The Cost of Daylight Savings Time

Did you change your clocks over the weekend? (About 70 countries currently observe Daylight Savings Time, though they may follow a different schedule than in the US.)

As I was adjusting clocks over the weekend, I contemplated the cost of switching to and from Daylight Savings Time—and the amount of time it takes, not saves!

Did you remember to change your clocks over the weekend? Click To Tweet

First, doing some projections based on my personal clock setting experiences, I calculate that in the United States alone, about 150,000 hours is collectively spent adjusting clocks each fall and spring.  For businesses, there is direct labor cost associated with this effort.  In most cases they can address this on Monday morning, however, for some businesses clocks must be adjusted at 2:00 a.m., generally requiring overtime pay as well.

To determine the full cost, however, add in devices that are inadvertently broken while trying to set them and that are then replaced.

Next, consider all the commitments, appointments, and flights that are missed because people show up at the wrong time.  In the fall, it’s not so bad, as you arrive early—and end up waiting.  In the spring it’s a killer, because you arrive too late.

Altogether, this adds up to a huge cost, burden, and time waster—all for the delusion that we are saving time by doing so.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

A Sad Situation

sad situationEight years ago, locally, a 16-year-old girl was tragically killed in a house fire—because her parents had her chained to her bed.I'm not sure what bothers me more, a child being chained up and dying in a fire or the people who caused her death claiming that it wasn't their fault. Click To Tweet

After they were given appropriately long prison sentences for her death, the father vented to any who would listen. While he admitted a “possible error in judgment” over chaining her to her bed, he justified the action as being warranted and needed.

According to reports, he then said it wasn’t his—or his wife’s—fault, launching into a tirade of blame. He accused the local school system, the children’s protective service, the local law enforcement agency, and the state, asserting that they either knew about—or should have known about—the situation and intervened. These diverse and varied authorities should have stepped in, he claimed, to help them properly raise their daughter and prevent her unfortunate death.

I’m not sure what bothers me more, a child being chained up and dying in a fire or the people who caused her death claiming that it wasn’t their fault.

What were they thinking?

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Facts For the Fatherless

According to recent figures from the Census Bureau, over 27% of children (more than 1 in 4) in the U.S. lived without a father in their home in 2017.

'The epidemic of fatherlessness causes a strain on young lives and leaves many young men with the burden of trying to figure out how to be a good man without any solid examples to look at,' writes Carl Kozlowski. Click To Tweet

That is sad, but even more shocking are the ramifications.  Children without fathers are:

  • 5 times more likely to live in poverty
  • 5 times more likely to commit crimes
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

“The epidemic of fatherlessness causes a strain on young lives and leaves many young men with the burden of trying to figure out how to be a good man without any solid examples to look at,” writes Carl Kozlowski.

“Ninety-four percent of the prison population is male, 85% of which are without fathers,” cites Donald Miller.

This is a sobering reality to think about.

[To get involved, check out www.thementoringproject.org and www.bbbs.org ]

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Gandhi’s Seven Deadly Sins

Mohandas Gandhi considered these to be society’s seven deadly social sins:

  • Wealth without Work
  • Pleasure without Conscience
  • Science without Humanity
  • Knowledge without Character
  • Politics without Principle
  • Commerce without Morality
  • Worship without Sacrifice

It sure gives one something to think about.Mohandas Gandhi considered these to be society's seven deadly social sins. Click To Tweet

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

The Mathematics of Influence

Once, while at a party, I made a new friend. She was pursuing her PhD in Mathematics. Her course work was finished and she was focusing on her dissertation. Interestingly, at one point in my life, I too wanted a PhD in mathematics, but she was the first person I’ve met who was actually doing it!During a career, the average teacher will directly influence 500 to 5,000 students—a profound amount of influence that one person can make. Click To Tweet

Aside from the math part, another intriguing aspect is what she’s researching.  At the risk of over simplification, she was studying the teaching techniques used by the people who teach the math teachers.

Consider, depending on the circumstances, that during a career, the average teacher will directly influence 500 to 5,000 students.

And, again depending on the circumstances, during a career, the average teacher of teachers will directly influence 500 to 5,000 teachers—and thereby indirectly influencing 250,000 to 25,000,000 students.

Now, if she can help these teachers of the teachers be more effective, say 500 to 5,000 of them during the course of her career, the span of her influence will be vast and pervasive, beyond what is reasonable to calculate. That is a profound amount of influence that one person can make. There is the very real possibility that she could improve and even change the way math is taught to the next generation.

And if you’re one who struggled with math in school, that should be some welcome news!

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

So Long Summer

summer to fall

Summer is officially over (for those north of the equator), lasting from June 21 to September 22 this year. For me, summer effectively covers a slightly different span, starting on Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day, regardless, we must move from summer to fall.

Each summer, I have a mental list of things that I want to accomplish, some fun, some relating to home improvement, and some regarding work. Each year, summer ends before the list is completed. Even so, this year I did better than most—regardless of when I mark the end of the season. So long summer. Hello fall. Click To Tweet

The weather, of course, is another transition that occurs on the migration from summer to fall. We usually start fall with highs in the seventies and lows in the fifties, even forties. (Of course we end fall with snow and below freezing temperatures.)

So with summer over, I need to review my to-do list. Some items will be moved to my non-summer list, while others will be put on hold until next year, and the remaining items will be discarded on the junk heap of good ideas and mercifully forgotten.

