If I Die

I am overwhelmingly aware that I’m an involuntary member of a very diverse, vulnerable, human club. People never join this club willingly, yet its members are true heroes who soldier on in courageous love and sensitive support of those around them. This club is made up of the people who have lost their beloved and who will always carry a drop of grief in their heart. This grief emerges in surprising ways for each unique club member. But all of us know it and all of us need to deal with it, in one way or another. This time of year is festive for most, but hellish for many who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one. I apologise for bursting your bubble here, but for just a moment I would like to get honest and real about some of the practicalities of the season. There some things that must be pulled out from the shadows.

I have a folder in my filing cabinet called “If I Die.” I’ve put all of the sorts of things in there that I wish my late husband had provided for me when he passed away unexpectedly in May 2014. Over these next few weeks, most of us will enjoy a festive break from our work, and some will be lucky enough to shut up shop altogether. I urge you to invest some of this time into reflecting on just how much you care for your loved ones, and the circumstance they would be left in if you were suddenly gone. After the gifts have been unwrapped, the turkey carved, and the pavlova consumed, please pull this little article back out and set up your own folder. Include these items listed here so that your loved ones would have the support they need. If the worst actually happened, the last thing you would want them to deal with is the messiness of wading through an unprepared business end of the situation.

1. Update your Will

If you don’t have one, make an appointment with your solicitor and have a will drawn up in the new year. At the very least, jump online and download a free version so that you have something in writing to help your loved ones manage your affairs if they need to. If you have children who depend on you, regardless of their age, you should have a plan for their care if you meet unexpected tragedy. When you look at their beautiful faces this Christmas, remember they will rely on you for this plan even if you are gone.

2. Enduring Power of Guardianship

If you were suddenly not well enough to make your own decisions, who would make them for you? If you could no longer make choices about your work, living arrangements, health care … who would step in for you? Nominate the person you trust in writing.

3. Enduring Power of Attorney – Financial

If something happened that made you unable to manage your own finances, someone else would need to do that for you. Ensure your intentions are clear and legally binding by nominating in writing and having a witness sign too

4. Enduring Power of Attorney – Medical

While our mortality is an uncomfortable reality that is difficult to face, it is also horrible to think that we may find ourselves alive but unable to manage our own health. Discuss this possibility with a loved one and if they agree to stand in your place, get it in writing.

5. Use a password keeper like LastPass or 1Password

The only reason I could access most of my late husbands profiles and accounts is that I happened to know most of his passwords. Some remain locked to this day, over three years later. Store them securely online and document the Master Password safely.

6. Give your trusted loved one access to all of your online places – google drive / dropbox, emails, passwords, website logins

My daughter, my assistant and my current partner Rod all have access to all of my online accounts and profiles. They would be able to act immediately if required to manage my affairs and smooth the transition should something untoward happen to me.

7. Compile these insurances: Life Insurance, Superannuation, Funeral Insurance, Life insurance with private healthcare

For a relatively brief period of investing into these administrative tasks, you and your loved ones will enjoy the ongoing security of knowing that the insurances you need are in place to ensure they are provided for if the worst happened. Just imagine if you didn’t …

8. Update the beneficiaries of your insurances

It’s one thing to have the insurances in place but entirely another to have your details up to date and the details of your beneficiaries. You can guarantee that things would run as smoothly as possible if these insurances were claimed by keeping them updated.

9. Ensure that your Next of Kin is the person you want managing your affairs

If you write your best friend as your next of kin at your doctor or dentist, this gives them a legally enforceable voice if tragedy struck. Consider who you’ve nominated in your Will and  Power of Attorney documents to ensure your preferred carers can do their job.

10. Organ donor registration with Medicare and on your Drivers Licence

If this is your preference ensure it is clearly specified and documented. I carry my organ donor card in my wallet at all times because I would hate for precious moments of delay or confusion to mean the loss of benefit to another person in need of my healthy organs.

11. Funeral plans: Songs, texts, special people, broadcast online

Making plans for a funeral you never expected is a sad, dark task filled with overwhelming sorrow. Make it just a little smoother for those you love by writing up a few of the things you would like to be included. I know this would have been comforting for us.

