I used to be one of those people who aimed to be five minutes early to every meeting. I just didn’t like being late. It felt both unnecessary and a little disrespectful to those that had turned up on time. It was so ingrained that I always ran my watch five minutes fast to give me the ‘wiggle’ room every busy schedule demands.
And then I changed. Or rather, Time changed.
I’m now frequently running late to Teams calls or find myself rescheduling meetings at the very last minute. That’s not because they are less important than they were, more that the consequences of rescheduling have much less impact. No one has spent hours travelling to a meeting – and those attending are far more understanding than they were pre-Covid.
“I no longer wear a watch – a concept that would have been totally alien to me just 12 months ago. Whilst this could be interpreted as the reason for my tardiness, it would be misguided. The shackles of the more rigid 9 to 5 daily regime have not just come off; they have been totally dismantled. My diary is more fluid than it has even been. It no longer matters if I play with my son for two hours when he gets home from nursery because I can make the time up in the evening, or early the next day. No one judges or gets frustrated with the personal stuff that now blends seamlessly into my work commitments because everyone has had to accept that juggling has become our life (not just a part of it). I truly hope we do not fall back into the old ways. However, with big tech companies already reneging on their ‘work from home forever’ pledges, it feels increasingly likely, if not inevitable.”
‘New time’ hasn’t been without its challenges. All those extra hours I’ve gained by avoiding travel and flexing my day have been repurposed to make me super productive – or so I thought. The problem is, whilst my newfound flexibility has increased my output, it also feels like it’s accelerating me to a faster burnout.
With ‘old time’ you could unwind on the commute or catch up on some reading or personal calls. Like many, the commute from my office to my home life is now just separated by a door – zero transition time – and that is often the hardest part. Switching my focus from the demands of a global client to finding the right puzzle or game quickly enough demands a whole new level of patience – something that (as those of you who know me will testify) isn’t necessarily a skill I would list on my CV.
Then there is the anxiety I feel when taking time off during the ‘old time’ 9 to 5 regime. I now think nothing of getting up at 5 a.m. and cracking on with projects or working on a weekend if I need to – but taking time off through the working week (if I catch up with my schedule) still feels a little harder to get to grips with than I expected. Clearly with ‘new time’ comes new checks and balances that we need to find. Covid-19 and lockdown are still dominating most work patterns; the trick will be how we unwind our activities once we finally get to grips with the disease. If we get it wrong, there is a risk we will all end up working many more hours than we did pre-Covid.
I find ‘time’ is full of contradictions. I start many calls with something along the lines of “Time is flying by…” and yet end most with “It seems so long since I saw you”. When Sarah Hinchliffe suggested Old Father Time as a theme for BQ10, my mind was instantly awash with 1,000 different ideas. It resonated with me instantly because I’m constantly questioning my time and how I divide it.
It’s just over four years since we launched BQ. The mathematicians amongst you will note this should be our 16th edition – but hey, it’s ‘new time’ so does it really matter? If Covid-19 has taught me one thing, it’s that my perspective of what is really important was out of kilter – worrying too much about the small stuff and achieving deadlines that were mostly self-imposed.
BQ10 epitomises why I launched Bidding Quarterly. I’ve been blown away by the quality of the contributions from our panel of experts and guest writers – their shared experience, wisdom, advice, guidance, excitement, sadness, vulnerability, honesty and humour is beyond anything we have previously published. It’s our biggest and best publication.
Rick Harris brilliantly kicks us off with some words of wisdom for the younger generation; and words of comfort for those of us ticking the closer-to-50 box. Nigel Hudson, who never fails to inspire me with his contributions, leaves us on a high with his words of encouragement on embracing the new, staying curious and adapting to the changing world. In between, we have 18 fantastic articles that cover everything from time management techniques to self-care in challenging times, as well as differentiating between common and best practice, and social learning techniques. You’ll learn about reader drag, bid unicorns and diminished attention spans. We also have a brilliant Spotlight feature with Anne McNamara – I strongly urge you to get behind her ReBuild campaign.
I really hope you enjoy BQ10 and take as much from it as I have. You’ll see we are also launching some new initiatives with Win in 60 Seconds, BQ Vault and the BQ Book Club. If you’d like to get involved, I’d love to hear from you.