So long summer. Hello fall.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Is Your Website Working?

There was a local coffee shop that I frequent, which given that I don’t drink coffee seems a bit strange. Even so, it was a great place for meetings and I generally found myself there at least once a week.If site is still under development you would not prominently advertise it. It would be like publishing a phone number knowing it was not working. Click To Tweet

I noticed a free newspaper there.  Actually, calling it a newspaper was generous; “news sheet” might be more accurate. It was a single 11 x 17 piece of paper, printed on both sides and folded twice. On each side was a center column of random news trivia, with a column of local ads on each side. Presumably, they had not sold all the space, as many ads were repeated on both sides, along with a couple of “your ad here” fillers.

Ever curious, I checked their Website and was treated to a “Website coming soon message.” Assuming the site was down, I called them only to learn that they were still working on it. The owner was not embarrassed by this fact, but was rather nonchalant.  Three weeks later, the site was still “coming soon.”

You would think that if your site was still under development you would not prominently advertise it. That does not send a positive message to potential advertisers. It would be like publishing a phone number knowing it was not working. What right-minded business owner would do such a thing?

Upon further investigation, I found that the content of the “news sheet” is syndicated and distributed to local, exclusive franchises who sell ads and distribute it.

How do I know this? Because the franchiser’s website was working.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Seventeen Years Ago

Seventeen years ago I entered the publishing world when I bought Connections Magazine from its founder, Steve Michaels.

The transaction was done in parts, that is the documents for the sale were not signed at the same time or at the same location, but on different days via fax and mail. As a result, I don’t know what day the sale was official, but what I do know is that the package of publication’s records and files arrived on September 10, 2001.As we remember the events of 9-11 and the people who innocently lost their lives, we can also celebrate the resiliency of our country and our ability to prevail and succeed. Click To Tweet

Early that next day, I dove into the treasure trove of information that would set my career in a new direction. I was understandably excited and wanted to quickly grasp the nuances of my new business.

My morning bliss, however, was interrupted by my bride who uncharacteristically popped into my office to inform me that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center building. Assuming that it as a novice pilot in a single engine plane, I dismissed the news and resumed work. But not for long.

Soon I was drawn to the TV and the horrific events that would forever change life in the United States. For a time, my labors no longer mattered; ceasing all attempts to work, I watched the news in shock. I wondered what this would mean to the future of business and commerce—and the magazine operation I had just bought. Would I end up being a victim of bad timing?

For the rest of that week, I did only the work that was absolutely required. Then, life slowly began to reclaim a degree of normalcy, even if normal no longer existed.

As we remember the events of 9-11 and the people who innocently lost their lives, we can also celebrate the resiliency of our country and our ability to prevail and succeed. Personally, I can also celebrate Connections Magazine and the new path it has provided.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Why Work Is Cyclical

In theory, my workload should proceed as a steady flow of predictable effort year round. In reality, it doesn’t happen that way.work

It takes five weeks from start to finish to produce one issue of one magazine, and Connections Magazine is published six times a year. Medical Call Center News and Answer Stat releases every other month, while TAS Trader releases every month. This means I’m typically working on two or three issues of one publication or another at any given time.

This results in a steady, expected ebb and flow of activity. In addition, are blogs which are updated weekly, and scheduled monthly duties. It would seem that my work should smoothly move from one day to the next, evenly paced throughout the year.

The reality is that my effective workload is quite cyclical. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, things are slow. Between Christmas and New Year’s, it’s extremely slow. It’s also slow during the summer. After Memorial Day, things drop off. And after the Fourth of July, it’s as if someone turned off a switch; it stays that way until Labor Day.

The times between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day, as well as Labor Day to Thanksgiving Day are my “busy times.”Secondary email messages result in a huge productivity drain Click To Tweet

Ironically, I have the same amount of work to do throughout the year, but it takes twice as long to accomplish it during my “busy times.” The reason is that during my “busy times,” I receive more phone calls and email messages (mostly email). These communications don’t directly relate to my work of publishing magazines or websites, but they are tangential to it.

The flood of these secondary interactions is so much so that during my “slow times” I can generally do all required work in 3 to 6 hours a day, whereas during my “busy times” it takes 6 to 10 hours to accomplish the same amount of essential work. In fact, during my “busy times,” some Mondays are so bad, that all I do is respond to email messages. Some Friday afternoons are like that as well.

My conclusion is that these secondary email messages result in a huge productivity drain—in my case about 50 percent. If I can just curb non-essential email, I could reclaim a great deal of lost productivity.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

The Side Effects of Discounts

discountI recently shared my experience with my office supply chain’s enticing coupons offers. The result was a short-term increase in my buying habits, followed by a prolonged lull.

In like manner, years ago, my Internet hosting company embarked on a similar strategy. Their approach was offering discounts. Depending on the offer, it would be 10 to 30% off for a specific product purchase or for a certain level on spending. Each discount offer was time-sensitive, lasting from a few days to a couple of weeks.Not only had their incessant discount offers trained me to expect to not pay their standard prices, they had also lost money. Click To Tweet

They had sent me 10 such offers for four weeks; that averages one discount about every three days. Whenever I needed to buy something from them, I know there was a discount that would apply.  I simply picked the best, most applicable one and saved money—on every purchase.

Not only had their incessant discount offers trained me to expect to not pay their standard prices, they had also lost money, as I would had made every purchase anyway.

While I was enjoying the savings, I was left wondering, “What were they thinking?”

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

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