Thoughts on achieving more by working less

Whilst preparing my annual report to the board of trustees and referring back to my previous year’s report my first reaction is that I seem to have achieved more in 2016 than I managed in 2015. In some respects this would be a logical outcome based on 2016 being my second full year in this CEO role, and a direct result of becoming more familiar with my tasks. However, my diary tends to tell a different story in that the number of hours I seem to be committing to the task of being CEO has significantly declined.

Always looking for an opportunity to research and learn from experiences I noted the following comparisons:

2015:

A typical working week, with no out-of-office appointments:

07:30 am – 8:45 am. Commute on the train, working on papers and emails.

08:50 am – 09:30 am. Commute Underground train, reading working papers.

09:30 am – 4:40 pm. Typical working day, no lunch break

4:35 pm – 5:20 pm. Commute Underground train, reading working papers.

5:30 pm – 6:40 pm. Commute on the train, working on papers and emails.

Five days a week results in 55 hours a week.

2016:

A typical working week, with no out-of-office appointments:

07:30 am – 8:45 am. Commute on the train, planning and thinking

08:50 am – 09:30 am. Commute Underground train, private reading (books, magazines)

09:30 am – 4:20 pm. Typical working day, one hour for lunch at the gym or walking

4:30 pm – 5:10 pm. Commute Underground train, private reading (books, magazines)

5:30 pm – 6:40 pm. Commute on the train, working on papers and emails.

Four days a week results in 34 hours a week. Fridays I now work from home and usually work for 7 hours, allowing time for a swim at lunchtime and two dog walks at the beginning and end of the working day. Total of 41 hours – a saving of 14 hours a week.

Where and how have I saved those 14 hours? It could be improved plans, the new strategy, method, order, technology, spending more time mentoring my staff, indeed there are many ideas I have embraced over the past year. What I do know is I am achieving a lot more in less hours per week. Moreover, I am using those saved hours for reading, writing, exercising, relaxing and volunteer activities – despite spending 4 1/2 hours a day commuting my quality of life has never been better.

Over the coming weeks I will explore in this blog some of the ideas I have embraced which has directly resulted in significant time savings and efficiencies.

Stylish Cable Ties – Holdall Co

I have sometimes been accused of living too much in the past, with my love of the style of the 1920s/1930s. I prefer to think, rather as William Manchester and Paul Reid state in ‘The Last Lion’ that ‘He did not live in the past; the past lived on in him‘! One of my pleasures therefore comes from visiting museums (and often antique stores) looking for inspiration – and marvelling in how in the past much care had been given to crafting beautiful yet functional products to compliment life’s needs. I think for example of cigarette or cigar cases, writing cases, or small travelling cases for all one’s toilet requirements.
I occasionally consider the many craftsmen (and women) who designed and made these artefacts, who would be most likely delighted such items have been passed down through generations and still used today. Unfortunately the cost of such craftsmanship today all to often makes the resultant product a ‘luxury’ item, and therefore beyond the reach of many people. The result is our hideous disposable society, where we unfortunately all to easily accept plastic-style inferior mass produced ‘junk’.
I was therefore delighted to find a relatively new English company aspiring to fill this void by creating relatively affordable hand-crafted leather products with the ability to stand the test of time and become, in time, vintage pieces themselves – the company is Holdall and Co. 
They came to my attention as I grappled with finding a vintage/traditional solution to a modern problem – how to create order in my bag/briefcase with my laptop cables and especially my IPhone headphones. Holdall and Co have cleverly crafted two items (using the same full-grain bridle leather they use for their principle products) for headphone wraps and cable ties. These leather items are cut and burnished by hand.
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The headphone wrap has two notches to secure any cables and the dog-bone shape for easy winding. The cable ties have a solid stud fastening which allows cables of many diameters to be secured.
In addition, and at no extra cost, both these products can be monogrammed for the ultimate bespoke finish. The result is an individual and unique personal item, one that will age and mature (as only the finest leathers can).
My order arrived this week (just 4 days after I placed the order online). Here are some photographs for the finished product in use (complete with my monogram!).
I am delighted with them, and will be monitoring them over the coming months as they slowly gain their own character and patina. Finally, perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of this find is the price – just £15 for three of each item. I consider this an excellent investment in a solution to a modern problem with a traditional vintage approach – and further proof I can still have the ‘past live on in me’!

Rake Magazine Review

I must start this post by publicly stating my love of magazines – not the online versions, but the heavy, glossy paper ones.
I enjoy wading through the endless adverts, reading the editorials and then the quick page flick through to obtain a high level overview of the excitement to come. Amongst others I consume Vanity Fair, Tatler, The Chap, Country Life, Cigar Aficionado, GQ, and occasionally Esquire.
I used to really enjoy GQ (I even remember purchasing the first ever UK edition in the 1980s), with the monthly musing of Tony Parsons in particular a personal favourite, but had increasingly felt somewhat disconnected from the main articles and general tone. What to replace GQ with though became quite the search!
By chance I came across The Rake. I quickly became an admirer – and then a subscriber.
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It has a balance of the classically English approach to style and the more relaxed and adventurous Italian edge. The writing is first class, and the articles wide ranging and engaging. The Rake considers itself to be ‘The modern voice of classic elegance’. This perfectly captures the demographic I find myself increasingly occupying.
One editorial captures for me a certain philosophy we could aspire to be guided by. Here are some quotes from it:
‘I read something by a French author that I found very poignant. He wrote ‘ What the son wants to forget, the grandson wants to remember…….’
‘Each fashion week increasingly fills me with ennui, as I see paraded down runways one ensemble after another that I know are completely irrelevant to me and to the demographic this magazine represents…….’
‘…..about how this relates to the renaissance of sartorial style, and how the new generation has eschewed brand-oriented dressing in favour of individual, tailor-made style, it has also come to mean the widespread return of substance and manners…..is a humility, elegance, warmth and authenticity that is the language of luxury’s future….’
Just three reasons why, if you are reading this blog, I suggest you should also follow The Rake!