No matter how good you’re doing on your quest for supreme efficiency, some days you’ll run into the ugly wall of procrastination. For this “Tips from the Trenches” post, I asked some experts and fellow Twitter users to share their tips for battling procrastination and “not-in-the-mood-itis.” […] Read more »
According to one poll conducted by About.com , over a third of respondents avoid going home because of the overwhelming mess Read more »
Playing with applications on an Android phone got me thinking about how I use applications on my iPhone. I’m always interested in seeing what applications my friends are using on their phones, so I thought people might be interested in reading about the iPhone applications that I use. Read more »
It doesn’t matter how focused you are, working from your remote office likely entails more than a few distractions. For each of us those distractions will be different (I just had to break my morning’s work to move my goat to a new patch of grass; […] Read more »
I’m not suggesting you crack open your computer to fix it, but with a few of the tactics outlined in this post you can solve many of your computer problems on your own. Besides, wouldn’t you rather solve your problems instead of waiting for a live […] Read more »
If you’re a small business owner or freelancer, you probably feel like you’re being pulled in about a thousand directions. Everything seems to be competing for your attention, and you can’t figure out what’s the most important priority for this very second. You have phone calls […] Read more »
In your quest for better efficiency, you’ve probably read books like “Getting Things Done” and “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and tried to implement the strategies contained within them. Yet you know you can do better in managing your day and being more efficient. For […] Read more »
We talk a lot here on WWD about the benefits of being a web worker. But not everyone is suited to it, and not everyone likes it, despite the fact that the freedom and comfort of working from home can sound like nirvana. In “7 Signs […] Read more »
How do you know you’re, in fact, succeeding in your business? It may seem like you’ve had a steady flow of new customers, but are you tracking the numbers to be sure? It’s easy to lose track of time and get confused about when you signed […] Read more »
Which days of the week are the most productive for you? We all know that we have different ways of working, and that for each of us, a week (or given work period) represents a cycle, as Angus Kidman reminded us this week. That cycle has […] Read more »
Soon after I clicked the “Publish” button on my blog dashboard, I realized I had made a mistake. I’d read my post through three times before hitting that button, but somehow missed adding a crucial word — the word “don’t”. Inadvertently, I had told my readers […] Read more »
Lately, I’ve been focused on arranging my schedule and splitting my work into chunks so that I can be productive for longer periods of time, while still having some flexibility in my schedule for the other things that I enjoy doing. One of the big benefits […] Read more »
Did Snow Leopard leave your old AppleTalk printer out in the cold? Grab a hot cup of cocoa and warm your printer up with some of these handy tips to continue to use your classic AppleTalk printer with your state of the art operating system. Print […] Read more »
Do you ever wonder what is keeping you from making progress toward your goals? Perhaps you’ve set up a schedule for yourself, outlining the things you need to do each day so that you focus on the most important tasks related to your business, but somehow, […] Read more »
Snow Leopard isn’t the only exciting release this week, as ever there are tons of new additions to the App Store. Here are my top picks from the week’s releases. This week I’ve been looking at iWound, Star6, Gangstar: West Coast Hustle and Tasker. iWound ($4.99) […] Read more »
There are no shortage of iPhone apps that function as remotes for your Mac, Apple TV, or just about anything else. Keymote (iTunes link), by Iced Cocoa, takes the concept to a new level by allowing custom “keysets” for all of your favorite applications. So why […] Read more »
Along with Daniel Pink, one of the most intriguing speakers I saw at last month’s TEDGlobal 2009 was notorious graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown’s opening session was a tough act to follow, but Sagmeister made an impression with some striking observations on […] Read more »
I recently came across a video by Jon Larkowski entitled, “The Way I Get Things Done,” in which he outlines his personal productivity system. He offered several useful tips for increasing productivity, but the two phrases that really stuck out to me were that you need […] Read more »
Most of us are accustomed to making New Year’s resolutions. We’ve been programmed to believe that because we turn a page on the calendar, that we can and should try to change ourselves and our lives for the better. Oftentimes, these resolutions are work-related: to be […] Read more »
Some of the biggest hardware efficiency boosts we can get are either completely free, or nearly so. Sure, a maxed-out new laptop would be great to have, but these are tough times. If you spend a little time with the hardware you have or pick up […] Read more »
Recently I was sent an interesting piece on “motivating yourself when you just don’t feel like it.” In other words, how to slay the demon procrastination. The suggestion of this article was particularly timely as I’ve been feeling somewhat adrift for the last few weeks. I’d […] Read more »
I like my orange juice freshly squeezed, but there are some good things that come from Concentrate. From the new app, that is, not the distilled juice essence. Concentrate is a new program that seems perfectly designed for aspiring singletaskers. It aims to reduce distraction and […] Read more »
In an earlier post, I mentioned using a virtual assistant (VA) to help with my work so that I could free myself to focus on more important tasks, including taking much-needed time off. Many readers asked who I used for virtual assistant services, and one reader […] Read more »
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu caught on with the advent of cage fighting in the early ’90s. Now, some 20 years later, we associate this martial art with the brute strength and violence of Ultimate Fighting Championship television shows. But the core practices of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu don’t […] Read more »
James over at jkOnTheRun has an excellent post describing his custom Gmail setup, which enables him to make the best use of his screen real estate. Like many web workers, James spends a large part of his day working with Gmail — it’s the one app […] Read more »
Recently, I’ve been doing major cutbacks in my work day. It started with my lead generation. I’d been putting myself through the ringer for six or seven months in an attempt at kicking my results up a notch, only to have the opposite effect. I finally had to draw a line in the sand or run the risk of burning out.
