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THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Make a list

Monday is first day back at my desk for 3 weeks – and I am creature of well-disciplined habit when it comes to facing up to the enormous pile of unopened envelopes, magazines and post-travel debris:

  1. unpack all suitcases as soon as I arrive back (Friday)

  2. switch off for the weekend – no electronics

  3. arrive at desk for 6.00am Monday morning (what a nice change from a hotel room)

  4. open all envelopes

  5. place all correspondence in individual clear plastic folders (I am obsessive about this – my team think I have a clear plastic fetish)

  6. gather together all credit card slips, receipts and invoices in one folder to pass on to Bonnie

  7. unpack and tidy all electronic debris from the travels – phone chargers, camera batteries, ipod wires, spare laptop batteries

  8. gather together all clear plastic folders in one “in” tray

  9. open Ms Outlook and go to task list

  10. type every single task I can think of into the list – every idea that was scribbled down, every phone call I need to make, every article I have to write – everything – just everything

  11. Prioritise the list into the Outlook equivalent of A, B and C (Microsoft want to call that high, normal and low priority)

  12. Print the list and pin it to the noticeboard in front of me

  13. Do the A’s first – no matter how tempting the “easy” list of C’s may look.

So there now 49 unread emails in my “in box” and 43 tasks on my to do list – but my desk and working environment are unnaturally clean and tidy – that’s how bad a “neat freak” I am. And, in fact, I had achieved most of that by 10.00am Monday morning – and then walked away from my desk – because I had company. I met with Dr. Norman Cahi from Johannesburg, who had made a 12,000 mile journey to the UK last week, to attend the World Aesthetic Congress – and will be attending some of Dr. Bob’s facial aesthetic courses later this week. I was impressed that he made the 5-hour train journey down to Cornwall to meet with me and discuss opening The Dental Business School in South Africa in the next 9 months. Over coffee in Event Square (interrupted by the sound of works on the new Pizza Express that will be the biggest in Europe when it opens) and then over lunch at The Three Mackerel, we dicussed the development of the DBS in the UK and how that could be transitioned and accelerated if we considered a South African opening in early 2008.

Norman is a typically authentic and easy-going ambassador for his country and his culture – he pulled no punches in explaining the security challenges of life and the poor currency conversion – factors affecting the viability of any enterprise undertaken by an overseas provider. I warmed to his personality and openness immediately and enjoyed my time with him. We ended our conversation with a committment to take the idea to the next stage – looking at timings, costings, a marketing funnel and dates. Feeling rather sorry for him, I dropped him back at Truro station on Monday afternoon to face a 5-hour train ride back to Paddington. Norman is a gentleman – I hope we can find a way to work together. For me – it’s a grey Tuesday morning here in Cornwall – and I’m back at my desk, looking at those emails and tasks. I’ll be attacking the emails next – breaking off for a haircut with my mate Ross Jackson at Toni & Guy later in the morning – more emails until lunchtime and then my first face to face meeting with Bonnie in nearly 4 weeks – it will be like a reunion. The rest of the week is dedicated to dealing with that task list.

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