Tag Archives: wifi

Email: The time bandit

I was on the road travelling and working for the past two weeks. Sometimes sleeping on planes and working from airports, sometimes at conferences – I did five events in those two weeks involving four talks and one where I was doing the official social media coverage.

During this time, my email stacked up. If you have been waiting for me to reply to something then I apologise. Today was my first proper day in front of my desk for a couple of weeks and I have nearly 500 messages in my inbox today and about 350 of those are unread.

I probably get the same amount of email as most professionals. A few important mails, a few that can wait, and a lot of junk… whether it’s actual spam or just notifications about this or that on ebay or the social networks.

But email takes time. Each mail has to be read, even just to decide whether to delete or file it. I now hate it when companies email me press releases when they could be using a social network such as Twitter – I can see far more quickly on Twitter whether something is worth pursuing or not.

At least I don’t organise my time by email. I know of many people whose working day is dictated by what arrives in the inbox… I usually have a to-do list that has nothing to do with the arriving email.

But everywhere I have been travelling on my journey has had connectivity, so in theory I could have been checking my mails in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. But the reality is that when travelling on business, your time is packed with more important things than sitting in front of a list of emails. The day, from breakfast to dinner is usually packed with meetings or talks or other work.

But if this prioritisation of time is how I behave when travelling, then the obvious question has to be, why do I suddenly have time to deal with the deluge of email when I get back to the office or my home?

If my time is too valuable when on the road, then surely it is even more valuable when I am working hard on the things that I get paid for.

So here is a new resolution for 2012. I’m going to spend a short amount of time, maybe 15-20 minutes at the start and end of each working day, checking for important email. Anything else I don’t have time for is just going to get binned.

Will I lose anything valuable? Will I miss something vital? Or will I just reclaim wasted time and start resetting my priorities back to spending more time on what I actually get paid for?Bizarro-email-hell

9/11 Memories

I don’t have a thrilling or exciting memory of 9/11. It fact the banality of the what happened to me is almost striking giving the significance of what happened.

I was working for the French bank Société Générale in London at the time. On that day I was out of the office in Knightsbridge at a hotel on a management training course. I remember thinking how useless the course was as I had asked questions of the trainer like ‘how do I improve teamwork when my team is based in 9 different countries on time-zones from Tokyo to New York?’ and the trainer was only qualified to train people who were working directly with their staff. None of the other managers on the training course had to manage anyone in another country, so I just sat there – bored – on a day away from the office.

By the afternoon, a few people were getting text messages to say that something was happening in New York. This was before anyone could access the Internet on phones. It was before wi-fi was available everywhere. We were locked in a training room with only a vague idea that something big was happening outside.

When someone got a text message saying one of the towers was down, our trainer said that we should carry on the course for the full afternoon because our companies had all invested a lot of money and would not want to waste it.

We carried on for a bit longer, but everyone wanted to leave early to find out what was going on. I really had no idea until I got home later in the afternoon and switched on the TV to watch the images of the attacks repeating on a loop.

Our trainer was being conscientious, but he had preferred we sit there talking about how to hire and fire people rather than witnessing one of the major events of the new century.

I had a team working for me in the WTC complex. Not in towers 1 or 2, but across the square from there. I was frantically calling them to find if they were all OK, but the phone lines in New York were overloaded and many cellular radio towers had been destroyed along with the twin towers – so cell phone coverage was very patchy.

I did eventually get through to the guy who ran our technology systems in New York. I had a bizarre conversation as I walked my dog in my local park in lovely evening sunshine and talked to him in New York about how he ran from the office to his home and wife… only a couple of miles, but in complete chaos.

We had very good disaster plans in place. My responsibility was the banks connection to the stock exchange. The next morning we had our systems up and running in another office. We were ready to trade, but the stock exchange had been closed.

It was a day when everything felt paralysed – even for those of us not in the USA. I had never imagined a mainland attack within the USA and the events that were created by that one day are still shaping our history now. It was hard to imagine such iconic buildings were there one morning and 90 minutes later were gone – I had been to the top of those towers several times and enjoyed a beer up there in a space that no longer existed.

For me though, it was a day of strange memories. Meaningless to most, but worth remembering here for my own sake. One day I might not remember the sheer terror in the voices I was talking to in New York that day and the paradox of me throwing a ball for the dog as I talked.

World Trade Center - New York City, New York / ニューヨークシティ (ニューヨーク)

Airport lounge design #101

If you get access to an airline lounge it’s because you are flying first class, business class, or you have a lot of points on your frequent flyer card so they give you access to the lounge – even if you are in economy.

In general though, most people flying business class are in that class because they are on business – time is important and having a place to work is important, so take a look at the lounge in São Paulo’s international airport.

Lots of soft chairs, free food, free drinks, and free Internet too. That’s all nice, but there are no power supplies anywhere!

Almost everyone in here is trying to recharge their phone or laptop, and get some work done. There is a steady stream of people circling the room looking for some power, somewhere, anywhere.

The only power is at a workbench, specifically placed there for laptop users and with about 8 places in total… EVERYONE IS USING A LAPTOP IN HERE GUYS!

I guess I won’t have any power left on the plane now, so at least I can enjoy the movies instead of working on board my flight.

VIP Lounge

Why no Wifi?

I’m at the Gartner outsourcing summit in São Paulo, Brazil today. I walked into the keynote session a little earlier this morning only to find that there is no Internet availability in the conference area of the hotel.

I asked the conference organisers why I can’t get online. They said that people at the conference are not allowed to get online.

Umm, so how is anyone supposed to blog the conference or make comments about what the speakers are saying?

I did ask them earlier what the hashtag for the event is, only to be greeted by blank stares… Come on Gartner, what’s going on? You can do a lot better than this in Brazil. At NASSCOM in Mumbai, bloggers are allowed seats at the front of the conference hall – with power sockets – so they can get unobstructed video and photo content out onto the web immediately.

This time it feels like I’m an imposition, asking constant questions and getting no answers.
Gartner Outsourcing Summit Brazil 2010