I pulled the plug completely and took a couple of weeks off the lead generation hamster wheel. The result? My incoming leads and my revenue actually increased. Was it that my energy had improved? Maybe. Was it that I was focusing more on the right things? Possibly. Either way, I wasn’t going to stop a good thing. I started cutting back in every way imaginable, and my work schedule was the next to take a hit.
I’m currently in the middle of a “staycation” (you know, when you take a vacation without really going anywhere), and I’m limiting my work time to 2–4 hours per day. Amazingly, I’m still getting roughly the same amount accomplished. Oh, except I’m not checking the news feeds several times per day, only once for five minutes by quickly scanning the highlights, so essentially, I’m having to cut the fat from my day.
Before I started my week, I went through my planned schedule and jotted down the most important 4–5 tasks that should be completed by Friday. I also solicited the help of a virtual assistant to help with a lot of my regular (and necessary) tasks. Everything else got the boot. Read more »
I came across an idea about keeping a one-sentence journal to improve happiness, and thought they could be helpful for improving my business, too. I’m very intimidated by the thought of keeping a personal journal. I’ve tried to do it many times, but I can never […] Read more »
How many times do we allow the sideshows to run our lives? What do I mean by “sideshows?” Well, sideshows can be many things: Read more »
We spend a lot of time talking about efficiency and productivity on this blog, but we also devote quite a bit of energy to writing about new social networks and social media. I talk to many people who are concerned about joining new social web sites […] Read more »
Since the first camera phone, the Sharp J-SH04, was released back in 2000, new cell phones have continued to raise the bar by delivering an ever increasing number of pixels and functionality into the waiting hands of mobile photographers. With the arrival of the iPhone App […] Read more »
Okay, I don’t really like that phrase, “mental health day,” but the idea behind it is very important and relevant to every web worker. We all need time away from our work and businesses, time to collect our thoughts, get some breathing room, and get away from the computer screen and the sometimes very close walls of our offices.
It may not seem important, but taking time away from our work has just as big an impact on our productivity as putting in a full day. It’s not just about the quantity of hours we devote to the job, but the quality. How much of the time that we’re spending on our work is effective and productive, if we never take time to get away from it?
We need time off, and it’s important to make a conscious choice to include it in our to-do lists and schedules. But, what do you do on “mental health days” anyway? The main thing to remember is that your time away from your business needs to be restorative. It needs to help energize you and inspire you. It shouldn’t be filled with tasks that are as taxing and monotonous as work.
Here are a few other ideas to help you improve your use of time off. Read more »
We try to work 100% virtually – no pens, no paper, a laptop, and web-based tools and applications, but even for the web worker, clutter seems inevitable. I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten completely away from paper (is that possible?), and while my clutter in no way compares to that of previous (and not web-based) jobs, it still gets in the way at times and needs to be tamed. Here are a few tricks I use to keep it in check.
#1 Keep flat surfaces clear as much as possible.
Desk tops, table tops, filing cabinet tops, and every other flat surface in your workspace should be kept completely clear – no stacks of paper, no files, nothing. Once daily, clear every flat surface in your office. Not only will keep you from getting frustrated by not having a single surface to sit something, it will also help you stay on top of your work (you know, all those buried to-dos and sticky notes).
