Displaying All Posts from June, 2010

The Only Way to Overcome Procrastination

The Only Way to Overcome Procrastination

If you can do it now…then do it now.

You know it, right? Yet we still we continue to procrastinate everyday saying, “I will do it in future.”  The old adage of “why put off until tomorrow what you can do today” often turns into a far more humorous – yet far less effective one:

“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” – Mark Twain

The Simple Dollar has an excellent article on why saying “I will do it in the future” is an excuse for failure. It proclaims that if you don’t want to do it now, the chances are high that you won’t want to do it in future.  You’re also less likely to do it at all because you’ve told yourself before that it’s “okay to delay.”  Your future self is often more unreliable than your present self.  It’s better to get started with the task now and let that pattern get established than to not bother and watch a far less productive one take shape.

Saying “I Will Do It In The Future” Is an Excuse for Failure Click Here to Read Article …

Thanking in Advance

Thanking in Advance

Have you ever sent or received an email that ends with “Thanks in advance”? It’s sort of a half-request/half-mandate commonly used between equally-ranked workers. As in, “Do what I’d like you to do, and you’ll have my gratitude.”

Managers and executives have no need for the phrase; they have their own more direct, more concise one. I find their version so much better. It’s unhindered by nuance and there’s no reading between the lines.  It cuts to the chase; it gives you a clear objective in mind.  It’s two simple words, really:

“Do it.”

You might want to be careful about “thanking in advance.” it doesn’t always sound very sincere, and it might delay your request instead of expediting it. Having a genuinely friendly relationship (and a genuinely friendly correspondence to match) is much more effective.

Does the phrase “thanks in advance” irk you? Do you find it effective? We’re going to need you to “weigh in” on the issue with a comment below.

Thanks in advance! - Peter

Click Here to Read Article …

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10 Ways to Liven Up Your Lunch Hour

10 Ways to Liven Up Your Lunch Hour

Never underestimate the power of a satisfying lunch hour. It can improve your overall job satisfaction and your work performance. Plus, making time for a little R&R will help you become a better co-worker. No one wants to work with Mr. McGrumpy. People want to connect with you on a personal level, and having fun excursions to talk about will make you more approachable and help you bond with your co-workers.

Shaking up your routine can also be an amazing source of energy and inspiration. If you are stuck in the middle of a big project, you may unknowingly adopt self-imposed limits and lose your creative edge. Taking a break can give you fresh eyes. Those lightning bolt ideas often strike when you’re busy doing something non-work related. So step away from your desk and take time for you. You’ll be grateful you did. Here are ten ideas to get you started. Click Here to Read Article …

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Stuck With a Steady Job

Stuck With a Steady Job

It sounds backwards, doesn’t it? How could you be “stuck” with a fairly decent job? In today’s economy, millions of unemployed workers would be delighted to be “stuck” with a steady stream of tolerable work.

But does that mean that we should be satisfied with “steady”?

The difference between a “steady” job and a great job involves the ability to personally invest yourself in your work: If you draw enthusiasm from what you’re doing, and you feel a personal stake in the success of your efforts, then you have a great job.  Keep this in mind:

Great jobs are part of your identity; steady jobs are just part of your resume.

Steady jobs are dangerous; they might be just barely good enough to keep you in a permanent holding pattern and stop you from pursuing that dream job. Your boss and your customers are never happy with the bare minimum, so why should you be happy with a job that is just good enough?

Ask yourself this: Is your job great, or just “steady”? Click Here to Read Article …

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Rebtel Offers Free Android-to-Android International Calls

Rebtel Offers Free Android-to-Android International Calls

Android users can rejoice. Rebtel, an Android app, lets them make international Android-to-Android calls for free.

This tool, which I came across on TechCrunch, looks to be a promising one. Based on Skype’s concept, it lets Android users save a significant amount on all kinds of calls. And for international Android-to-Android calls – though some local call charges might be applicable – the international call rates won’t be charged.

More than 50 countries are included…and you don’t need Wi-Fi to make the calls. You could do it using the same cellular network.

