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August 14, 2014 / Paul Balyoz

Secret Inflation

When a company lowers quality to lower the cost of manufacturing a product, sometimes they release that product as the “new model” at the lowest price of their line of products – and raise the price of the other products.  They can let inflation raise the prices of all their products, and at the same time introduce the new product at the lowest price-point that they’ve had all along. This causes their unsuspecting customers to think nothing much has changed – there’s still a product at the same bottom-line price, and there’s still higher priced models; things are the same, right?

No they’re not the same. The quality has changed.  The lowest item is now lower quality than it used to be; and each item at each tier is lower quality than it used to be. Yes you can pay the same amount of money, and get a similar-looking product, but it’s not as good. Cheaper parts; things don’t fit as well as with the old product; lower quality control; fewer features; shorter life-span; one or more of these things are wrong with it, that didn’t used to be wrong with the low-end product in the past.

If quality is important to you, or at least, if you want to buy a product at the same quality level that you bought your old one 10-20 years ago, you have to PAY MORE by buying a higher-end product, maybe a middle-of-the-line product now, so that the quality matches that of the low-end model from the olden days.  If you used to buy the middle-of-the-line model, now you have to buy the upper-level model and pay a lot more, just to get the same quality level.

This is a non-obvious form of inflation – it tricks the population into slowly becoming lower-and-lower class, poorer-and-poorer, without realizing it. Has anybody else discovered this happening besides me?

An Example

If a fast food outlet has a low-cost hamburger for $3, and they figure out a way to manufacture cheaper hamburgers, they make the new cheaper one $3, and raise their old $3 hamburger to $4, and their old $4 hamburger to $5.

You visit the restaurant. You see there is still a $3 hamburger, so you order it.  And it tastes awful. “This isn’t like the old days! Hamburgers used to taste better in the old days!” you shout, not entirely sure what is wrong with our society. People look at you weird, you’re that old guy complaining that the olden days were so much better… they don’t understand.

You think you are at the same level in society today, but you’re not. You’re poorer. Your income didn’t go up that much in the past few years, did it; and when you buy a $3 hamburger, you’re paying the same price you used to, but you got a lower-quality product. Congratulations, you are living a poorer life. You’ve been duped.

Inflation comes in many forms. One of them is lowering product quality in the low-end products.  To keep your same level of quality of life, you have to pay more money – sometimes a lot more – for the higher-end products, just to “tread water” – to keep the same quality-level of products you are used to. And there’s no clear way to know how to do that. Companies make sure of it.

So NOW how much inflation is there in our society? We already know that inflation is hitting us hard and will for the next few years; and some of us suspect the government is fudging the numbers that they publish a bit. But this, this adds to that even more.  How do we adjust inflation numbers to take this into consideration?  How do we numerify (if I may invent a new word) the concept of “inflation caused by companies lowering the quality and adjusting all prices upwards” ?

I’m sure that our inflation is higher than what’s being reported.

 

June 24, 2014 / Paul Balyoz

Learn About the World Around You

I recommend learning how the world around you actually works. Learn how money actually works in your society. It doesn’t matter if you are poor or middle class; that just means you REALLY need to learn how money works – how it actually functions, not how you believe it works; not like how your parents or friends told you it works; not like how the TV and movies and news have lied about how money works.  How it actually works, that you discover with your own eyes. It’s not a secret – yet so many people are content to stay their little-selves, in their own little world, not understanding how everything around them actually functions. Maybe others are OK with that, but you’re not. Because you’re right here, reading my words.

Learning About Money

Learn how people with money think, and see how they think differently from all the people you grew up with. There are subtle but serious differences. People who seem to make money easily – how do they do it? Because, you can still be yourself 100%, and learn 1 new thing – the science of how to make money. You learned 1 new thing when you learned to whistle or blow bubbles with bubble gum, or ride a bicycle or skateboard, or drive a car, or speak a language to other people at the age of 2. All of these learnings had something in common: there once was a time when you didn’t know it – you could see other people who did know it, and you wanted to be like them. You worked hard at learning it but you sucked really bad at it for a while, you failed and struggled, but eventually you got it.  Then you improved month after month, year after year, and mastered it.

Did you think “learning” was done after you graduated from school? That’s so not true. Learning goes on our entire lives.

