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Parkinson’s Law

“Work expands to fill the time available” Parkinson’s Law. Or written another way by Horstman, “Work contracts to fit the time we give it”. Here is an example of a typical day for many workers.

10 am – You get given a task, and mentally think it will take 2 hours to complete.

Fired up with a new task, you will just have a cup of tea before you get going.

10:15 am – Check your FaceBook and Instagram while you have your tea.
Couple of things to reply to there. 
Tea’s gone cold now.

10:30 am – Right, one more tea then on with that task

10:40 am – Sit down to start a task. An email pops up you had better just deal with. Nothing major, but if you don’t reply immediately you’ll look like you are slacking.

11:00 am – Inbox cleared a bit now.

11:05 am – Task start time. Clear desk. A fresh sheet of paper. Sharpen pencil (metaphorically – who uses pencils nowadays! – Oh, what was that new pencil thing you saw on Twitter yesterday, looked interesting. Scans straight to Word.)



11:15 am – Magic pencil now on the birthday wish list. Task starts.


11:40 am – Phone rings. Urgent matter, need to pause the task and fix this. Have a cup of tea while sorting it out (multi-tasking, see!)

12:00 am – Lunch soon. Back to the task now.

12:30 pm – Lunch. No time to take a proper break – not even halfway through task yet. Grab a sandwich and work through lunch.

12:45 pm – Crumbs in the keyboard. How long have they been in there?

1 pm – Keyboard clean now. The task can resume. Re-read the brief as might have forgotten what the point of the task was.

2 pm – That was great. Really good. Task about 75% complete now. Starting to feel a bit afternoon-drowsy. Coffee to pick you up.

2:20 pm – Emails been pinging in over lunch. People wanting your opinion on their tasks. Delegating stuff to you. You’re busy enough. They need to manage their time better.

2:30 pm – Final strait now. Let’s get this task finished.

3 pm – Task finished.

3:05 pm – Maybe you should have done the task a different way 

3:10 pm – Re-do first half of task as the second half is much better quality

4 pm – Now first half is better than the second half, probably good to re-do that to match the good first half

5 pm – Task finished. Go home. Don’t think about task now. Done, completed.  A new task to do tomorrow

9 am – Re-do task after overnight epiphany

9:10 am – Just have a cup of tea first……

OR,

10 am – You get given a task, and mentally think it will take 2 hours to complete.

10:05 am – Set yourself a deadline of Noon to complete the task.

12 pm – Task complete

12:01 pm – Everything else

Set yourself a deadline. Do your task. Get on with your life.

We use simple principles like this at Storganise to create software to give you more time.

What you do with that time is up to you.

Check out our Business Improvement Package and our Sales Enhancement Package

Virtual Networking

We are all having to embrace our inner ‘tech nerd’ and use virtual networking and other technologies.

Since we have all gone into social isolation we are having to learn to utilise technologies that businesses have tried to embrace for decades. 

Twenty years ago, video-conferencing always seemed so stilted so companies that had tried to lead the way usually ended up going back to face to face meetings. Teams travelling hundreds of miles, costs of travel and accommodation adding a burden on the business, not to mention all that lost time.

Now plenty of businesses use some form of virtual meetings to connect teams but it wasn’t the norm and most people still prefer to have meetings in a room together. In the last two weeks, it’s all changed. Everyone that can, is working from home, client meetings are done via Skype, presentations and training via Zoom.

Families and friends have adjusted to using FaceTime or Skype rather than meeting up and virtual pub quizzes abound. Hopefully, this will be something that we all continue when we are finally allowed back out.

What may end up being a plus of our enforced isolation – 

We are talking to our nearest and dearest more often. 

We have reconnected with neighbours (over the garden fence.)

We may have finally cracked the working from home.

We will be sitting down to our first virtual networking session next week. It might seem a little strange to start off with but it might change how we do things forever. 

Remote Working solutions

We have all been told to work remotely, from home, where possible. For a lot of people that is impossible, but for those of us that can, we are going to need a way of connecting to the office.

A lot of offices have sorted remote working already, and it really isn’t rocket science, but it does take a bit of planning and cost.

There will, therefore, be a lot of office workers who still want to work, but are not able to justify going to the office due to self-isolation, and really need to set up a method of communication to get their work done.

Enter Claris FileMaker Cloud.

If you have a home computer and a connection to the internet, then you can work from home.

For a very small outlay, you can get the part of your office system that you work on replicated in a portable form, so you can be up and running in a few days.