So, if you are an Android phone user, tell us – would you ditch the popular Skype app for Rebtel? Click Here to Read Article …

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Social Bookmarking: The New Search Engine?

Social Bookmarking: The New Search Engine?

Search engines seem to be increasingly useless in producing relevant results when users search for something specific. Even Google – which used to solve all query problems – often produces mediocre results, giving users paid search results that aren’t quite what they’re looking for.

Social bookmarking often produces not only relevant but also better results, wasting much less of a user’s time. Searching on StumbleUpon for example, saves a user from going through pages of irrelevant Google results.  Other popular examples of social bookmarking websites are:

  • Reddit
  • Digg
  • Delicious
  • Metafilter
  • Squidoo
  • Slashdot

…but there are a lot more out there for you to use.  Each one has its own feature set that enhances the user experience, but ultimately it just boils down to user preference when it comes to picking a favorite.

What’s your experience with social bookmarking?  Do you use it? Click Here to Read Article …

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Design is Not a Commodity: Graphic Design Pricing Examined

Design is Not a Commodity: Graphic Design Pricing Examined

Stop me if you’ve come across this kind of job posting before:

We’re looking to rebrand our business/website/product/publication, and we’re seeking a graphic designer to help us develop a new corporate identity. If interested, send us your concepts for our logos, layouts, typography and illustrations, and we’ll pick the best work and pay you handsomely for it.

In this scenario, all candidates are to do all the work, and only one will get paid. Although it’s quite common, this practice is clearly unfair to graphic designers, much like asking Target, Walmart and Sears to all send you a toaster, and promising to pay for only your favorite one.

Hire a ton, just pay one

Some websites accept as many as a hundred design submissions, and only one is purchased. The practice of “hire a ton, just pay one” would be indefensible if it weren’t for one issue: While you can evaluate several different fully-built toasters before you buy your favorite, businesses can’t evaluate or compare any design work until it’s all finished and submitted.

As a result, companies get the required variety the only fiscally viable way that they can; by asking for many designs and paying “handsomely” for one. Since logos and illustrations are usually customized for the unique purpose, It’s likely that nobody will ever buy the unchosen work. Unlike a toaster, designs are made for just one customer.

After seeing so many of these fruitless graphic designer job offers, one designer jokingly turned the concept around on its creators:

I am a graphic artist and in need of a job. I have decided to fill this need the same way many people think the can fill their graphic design needs; with a contest!

Here is how it will work;

Send me one weeks worth of salary and benefits. I will keep all of the checks that are sent to me and use all of the benefits. Whoever sends me the best salary and benefits package will win the contest and get the prize of two days of graphic design work!!!

Good Luck! I am really looking forward to receiving your payment packages!

Graphic design is not a commodity

A lot of graphic designers (like the one quoted above) insist that “graphic design is not a commodity.” Their point is that creative design, unlike copper or crude oil, varies in quality. You pay the cheapest possible price for things like gold or electricity, but the same strategy shouldn’t be employed when purchasing graphic design work. With design, the more you pay, the better the quality, right?

Not always.

Designers are correct beyond any doubt; graphic design does vary in quality, and it should vary in price accordingly. But, the quality doesn’t always match the price, and as much as they hate to admit it, designers aren’t always the ones getting the short end of the stick.

The 2012 Olympics Logo

Case and point: The logo for the 2012 Olympics to be held in London. This logo cost roughly $800,000 to develop, and it is widely considered to be controversially ugly and amateurish. Many were demanding a replacement logo from the minute this one was unveiled.

(Also, the website for the firm that designed this logo seems to be over 2500 pixels wide in certain areas. Many would consider this yet another unusual design choice.)

Clearly, design is not a commodity. Maybe that’s exactly why it’s unclear how much it’s worth. A business could shortchange a group of talented artists just as easily as it could overpay tremendously for amateurish “clip art.” Have you seen a designer get underpaid? Have you seen one make a killing? Do you like the 2012 London logo, or do you picture it on a birthday cake instead of a billboard?

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How to Fight Creative Time Wasting

How to Fight Creative Time Wasting

I was going to write this earlier, but decided to work on another project first.  Then fresh emails beckoned.  Then I ate dinner. 