You can do the same thing with learning about money.

Money is not Evil

Money is not evil. That’s a retarded lie that’s been sold to you. Money is just a man-made thing, which you can have, or not have. God or nature doesn’t care if you have money; it’s cool either way.

Money is for you – it’s not “just for other people”. That would be ridiculous. If others can have money, so can you. You deserve it. There’s no question about it.

You don’t have to act in evil ways to make money. You don’t have to “take money away from others” to make money. If you do it right, others will thank you for helping them with what they needed – you made money, and they made money, or met some other goal that they had.  I have some rental properties today, and it was very interesting seeing how the purchase helped the seller; fixing it up helped the contractors who did the repairs, because we paid them fairly and on-time; and the renter we put in there was really thankful that we offered such a nice property for rent at a fair price!

You can stick to your morals and still make money.  I’ve done it, and I live in America – and I think it’s true everywhere in the world. I think it’s possible to make more money than you have today, no matter where you are in the world.

Money is Energy

Money is a kind of energy. You have some energy that’s given to you simply by waking up every day. But other kinds of energy you have to work for – electricity, gas, money.  That’s not as free as the energy in your body.

Money is a motive force in our society. A lot of good can be done with money, if you are a good person. If you are a good person and you don’t have any money to spend helping in our world, then you have limited yourself MORE than you should have. Learn about money and fix that! If you are a bad, heartless, selfish person, then I suggest you don’t learn about money, because you won’t use it to help our society.

Change Is Coming

This is really important, because things are changing.  Our world economy is going to get a bit more painful before it gets better. And when it gets better, it will be on a whole new level of better.  Just, not yet.

You are going to learn how money works in our society, right here, right now, how it works today.

This will prepare you and your family to cope better when the world economy gets more painful for everyone.  You will be surfing, rather than drowning, as the economy changes.

Then, when it all changes for the better, we all will have to abandon what we already knew about money, and embrace the new money system when it’s adopted world wide. I believe it’s coming, and it’s a great thing, nothing to be scared of.  A fairer system for all people in all walks of life. A powerful, self-healing system that doesn’t take advantage of weaker groups of people. Because you will have taught yourself the skills of how to learn a strange new system (the current old money system), you will more easily learn this new one, and you will conquer it. You will master it and be great at it. Because you prepared yourself – you learned our current system, with all of its flaws and benefits. You got past your inner emotional hangups, you faced them and conquered them, so you could do something really new in your life. Your family benefited from seeing what you did, how you were, not putting up with limitations, expanding beyond yourself and all externally imposed limitations, and doing something new that helped yourself and everyone you know.

You will do it.

I have faith in you.

 

June 6, 2014 / Paul Balyoz

Future Money

Today, the customer pays all costs and expenses a company has, and then some! That extra “and then some” money is called profit.  How much profit does the company charge? As much as they can get away with!

“All the market will bear,” is their policy, which sounds to me like slavery. “Don’t leave money on the table!” one business person says to another. They’re incorrectly thinking there’s money just sitting around on a table, nobody claiming it; but in reality, the money is in the hands of a consumer with a limited income, it won’t go to waste. It will probably be spent on something else valuable to that person’s life and happiness, through another company, as long as the first company doesn’t take it all away in the name of profit, simply because they can.

Trying to Understand the Current Business Model

When I was in grade school and was trying to understand how businesses work in the most simple way, I could not fathom the thought that the customer pays all and everything that keeps the company running.  It was even more impossible for me to believe that the customer pays more than that, so that the company can make a profit, extra money that the company didn’t even need! I just couldn’t believe it. It sounds and feels so immoral and wrong. You can just tell from the sound of it that it is not a sustainable system.

I assumed the company didn’t charge the full cost of producing the products; that didn’t seem right to me.  I don’t know where I thought the extra money would come from, magically, maybe?  Or from the government?  (But then, where would the government get that money?  I hadn’t thought it through fully).

Our current system of business and finance is completely closed. There is no actual generation of money, just recycling the same money around and around. This poor-man’s financial system is outdated and inappropriate for today – which you can see by the fact that we’re encountering powerful negative aspects of it, like mortgage market implosions, unfair bank-bailouts, recessions and depressions, and many other out-of-control damages going on in our financial world.

