Do you ever sit around your office on a slow Friday afternoon in the summer, wondering what to do until that bell rings and you can feel OK about bolting out the door? If you don't, you're in a small minority. I remember Fridays like today when I used to just think about what I could be doing if I weren't sitting here staring at a stagnant screen.
That is, I did that until I started thinking about what I could do to improve my skills, prepare me for Monday or maybe just pass the time. Here's a short list of some of those items:
- Reread parts of a classic book. On the stock side I always like to pick up my copy of
Technical Analysis of Stock Trends
by Edwards and Magee, the real gurus of the technical trade. As one who isn't as technically inclined, I always learn something new when I go back to that treatise.
However, I usually pick up a nonbusiness book to think outside the box. Some of the favorites on my shelf include:
by Warren Bennis;
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
by Thomas Kuhn;
The Age of Unreason
by Thomas Handy;
Chaos: Making a New Science
by James Gleick; and
Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter and Mind
by F. David Peat.
One book I try to reread at least once a year is
Moments of Truth
by Jan Carlzon. It is 50-some pages long, takes less than 90 minutes to read
carefully and is a great story about leadership in business and in life. It's the one book always on my desk.
The nice thing about all these books is that once you've read them, they stay with you. So it's easy to pick it up and just read a score of pages to get back into the theme. And I almost always have trouble putting them down, while thinking about how the message relates to my everyday events.
Revisit old files. I keep files of all of the companies I've met with, looked at or been asked about over the years. Sometimes the files are full of reports, filings and other "stuff," and sometimes they have a single sheet of paper with some scribbled notes. However, it's always educational to look back at what I was thinking on any given day and, many times, it will jog my memory about something that may be very topical and timely. I also keep notebooks of each days' happenings and my scribbled thoughts along the way that are always interesting to sort through.
Flip through your Rolodex. While advancing to the electronic world of PDAs and Outlook contact lists, I also still keep a Rolodex, as well as a box or two of business cards collected along the way. On that occasional slow day, I like to flip through the Rolodex and the boxes and am always surprised at what I find. If nothing else, it's a trip down memory lane.
Clean out your bookmarks. I bookmark just about every remotely interesting Web page I ever look at. But at least half the bookmarks in my folder are unfamiliar. So I use a few extra moments to look through those I don't know and see what they are. I occasionally find a gem or two.
Call your family and friends. Finally -- and most importantly -- use that downtime to reconnect with those most important to you. In the frantic rush of the daily trade, it's easy to lose sight of what's important. A close colleague of mine this morning reminded me my aging mother was in town and that I should spend some extra time with her on this slow Friday. "Get your priorities right," he barked at me like a father.
Funny thing, he's right. Days like today are a perfect time to reach out and reconnect -- which is exactly what I'm going to do right now.
Enjoy your weekend.
Christopher S. Edmonds is vice president and director of research at Pritchard Capital Partners, a New Orleans energy investment firm. He is based in Atlanta. At time of publication, neither Edmonds nor his firm held positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. While Edmonds cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback and invites you to send it to
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