Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tracking High Energy Times

I am still sore from my marathon but I did run 5 miles today and 3 yesterday. What I have read about marathoning is it is best to run slowly after a marathon to keep the muscles limber.

A friend of mine, Alex Revai, sent me an article by Harold Taylor. The following are a few paragraphs from that article:

The Secrets of Our Body Clocks by Susan Perry and Jim Dawson revealed some interesting information on how our internal clocks operate. For instance, most of us reach our peak of alertness around noon. So perhaps delaying lunch until 12:30 or 1:00 p.m. might capitalize on our most productive period. But there's a sudden drop in the early afternoon that lasts until about 3:00 p.m., at which time our mental alertness once again begins to rise. There seems to be a good reason for the early afternoon siesta. Not good enough a reason to convince the boss, but we could schedule the mundane, low-energy tasks for that part of the day. If you are a morning person this early afternoon sag will probably be more evident.

According to the authors, your short-term memory is best during the morning hours, so studying for a test that morning or reviewing notes of a meeting would be a good idea. But long-term memory is best in the afternoon, so that's the time to study material for the following week - or for that training session for the new employee. How well you remember things depends on when you learn them, not when you recall them.Applied to meetings, mornings are a great time for creative sessions or meetings where tough decisions must be made. But don't let them run into the early afternoon doldrums.
Everyone's clock is unique, and some may peak at 11 a.m. instead of 12 noon, but even extreme morning people and extreme night people are no greater than 2 hours apart with their circadian cycles. Morning people should do all their heavy thinking and creative work in the morning and reserve the late afternoons for the routine. Night people, although similarly alert at 11 a.m., do not experience the same late afternoon sag.

I have long been an advocate of tracking how people spend their time and on my time tracking sheet (which is included in my e-book, or you can email my assistant, and she can send you one) has a energy hi or low column. I have learned from tracking over the years when my high and low energy periods are and I try very hard to use them appropriately.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ottawa Marathon

Today I ran the Ottawa Marathon. People sometimes ask how far was the marathon and all marathons are 42.2 Kilometers (26.2 miles) or they are not called marathons, they are just races.
This picture shows me after the race with the space blanket they give you to keep warm. People ask me how I feel after teh marathon - I would respond "Like a super hero (after all I have the cape)."
It was the perfect day for a race. It started at 7 AM. The weather was cool (but not cold). I wore a throw away tshirt over my singlet that I discarded in about a kilometer.
It took me 2 minutes and 6 seconds to cross the start line. They use RFID chips on the shoe to make it fair so the real time to track is the chip time. The first two Kilometers were the normal jostling. So much so that I did not even see the first K marker. The first 1/2 K was uphill which I thought was great. Get it over with so we could come gently down I thought. But we lost the uphill and went steeply down for the next K so lost any height we would have gained.
The first few K, I asked fellow runners my times because I was not wearing a watch. I was tracking at about 5:30/K which I knew was a bit fast so deliberately slowed down. By 6 or 7 K, I was in a rythm and the crowd had thinned a bit.
By about 12 K, we went into a beautiful residential section of town. At about 15 K, I saw former Prime Minister Jean Cretian waving to the crowd from his front porch (although I do not know for sure it was his house, he could have been visting someone).
At about the halfway point (21K), it started to mist a bit and over the second half, it drizzled and rained a bit. I like this, it helps with cooling. I run much better in the cool than the heat.
At 30K I felt good so decided to speed up a bit. This went well until 35K when I got a calf cramp. I have had this before and treat it with respect. I walked for about 200M. I changed my gait and for the rest of the race, ran at the brink of pain.
Throughout the race, I had walked at the water/gateraid stops which were about every 3 K. I walk long enough to drink which is usually about 30-40 paces but late in the race, I was stretching this to 60.
By 40K, I thought 2.2 more K were almost too many but harkened to the slogan "Pain is temporary, pride is forever". And some of the runners had shirts that said "Compete to complete". One slogan at one of the water stops was "Spirit is worth 50 times as much as muscle or brawn".
So I persisted and finished in 4:10:37. Not as good as 3:59 but still OK. One of my 3 goals was to finish and I did that. In every race, I set 3 goals - one I know I can do, one I need to work at and a real stretch. I do this in other things in life also.
This is not a great marathon time but considering that I do not train as much as many, and many people cannot even run a marathon, it is OK. Part of running is solitary - against yourself.
Elizabeth did 3:19:02. We spent much of the weekend with our good friends the Spitz's. Warren did a respectable 3:40:10. Maureen even ran the 10K.
Of course after the race, I was wet through so got cold and almost had hypothermia set in until I got some tea and a shower. I was impressed with the kindness of strangers on the course and after the run. High comraderie. Good weekend although for some reason, I am a bit sore.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

YPO and Blog Posts Every Other Day

Today I have 365 blog posts (I did not count - the number comes up automatically when I log in). This is just over 2 years of blogging so thats a post every other day average.