 Future Money – Generated Organically

In the future, money will be generated organically, the way all other energies work in our world. Just by being alive you get some energy that’s generated just for you and given to you directly – not taken from somebody else.  This is how the energy in your body works when you wake up in the morning. This is how energy works in animals and plants, to live their lives in joy and beauty.

In fact, you are naturally granted more energy when you do things in line with nature and cooperation – have you noticed this about your life? If you don’t abuse your body, you get more energy than if you do abuse it.  If you hurt and yell at people, you have less motivation to do helpful work, you feel more like just giving up and hiding under a rock. Until you heal emotionally, then you’re back to normal again for the most part – with a normal amount of energy and motivation to do the right things again in your world.  If you exercise your body in the right way, you naturally get more energy in the future.  If you slack off, you get less energy in the future.  If you do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return, it boosts your joy and happiness to such a degree, life is good again, and you’re happy to do more for others because it just feels right. This Joy is a kind of energy, granted to you in increasing amounts when you create Joy in others in increasing amounts. Natural laws of nature that you can choose to cooperate with, or not, it’s up to you.  The consequences are very real, though, and you can observe them for yourself – rather than believing what I’m saying.

Our future monetary system will behave the same way – a natural extension of the energies of nature.

Old and New Systems

open-closed-money-systems

A closed monetary system encourages people to feel like there is no God, because nothing is given to you. If you do nothing, you heartlessly receive nothing, and you experience the most pain and misery.

An open monetary system acknowledges that there is a Source, and goodness comes from it to all the people simply because they are alive. A base amount of money goes to all people regardless of their sex, race, religion, wealth, mental capacity, physical ability, etc.

When you’re sick in bed, a bare minimum of money comes  to you naturally for basic shelter, food and clothing. When you’re well, the work you do creates extra money for you to enjoy more from life than the bare minimum.

The open system diagram above is also how electronic circuits work, if you think about it:

electronic-circuit

In an open monetary system, businesses will continue to look at the maximum price they can charge, as they do today; but then they will charge less, as much as possible for them – the difference will be considered the Good Will they voluntarily contributed to the world. In return, they accumulate Good Will for themselves – it will be recorded and studied, with graphs and charts and reports. It will be used in marketing, to show how great a company they are. “You want to buy our products because we return so much Good Will back to society.” The more products they sell at the reduced price, the more Good Will they accumulate over time.  How can they maximize the Good Will their company is producing?

Amazon.com – a Modern Open System Company

Amazon.com is a unique company today, in that they are already doing this from what I can see.  They don’t try to maximize profit. They don’t try to gouge the customer and jack up the prices to the highest the market will bear. They don’t want to turn a profit at the end of the fiscal year, they just want to break even.  This is a completely different model than 99.9% of the companies in our society today. Because of this, their prices are lower, and they can compete against their competition like no other company – which has enabled them to grow bigger.  When I think about buying things from Amazon.com, I’m consistently amazed by their products and the quality of their services and offerings – and I want to go back and buy more and more, again and again.  I can feel the Good Will that they are producing in their company somehow – I like it, and I want other companies to follow the same model, so I can buy more things from them like I do from Amazon.

Amazon needs to start counting all of the Good Will they a producing, measure it and report it – use it in their marketing. I think people would really like this.  “Here’s all the money we didn’t take from you even though we could have – because we love you, our customers, we respect you, and we want you to be happy and successful, so you can keep as much of your own money as possible when you come to our web site and buy our products.”  Everybody needs to win, in business; the customer, too, not just the business itself.

Think Differently

All companies will learn to think differently in the future – they’ll learn not to leave Good Will on the table.

 

April 4, 2014 / Paul Balyoz

LED 60W Light Bulbs – A Test Comparison

TLDR:  skip to Final Results below.

I recently tested three widely available LED light bulbs that roughly look like standard light-bulbs, and emit the equivalent of 60 watts of power from the “old” incandescent light-bulbs we grew up with all of our lives.

These LED bulbs use way less electricity and last much longer than the old bulbs – that would save me a lot of money over time. And the prices have come down dramatically since they were originally introduced; they’re between $10 and $20 each now, which means they’re “worth it” now, considering their extended life-span.