We are not here to replace what you currently have – just give you the ability to work on the data while not in the office. You can read more of our business solutions here.

Small systems are quick and cost-effective to create. And they will mean more of your staff will be able to work from home.

Call or email today to see how quickly this could be done for you. We will not need to come to you – a skype call is normally all that is needed to get the details we need to create you a simple, remote working system.

07720 894129 – james@storganise.co.uk

Case Study – The Sussex Sign Company

After 25 years of making signs for virtually every business in Sussex, and plenty more outside, The Sussex Sign Company are at the forefront of their field, and remain “nice people to do business with.” This case study explains our bespoke custom app for their CRM.

What they excel at is making signs, and sign-writing vehicles.

What they want to also excel at is keeping their customers coming back for more, year after year.

In order to help with this, we were approached to create a simple CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) system.

“We’ve looked at a lot of these, but they seem much more complicated than we need” said Norman Mayhew, CEO, when he first approached us.

“What we want is a list of all the clients we have had in the last 25 years, and a way of our sales team to go through them, one by one, and check that they are happy, and if they would like to book in any more work”

This case study shows that a simple problem deserved a simple solution.

This is a mock-up of the database but no actual data is provided. Any resemblance to actual phone or email data is entirely unintentional

We created an entirely bespoke system, for the sales team to log in each day, and work through the current list of clients. Log each call at the click of a button, make any notes, and book in any more jobs that are required.

A separate section for the manager to easily see each sales person’s progress, and set their KPIs each day.

Within 3 weeks, after a 3-day build and 2 weeks of user testing, the CRM system is now being used daily by a sales team of 5 with 2 managers.

Sales are up, the application has paid for itself, and the prospect of another 25 years is very much cemented for The Sussex Sign Company.

Norman puts it best…

“What we love about the system is its simplicity. My sales team were able to start working with it after a quick 5-minute briefing. It just makes sense. Obvious buttons doing tasks that we need. Everything we need is there, and we haven’t paid for a lot of extra functions that we will never use.” 

Read more on our case study and solutions page.

Spring Cleaning our website

New year and a slightly new our website for Storganise.

Since 1979, The Plain English Campaign’s aim has been to reduce gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information. We have updated our website to communicate clearly what we do and reduce the flimflam.

We are mostly working for micro, small and medium companies. That’s not to say that FileMaker can’t be used on a much larger scale and some multi-national companies use FileMaker for all manner of things, but we find it is a good entry level system.

If you use multiple spreadsheets, contacts, calendars, and accounting software and are constantly copying and pasting data from one source to another, then we could help. We can create a bespoke system for you, to replicate what you already have but obviously automating many of the data transfer tasks. This can reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and improve accuracy. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Read a case study and solutions pages.

Email info@storganise.co.uk to discuss a free, no obligation discussion.

Portfolio Careers Presentation

James gave a presentation on portfolio careers this morning, 5 February, to Newhaven Chamber of Commerce, and we thought you all might like to see a little of what they get up to at the morning breakfasts.

Many of you now know me as a Software Developer but most of my working life has been in a different career.

I have had the pleasure to work with some of the countries most outstanding comedians as a Tour Manager… some YouTube stars, and have toured the world with some pretty iconic bands… but my career isn’t about who I have worked for.

The people I work with have two things in common – 

  • They are all at the top of their game either through hard work and a lucky break or through hard work and more hard work and then a lucky break
  • They are all people. Just people like you and me.

Let’s start with comedians.

Comedians tour all the time, mostly on their own, and they start small doing the club gigs and open mic night. When they get enough success, they can invest in a promoter who will take a nice cut of their ticket sales but will send them to much bigger venues.

Promoters don’t like comedians touring on their own, as the logistics of getting from A to B and making sure the show looks and sounds great are not where their skills lie. So, people like me get employed to be a Tour Manager, deal with the logistics and Chauffeur to the comedian. 

Once we arrive at the town for that night, I go and set up the show. Sometimes there is a bit of staging…I always have to check the sound is right for spoken voice, and programme the lighting. Sometimes the stage set is a bit bigger and I have to unload a van full of gear and set it up.

An hour or so before the show I go and pick up the comedian, get him or her to do a soundcheck, then make a cup of tea, or snacks or wine, and at the right time, open the show. During the show, there will probably be some video or sound cues to run.

At the end of the show, all the gear goes back in the car or van, and you then take the comedian through the crowds for autographs, and back to the hotel.

