The Burden of Inaction – A negative example

The Burden of Inaction – A negative example

In my previous post I spoke about my observations regarding the Burden of Inaction. So now I would like to try and walk you through the actual issue as I observe it, by diving into the mindset of a person struggling through inaction.

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning (or at least it’s not raining for a change). You start the day with the brightest of intentions, you wake up and say today I’m going to:

  • Go to the gym
  • Hoover the living room
  • Put a load of laundry on
  • Go to the supermarket and buy groceries
  • Call the optician I was meant to visit 2 months ago
  • Mow the lawn
  • Finally Put that games console I never use, on eBay
  • Read the next chapter of my book

You don’t write any of this down, but you’re sure you’ll remember…

At 9am a family member calls and asks if you can help them move some boxes around. This only delays you by an hour or two, so you get home and you remember you need go to the gym, do laundry, buy food, and sell that N64 before it turns to dust.  But the less significant things on the list start to slip away.

As you start looking at the time you wonder if you can be really bothered to go to the gym, it’s almost lunch time, it’ll probably be busy by now and you having nothing in the cupboards. “I can always go tomorrow” is what you tell yourself. So off to the supermarket you go.

Now if you have a strong character your shopping trip will go accordingly to plan, but if you’re already under the strain from days/weeks/months of inaction, then that shopping trip can descend into a sugar filled nightmare.

Either way you make it home, no doubt annoyed that everyone else does their shopping at exactly the same time as you, forcing you to spend longer than anticipated at the supermarket. Blissfully ignorant of the fact that you could do your shopping at 7am or 10pm if you really wanted.

You make it home, but it’s now nearly 2pm, and you’ve barely had chance to sit down, so you tell yourself you deserve a little rest.

You manage to create a new to do list in your head, and a few of the items above actually make it on to there, but because the list isn’t written down, you spend the rest of your day flip-flopping between trying to remember that thing you were meant to do today, and completing some tasks while trying desperately not to forget what still needs to be done.

At the end of the day you head off to bed, feeling heavily burdened by a to-do list that never seems to disappear, and as you roll over to sleep you spot that book on the importance of family you promised yourself you were going to read the next chapter of.  Before then realizing it was Aunt Maureen’s birthday today and calling/visiting her didn’t even make it onto your mental to do list.

What follows is a night of terrible sleep, as you keep waking up reminding yourself you must call Aunt Maureen, but refusing to either take action on all these tasks that are swirling around your head nor actually writing any of them down, if only to free your mind from the burden of functioning like one of the simplest apps you can find on that phone you’re always glued too!

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The Burden of Inaction – An Observation

The Burden of Inaction – An Observation

A problem I see in a lot of people these days is the stress they put upon themselves by carrying a mental to do list in the heads all day.

While it may be obvious to a lot of people, that keeping only a mental to do list is problematic. As it is very easy to forget what was on the list as the day unfolds, and other priorities pop-up, changing your thought path multiple times throughout the day.  What I actually want to write about is the burden of not ticking things off your to do list as opposed to how you maintain that list, which we’ll pick up in a future post.

Over the years, I have noticed in others as well as myself, that starting the day slowly with a long to do list is a quick way to develop a short temper, a muddled mind and a more introverted nature, especially if this becomes a daily routine.

We all know we should be ticking off the things on our to do lists, but a lot of the time we’d much rather spend another 20 minutes in bed, perhaps enjoying a nice long shower before a delicious cooked breakfast, or in today’s society aimlessly scroll through social media… But by doing so we reduce the time we have available to complete our tasks, and as such we start to get weighed down by the burden of them, worrying if we’re going to be able to complete all of them, and chastising ourselves for not taking action.  This is even more prevalent if the list is only in our heads, as we have to keep it in our forethought’s, or risk forgetting what is on it.

Now I understand if you’re a night owl the prospect of starting the day with a bang is going to be pretty daunting.  However the principles I will talk about in this and future posts can still be applied to your situation. However you will need a bit more trial and error as you find your most productive part of your day.  You may find after lunch is when you starting burning through your priorities, or perhaps the hours just before you go to bed are when you start clearing decks.  And so instead of starting the day strongly to build up your energy and rid yourself of this burden, you would actually be starting the day from a residual high you got from your efforts of yesterday.