The Bulbs

1. Philips 424382 – 11W A19 soft white $19.97 at Amazon.com

2. Cree 9.5W 800 lumens soft 2700k, $9.97 at Lowe’s

3. SunSun – 9.5W 800 lumens A19 warm/soft 2700K, $11.99 at Amazon.com

I chose only LED bulbs that claimed to be “dimmable” – some that aren’t dimmable are cheaper, but I didn’t want to try those. I chose only bulbs that claimed to be “soft” or “warm” white, between 2700K and 3000K coloring.

I compared them to the Reveal 630LM old-skool incandescent 60W lightbulb.

Philips, Cree, Sunsun LED light bulbs

Philips, Cree, Sunsun LED light bulbs

 

The Tests

1. is the color roughly similar to a real light bulb?

2. do they shine as brightly as a real light bulb?

3. is there a delay before the light comes on, when I flip the switch on?

4. will they work with the dimmable touch-lamps I have?

5. do the bulbs feel like a regular light bulb to the touch?

6. will they work in reading lamps, do they shine enough light downwards?

7. will I be bothered by flicker from these LED bulbs?

Test Equipment

I do not need fancy equipment to make measurements – I only need my eyes to see if things are right.  After all, the goal here is to buy a whole bunch of LED bulbs and live with them in my house. My eyes are what will be experiencing the light, that’s all that matters – if slight differences aren’t really noticeable, then it’s not a problem.

Test #1: Color

The color was fine in all 3 LED bulbs, overall. The LED bulbs were a tiny bit yellower (less red) when I held my arm right up to the light, in side-by-side comparison to the incandescent bulb.  But looking around the room I couldn’t tell the difference.  My plan is to replace all my incandescent bulbs anyway, so this shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Test #2: Brightness

I didn’t think the LED bulbs would be as bright as a real 60W bulb, but I was wrong. Two of the three bulbs were the exact same brightness as the incandescent; the Cree was slightly dimmer than the other two, but not by very much.  I wasn’t very happy seeing that it was dimmer, but it’s not really an issue to me overall.

Test #3: Quick Turn-On

Two of the three bulbs were instantly on as soon as the light switch was turned on – the SunSun failed this test. The SunSun bulb not only had a delay before turning on, but the delay was variable – not consistent, not something you could ever get used to. It appeared to be about one-fifth of a second delay – extremely noticeable to me, and to my wife, once I pointed it out. Sometimes the start-time was less than that amount, but other times it was more. Very annoying to me. The other two bulbs were perfect in this area.

Test #4: Dimmable

All three bulbs claimed to be dimmable, however only two of them passed this test. The Philips bulb failed the test, which surprised me a lot! My dimmer-lamp has 3 brightness levels plus “off”. The Philips bulb would only do 2 of the dimmer-phases, with the highest-brightness setting failing – it would come on momentarily, then turn off.  Touching the lamp to flip through the 4 phases should have worked like this: low, medium, bright, off.  But with the Philips bulb it basically did: low, medium, off, off.  It just didn’t feel right.  Doubting myself I tried all the bulbs again in a different kind of dimmer-lamp I have in another room – but I got the exact same results.

Test #5: Texture

The Cree bulb has a strange rubbery coating on the “glass bulb” part of it (which is probably plastic, not glass). It feels weird when you hold it in your hand! I thought it would catch dust and not be very cleanable; but I have to admit, the rubberyness makes it easier than any other bulb to screw in and out of sockets. Kind of like a rubber case for your cell phone, you don’t feel like you’re going to drop it anymore. The other two bulbs felt like some kind of plastic, normal and smooth like you would expect.

Though you can see the different materials connected together for each bulb (plastic, metal, etc.), two of the bulbs felt solid – nothing felt wiggly about any of them. Only the Cree felt like the bulb-part was kind of separating from the base-part, which I didn’t like very much.

The Philips bulb was slightly heavier than the other bulbs, but not by a lot, and that didn’t matter to me.

Test #6: Reading Lamp

This test was about how much light was cast “below” the bulb, i.e. if it’s in a lamp, the circle of light below the lamp-shade – how much light was coming out down there. Because older people often need this part of the light for reading – and, as you may have noticed, a lot of these bulbs have a wide neck around the base, which could possibly block some of the light shining downwards. I was worried about that for reading lamps.

