I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Avoiding lots of waste or a big waist?

Today’s meanings were inspired by a blog post where the word waist was used instead of waste. In this instance, I pointed out the error and the blogger was able to fix the post.

blue waist written to be smaller int eh middle, like an hourglass shape

A waist goes in, like the provernial hourglass figure, so maybe this image will help you remember which wasit to waste!

waist {noun}: the area bewteen a person’s rib cage and hips; the narrow area of any object that widens at both ends; the part of clothing that covers or sits on a person’s waist
Women used to wear corsets to have a smaller waist than was healthy. 

waste {verb}: to use, consume or lose something carelessly or thoughtlessly
Being careless about turning taps off leads Jack to waste a lot of water.
Don’t waste bloggers time when offering guest posts.

 Hmm, so how to remember which waist/waste is which? Just think of that little i in the middle of a waist being like the smaller part of a shape.

Poor surveys are time wasters…

I’m busy, you’re busy and I suspect even people (including Government employees) writing surveys are busy.

So why do people put up silly surveys and waste everyone’s time?

clock in waste paper bin

Throwing time away…

Late last week I was asked to fill in a survey Government-run gathering information to help small businesses – a worthy cause so I completed the survey.

But some of the questions were a waste of time – not only were they hard to answer, I doubt they will give meaningful results so it has wasted everyone’s time.

Poor survey question samples

Here are some of the worst questions I answered, with my comments to explain why I didn’t like these particular questions.

Q1 – is your website interactive? Can you edit it yourself (eg online forms, content)?
A1 – yes or no

What is the correct answer if my site is interactive but I can’t edit it, or if I can edit it but it isn’t interactive?

Q2 do you use a still or video camera for work purposes?
A2 – Yes – what do you use it for?

Um, for taking photos or videos? I wonder how many people gave that answer! I decided to be nice to them and answered ‘take photos for use in my blog’

 Q3. who is your local IT service company in a, b and c?

Personally I had no idea! And what did they mean by local anyway – same suburb, same city, same state?
The question perhaps makes more sense if you assume they want to know who I used for those services or maybe they were trying to ask ‘do you use a local IT service company for a, b or c’.

Q4. how do you get business advice and information?
A4 – rate each option in the following list {which includes trade magazines, state gov department website, dept of broadband, communication & digital economy}

The list did not include professional advice (accountant, coach, etc), online articles/blogs or government business info sites which were the first three things I thought of! Yet it included such specific things as a government department site and the dept of broadband, etc which I have never heard of!
When giving answers, it is important to review the list to ensure it covers enough breadth – or change the question to indicate it is a narrow aspect being researched.

Q5. do you or any of your staff telework? (work from home connecting to the business network and database)

How do I answer that – I work from a home office so I am nearly always connecting to the business from home but I don’t think it is really telework when the network is also at home!
Do they want me to include sub-contractors/suppliers as staff or keep ‘staff’ to mean employees?

Maybe this post will compensate for the wasted time as at least we can all learn what not to do in our next survey or feedback form!

My strong recommendation is to always get an outside person to read a survey when you think it is finished because they will spot errors in logic, assumptions and inconsistencies better than you can.

What are your survey stories? Have you found they are harder to write than they appear? Or maybe you’ve come across some time-wasting questions like these ones. I’d love to hear them – although it would be nice to think most surveys are well done!


Recycling is good for business

What does your business do with the waste materials it produces? Have you even thought about it?

There are a surprising number of recycling options available – and many are listed by the business recycling website. This includes means of using those wastes to produce new products (the obvious recycling aspect) and ideas such as giving unused food to charity groups for direct reuse.

Personally, I believe in recycling as I hate seeing waste and hate perfectly good things filling up our tips. On top of that, there is the environmental aspect and a feel-good factor. However, for those who need a commercial justification for recycling business waste, here are a couple of points to consider:

  • if your local council restricts your bin size, you have to pay to remove your waste materials so recycling may save you money directly
  • more and more people care about the environment and ‘green’ practices so start recycling and tell people (potential customers) about it – it won’t generate sales in itself but may be the deciding factor between you and a competitor one day
  • your team will appreciate being able to ‘do their bit’ for the environment so they’ll be happier and have one less reason to leave
  • you may find recycling materials in-house gives you new product leads or saves you money, too. For example, making notepads for staff from old letterheads saves paper and the expense of buying notepads
  • it can give you a conversation starter or topics for blogging about – and sometimes new ideas are hard to come by!

Can you think of things to recycle? I’d love to hear of your ideas and successes – I may even copy some if applicable!

Fear – the biggest time waster!

You might think surfing the web, playing games online or deleting spam are some of the biggest time wasters in your business, but I suggest that fear may actually be the biggest waste of all.

Think about it – if you fear making cold calls, you will suddenly find time to tidy your desk, sort emails and check links on your website! Or fear of a big project may make you procrastinate submitting your application, so much so that you do a rushed job and miss out.

Fear means we don’t get tasks done, and they stay in our minds so we can’t focus 100% on other tasks either. Although I don’t always do it myself, lol, I believe that the things we fear in business are the things we need to do NOW so we can get passed them. That doesn’t mean we won’t be scared of them next time they come around, but maybe we’ll know we can survive them!

As Michelle says in her ShelDesign blog,“if we let fear control our actions, it WILL steal our dreams.” And losing our dreams is a huge waste of our time.

How do you manage fear in your business? Do you find fear of failure or fear of success to be a bigger issue for you?