Family VS Funds – My Story

Family VS Funds – My Story

As I mentioned in my blog post “Family VS Funds – An Observation”.  I currently work in the IT business. Specifically working with people to transform data into information.

Previously I worked in a client facing role which saw me and my colleagues travelling the length and breadth of the UK, with the occasional jaunt to Europe and the Americas. The work for which, we were fairly remunerated.

However after moving house, our head office was a good 40 minute drive each way, and most of our clients were a 1-2 hour journey away.

After a year of living out of my suitcase 5 days a week, including times where I would get home after 7pm, and be back out on the road before 6am. I decided despite working with some of the best and smartest people/co-workers/friends I could imagine, the lifestyle just wasn’t for me!

I decided to shift gears, and found a similar role, working for a company in the same town as my residence, a family run company where all of my “clients” would be internal/co-workers with the only travel being the very rare site visit to another of facilities.

Whilst my salary did not increase/decrease by more than 2% in an industry where 6-8% pay increases are not uncommon, I went from a situation where I was working and commuting on average 11-12 hours a day on a 40 hour working week, to working and commuting on average 9-10 hours a day on a 36.5 hour week.  Including 50 minutes of exercise, as I was now able to ride my bicycle to work.

I also benefited from an early finish on a Friday which meant I was able to beat my other half home from work by a couple of hours, do a lot of our weekend chores before they arrived home, and also increase my personal research and development time, giving us more of our free time as a couple back. As opposed to my previous routine which could see me fall through the front door at 7pm, having a quick drink and dinner, before hitting the hay and counting down the minutes until that dreaded Monday morning.

The change of jobs hasn’t been all roses of course, as the career progression isn’t as unlimited in my new role meaning my projected future earnings have taken a big hit, and I have lost touch with some of the newer technologies my former co-workers are playing with. But at the end of the day I believe those of us who haven’t found that fabled job they love, should take actions to ensure that our jobs are part of our lives but not our entire lives!

No one dies wishing they had spent more time in a suit in an open plan office, looking at a computer screen, and less time with their loved ones…

Family VS Funds – What is your time worth?

Family VS Funds – What is your time worth?

Continuing my mini-series on family vs funds, I now want to look at choosing the right job vs the highest paying job.

I must start by saying, that I understand some people are not fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose their job, but usually (not always) those sorts of jobs are 40 hour week jobs, with very little travel/commuting involved, so aren’t considered in my primary motivation for this post.

Lets focus on a loose example of an IT support worker, living in Woking, Surrey.  They have been offered a job in Woking, and another in London.  We’re going to try and keep things simple, so lets say they can walk to the train station within 5 minutes and the office is right outside London Waterloo, mean while the job in Woking is on the other side of town, but within walking distance.

IT Support (London) IT Support (Woking)
Location Waterloo Woking
Salary (annually) £36,000 £26,000
Commute time (one way) 45 minutes 20 minutes
Commute cost (annually) £3,248 £300

On the face of it, the London job is going to leave us £7,752 after tax better off every year. But lets dive deeper and look at the take home pay of each job.  To keep things simply we’ll assume we’re repaying a student loan, but have no pension provisions, or children to worry about and will only consider the cost of commuting as a difference between the two.

IT Support (London) IT Support (Woking)
Commute cost £270.66 £20.00
Take Home £2,200 £1,709
Remaining £1,930 £1,689

After factoring in the cost of an annual season ticket to Waterloo, against the cost of walking, but with some money set aside for taking the bus/ taxi or servicing a bike. we can see our post tax earnings are £241 higher for the London role.

Now I think I have been quite generous in the pay gap between the two roles, and have been very kind in favour of London on the journey times, as most people would expect to add a 10 minute journey time to each end, and perhaps a 10-40 minute tube trip once they reach Waterloo.

But consider this, would you take that extra £60 a week, at the expense of a shorter journey to work with some gentle exercise thrown in, verses being crammed onto a pack train?