Two of the bulbs were the same as the incandescent in this test – only the SunSun was noticeably dimmer in this under-light area. I felt that this bulb would interfere with reading, if it were used in a reading lamp. You can see how the plastic base is the cause of the problem – the company needs to redesign this part so more light shines downwards.

Test #7: Flicker

This last test is kind of important to me; as an asthmatic I always see lighting-flicker more than anybody else I’ve ever met. Most people get headaches easily from misconfigured computer screens, even when they can’t consciously see the flicker – I was always the unofficial computer monitor adjuster at the companies I worked for. It was a chronic problem with the old CRT TV screens and computer monitors from the past. The flicker problem is largely solved now with modern flat screen TVs and computer monitors, thank goodness.

As I was testing these bulbs, I didn’t see any flicker whatsoever on any of them. I even tried the trick of scanning my eyes from side to side quickly, to see if it caused a jittery lighting appearance – but it didn’t. As far as I can tell, all three companies have solved the old flickering-LED problem on all of these bulbs.

 IMG_20140220_212946

Final Results

There was no single winner from these tests.

I have decided to buy the Philips bulb for general house use, but not for dimmer lamps; and to buy the Cree for our 3 dimmer lamps that we have around the house.

Every few months new, better, cheaper LED bulbs come out. If you’re reading this much after April 2014, chances are the bulbs in the stores are better than I have described here.

I feel ready to make the leap to all-LED bulbs in our house, right now.  I think you should consider it too. I believe you will save a lot of money over time with lower electric bills each month. If you can’t spend $200+ on a big pile of new lightbulbs, then just buy them as replacements once in a while, when your current bulbs burn out. I feel that LED lighting is really the wave of the future. It’s the next step of the digital age.

March 26, 2014 / Paul Balyoz

Carbon Offsets Only Get Us Half-Way There

I love the idea of Carbon Offsets – companies that use clean energy instead of carbon-based energy get a special kind of “credit” for the amount used, which they can turn around and sell to the more carbon-dependent companies. It’s kind of like everybody wins: the sellers get some free money, and the buyers look “more green” than they actually are – they’re paying money to offset their carbon usage.

It’s a sort of asshole-tax levied against companies that haven’t gotten with the program – haven’t reduced their carbon emissions as much as other countries. Perhaps they plan to clean up their energy usage in the future, especially if newer government regulations require them to – but for now they are forced to buy Carbon Offsets to make up the difference. By encouraging them to spend more money on their energy usage, it will be easier for them to spend money on cleaner energy, thus avoiding paying this special kind of tax every year. By not having to pay that every year, they can stay more competitive in their industry, look better in the eyes of their customers, etc.

Other industries have a similar idea – solar and wind energy produces “green tags”, which is basically the same concept.

Getting Stuck at 50%

I have been thinking about this a lot, and realized that once we reach a perfect balance of half the companies producing Carbon Offsets, and the other half purchasing them, that is a sort of stable-state; half your companies are still polluting, and you can’t go any further. You can’t reach 100% clean energy this way.

Scenario 1 – one bad company goes good

100 “good” companies produce 1000 units of clean energy total, and generate 1000 carbon offsets they can sell to other companies.

100 “bad” companies only use carbon-based energy, and purchase those 1000 carbon offsets from the good companies so that they themselves look good, too.

What is the incentive for one of the bad companies to switch to clean energy?  Perhaps there is a financial incentive for them – maybe it’s worth it, so they convert.  Now that’s one less company needing to buy carbon offsets, – in fact, they’re generating 1 extra offset from now on.

Now it’s:  1001 offsets generated, 999 needed.

This is known as a surplus – and the principle of supply and demand states that when you increase your surplus, that usually lowers the price, because there’s too many of that thing on the market now.

The side-effect of that price-lowering is that the bad companies don’t have to pay as much for the same offsets, so now they have less incentive to convert to carbon-free energy. The more that other companies convert their energy usage, the more the remainders have even less incentive; less, and less, and less.

Scenario 2 – half the bad companies become good

Now it looks like this:

150 “good” companies produce 1500 units of clean energy and generate 1500 carbon offsets.

50 “bad” companies only use carbon-based energy and purchase 500 carbon offsets.