I found every which way to do everything but the task at hand…even though I knew full well that I had to get it done. Combating these “creative time-wasters” is something ew need to work at every single day. Over at our sister site, FreelanceSwitch, Will Kenny gives us a few tips on how to do just that.

Fight Creative Time Wasting: Tips for Resourceful Time Wasters

But before you go, check out this video by Levni Yilmaz that takes creative time wasting to a whole other level.

Click Here to Read Article …

Lowering Carbon Footprint, Increasing Productivity: From Paper to iPad

Lowering Carbon Footprint, Increasing Productivity: From Paper to iPad

I’ve been a big proponent of using paper to plan out projects as well as tasks, but since picking up an iPad I’ve been shifting back into electronic organization.  I still love having a pen and paper handy, but I’m starting to find that with the right tools in play electronically I am producing more efficiently and effectively.  It boils down to a few things, really: Click Here to Read Article …

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5 Awesome Web Based Time Tracking Software Solutions

5 Awesome Web Based Time Tracking Software Solutions

As a web worker, I understand the importance of time tracking. You’ll always find me urging people to track the time they spent working. Why? Well, there are distractions galore. There are social networking sites, YouTube, chat and what not. Hence, at the end of the day, I want to see how many hours I spent doing “real work.”

I prefer using cloud-based, or I should say online time tracking software. This list talks about some nice web based time tracking software applications which you might find useful. Check them out and offer any of your own recommendations below.

1. SlimTimer

SlimTimer is a brilliant online time tracking solution that lets you track time for different tasks, and also share them with coworkers. And it’s free to use.

2. Toggl

Toggl has a great interface, nice reporting features and also has desktop versions for all the major operating systems. It has both free and paid versions, but the free version should suffice for most of us.

3. RescueTime

RescueTime is a popular time tracking and productivity software for individuals and business owners, and we’ve discussed it here before. If you are only interested in a web based solution then the RescueTime add-ons for Firefox and Chrome should get the job done.

4. MakeSomeTime

MakeSomeTime is a cool time-tracking and invoicing tool for freelancers, and anyone who juggles more than one project at a time. The interface is simple and easy to comprehend. Check out Lifehacker’s detailed review on the tool.

5. Colorhat

Last but not the least, Colorhat is a simple online time tracking tool that helps you quickly analyze the time spent during the day through a graphical interface. Click Here to Read Article …

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Memo:Random #36

Memo:Random #36

Click Here to Read Article …

Is “The Office” Real?

Is “The Office” Real?

For those that don’t watch the American television version of The Office, it is a situation comedy about a failing paper company led by a charming-but-impulsive regional manager. The show’s humor comes mainly from its wide variety of distinct characters (although typical office stories come into play as well), some of which seem like perfect office archetypes. Protagonist Jim Halpert is a rational, level-headed salesman who, after many attempts to bring sanity to his workplace, resigns to just enjoy the humor all around him. Jim can amuse, but there are others:

  • Dwight, a goofy, abrasive know-it-all with action hero aspirations;
  • Creed, a creepy, funny should-be-retired colleague whose ambiguous comments are often disturbing and funny;
  • Kevin, an accountant who, seems woefully inattentive and thick-headed given the nature of his work;
  • Ryan, the low man on the totem pole who has little else other than Machiavellian ambition and stories of past professional glory;
  • Angela, the peculiar, pet-loving enigma who has some strange habits that are impossible to ignore; and
  • Kelley, the customer service representative who, despite her profession, is prone to having wild, dramatic fits over the insignificant.

The show is full of office-related humor, and its meaningless meetings, inappropriate antics and professional blunders leave us saying:

“Wow, that is so true.”

But, is it? Are these characters real? Can you spot them at your job? Perhaps if you can’t spot them, could you be one of them? Let’s not kid ourselves; we can’t all be cool, collected, “Jim Halpert” types. Someone has to be the drama queen, the cutthroat, the dreamer, the know-it-all.

Are you one of them?  If so, which one are you? Click Here to Read Article …

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