Change the clock – change your routine

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 30 October 2012 05:10

Picture your ideal working hours and try to introduce them

The Working Hours clock from BVD Design

Because the clocks changed in the UK last weekend I have started winter “split shift” system.

Using the Clock changes to your advantage

If, like me, you find the darker evenings and daylight savings time (DST) takes away your leisure or exercise time in the winter, think about how to split up your working day.

The concept of split shift working

The concept is simple and very common many workplaces – do your day’s work in several chunks, rather than one go with a short meal break. Many people are used to starting early, taking a few hours out mid-morning or mid-afternoon then returning to do more work later. If you are your own boss, it can be very tempting to keep the traditional routine of office hours and more. In winter you can find that sports, gardening or just a walk outside to unwind can all get ignored.

So consider setting yourself a break of several hours in daylight then return to running your business as it starts to get dark. The extra focus when you return means that you can still get things done by a reasonable time, and you will not have missed out on stress-reducing down-time and leisure activities.

What about missing calls or customers?

Of course, the business cannot flourish unless you satisfy your customers. So you will need to make plans for dealing with enquiries etc. But remember, there are other times you may be unobtainable during the day because of meetings etc. and you already manage that. Also, remember that you may actually make yourself more available by being open in some evenings – you know your customer needs so give it some thought.


The concept of split shifts or different working hours may suit many colleagues or employees, so before making any decisions have a discussion about the whole concept of working hours. As long as everyone is in agreement, most arrangements are possible.

Go on – take a few minutes to consider how you could keep some of your daylight pleasures when the daylight hours are shorter! Some timetables can not be changed, but many can with a bit if thought.

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open source software

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Tuesday, 23 October 2012 02:55

What is Open Source Software (OSS)?

There is a good definition guidance on wikipedia here, but here is our version. Sadly if you are in the UK, you are amongst the least likely people in Europe or the US to have heard about it. All of the software used for our business is open source (i.e. not Microsoft or Apple).

Open Source Software is generally available free of charge and exists because:

  1. it normally runs on most hardware, and is particularly efficient so you keep hardware for longer
  2. you (or someone you hire) can alter the way the program works to suit your needs
  3. being able to alter it means that you can benefit from everyone else’s ideas and improvements – you do not have to wait for what one manufacturer deems is a worthwhile annual upgrade
  4. you can often benefit from a very niche programme that someone has written because their business needs it, but is happy to share it thus share the workload of maintenance
  5. for office work there are few problems exchanging documents, spreadsheets and presentations with the main big name. Unlike your problems when people using newer versions force you to upgrade!

It can often take a while for the penny to drop regarding open source, because it is common in business not to share ideas with others (therefore missing out on their input) or give something away with no strings attached rather than sell it. Likewise it is much easier to stick with the norm rather than make your own decisions.

Well, over half the web runs on open source software, as do most car computers and electronic devices like TVs, DVDs etc. You are likely to have heard of Firefox and Opera browsers which are also open source.

It is true that fewer companies at the small business end of the market support open source, but given they can do almost all of your maintenance remotely you do not need one in every high street. Equally be aware that if you ask an “IT expert” about open source you may not get a balanced view – just like going into a Ford garage and asking what they think of Renault cars.

more details here …

We are still a commercial business, so if a piece of proprietary software is the best tool for the job, we will use it! We just do not limit ourselves to one option or 2 big brands.

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Getting your book published

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 August 2014 07:28 Written by Ed Beckmann Friday, 17 February 2012 12:29

Getting a book published can be a frustrating process, although now there are so many more ways of bringing your idea to people’s attention.

I’m going to pop a few hints and tips here over the next few weeks so that you can slowly consider how you would like to get your ideas into the public at large.

Novelty and Imaginative Books

Even though many writers slave over copy for months or years, others can turn an novel idea into print with a lot less labour. Look at these 3 examples:

Everything Men Know About Women: 20th Anniversary Editon by Dr Alan Francis has an eye-catching cover and well-considered synopsis. And it has over 100 blank pages!
Not so good to re-read, it falls neatly into the novelty gift that can sell in 1,000’s if you get it displayed in the right places.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Portfolio Edition) by Chris van Allsburg has a minimalist approach but far more potential (IMO) for its target market in children’s books. A title, indistinct picture and the fist line are all that you are given for each story in the book, and they form the invitation for the reader to make up the rest of the tale.
I have linked to the special portfolio edition but there is a lower-priced option.

The Complete Book of Questions and the very similar The Book of Questions (by different authors) offer no answers Рjust pages of questions that give the reader the opportunity to challenge themselves or companions about their values, experiences and ambitions. Excellent for starting some profound conversations or moral debates either alone or in a group.

It is also amusing that a good idea can be imitated more easily than a storyline!

All these are different ideas whose value lies in the thoughts they trigger, not the word count.

Have fun with your book ideas!

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