At this half-way point, there’s 3 carbon offsets available for sale for every 1 demand! The price therefore will roughly drop to 1/3rd of it’s value at this point – so the “bad guys” only have to pay one third what they used to, for their get-out-of-jail-free cards!

The way I see it, it’s kind of like a game of chicken – whoever holds out the longest, pays the least.

Doing it Right

That isn’t the kind of reward system we need. We need a system that progressively punishes the hold-outs, the late-comers to the game, exponentially – until they either convert their energy usage like everyone else, or declare bankruptcy and go under like the outdated dinosaur they’ve become.

One way to implement this is:

* take the total amount of carbon offsets, and the current price per offset, multiply them – that gives you the total monetary value of the entire body of carbon offsets on the market today. Let’s say the total is $1,000,000 worth of offsets.

* The government organization that oversees and enforces the carbon offset laws tells all the consumer companies this:  Each year offsets will cost $1,000,000 total.  If 1000 offsets are sold that year, the cost will be $1000 per offset.  If only 500 are sold, the cost will be $2000 per offset, because $2000 x 500 = $1M.

This way, the cost doesn’t go down, it goes up, when more and more companies convert! If 1500 companies are selling offsets and 500 are purchased, the buyers make 3 X more money, and the sellers lose 3 X more money!  And, when there’s 1 last holdout – that 1 carbon offset they purchase is the only one sold that year  – so, the cost to them is $1,000,000 for that 1 offset!

This system has many beneficial factors over the old system:

1. buyers make more and more money, as the prices go up for the offsets they’re selling.

2. sellers lose more and more money the longer they hold out and try not to convert to carbon-free energy.  At some point they’ll convert, when it becomes too costly not to.

Remember, businesses value money above all else. That is the core of every business. Sure, the owners of businesses may want to do good things in the world, but if their bottom-line is not met, money-wise, they won’t be around very long to do the good work they wish they could do. The purpose behind a company’s internal rules and policies all revolve around money: not wasting it, and making more of it. All companies value money, first. They have to, the way our system works today.

A really good book I read many years ago about the motive behind companies is The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement. I recommend it highly to anyone wanting to learn more about how businesses really operate, how the leaders think about their businesses. The example in the book is about a manufacturing facility, but the basic principles are true for all companies.

If we’re going to move to carbon-free-energy, we need a plan to do it completely, over time – we have to be able to reach 100%. Anything less doesn’t make sense. It’s either the right thing to do, or it’s not. All, or nothing.  It doesn’t have to all happen at once, but it needs to eventually be finished.

It’s time to reach the goal by implementing a plan that actually works.

 

December 17, 2013 / Paul Balyoz

Medical Costs and Freedom

 

Humanity still gets railroaded by stupidity. We aren’t yet in control of our world, because we aren’t yet in control of ourselves.

The medical costs of going to the hospital are WAY too expensive now – if you don’t have insurance you cannot afford to go to the hospital. If you go to the hospital without insurance, you’re presented with a gigantic bill at the end, which you can never pay back. If you are honest, you try to pay a little each month for the rest of your life – fucking up your potential and your freedom in this life. If you are not as honest then you say “fuck em! I’m not paying!” so all the other people have to cover your hospital costs, so their price is higher, so their freedom is taken more completely from them in the future. This hurts other people’s ability to get medical help in the future, because if enough people do this and the hospital’s costs are not covered at some point, the hospital will close, and nobody will receive medical help now – because a hospital is just a business, like any other business, and must be able to cover its basic expenses and make a little bit of profit – or it has to close.

This is out of control. Humanity needs to bring this into control, so the right prices are set for everyone. Everyone pays as best they can, so price is naturally lower, so there’s greater freedom for everyone over time. Medical payments need to slew in the direction of helping humanity more over time, not less. It needs to trend towards creating greater freedom for humanity over time, not destroying it.

Is America really the land of freedom? If so, then you would have a path towards greater personal freedom over time, and you would see others actively working towards greater freedom, and reaching greater freedom, and you would be proud of them, and they would encourage you to do the same.

Things like this discourage me about our freedom. But I know real freedom is coming. Humanity will be in control of its future freedom someday, but it hasn’t been implemented very widely yet. The idea of Freedom for All, as I think of it, is just now dawning in our world.

