Friday, December 2, 2011

Candles, a Spreadsheet, and Taking a Break

I'd love to be working on Spiral Light Candle's website ( upgrade, but it's just as well that I'm not. My site design and programming skills are a bit rusty. And seriously out-of-date. Writing HTML aside, I haven't worked with the nuts-and-bolts end of website design for a few years.

Skills: Old, New, and Rusty

Which, at age 60, doesn't feel like much time. But when it comes to information technology, it's a little like an expert flint knapper thinking about working as a machinist. I've been asking my son, who earned his A+ certification recently, when there's a technical issue.

And: yes, those are the words of a proud dad.'s user interface is designed with non-technical folks in mind, though, so I've been able to lend a hand with the Spiral Light Candle Corp. Storefront there.

Thanks to a checkered job history, I've been a licensed radio operator/disk jockey, have experience delivering flowers, and spent about a decade as 'the computer guy' and database manager at a small publishing company. I also answer phones and make coffee.

Speaking of coffee, it's time for a coffee break.

Analysis: A Task That's Work

I learned how to set up spreadsheets, among other things, in that 'database' job: including getting spreadsheets to do things that aren't in the manual. And that's another topic.

The point is, I know how to set up something where you put in numbers and get organized, calculated, results.

That's what I've been doing this week, setting up a complicated, über-detailed budget and sales forecast spreadsheet for Spiral Light Candle. Actually, I don't think it's "über-detailed." But there's a lot of equipment, processes, and people, that go into making and marketing candles: and my son-in-law has mapped out what he thinks we'll need for the next several months.

My task is to take his notes, and make a working spreadsheet out of then. By last Wednesday.

I enjoy working with data: figuring out how to break it out into categories; finding relationships between sets of data; setting up the results so that someone else can easily use them.

When I have to do something on a deadline, though: that's more 'work' than 'fun.' Deadlines are wonderful motivators though.

Break Time, Productive Time

That Wednesday deadline went whizzing by, but that was the for the 'detailed rough' version. Today, I'm closing in on getting what he'll need when he talks to some folks next week.

This 'coffee break' is taking longer than most: but I think it's worth the 'extra' time. I was literally getting a headache, almost unheard of for me, figuring out how some of the data was supposed to connect.

Now that I've been away from that maddening matrix for several minutes, I think it's going to make more sense. You've heard the usual psychobabble about 'subconscious' and 'unconscious' before, so I'll skip that.

I still have time for the 'done and ready' version of this spreadsheet, and decided to use my brain for something unrelated. The light exercise of walking over to the microwave and heating coffee helps, too.

Anyway, break time's over. I don't see it as 'wasted' time, since I'm coming back to the task at hand with a (slightly) fresher mind and a (marginally) revived body.

Urgency, Priority, and Nitpicking

This spreadsheet is still high priority, and it's now urgent.

But the difference between "priority" and "urgency" is another topic. Several, actually.

Good grief! I was going to say why I think it's vital to get so nitpicking about details: and I'm out of time. That'll have to go in another post.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:


Brigid said...

Don't need the slash in the address: "( upgrade"

Wrong word: "That Wednesday deadline when whizzing by"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


"When whizzing by?" *What* was I thinking? Thanks!

("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Small Business Watchers