I am in Ottawa now after a day in Montreal at a YPO Canadian Council. I have been on the Canadian YPO executive for about 6 or 7 years so it is time for me to move on. Part of my time systems is to constantly evaluate what I do and make decision.

I love the group but at this time do not feel I can afford the time. I have also contributed so it is a good time to move on. This does not mean I will have nothing to do with YPO. I will still avail myself of their education programs. Sort of sad but needed. And I have made many many friends that I will keep in touch with.

YPO is a great organization. To join you have to be the president of a company with over 50 employees and sales of $15,000,000 (I think) before you are 40 and they kick you out when you are 55 (used to be 50). So it attracts business people who tend to share common challenges. Common challenges makes for high rapport and friendship quickly and easily. I cannot count the number of times I have turned to my YPO buddies for solutions and advice.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Five Time Savers

The birds are loud this morning. Today I need to make up for low productivity yesterday. My assistant is on holidays so the contributed but that was not it. I did not focus hard enough on the right things to be highly productive. And many unplanned things present themselves during the course of a day that take my time and attention. Fortunately, this is a new day...

One advantage of blogging on a theme like time management or efficiency is that people get to know that this is an area of interest and as such send me interesting articles and books on the topic. One of my staff recently sent me an article by Dr. Donald Wetmore who is an author of, BEAT THE CLOCK and KISS Guide to ORGANIZING YOUR LIFE.

The article starts with a hard hitting paragraph, "If you can recapture a wasted hour here and there and redirect it to a more productive use, you can make great increases in your daily productivity and the quality of your life." So true. It is the momentum of the little things that creates great productivity.

He has five time savers:

Systematize: I am a great believer in this and I am constantly working on my systems whenever I have to deal with more volume. This is the first thing I do when I feel I need a productivity boost. This is the only way I have found to scale myself. I cannot do things now like I did when I did $50,000,000 in sales (despite the temptation to do so)

Plan adequate sleep: It is great to hear another author saying this. I think this is something that I should still add to my list.

Attend a speed reading class: I have long been an advocate of attending speed reading courses and don't understand why everyone doesn't do this. My variation on this would be to take another speed reading course and practise.

Develop your communication skills: Communications skills are something that everyone should have more of and can never hurt to do that.

Develop your people network: His logic for that is he believes that good cooperation of people allows you to get things done. One thing about having a larger people network is having people in your network absolutely takes more time. I constantly struggle with this and the feeling that I am letting people down who want to have me in their network. Adding people to my network takes more of my time so part of my systematizing lately has been to be a bit more ruthless about adding people to my network.

Off for a productive day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I had an occasion to go to Woodstock the other day. This is where I grew up so it was somewhat nostalgic and I took the time to visit one of my first employers. When I was 14 years old I got a job dispatching taxis and selling Greyhound Bus tickets for Al Pozin at City Cab. I worked there throughout high school and even into university for a little while on weekends when I would come home.

The taxi stand was also the bus station so I also sold bus tickets and handled bus freight. (I wonder if that is why I grew to love distribution by handling those boxes?)

Al Pozin is now 87 years old.

When he hired me he was an ex-boxer and amateur opera singer so he had a booming loud voice and compared to a scrawny 14 year old, he probably weighed twice as much as I did. I was afraid of him; however, he had a great laugh and great sense of humor.

I appreciate him hiring me when I did not have any experience because he took a big chance on me and I learned a great deal from him. Sense of humour. How to deal with a wide variety of people. How to juggle many things at the same time. Even frugality (although I no doubt got a lot of that at home too) and getting value for money spent.

He was a classic entrepreneur. A taxi stand and a bus station. And winning all sorts of repeat pick ups and deliveries.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Look for the Good in Pessimism

I was reading in the April 28th Economist magazine a short article on financial stability. The headline was, "The better you do, the greater the risk". The gist of the article was that the Bank of England is worried because things are going so well that there must be something wrong.

Often I find myself in the same situation. I am thinking I am doing so well something must be wrong. It is ironic.

We all are part optimist and part pessimist. Of course the balance differs from person to person. It was not so long ago that nature would cull out the blindly optimistic - people who would say "I can find food in the winter so do not need to store any" or people who would say "That lion won't eat me". There are some truths and some things we can learn from our pessimistic thoughts.

The key is finding the right balance. Even pessimism can be appropriately used to reduce risk. How can you harness the power of your pessimism and keep the optimism balance right?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spam, Being Available and Passion.

I find often people post a comment on my blog instead of emailing me. Partly because this can be anonymous and partly because they do not know my email address ( Some of the anonymous comments are cutting. One price I pay for success is having so many unidentified people who are often less than tactful in telling me that I do not know how to run a business or what a bad person I am. I look for nuggets of truth in what they say and at the same time, I often find it inspirational as it clarifies my resolve and makes me stick to what is right. In an ironic way, criticism makes me more passionate.

The challenge with publishing my email address more is spam is a huge issue. The shear volume of spams is daunting but when I actually analyse the time to deal with them, it is low. So although the task looks big, it is small. I can deal with 10-20 spams per minute (depending on the speed of my connection). And of course I do have a spam filter but spammers spend their time figuring out how to get around it. What takes time is dealing with real email that I have to read and respond to.

