Daniel’s rules for phone conferences

The over-arching rule is: Don’t waste people’s time.

Don’t invite everyone in the known universe, unless they’re all genuinely needed on the phone at once. Talk to them individually if possible; it’s often more efficient.

If plans change and some people aren’t needed after all, let them know.

If you have people in different states/cities, use a service with a frecall 1800 number dialin, or at least a local 1300 dialin. People dialling in from home don’t want to incur a long distance bill just to sit on the phone for an hour to say their ten words.

Start the conference on time. If you intended to kick things off at 10 past, schedule the damn meeting for 10 past.

Jacket required

Following up from yesterday… In many cities, it’s common for white-collar male workers to wear shirt+tie, though casual Friday is becoming more popular in some companies.

For some people, it appears that even the suit jacket is compulsory, including on the hottest days. From what I can see, this primarily seems to include (male) politicians and TV journalists.

On weekends some of them doff the tie but keep the jacket on. Ditto when they go to the country.

Perhaps the very expensive jackets (worn by presidents and prime ministers) have water cooling inside or something, so the occupant doesn’t end up sweating like a pig?

Runners for the commute

Runners with business clothesI can understand why some white-collar women wear runners on their commute given how uncomfortable and impractical some of the shoes they wear around the office look.

I don’t understand why some men feel the same way though. It’s not like they wear platform shoes or high heels at work. (Unless their work is odder than they appear.) While it’s certainly possible to buy men’s shoes that are uncomfortable, most of them tend to be fairly comfortable most of the time, are no problem when walking fast or running, and certainly don’t leave a risk of falling over.

Seems to me that runners with business clothes look pretty awful.

(Awaiting the onslaught of angry comments from 4WD-with-bullbar owning, smoking men who wear runners with business clothes, and their apologists.)

The Chair Squad

I was sitting doing some coding at work when The Posture Police arrived. The Chair Squad. The Ergonomic Inspectors.

Seriously, a team of three did a sweep through the office and checked every chair to make sure it was working properly, able to be adjusted, and offering the correct back support. Zowee.

It reminds me that my own desk setup at home is not serving me very well. Sure, the two Zed desks look okay, but I’m beginning to suspect they’re not ideal ergonomically. They’re too high (and they’re not adjustable), they have hard edges (apparently a no-no) and the straight edge at the front isn’t ideal. I’ve started getting arm pain when using the computer, something I first noted a few months after the desks arrived (I never did get a graphics tablet, as I mentioned in that post).

I don’t get that kind of pain at work, where both the chair and desk are more a standard corporate design. Nor was it a problem with the old desk.

So though the desks are only about a year old, I am seriously thinking about getting rid of them, in favour of something that’s adjustable, and more comfortable (and thus healthier) to use — even if it’s not as pretty.

And yes, I am considering the (apparently legendary) Ikea Jerker. Mind you, even getting some of those spongy wrist support thingies would probably help.

(No, I’m not going to get one of these Ergopod things.)

Tie-free today

Although I and a few others at work wear ties most days, the bulk of the men (and of course all of the women) don’t. Ties are a purely decorative item, and sometimes they’re expected, sometimes not.

Lately I’ve been pondering if I should buy some new shirts. I don’t know if my neck is getting thicker or what, but sometimes the collars seem too tight to be comfortable.

Anyway, the forecast is 36 degrees today. I got to the foyer at work this morning and decided I wanted to go tie-free for the day. I think I might do the same whenever it’s going to be over 35… especially with the dodgy airconditioning at work.

Problem is that after… what, twelve years? of wearing a tie to work (at least Monday to Thursday), not wearing one feels unnatural, like that feeling I get when I go out without my keys in my pocket. I feel naked. Incomplete.

I’m gradually getting used to it.

Does success make you? Or do you make success?

Cam of TPN is off to America to make his fortune, and his latest podcast is a “Goodbye Australia” edition. But what I found really interesting about it is him talking about the (metaphorical) journey — how he’s got into this position, and how successful people work: meeting people, making contacts, helping those contacts when you can, often without any direct incentive. Jumping off the cliff to try something new. Challenging yourself.

And he ponders the importance of a distinctive look, particularly for the mainstream media — he’s on the front cover of The Bulletin this week wearing a “geek” t-shirt and his Elvis sunglasses. I just can’t believe at the end, his mostly just-listening co-hosts didn’t proclaim “Elvis has left the building.”

I suspect my look is a dorky haircut. Not very distinctive, actually.

Oh and he claims to be an introvert. Having met the man, I don’t believe that for a second.

Interesting stuff, anyway. Good luck Cam.

Out of control Inboxes

My three main Inboxes are getting out of control. While I manage to reply in a reasonable manner to most of the email I get that’s directed to me personally, I tend to get very slack at filing things away or deleting them, perhaps partly because I think at some stage I’ll need to find them urgently again — to contribute a point to a group discussion, or read again to enforce a point or otherwise act.

The result? Mailbox one: over 1000 items; Mailbox two: 244; Mailbox three: 702.

Which of course means I can’t find urgent things easily.

Robert Scoble wrote a few days ago about “declaring email bankruptcy“. Thankfully things aren’t quite that desperate.

But I think it’s time for a big clearout. Maybe I’ll file away most of it into some kind of Inbox Archive, and get more strict about filing/deleting as I read, so what remains in the Inboxes is genuinely just what I need to respond to.

Inboxes: Work, Webmail and Gmail

I’ll let you go

I’ve mentioned before how I hate the expression “I’ll let you go”. It just tells me in the most thinly-veiled way that the person talking to me is sick of me, and has more important things to do.

Last week I overheard a work colleague who had evidently rung someone he didn’t want to talk to as much as the person wanted to talk to him. He said “I’ll let you go” about four times before the conversation finally ended.