#2 Do “quick sweeps” regularly.
Give yourself ten minutes (set a timer, if necessary) and do a quick sweep a few times per day. Put away stray pens, notes, supplies, empty cups, trash, and anything else that has managed to get out of place.
#3 Empty your inboxes.
Email, feed readers, to-do lists – they’re like breeding grounds for clutter; they pile up quickly. At least once a day, clear the decks. Work to completely empty your inboxes so that you don’t get behind and start feeling overwhelmed. Read more »
Being a web worker can mean learning to handle many facets of running a small business, including dealing with difficult clients, which can often be one of the biggest frustrations that come with the territory.
But how do you know if your clients are abusing you? Here are a few telltale signs and tips for how to fix and avoid these situations.
The work keeps creeping in. You start with one description of what is to be done and end up doing something entirely different or something that’s way more involved than the original task.
How to Fix/Avoid It: Have a contract and a clear and agreed-upon scope and schedule for each and every phase or project. Outline exactly what is to be done and when it’s due.
The client expects immediate responses or complete availability. Occasionally, you’ll come across clients who want 100% of your undivided attention. They expect emails to be responded to within an hour and work to be completed at an unrealistic pace.
How to Fix/Avoid It: Set expectations from the start. Explain when you’re available to clients, how quickly you tend to reply to communications, and how you prefer to communicate. You may also wish to explain how you work. For example, do you generally devote a set amount of time to each project or client per day? If so, explain this to clients on the front side so that they know what to expect. Read more »
It’s a strange thing, but in times like these, when prospective clients have fewer dollars to spend and when there’s more competition in the marketplace due to higher unemployment rates, instinctive responses have a tendency to take over our business decisions.
It’s easy to get trapped in a cycle of instinctive “fight or flight” response, so how do we break that cycle? Read more »
The who’s who of web video is becoming more like that of real life with every passing day. Appearing soon in a webisode near you will be animated versions of Warren Buffett, Martha Stewart (at age 10), Gisele Bündchen and Carl Sagan (posthumously), as well as […] Read more »
Days after releasing an update to iTunes that blocked the Palm Pre from syncing, Apple has ended another dispute concerning iTunes, this time by settling. Last November, Apple began issuing cease-and-desist letters to Odioworks, which runs Bluwiki, a public wiki. In this case, people were publishing […] Read more »
One of the best things about being a freelancer is that I can schedule my time in a way that works best for me; however, this flexibility can be a double-edged sword. While I have quite a bit of freedom to work on projects whenever it […] Read more »
The project milestone sheet is an incredibly important document for freelancers and their clients. It defines all the most important tasks, who is assigned to them, and when they are due. In other words, it serves as the map for your entire work process.
So how can you create a milestone sheet that works? Read more »
The two biggest problems for most small business owners when it comes to marketing a business are effective planning and consistency.
After what seems like a lot of effort attempting to drum up new business, it’s easy to get discouraged when you aren’t seeing results, but with the right tools and the right approach to planning and carrying out a lead generation plan, you’ll find yourself gaining more and more confidence and traction with your efforts.
Step 1: Setting Up the Nuts and Bolts of Your Plan
First, you have to take the time to carefully consider your options for marketing and promoting your business, rather than just taking a scatter gun approach.
There are many possible tactics for finding new clients and customers, but if you try to do everything, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. That said, during the evaluation phase, you should throw out every possibility, carefully weighing the pros and cons of each. Then, after you’ve evaluated them, select the tactics most likely to lead to success for your particular business, taking into account your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as your available resources.
You need a tool to help you with the process. I like using Bubbl.us for this, since it’s like mind mapping and allows you to throw out every available option, while keeping you organized. Read more »
I have definite workaholic tendencies that are starting to induce productivity-draining burnout. In addition to my freelance consulting practice, I am usually balancing a number of side projects, working on the board of a non-profit that I helped co-found, and attending various events around Portland to keep in touch with my freelancer peers and learn about new technologies. This isn’t the first time, I’ve had to deal with burnout. It usually creeps in slowly, and before I realize it, my work and technology hobbies have pushed everything else to the back burner. The feeling of burnout leaves me tired, stressed and less productive, so it’s time again for me to re-prioritize and take control to get my productivity back. Read more »