Archive for 2008

How to implement habits to become more productive

Amazing Office
Photo courtesy of chrismeller

Being productive in the long term is always a challenge in the tough work environment of the 21th century, no matter whether you are a freelancer or work in a coporate setting.
Today’s financial crisis does certainly not help to make one’s life easier, with long-term job security being a thing of the past for most industries. Therefore, it is sometimes a good idea to take a step back and rethink the way you work.

Steven Snell has a nice article about how to be productive at Although gear more towards freelancer, he has some very valid points to make.

Among his most important areas to focus on are (among others)

  • Goals
  • Email/Communication
  • Tasks
  • Time Management
  • Organisation

Let me just higlight a few few aspects:

online casino netHave a Long-Term Plan

Freelancers can easily get caught in the rut of moving from one job to the next and focusing only on the short-term. If this is the case, you’ll probably find yourself growing decreasingly satisfied with your work at some point. Freelancing is no different than any other career in that you need to have a long-term plan. A long-term plan can guide you in the short-term by helping you to make decisions that will get you to where you want to be.


Align Your To-Do Lists with Your Goals

Getting things done is great, but ultimately what’s important is that you’re working towards your goals. When setting up your to-do list, take a look at your goals and develop the to-do list in a way that will lead you to the accomplishment of your goals.

Very valid points, indeed. However, he falls short to answer the question how you best implement his recommendation in your daily life. “Align your tasks with your goals”? Most software tools in the market just do not cover these aspects. But there is help.

We will start a series of online tutorials illustrating how you can implement self-management best practice with the help of DAISHO, the integrated self management tool by DAISHO Blacksmith. (I’m one of the creators of DAISHO, so don’t wonder why we are focussing here on it )

Use a Contact Manager

As a freelancer you’ll definitely be in contact with a lot of people. Keeping everything straight and be a chore. A contact manager [...] will help you to keep track of everyone while saving time for more productive tasks.

Yep, we will demonstrate how to do it with DAISHO as well. Stay tuned.

Posted at October 24th, 2008

How To Determine The Price You Are Willing To Pay

Running ahead of oneself
Photo courtesy of orangeacid

Every decision you take has a price tag assoicated with it. That’s even more true for your time management decisions. It’s not necessarily a price tag in US-dollars or Euros, it is quite often a price tag in “time not spent with others”.

I’m not sure whether I mentioned already that I do not really like the term “time management” – as time is nothing you can really manage, you can not increase (or decrease) the amount you have available at any given day (although quit smoking might give you a few bonus days – but -hey- you’ll never know…).

You only can decide how to allocate your time: how much time you want to spent at work, how much time you dedicate to your spouse or kids. Quite often, it’s a tough call. But – as Dave Navarro points out in his article Wake Up, Damn It! You Won’t Get A Second Chance make sure you do not postpone all your “valuable” time with kids or family until later. Because later might never come…

So, how do you determine the price you are willing to pay in your professional career? I can not give any advice here. A rule of thumb I usually use is:

компютри втора употребаIf I would die tommorrow, would I regret my time allocation during the last month?

If your answer is a screaming YES, you might consider changing something.

Posted at May 5th, 2008

Brand Yourself in a Crowded Market

Branding in a crowded market isn’t just a necessity for companies. Thinking about it, branding is a burning issue (no pun intended) for each single individual.

Almost everybody is working today in a crowded market: no matter whether one works as a carpenter, as freelance writer or business consultant. Chances are, there are tons of other people offering the same service as you do.

Like for products, where a brand helps to differentiate a product from similar offerings (as Gordon Graham puts it in his presentation), a brand can help to distinguish yourself from the crowd as well. Sounds strange? Well, in this context, branding is just another word for reputation.

But while reputation is something which is the result of your past (either positive or negative), branding is forward-looking.
Branding is about the reputation you want to have five years from now.

You better start thinking about it.

Posted at April 23rd, 2008

Areas to consider when planning your long term goals

Dustin Wax over at mentions a few interesting aspects to consider when contemplating your “Where do I want to be in 5 years from now?”-question.
He uses the business approach of an “individual development plan” and applies this thinking also to the private/personal space.

When you plan the conccrete steps how to reach your goals step by step, he suggests to consider these areas in your planning:

  • Courses and workshops: From formal university instruction to extension classes to one-off events like seminars.
  • Reading: Books, magazines, websites, newsletters, trade journals.
  • Networking: Don’t neglect the value that building
    connections within your current niche or your desired one can bring.
    Figure out who in your field is worth following, and how to get close
    to them.
  • Mentoring: A special kind of networking; consider asking a leader in your field to “take you under their wing”.
  • Ride-alongs/shadowing: Hands-on experience is
    invaluable. Ask to spend a day with someone whose knowledge and skills
    you admire, learning their work from their perspective.
  • Outreach: Form or join a group devoted to your topics.
  • Reassignment/move to a new job: Ask your employer
    to shift you into a different department or position, or find work that
    better matches where you want to end up.

I just would add you should reserve the required time well in advance to avoid your short-term priorities are dominating your calendar. Budgeting time and scheduling time-slots in your calendar can help you with that.

Posted at April 16th, 2008

Why Professionals Need to Compete Globally

The answer is simple: if you don’t, you will be in trouble.

Get me right: I am not saying that you as an individual professional need to chase business all over the world. But, you need to be aware of your global competition. With high-speed Internet, well educated and trained people are available and reachable all over the world. Unlike last century, where low paid blue-collar work tended to be outsourced (or off-shored) to developing countries such as India or China, this is happening in the 21st century with white-collar job as well.

For example, More than 75 Percent of Financial Companies [are] Now Offshoring, Saving $9 bln a year.

Seems like tough times ahead, especially if you consider some of the aspects presented here (a pretty nice presentation, but lacks in my opinion a proper citation of the sources. Anyway, some good food for thought, if you take it with a grain of salt):

So, what to do? In my opinion, the outlook is not as bleak: Although competition is global, professionals have an invaluable advantage when competing locally against global competition: Trust, reputation and transaction costs.

What do I mean by that? Outsourcing and offshoring comes with transaction costs for your customer: more travelling to set up remote operations, more controlling and supervision. Because your customer does not know your fellow competitors from another continent yet: He is not familiar with their culture, he can not judge easily on their reputation. He still needs to build up trust to lower his transaction costs. This is the main (if not the only) entry barrier professional from a different country or continent face (no matter where they reside).

Therefore, in the 21st century, it is essential for a professional to focus on a few things:

  • Reputation: This is what helps a customer to decide. In the knowledge business most professionals are in, this is probably the most important factor. Knowledge is not tangible, and selling a service is just a promise for a future delivery. But it’s not only reputation about your knowledge. I would rate the reputation about your (business) ethics as even more important. We believe that the ethics of the ancient Samurai can provide some guidance here.
  • Professionalism: Once you got the contract, make sure you deliver what you promised: on time, in budget, in quality, and in a professional way.
  • Your personal and professional network: This is where your reputation ressonates, and this is also where your potential customers refer to in order to get recommendations for service providers: “Do you know somebody good at… ? Can you recommend me someone who…?” Here, they know, they get services for the lowest transaction cost: recommendations from people they trust.

Trust is the currency of the 21st century, and your network is your bank.

Treat it wisely.

Posted at April 14th, 2008