Not counting the inevitable train delays, or that timev you got held up at the office by 5 minutes, leaving you waiting another 15 minutes for the next train.  Would you give up the opportunity to spend an extra hour a day with your family?

I appreciate that when making a decision you have to consider a number of other factors such as career progression, additional benefits and alignment with values/principles. But the next time you apply for a job, perhaps you would consider the pros and cons of an extend commute, not just for you but for your family and the wider community.

In the next installment I will dive deeper into my story, and why I have made the decisions I made regarding my employment to put me in a position to be more than just an IT guy.

Family VS Funds – An Observation

Family VS Funds – An Observation

This is quite a personal topic for me, as I see the issue of people choosing to spend endless hours commuting and working over time with their family, becoming an ever increasing issue.

Living in the South East of England, a significant number of people commute over an hour to work each way, it’s not uncommon for some people to commute 2 hours each way door to do on a daily basis, especially for people working in London.

Back when I was a Business Intelligence Consultant it would not be unexpected for me to drive from my home in North East Hampshire (5 minutes from our head office at the time) to a client in Milton Keynes; a good two hour drive of monotonous motorway, usually in the rain and dark. Even with London based clients it’d take 20 minutes to walk to the train station 50-60 minutes stood on an overcrowded train to get to London Waterloo, another 30 minutes stood on two different underground trains, and then another 10 minute walk at the other end.

Perhaps the most depressing part for me, wasn’t related to my own circumstances but was when I got on my first train at 6am, still an hour away from London, and it was rammed with people commuting from even further away, most on a daily basis. Or perhaps it was because despite being surrounded by 80-100 people in a single carriage earning millions between them each year, I never saw one of them smile.

Obviously I cannot comment on exactly why people decide to choose this particular lifestyle, but from interactions, it usually comes down to the person not being in a position to give up that fabled big city salary. But with that you usually find they are living a lifestyle based on their (usually higher tax bracketed) big city salary as opposed to finding a salary for the lifestyle they and their family need! In the end they find themselves spending sums of money like £5,000 on an annual train ticket, and £2,000 on after school childcare, because they are unwilling to take a £10,000 pay cut (equating to £5-6,000 after tax) to find a job closer to home.

This is leaving society with a generation of children who are being raised by social media and their social groups, while their parents spend 5 days a week working and commuting from alarm clock to bed time. Leading to young adults who are eating Tide pods for the attention of their social media followers, in an effort to replace the attention they miss from their ever working, ever commuting parents.

New direction

In the last few months my passion for and research against SQL Server has lessened slightly to make way for further studies in the field of ethnography.

In 2018 the blog will change direction, as I look to focus my posts around self improvement and identifying opportunities for others to help themselves.

SQL–Excluding zero value records

A challenge I was tasked with recently was providing an SSRS report, where by a user could choose to exclude rows from a table if a particular quantity column contained a zero value.

Originally this coloured me perplexed, until I got my head around the logic required in my where clause which feeds into the data source of my SSRS report.

So for my own future reference and on the off chance any one else faces a similar problem, here is a snippet of the code I used:

SELECT          ItemNumber
                       ,ItemDescription
                       ,PlannerCode
                       ,PurchasedYTD
                       ,SoldYTD
                       ,UsedYTD
FROM          Orders
WHERE        ((@ExcludePur = 1 AND PurchasedYTD <> 0) OR (@ExcludePur = 0) )
                      AND ((@ExcludeSold = 1 AND SoldYTD <> 0) OR (@ExcludeSold = 0) )
                      AND ((@ExcludeUsed = 1 AND UsedYTD <> 0) OR (@ExcludeUsed = 0) )
ORDER BY   ItemNumber

All three parameters have to passed a value, and are not optional, so in this case we can use an “AND” clause to compare all three filters, and then use an “OR sub clause to exclude zero value records if the relevant parameter =1. Otherwise if the parameter = 0 we’ll not limit the result set.

(Apologies for the dodgy formatting, I am still finding my feet with my new blog writing tool)