Society needs to Unplug

I often get asked how I manage to fit everything in that I do and my default position is to jokingly reply that there are 36 hours in every day.  Coming from a military background, the concept of overtime is something that has never meant much to me personally and in my younger days as a manufacturing manager while not common every day I have done a number of round the clock shifts and one marathon at 32 hours.  Getting ahead is not a matter of luck, its about hard work and managing your time.

Close up of remote in hand with shallow depth of field during television watching

Now while there may not be more than 24 hours in a day you can accomplish far more than others around you by doing more with the time you have.  Small business owners do this from necessity, there is always an imperative to improve cashflow whether its from growth, slow seasonality, competition, there is always something putting pressure on business owners to do more hours at work.  Getting that balance right at home is even harder in this situation; conversely if you are an employee that simply wants to get ahead in life, you too can make more use of your time, be it to undertake studies or start an online business from home for example.

For my mind one of the biggest obstacles that challenges us for time is a problem of our own doing.  The box that sits in the lounge room might provide escapism and seem like leisure time but before we know it, 5 or 6 hours at night, a couple of hours in the morning and all of our available time can disappear.  Even if you don’t want to get ahead, the time spend with the family is a much better life work balance than sitting in front of a screen 24/7 and that includes mobile devices like smartphones.  My advice is simple based on when I find my most productive time – turn off the TV!

At home we spend the evening at the dinner table, chatting about things like why we there are rules not just enforcing them as parents.  The kids rarely watch TV during the week, spending their time in between family, music and sports and in my daughters case, ballet.  The art of conversation is essential if you want to get into business for yourself, small business especially is all about people, people and people.  If you can converse easily, break down trust barriers and establish a relationship it is much easier to communicate value to your customers, work smoothly with your employees and get great deals from suppliers.

During the financial crisis that hit world in 2008, one stimulus package in 2009 released $12.7 billion in cash payments, anecdotally that money was spent on flat screen TV’s.  That may not be far off the truth as the single biggest beneficiary, writing down $1 bn of corporate debts within one month of the stimulus release was Harvey Norman.  Over 90% of all stimulus money was used to reduce debts within a very window after being released, this is a very strong argument to suggest that it didn’t stimulate the economy at all…

The art of conversation starts at home, you can do far worse for your family than practising it from an early age and making it a habit they will appreciate when it comes time for them to make their own way in the world.  Conversations about bigger issues such as how to set the conditions for our economy to prosper above and beyond the tired old approaches taken by governments to date may also be possible in the wider community…


Trevor Dixon

Chairman Small Business Foundation

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