Monthly Archives: November 2016


Biggest Online Shopping Day in History? – What’s this Cyber Monday Madness All About?

Monday, November 28th, 2016

In our last blog we got to grips with Black Friday. No sooner have we filtered through the influx of Black Friday offers in our inbox, we’re then bombarded by Cyber Monday offers…but what exactly is Cyber Monday?

Online Shop Image

Yet again this bargain discount day for shoppers comes from the US, Cyber Monday is the first Monday after thanksgiving. It became common for Americans to take the Friday after Thanksgiving off work and head to the shops (making the very most of Black Friday offers), when returning to their desks on Monday, most still took advantage of sales offers but now from online (the only place where they would have high speed internet back in the day)…and so was born Cyber Monday.

Last year Cyber Monday hit $3.1 billion in sales, up almost 21% from the year before. This huge increase is largely down to the ease at which people can now shop on their mobile devices. According to DealNews, 53% more goods were bought on mobile devices last Cyber Monday than the previous year.

Other than the obvious online element of Cyber Monday, the day differs from Black Friday in its focus. Black Friday historically slashes prices on electronic and technology goods, whereas Cyber Monday has a focus on soft goods such as fashion and beauty, as well as services and experiences such as flights and hotels which now favour online booking.

The other big difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that the latter can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home or office. No battling with the crowds or fighting over discount goods in the isles. Cyber Monday is an online shoppers Mecca, where the sales really do come to you!

If Adobe Digital Insights and Forbes are to be believed, it’s expected that Cyber Monday 2016 will be the largest online shopping day in history!

If you’re a Cyber Monday fanatic, get these future dates in your diary:

November 27th 2017

November 26th 2018

What is Black Friday and What Can Shoppers Expect?

Monday, November 21st, 2016

If you’re busy thinking about your Christmas list of things to buy, you’re probably equally focused on Black Friday, a day when department stores and independent retailers slash their prices in a bid to drum up a selling frenzy. But how and why did Black Friday start? This year Black Friday falls on Friday 25th November, read on to find out more…

black friday image

Like our love for Halloween and McDonald’s we took the Black Friday buying frenzy from our friends across the pond. Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in America, and falls anywhere between November 23 and 29 each year. There are many suggestions for the origins of the term Black Friday, according to history.com it is likely that the name was given by the Philadelphia police back in the 1950s to describe the chaos caused on the day after thanksgiving, when droves of shoppers and tourists flooded the city ready for the big Army-Navy football game held every year. The police were forced to work long shifts, not only dealing with crowds and traffic but also shoplifters who would take advantage of the bedlam in stores. Frequently the day would be marked by traffic accidents and even violence.

With their target audience arriving en masse, retailers offered discount prices to entice the crowds to the shops, making Black Friday the day to kick-off the Christmas shopping season. But, with such a negative association, retailers preferred to reinstate Black Friday as the day the stores accounting would move from the “red” and into the “black.” However, Black Friday hasn’t lost its chaotic and violent beginnings. Walmart offers such jaw-dropping discounts that in the past it has been the site of pepper spray attacks, stabbings and shootings. In 2012 two people were shot outside a Walmart in Tallahassee Florida fighting over a parking space. In 2011 a California woman was accused of dousing a waiting crowd with pepper spray while she took off with a 60% discounted Xbox. In 2014 a 34-year-old security worker at the retail giant was trampled to death by a mob of shoppers! (thebalance.com)

How did it reach us in the UK?

Jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon began in the UK when the online retail giant Amazon brought its US Black Friday deals to its UK site with huge success, after all who doesn’t like a bargain before Christmas rather than wincing at the discounts in the January sales?! In a bid to compete PC World and Curry’s followed suit in 2012, along with Walmart owned Asda, Black Friday gained full pace in 2013 and is now the biggest shopping day of the year in the UK.

So has it caught on?

Yes and no, in the UK Black Friday has certainly gained pace. Retailers now email out to their subscribers days or weeks before the event, some even offering a full “Black Friday Weekend” of discounts to entice buyers into the shops at the weekend not just relying on online purchasers. But Europe however hasn’t quite fallen for the new Goliath in retail discount days, Kantar Retail estimates that 60 per cent of French people still don’t know what Black Friday is.

What to look out for?

According to the Telegraph expect the usual big discounts on technology and electrical products. Keep an eye on Curry’s if you’re in the market for a new TV. If you don’t mind an older model, expect to scoop these up at a discount as retailers make room on the shelves for new models hitting the market for Christmas. Experts also think that clothing retailers will want their slice of the spending spree, so clothing discounts could be the one to watch out for this Black Friday 2016.

Forget Time Management, Start Managing Yourself: The Time Management Matrix

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

There are hundreds of books, courses, seminars and podcasts out there, all claiming to help you to learn to manage your time, become more efficient, more effective and more productive. It’s hard to sort the wheat from the chaff, and even harder to put any words of wisdom into practice however life changing you may recognise them to be.

piggy bank saving time

A wonderfully short and simple chapter on time management can be found in ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey. It may be 28 years since this book was originally published, but it still contains buckets of useful information, particularly this chapter that coherently deciphers how to better select the tasks that you choose to prioritise, and how this impacts your overall time management.

Covey believes that time management can be summed up  in one simple phrase “organize and execute around priorities” (p149). I know what you’re thinking, far from groundbreaking stuff, but it’s only when Covey breaks down this simple statement into its components that his approach to time management starts to make sense. A new focus should be made towards achieving results rather than focusing on things and time. Deciding which tasks are our priority tasks is the key to self management. We must learn to judge ‘priority’ by our long term aims for progress, rather than letting other people or imposing deadlines decide.

Covey believes that we should be part of a new generation of time management whereby we no longer focus on efficiency as this has been starving us from opportunities which may have longer term benefits. “The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves” (p150). Getting tasks done does not have the same result as getting the right tasks done.

He demonstrates his idea through a diagram he refers to as the ‘Time Management Matrix’, a quadrant that places our daily tasks into four time management models that are catagorised by importance and urgency. To simplify, Covey believes that the majority of people spend their time targeting jobs that are deadline driven, permanently fighting themselves and their workload to keep their head above water, these are often tasks given to us by others (quadrant 1). Many people prioritise jobs simply by deadline and not by importance, in fact, rarely are the jobs really of importance to long term progress and these are tasks you should be looking to delegate (quadrant 3). Many of us may pick and choose our tasks in preference of those that are easy or fun, these are usually neither urgent nor important (quadrant 4). Covey encourages us, in the quest for effective time management, to focus on tasks that are not urgent but are important (quadrant 2), these are the tasks such as relationship building, planning, prevention, and recognising opportunities, these are tasks that give results – you should be making these your priority. Effective time management is having the ability to prioritise “All the things we know we need to do, but seldom get around to doing because they aren’t urgent.” (p154)

Take a look of the matrix below and decide which tasks currently receive your time.

matric of time management

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