12. Letters to loved ones

When he was gone, he was gone forever. The last thing he ever wrote to me was an email about a project we were working on with our website developer. None of us got a goodbye or farewell. Closure was ours to find ourselves. Write your last words of love and update them annually so that your people will have something to have and to hold until they too draw their last breath.

I Hate Typing

I hated my year 9 typing class. Deeply. Passionately. I despised lining up outside the old wooden door of the typing room, and I loathed filing in like little soldiers when Mr. Lang came to get started. The walls were grey and the cork pinboards had bits and pieces of old notices flapping in what would have been a breeze if the room wasn’t so damn stagnant. The computers sat stoically like boxes of ancient technology that were dated before the batch had even been purchased by the Victorian Dept of Education.

When it comes to building business growth, I will take efficiency and accuracy over speed any day of the week.

I had chosen the class simply to complete the minimum units of Science and Technology required to pass the year. I loved my English, History, and Drama, but getting through the subjects in other areas was tiresome and mind-numbing for me. I still remember sitting through 45-minute sessions of dry old rote learning, where we would practice fj fj fj fj fj for 5 minutes, then move onto fyj fyj fyj fyj , then advance further for another 5 minutes to fryj fryj fryj … It was so boring that I occasionally faced the embarrassment of needing to rush out to the bathroom to clean up the brain juice that was trickling out of my ear.

The aim of these classes was to become a proficient touch typist. At 13 years of age, I could not have cared less about this skill. It seemed irrelevant and meaningless to me… it certainly made no difference in my real world where telephones were attached to walls and music came from record players and cassette decks. I did not grow up in an affluent neighborhood. We never had a computer at home. I never even owned one till I was in my 20s.

It is amazing how easily our world can become insular and our vision so very short-sighted. As a working-class year 9 student I totally missed the point. The touch typing test on Fridays made me think that the aim was to get faster at typing, but now on reflection, I see that what we were actually learning was how to be accurate, efficient typists. This was where the speed would come from. It doesn’t matter how many letters you can type in a minute. What matters is that the letters are being typed correctly and that you are doing this with the most efficient combination of keystrokes possible. It is only when we tick these two boxes that our touch typing becomes fast and effective and that we can really use typing as a tool to create something amazing with our work.

In business, we can make these same mistakes too. It’s very easy to pursue the short-term goal of working faster, instead of realizing the long-term impact of developing work systems that champion accuracy and efficiency. I meet so many people who tell me they work long and hard, and that they are really very organized. But in the next breath they explain they are tired and they are not getting anywhere with some of their key aims. It is one thing to work fast. It is another to work with accuracy and efficiency. These are the things we need to improve to create something amazing with our work.

The person trying to work faster will have a To Do List that seems to be getting longer, not shorter, but the person working to improve their efficiency and accuracy will get through their work effectively and without the need to double back. The business owner in pursuit of speed alone will champion their long list of daily achievements and wear them like a badge of honor. The business person set on improving their efficiency and accuracy will invest time in building the systems required to work less and achieve more without mistakes. The one aiming to get more done themselves will miss out on the benefits of setting up structures for others to do the work for them.

In the short term, setting up systems to facilitate accuracy and efficiency feels irrelevant and boring, especially if you haven’t yet seen the capacity you have to do something amazing with your work. When you look at your inbox, you want to simply get through as many as you can as fast as you can. When you are filing you want to put as much away as possible without spending more time on the task. When you are creating social media content or posting it out, you just want to get the job done and move on to something else. When you come to reconciling your transactions, you don’t want to spend one more minute on the task than you have to. But with this approach, you will always be tied to the job yourself, and even if you are working at your peak performance, you will be limited by the clock. There are only so many things you can do in any one minute.

But when you are building your business with a system mentality you work to reduce the number of steps it takes to complete the task and to set up safeguards to minimise inaccuracies. You take the time to learn new software and create checklists and routines that allow you to flow more efficiently through your work. You invest in setting up instructions to delegate your routine tasks so that you get the job done without needing to complete any tasks yourself. This is how you run your Business Like A Boss. And this is how you will come to realise the potential you have to create something truly amazing with your work.