 

December 11, 2013 / Paul Balyoz

Calendar Appointments Done Right

I kind of wish calendaring apps handled appointments the same way I do in my paper day-planner today. Yes, I still use a paper day-planner, and write with a (mechanical) pencil.  The way I do it makes sure I am on time to every meeting, and I never book too many meetings too close together.  This way I avoid wasting my time, and I get to use my time wisely. I can schedule each day the best way I can, without the extreme frustration I feel at getting stuck in traffic and being late because of it. Can you imagine being stuck in traffic and not panicking, because you planned for it? My system does that. And it only works on paper day-planners, today; I know of no digital calendar that supports my system.

The first trick is learning to be honest about how long it really takes to get around your town. This comes from experience, but more importantly, paying attention.  If you’re “always late”, you haven’t done this part properly yet. In my 20’s I was always “5 minutes late” everywhere I went; I will tell the story further down in this article. I consciously decided to break that habit no matter what, and I did it.

Every Meeting Has Four Important Times

Most people think that a meeting or appointment has one specific time they have to worry about: the starting time.  “Try to get there when it starts,” is what they’re thinking.  The truth is, each appointment has FOUR important times:  Departing Time, Start Time, End Time, and Return Time.

Depart Time: when do you have leave from where you are, at the latest, in order to get to the appointment on time?

Start Time: when the appointment is actually starting; when you actually need to already be there, ready to go.

End Time: when the meeting or appointment will most likely end.  Notice I didn’t say “scheduled to end”. You have to take into consideration your experience with this specific kind of meeting: does the person usually talk for the entire time period, and go over by 5-10 minutes most of the time?  If so, add 10-12 minutes to the true End Time. It’s better to work with reality here.

Return Time: when will you return back again to the place you came from, to complete your journey.

Of course, for meetings held right where you are, like phone and Internet messaging meetings, the Depart and Return Times are zero. But if you have to go anywhere, even walk to the conference room in the building next door, you’ll want to factor them in.

And, if you’re driving from place to place, maybe one meeting’s return-time overlaps the next meeting’s Depart Time.  That’s fine – but draw both arrows anyway.  So, when you erase one because of a cancelled or rescheduled meeting, the other meetings’ Depart and Return times are still there.

How I Schedule Appointments

0. Are there any extenuating circumstances for this meeting? If it’s at a place I’ve never been to I always add 15-20 minutes in order to arrive early in case it’s hard to find a place to park; I have to walk to the building; I have to search the area for the right building; I have to search the building for the right room; I have to ask somebody for directions; etc.

Other things that can happen: driving on a freeway segment you’re not used to may be more crowded than you expect; do you have to stop and get gas for your car because the tank is almost empty; the first-ever doctor’s visit always makes you fill out 5 forms on that broken clipboard with a pen that won’t write; I will probably need to use the restroom by the time I get there; etc. Estimate how much time that takes, and add them into the Departing Time.

1. On the start-time line in my daily hours-of-the-day calendar, I write the appointment name (1-3 words), and any extraneous info I need to get there. For the places I frequent, I don’t need anything extra; but if I’ve never been there before I might write down the address, office phone, first name of the person/people I’m meeting, etc., if I don’t think I’ll remember those things. They go right there in the appointment, on the calendar – no frenzied searching later if I need it.

2. Then I draw a vertical arrow pointing down, through the minutes and hours extending how long the meeting goes for.

3. Then, I draw another vertical arrow from the bottom of the last arrow down 15 minutes farther – this is the time it will take me to get back to work (or wherever I’m starting from).

4.  Then, I draw a vertical arrow pointing upwards starting above the appointment, going up 15 minutes – this is the time it will take me to travel from work to the dentist office.

Example – Dentist Appointment

My dentist’s office is 15 minutes from my work, but 20 minutes from my home. So before I even write the appointment in my dayplanner’s calendar, I first figure out: where will I be, when I need to leave to get there?  Will I be at work, or at home? Or somewhere else? If I’m at work , I make sure there’s at least 15 minutes above the start-time with no time-conflicts; I can’t make the appointment if there is.

1. I write “dentist” or “cleaning” or something similar, since that’s all I need to fully remember what the appointment is, months from now when the appointment actually occurs.

2. Arrow pointing down from Start Time to End Time: This is a dental cleaning visit, so I schedule 1 hour, since I know it never takes quite that long, and this dentist is very good about staying on schedule, probably because I only make appointments with him around 7-8AM.