In this issue
There is a point in everyone’s life and career when you are much more aware of Old Father Time than 10, 20 or 30 years before. Old Father Time is a lurker. One moment he is nowhere to be seen and the next, he is right behind you.
Home time. Half time. Away time. Full time. There are four types of time in our household.
If 2020 taught us one thing, it’s that time marches on – pandemic or not. Our task is not to languish in wishful thinking for more hours in the day; it’s to recognise that we all have the same 24 hours. We have to work out how to use those hours to create the impact we want in the world.
We’re all feeling a little stuck: stuck inside, stuck in the unknown, stuck wondering what’s next for our career and personal progression.
When Martin Smith approached me to contribute to this edition of Bidding Quarterly around the theme of Father Time, we agreed to catch up at a time that worked for both of us. Living in a vast country on the opposite side of the world, BidWrite’s internal daily operations already straddle four time zones.
You know who I hate? Mary Berry. See, I love cooking. I can happily spend hours in the kitchen. Chopping, mixing, whisking; it’s one of the best ways I know to switch off from work. Especially when washed down with a good glass of red.
This is one of those articles inspired by doing something new outside of bidding and enjoying the close parallels. My something new has been to write a crime fiction novel over the past year in the extra time I’ve had due to being indoors more during the pandemic. I thought about it well before I ever heard of Covid-19, so I decided it was right to seize the opportunity.
After sponsorship by senior people, the second biggest success factor we find in business growth is a having a consistent work winning approach and language baked into the DNA of the organisation, enabled by strong people development.
Much of what we have thus far taken for granted has come to a grinding halt in the past year. Now is the perfect time to actively re-think your standard operating procedures and re-assess your practices after the lockdown.
1. Greatest achievement personally? Maintaining my drive for change through the ups and downs of life.
In his Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein determined that time is relative – in other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. He also said time is an illusion.
“Time is of the essence” – a well-known phrase which generally implores us to hurry up and do…something. It is also a phrase regularly used in contract law, where the contract requirement (or an element of it) must be completed by a stipulated time or date. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?)
We were already seeing some changes in buying and selling before the pandemic hit: more decision makers, later market engagement, less time to respond and so on. Nothing new there. But things have changed over the pandemic. These changes are nicely summarised by data shown in a recent McKinsey survey:
A year of home working – for many, not just the few – has emphasised a trend that I’ve been mindful of for many years. Long gone are the days that our bid responses are scrutinised in detail by teams of evaluators concentrating on print outs of our in-depth answers, page by page.
The theme “Old Father Time” reminded me of the familiar weathervane, where Father Time is blown west or east and turns back when the wind changes. There is a lovely sameness and predictability about it. That has all flipped around a bit in a post-Covid world. We have a need for familiarity to bring comfort and yet, unlike the weathervane, our reality in this new world is not as predictable as we all crave.
As time slips by, I am still learning. In my latest foray into a Public Sector bid, I learned that I already knew something but I had not realised that I knew it! I know this sounds a bit perverse, but please bear with me.
During my research into ‘Old Father Time’, I discovered that not only is he personified as time itself, but also depicted as an old, bearded man who hands over time to the New Year on New Year’s Eve. It got me thinking about how time management and time boundaries have changed over the last year, as well as how I am now handing over many time-consuming activities to staff – the ‘New Year’ as it were. So much change in the last year has literally had me on the edge of my seat, gasping for breath. Let us go back….
The recruitment market has changed significantly over the past 12 months. As the world navigated its way through panic, lockdown, tragedy and more lockdown, it has been one hell of a ride.
I’ve called this “What happens when your time gets taken away?” because we don’t think of that scenario very often, until something happens that makes you deal with it. We live sure of the fact that we can just shift something to another minute, hour or day.
The pandemic has managed to completely disrupt and overthrow life as we know it. As the world went under lockdown, many people lost their jobs while others were forced to work from home.
Claiming to be an expert is risky. The title invites challenge and can prove redundant in times of radical change like we’ve seen this year. As I’m learning through my doctoral research, ‘expert’ is an ego-fuelled cherry that sits perilously atop a thin and pointy cake.