The next day, we do it all again.

Touring with bands you just multiply that by 10, 20, 30 etc depending on the size of the tour.  Instead of 1 person doing the staging, there might be 20; 3 or 4 Sound Engineers;   Lighting, Video, Catering, tour buses, drivers. Everyone gets to specialise in their area.     

Travelling sounds very glamorous but it’s quite often very long hours, sleeping on a bus and then all day spent in a windowless venue setting up. It’s not often you get time to see any of the amazing places you travel to. 

Being successful at it though is about the same thing we all do to be successful in all our businesses – putting in the long hours, and not stopping until the job is done well enough for you to be proud of your gig.

Twenty years on and the software we used to help pull together the tour dates, day sheets, and travel arrangements and the fledgling skills I developed using FileMaker back then, have now become my new business. 

I have created custom databases to make my life easier and now I am using it to hopefully make your working lives easier too. 

Portfolio careers – don’t you just love life?

We like to be green?

We at Storganise towers like to be green. It’s not a statement of intent, or an empty corporate claim, it’s just the way we go about our lives.

Half of our fleet of cars is a Nissan Leaf. We would have gone 100% electric, but the other half of the fleet has to get us to Cornwall each year to go surfing.

Most of our meetings are done via video-conferencing. This saves a whole heap of fossil fuels and wasted hours in travelling.

We recycle more than we throw away, cycle to the office when it’s cycling weather, and work in a shared office environment which reduces wasted heating and lighting to a minimum.
Bully for us. Call Greenpeace. Give us a medal.

Another, inadvertent way we have become green is by not printing anything any more. We haven’t changed to use re-cycled printer cartridges, or 50% bamboo paper. No. We simply don’t print. We could say this is a conscious decision to save our planet’s vital resources and make a better world for our grandchildren. It’s actually because we can’t afford the printer cables.
Well, “can’t afford” isn’t strictly true. But at £15.00 a shot, and with all new printers being suspiciously supplied without them (imagine what our customers would say if we created them some software but no login details for it – “Oh, I didn’t realise you wanted to USE the software. That’ll be an extra £15 please”); we have decided that we don’t want to play the printing game any more.

So when James’s fine and robust 10-year-old printer lead finally went to the great Tandy in the sky, the office printer went from being the thing most people shouted at in the corner to being a lovely new monitor stand.

It’s happier there, and in a funny way, so are we all.

Of course, if you are more committed to making an impact on your carbon footprint, the first thing you should consider is; How do you streamline the way your office works? Are you wasting your staff’s time, and your planet’s resources by unnecessarily printing things that could be stored on a disk, or travelling to see the same assets repeatedly, or doing repetitive tasks again and again and again. Can we help you be green?

Get in touch. We can take a look at the software you are currently battling with, and come up with a way of you spending less time polluting the atmosphere, and more time enjoying the countryside.

Just don’t ask for a printed quote.

Can You Have Too Much Tech?

I was on holiday last week. I took the brave decision to turn my phone off during the day, and just check it once each night to see if anything important needed my attention. Could you have too much tech?

Being a small business owner, I don’t turn off entirely for a week; would a parent leave their toddler and not check on them? Would Romeo not send Juliet a cheeky text or two? Could a lottery winner go without checking their bank balance?

But being liberated from my emails and phone calls throughout the day made me appreciate the beauty of the Cornish countryside, the laughter of my wife and children, and strangely, the relationship I have with my phone.

We are all tethered to our devices, and are vilified for it by the faux luddites amongst us, but the tech is there for a reason, and has improved our knowledge and general standard of living immensely.

Like it or not, we have a relationship with that little box in our pocket, and going without it makes the 10 minutes together that much sweeter. I doubt Shakespeare would have written “The Two Gentlemen of Samsung” or “The iPhone of Lucretia” were he alive today, but you can certainly bet he’d have had a lot of tech in his sonnets and plays – They’d all have been written in Word for a start.

The SmartPhone then, is more the Nurse to Juliet or the Porter to Macbeth.

Not the Ophelia nor the Desdemona.

So yes, I am having a relationship with my iPhone, but it’s purely platonic.

People ask me ‘What do you do?’

I write software, mostly for Macs, mostly for the entertainment industry, but that is because I like Macs and everyone knows I work in the entertainment industry.

The stuff I do works as well on PCs and for people who don’t turn up to work on a unicycle.

