Archives For April 2011

You glance up at the clock and hope your last reading was incorrect.  It wasn’t, which means your assignment is due in 1 hour.  You understand that things like this happen but there is no way you’re going to complete the task in two total hours.

Or is there?

This situation happens all too often in work and in life.  What is the general result?  We focus intensely on the item, use all available resources at our disposal, and manage to pull off the miracle.

If you had one week to do the task, would you have finished it in two hours?  Probably not, it might have taken the entire week.  Say hello to Parkinson’s Law.  Parkinson’s Law states: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Just because we finished the task in two hours doesn’t mean it was a masterpiece.  Sometimes you skimp on the details but that doesn’t necessarily mean you did a bad job.  Many of the tasks that we complete at work would turn out ok with less time spent on them. At some point you can start experiencing diminishing returns and the extra time you spend on the task is probably not worth it.

This is where the 80/20 rule comes into effect and you need to realize that some tasks might be perfectly fine when the 80 has been knocked out.  This is especially true if your time can be spent more productively elsewhere.

If you’re very busy, the best way to handle this is to prioritize and spend the most time on very important tasks. There is only so much time in a day and you can’t kill yourself on all of them.

Do you ever experience Parkinson’s Law?

Are you continuing your education outside of formal schooling? Or do you feel like your brain has shrunk since you got out of school and you’re getting dumber as you get older?

It was pretty easy to learn in high school and college when forced to, but what happens after you graduate?  When the forced learning stopped, most of my learning stopped!

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein

Has that happened to you?  In all too many cases, the goal of completing formal education is to do it as fast as possible with the smallest amount of effort.

The current system promotes last minute cramming that only allows us to retain the information until we turn in the test or complete the class.  We move from one course to another with the goal of just getting through it.

After this cycle is complete, you might finally learn the importance of learning. You learn the importance of practicing an art, mastering a skill or conquering a challenge that will advance your life and career.  With that in mind, there are some powerful forms of education that we can receive every day.

Life should be a continuous pursuit of knowledge and this can be supported through work experience, a mentor, and reading.

1. Through work experience

Most of our lives will be taken up by working for other people or corporations. Unfortunately, while we are in those positions, we will always be making money for someone else.

This isn’t all bad for the employee. It gives us the opportunity to learn important skills and make mistakes without risking our future or our money!

It’s important to take advantage of all of the opportunities and education that is offered to us in order to help the company and more importantly, to increase our own knowledge.  Work hard at work and don’t be afraid to take on more work. The more you take on the faster you will learn.

2. Picking a Mentor

Some of the most valuable lessons in life can be learned through a mentor.  Life would be a lot easier if we could learn from the mistakes of others without repeating them ourselves.

On the flip side of this, life would be even greater if we could learn from the successes of others and advancing from there.  Find a mentor in a field where you want to succeed or someone that you believe you can learn something positive from.

It can start simply by asking that person to lunch or coffee. People are generally flattered when someone asks them to speak about their skills and a relationship can be developed.

3. Reading Books

Many of the greatest minds of history were avid readers.

“The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man that cannot read them.” – Mark Twain

There is another saying that once you read three books on a particular field, you become an expert! This is true in the consulting world as you’re always expected to be an expert at something – even if this was your first project to ever do it!

Those are three pretty easy ways to continue your education that you can start today. The best part is that they’re all free!  Do you have any other suggestions? If so, please leave them in the comments for all of us to learn from! Two points for the first person that gets the song referenced in the title!

Did that get your attention?  Was it because of the coke comment or $1,000?  If you’re here to learn how to save $1,000, then you’re in the right spot.

It seems like the first $1,000 is always the hardest because it means making a change from what you are doing today and trying something new.  Every time you start making progress the car repair man hands you another big bill.
You must fight to get the $1,000 if you ever want to change your life. Believe it or not, the zeros on the end start to come easier after you get the first three!

If you’re struggling to save some money, here is one simple way to start. If you eat at restaurants way too much like many of us do, what do you drink? Soda? Pop? Coke? Tea? Beer?

Why not do something healthier for your body and your wallet and try water!

This will usually save you $2 on average per outing (even more if you are drinking alcohol or once you include tax and tip). It doesn’t sound like much but if you eat out a lot then it adds up.

Let’s take a look. Let’s say you go out to eat a total of ten times a week (including lunch, dinner, weekends, and your Starbucks coffee)

10 * $2 = $20/week
$20 * 52 = $1040/year

It’s scary how fast those small amounts can add up. It also helps you work on your self-discipline by ‘learning’ to enjoy water instead of sucking down the soda!

As Charlie Munger says, “addiction can happen to any of us, through a subtle process where the bonds of degradation are too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

Break your addiction to Coke and get addicted to water! What are some of your ideas to save money? These ideas should tie in your money philosophy.