3. Arrow pointing down from End Time to Return Time: I am driving to work after my appointment, so schedule that, including some slop-time for left-over rush-hour traffic, and my car needs gas. My boss won’t be mad if I arrive at work a little earlier than expected… OR I can sit in my car for 5-10 extra minutes listening to the end of a podcast I was listening to during the drive, maybe. Whatever.

4. Arrow pointing up from 8AM to 7:30 AM, representing the drive to the dentist office from my house.  It’s early, its rush-hour, and I will only have had 1 cup of coffee by that point. Give me a break.  So I have to be driving in my car, away from my house, at 7:30 AM at the latest or I will be in pain. I don’t like pain.

The Total Time this appointment will take from me is the total amount of the 3 arrows I’ve drawn for this appointment, or 2 hours and 15 minutes! For a “1-hour long” dental appointment. That’s more time than I would have expected. It’s always more time than you would expect, and it’s accurate.

I know that sounds like a lot of steps, but its really easy once you’ve done it a dozen times; it’s just 3 quick lines (arrows) drawn on paper. You’ll get so good at it, you can draw it in just a few moments. Plus, you’re writing in pencil, right? So you can make changes as things change? Good.

Example – Back-To-Back Phone Calls

Here I have some phone call meetings, one after the other, followed by lunch with some friends. I scheduled the lunch too, because I don’t want to let my friends down unless there’s some kind of unavoidable work emergency or something.

After All That, What If I’m Still Late?

If I discover I was late arriving for the appointment, or late returning to work, I try to think: what was the cause of that lateness? was it a one-off event: traffic accident that slowed things down when that almost never happens on this particular road; if so, I don’t hurt myself worrying about it. Things happen, sometimes. Or, was it a repeating event; like, I can never seem to get away from my desk until 10 minutes AFTER I try to leave, or it was rush-hour traffic due to the time of day, or it always takes 5 minutes to walk from my office cube to the elevators/take the elevator down/walk out the door/walk to my car in the distant parking lot – easy to overlook.

When you figure out what the cause was, factor that in next time.  Add 5-10-15 minutes so that is not an issue next time.

If none of this helps you, the source of your pervasive lateness might be emotional. Maybe there was a painful event when you were a child related to being late, or it could be inherited from your parents. It doesn’t matter where it came from. Luckily you can cure things like this very easily with EFT or TAT. Look on the Internet for free PDF instructions about Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapas Acupuncture Technique. I have used both of these techniques to cure myself of many emotionally-rooted issues that I had within me.  The treatment you can do yourself, is pretty quick, is harmless, is permanent, and costs nothing.  Try it yourself.

I Was Always 5 Minutes Late

I was “always 5 minutes late” back in my 20’s, and I hated it so much because it made me look bad in the eyes of whoever I was meeting.  It made me look weak, and I didn’t want that. I’d have to spend half the meeting fighting the initial opinion the person had about me, rather than focusing on what the meeting was even about. I learned to be honest with myself about travel time, which meant I learned to observe it and learn how long it really takes to get anywhere from anywhere.

I realized that my chronic lateness was rooted in how my parents were – they were always 5 minutes late to everything. They were always apologizing for being late. I learned it from them. But always being late was way more painful for me than it appeared to be to my parents, for some reason. I knew I had to solve it for me, even though they never solved it during their existence on Earth. I was so excited when I got my first day-planner, because I saw that I could track everything going on during each day, and come up with a way to never be late again.

Now I am never late to my meetings, for the most part; maybe once a year there is a catastrophic traffic accident that blocks freeways and roads I’m driving on, but those events are few and far between. Or I simply forget to look at my day-planner (my bad).  I have almost completely removed the pain of being late, as long as I follow my process, and it feels so good to have conquered this.

Follow the Process

I am sure if you follow this process sincerely you will not be late to your appointments any more, and people will take you more seriously again.

If you know of any digital calendar system that supports my Four Times concept, please let me know!

And, I will continue to use a paper day-planner system until a digital solution comes out that is equally powerful and flexible and multi-tasking as my paper day-planner. A system that lets me invent my own scheduling system the way I want, without any extra hassle. But that’s a good topic for another blog article.

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