanks, Google!) of where I left off or what needs to be done. I get an email whenever a task comes due, so I don’t even need to look at the calendar to know if I’m on target with a deadline. If I can’t get to something around the house then I can ask Courtney to take it over.

I probably look at our calendar ten times a day, moving things that are not as high of a priority to the future, and isolating the most important things to get done now. When I feel I may miss a due date with a customer, I am able to inform them as far ahead of time as possible.

As I peruse my calendar for this week I can air jordan 1 femmes see that Friday through Sunday are going to be very limited work days for me. Courtney’s company’s summer party is Friday. On Saturday we have a guest coming from out of town and I have a bachelor party to attend. It’s going to be a very fun weekend, but with one glance at our Google Calendar I know ahead of time that I really only have Monday through Thursday for business tasks.

Now I can compensate and front-load my week with work.