National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Editorials
Making a better tomorrow starts today
It was Mark Twain who once said: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” That particular insight of human nature still holds true today as much as it did yesterday.
If you keep telling yourself that you will make a business plan tomorrow, more often than not tomorrow never comes. It always stays a day ahead of you and, as a business owner, you cannot afford to fall behind. This month, Harvey Gershenson discusses the strategy involved in making a business plan for 2013, from visualizing what you want to making achievable goals and timelines. The first key is to actually make the plan. Of course, its ultimate success lies in the follow-through, which is something human beings are notorious for neglecting. Don Desrosiers points out in his column this month that postponing things to a later date can lead to more work, higher costs and bigger problems than were being procrastinated in the first place.
Unfortunately, most of us are not immune to this phenomenon. Statistics on the subject vary somewhat, but most indicate that about 95 percent of people are prone to procrastination and at least 20 percent are chronic procrastinators. One particular study of college students by Bruce Tuckman at Ohio State University found that a student’s tendency to procrastinate is adversely proportional with his or her final grades. The most severe procrastinators averaged a grade of 2.9 on a 4.0 scale while moderate procrastinators had average grades of 3.4 and low procrastinators scored an average of 3.6. Nobody has performed the same test on drycleaning plant owners, but the smart money is that more successful businesses are run by people who are not putting off important tasks.
Oddly enough, the reason we put things off is not based on poor time management skills. In many cases, it is rooted in anxiety over the prospect of failure. The best way to beat procrastination is to make small reachable goals in frequent increments. It is better to work in small bursts than to wait until you have a lot of time put aside. Work on one goal at a time and try to minimize your distractions. Most importantly, try to recognize when bad habits creep in. Do you have a legitimate reason for postponing things or are you making an excuse? Remember, your business won’t improve if you keep making excuses. Your business won’t be better tomorrow unless you begin to do something today.
Double trouble on care symbols?
The Federal Trade Commission’s plan to revise and update its rules for placing care instructions on garments contains one proposal that could muddy the water when a consumer or professional cleaner tries to determine the recommended care procedure.
While allowing the use of care symbols in place of written instructions can be questioned, it is understandable that in today’s multi-lingual environment and global economy that instructions written in English may not be clear because either the writer or the reader of the instruction does not speak English. The use of symbols in place of written instructions seems to address that problem. But are the symbols themselves understandable? To correctly interpret the current array of symbols now approved by FTC means understanding the meaning of circles, squares, and triangles augmented with dashes, dots, squiggly lines and numbers. There are 40-some different possibilities covering washing, bleaching, drying, ironing and drycleaning.
The FTC is about to make that even more complicated by approving the use of a second set of symbols, those from the ISO standard-setting body. The FTC doesn’t think this will confuse consumers. It sees the two systems as similar. Perhaps, but one wonders if consumers understand even the basics of either system to begin with. The symbols become a system of hieroglyphics that most consumers can’t interpret unless they have the key to the code at hand. Allowing symbols in place of written instructions — and endorsing two different sets of symbols for that purpose — could be creating a system that hardly anybody understands, or worse, one that is easily misunderstood.
The FTC received a proposal last year from GreenEarth Cleaning for simplifying the symbol system. Since no one else was arguing for simplicity, the FTC decided not to pursue it. But the FTC itself should be on the side of creating a system that is simple and easy to understand. The goal should be to provide clear care instructions, not create dozens of symbols that may ultimately say nothing.

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