Software is the road map your computer uses to do stuff. Microsoft Word & Excel, Photoshop, iTunes; These are all bits of software. Some people call them Apps, but they should maybe get over themselves.

I use this funky programme called ‘FileMaker Pro’, if you’ve got a Mac, you’ve probably heard of it. They used to say you could make databases with it but in the last few years, the word database has become very 1970s-radio-DJ and now they say we make Custom Apps. It’s not just software for Macs.

Why would you need a Custom App?

  • If you have ever had to copy email addresses out of Excel and paste them into new contacts
  • Do you create job sheets for work by … doing it all over here … arranging it slightly differently … adding some more information … adjusting it a little and sending it off to the customer?

Do you write a lot of software? Do you do it repeatedly?

Have you ever thought ‘There has to be a better way of doing this?’

If the answer is ‘yes’ – that’s where I come in.

Quite often I will advise you not to have a piece of software created especially for you as there is probably something on the market that will do what you want. If there is – use that. Maybe, what you are doing doesn’t need anything special, just a little more knowledge?

Some people though, do need a little more help.

Custom apps can be simple…

Contacts Database (Why would I need that – I’ve got one on my PC/Mac/ZX81?).

Simple, basic, but can be so much more.

How about if you want to keep scans of passports of all your contacts and you want reminders of when these are going to expire?
You might want to select multiple contacts and send them all the details of upcoming jobs
You may want to send details of multiple contacts to upcoming employers (driving licenses, CRB forms, SIA certificates etc) along with a professional spreadsheet of dates of birth, mobile numbers and next of kin emergency info.

They can be a bit more complicated …

Music database What? I’ve already got iTunes and Spotify.

Do you have a back-catalogue currently in Pro-Tools, on 2” tape or all on hard drives?
Are they in various storage units unable to be accessed, let alone listened to?
Would you like to add in details of venues, performers, show reports, track info, recall info etc?

They can be a complete Suite of Software

We could start with something simple and let it grow. Your contacts database can then become a job-booking system, which can then create itineraries for your people in the field. These can either be printed or accessed on their own iPhone or iPad app. Read more here.

Anything is possible – the world is your oyster. And I’m that hook thing you use to get into the oysters. And the lemon; I’m the lemon as well.

To quote Ferris …
The question isn’t ‘What are we going to do?’ The question is ‘What aren’t we going to do.’

Never Give Up

We have a house rabbit. We wanted to be quirky and hipster, but I’m too old and didn’t want a beard – so we got a house rabbit who taught me to never give up. He’s called Cookie, hops around the house and occasionally retires to his hutch fitted into one of the kitchen cupboards that used to house saucepans.

We expected him to live for about five years but now he’s eight, and until last week, there was no sign of him letting us put the saucepans back. Last week however, he started falling over and we thought he had reached the end of his carrot fuelled existence.

We put him on 24-hour balancing watch and pulled out a catalogue for a new set of pans.

After 2 days of comedic tripping, he is now sat looking at us, all fully non-capsizing, as if the last few days were just a strange human dream, and we should get over ourselves and produce more carrots.

He’s a testament to my belief that you should never give up …

I have written a lot of software for people and companies and, sometimes, for any number of reasons, the dream that was originally asked for becomes a white elephant that nobody uses.

In order to prevent this happening, I mostly encourage companies to start small. Get a piece of software that addresses a couple of key issues that all their staff can use, and get used to for a few weeks or months. I find that once that is being used, it will naturally bring up questions along the lines of ‘can it do this?’which more often than not will not be part of the original remit.

This has two very important functions –

1. It is wayyyyyyyy cheaper than getting the whole thing made in one go

2. It allows the company to find out what is actually needed, rather than what it thinks it needs

I used this method for a small company late last year. I made them a pretty nifty bit of kit (even though I do say so myself) which allowed one person, who does all the data entry to slash her working hours so she can get on with the rest of her job.

All the right noises were made and it seemed like a great start; I got paid, which is always a good test of my software!

Then nothing. For four months. Not a word. I had only given them an example, so I knew it wasn’t being used. I felt a little like I had cheated them.

However, two weeks ago, I got an email out of the blue thanking me for my Christmas present that had just been received (this was in March) and, could I come in and install the software. They’d all had a lovely break and were now all back and ready to go for the new year.

I have now installed and I’m trouble shooting. It’s all going rather well for them and, therefore, for me.

So, just like Cookie, I have to remind myself, never to give up. There are always more carrots to be eaten and although we might think what we do is the most important thing in the world, other people have different agendas.