I am up early today but will not be tired because I have passion to get things done. Although nothing is a sleep substitute, passion is the closest thing to it. A close second would be exercise which I will do in about an hour.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Passion and Energy

I am still at my leadership course. This is practising Stephen Covey's Seventh Law - sharpening the saw. For me, retreats and courses are rejuvenating.

Although I blog about Time Management, really it is about productivity. And the key to productivity is having energy which is created by passion. The best trick anyone can do to be more productive is to do something they are passionate about. This makes things flow easily and creates high energy.

I am passionate about what I do. I really love running SYNNEX Canada. We are big enough to have resources to do big things. We are entrepreneurial enough to be able to take advantage of the things we need to in order to thrive. We have good people. We have great customers and vendors.

Now this does not mean I love all aspects of what I do so I am spending some time figuring out those things that I am passionate about and those things which do not give me energy. Then I can focus on what gives me energy which is how I can have the greatest impact.

So my advice - find your passion.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Set a Deadline

I am on the road. Taking a Leadership course for the next week. I look forward to a week of learning and a break at the same time.

I always get more done with deadlines.

Right now, I am in an internet cafe and I only bought a limited amount of time so I am sure I will get everything done because I have the deadline.

I sometimes use that to move me forward on other larger projects. I set a deadline where there might not really be one. This is particularly useful in managing larger projects. Break them down into smaller parts and set deadlines for the smaller parts.

The warehouse move the Woodlawn in Guelph is one of those large projects that needs breaking down into smaller parts.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Decline of the Blog?

Earlier in April, I posted about abandoned blogs, and I chastised myself for not posting enough.

This really got me thinking about why people abandon blogs, and about the future of communications media. My daughter Laura once outlined the history of communications (she’s a book person) to me in terms of who’s writing and who’s reading:

One to Few
--Before the printing press, communication was essentially one-to-one. Though books would circulate, there was a small literate audience, and books were not mass-produced.

One to Many
--The advent of the printing press made books a form of one-to-many communication: an author could reach an audience of thousands in one print run. This was considered the normal form of communication with other technologies, including tv, newspapers, radio, and film. One person (or a select group) would create a message, which would then be transmitted to a wide audience.

Many to Many
--New technologies encourage many-to-many communication. Blogging is a forum where anyone can author. Wikis encourage vast participation. This could be considered a democratization of knowledge production, because many people can now produce, but there is also a backlash because some people are worried about the validity of the sources that they read.

--Some blogs are of interest to a large segment of the population. Other blogs, like this one, have a more specialized audience. But even smaller blogs are out there where people write only for their friends (these are not linked to, and many blog writers do not expect anyone else to read their blogs except for friends). Though the Globe and Mail says that blogs are being abandoned at a staggering rate, Perseus claims that the majority of blogs are written by teenage girls and update twice a month to keep in touch with friends and family. This is not to say that many blogs are not being abandoned regularly, this is often the case, but I just wanted to put things in perspective. You must take it with a grain of salt that over a million blogs have been created, and after the initial post, there is no more updating. This is hardly considered an abandoned blog, because it’s not even quite a blog in the first place. These blogs—one-entry wonders and teenage lifetools—are quite different than the blogs I read each day and the blog sphere that I interact with. It seems to me that if these are being abandoned, we have to assume that it is simply growing pains, and not a sign that blogs will no longer be viable communication tools in the future.

And I am not abandoning my blog but am traveling for a week so might not post.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Adding Yoga to my Life.

We finally closed the Redmond purchase. Now integration can begin.

One of my passions is health. Partly this might be a fear of death or aging. Partly this is a productivity thing.

I have lots of health "shoulds" in my life. I do not eat red meat. I do not eat shellfish. I never eat chicken or turkey at home. I should just become a vegan. I try to limit my intake of sugar and sweets (although I tend to eat what is put in front of me). I still know I should eat healthier.

I am fairly good on cardio work outs. I run quite a bit. I cycle and use an elliptical occasionally. I lift weights less than I should. I do a circuit on weight machines weekly or more. By choice, I lead a fairly high stress, high pace life and working out is my best stress release.

Now I see that I should add yoga which I have done on an off a bit. This wire story was picked up many places including MSNBC.

NEW YORK - In breast cancer survivors, the Iyengar method of yoga not only promotes psychological well-being, but seems to offer immune system benefits as well, according to research reported Monday.

The research was reported at the American Physiological Society meeting in Washington, DC.
The Iyengar method, created by B. K. S. Iyengar, “is considered to be one of the more active forms of yoga,” lead researcher and presenter Pamela E. Schultz from Washington State University, Spokane, told Reuters Health.

Of course for me, I always seek to balance time with health although in the end, good health is so important to energy that spending a bit of time on it is critical to me for good time use. The real question is how much time is enough. I suspect there is diminishing returns. Doing 10 hours of cardio per week likely has similar results to doing only 3. Still, thinking of adding yoga or pilates to my schedule.