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Category - Work

Keeping Clean In Order to Get Things Done

As I’ve been realizing my changing priorities and outlook for the future, I’ve been coming back to one word that defines my nature: clean.

I like things clean. Not just free from dirt clean, but simple clean, too.

For this blog, as I looked over themes galore to find one that I really liked — and would continue to like in the future — I needed it to be clean. The design had to be simple. Not overwhelming. Nice use of colors, but not too much.

(FYI, I’m using a self-enhanced version of the GimpStyle theme.)

At home, I tend to clean up a lot. Not because the place is overly messy, but because I like it to be clean. In fact — and you can ask Debbie this — whenever I’m in a bad mood or mad about something, I tend to clean. Don’t ask me why. I just do it.

My desk is normally pretty clean. I have a great glass tabletop desk, with my iMac, all-in-one printer, cordless phone and pen tray. But then there’s my big-ass laptop sitting there, which doesn’t really belong on the desk. But I always end up using it for something.

Penelope says that having a messy desk can hurt your career — and points to FBI data that says “people with messy offices are less efficient, less organized and less imaginative then people with clean desks.”

I think I need to be clean in order to get things done. That seems like common sense, though, right? The less you’re distracted by all the stuff out of place, the more you can do.

Maybe that’s why I’m sitting in the dark right now. So I can’t see the mess in my office while I write this.

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Goals Can Come From Improbable Places

For a guy out of full-time work, you’d think I’d be updating my blog more often, right?

Maybe it’s because I don’t have a topic — beyond me — or because I’m managing my other blog, Automatic Finances. (Reality check: it’s mostly because I’m always looking for a new theme for this site, even though I know writing more content is way more important than a new theme.)

But, I need to blog here. And I have stuff to blog about. Like, I’m on a new podcast — Tech Blab, co-hosted with my friends Dave Weinberg and Noah Wolfe. You can download the first episode here or subscribe via iTunes.

In recording this podcast, I’ve found out at least 3 things about myself:

  1. I am naturally skeptical about some things, like “game-changers” or anything that gets a lot of hype. I want to believe, but reality keeps me grounded.
  2. There’s a reason why I like John C. Dvorak. It’s much more fun to take the counter-argument than go along with the crowd.
  3. Debbie is right that I have a tendency to be a low-talker. Crap.

But I think I’ve also figured out why I don’t update this blog as much as I should or could. For one, there’s way too much already happening in the tech echo chamber, and I’m not one to just re-hash what others are saying or try and engage in the massive conversation.

Second, even though I enjoy writing, there’s a reason I’ve pegged myself as a multimedia journalist — audio and video publishing is more exciting (and easier to comprehend) than only text. So maybe I need to do more multimedia here. Even if it just makes me feel better about myself.

So, that’ll be my goal for this site: to produce more content, both audio and video. The 24 video recaps were fun, but that whole having-a-kid-thing threw off my timing and sleep.

Stay tuned.

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Introducing Automatic Finances

For the past few months, I’ve been developing a brand new personal finance site featuring my first published ebook — Automatic Finances: 17 Days to Your Financial Freedom.

Automatic Finances promises to set yourself up for financial success and spend less time getting there.

Using tools freely available online and a mindset dedicated to reaching your goals, you’ll learn how to:

  • Track and categorize all your spending
  • Find your net worth and watch it grow
  • Save money and invest for the future without pinching pennies
  • Ensure your money is getting the highest rates of return possible
  • Have your bills paid automatically and never write a check again

The system is designed so that in 17 days, you’ll be spending less time worrying about your money and more time watching it grow.

We’ve already got a good 3 months worth of blog posts, with contributions by former Online Savings Blog writer Fred Seigmund, and buddies Lee Distad and Louis.

Check out the site now, and download the first three chapters of the ebook absolutely free.

3 Mistakes I Made in 2008

You know how pretty much every look-back-at-the-year-that-was post generally remembers the highlights of the last year?

Well, in order to start the new year on the right foot, it’s worth looking back at some of the mistakes I made in 2008 and will try not to repeat in 2009.

Here are 3 mistakes I made in 2008.

I Tried to Do Too Many Things at Once

This has generally been my problem ever since I started working and launching side ventures.

Since I’m the creator-type and tend to look for instant gratification in my work, working online is a blessing and a curse.

I started way too many sites and considered ideas for others and tried to run them all — at the same time. I consistently broke my own rule of maximizing product development, not number of projects.

I Communicated Poorly

One of the things about working at home is that your communication needs to be extremely clear.

I can’t tell you how many times an email or an IM has come out the wrong way or been misinterpreted because of the word choice. More often that not, this leads to a mountain being made out of a molehill.

The biggest thing missing from online communication is a person’s visual clues. If only we all had video cameras and Skype …

I Lost Focus

The only way to get where you need to be is to know where that is. Too often, I didn’t.

This year, I went through phases: setting goals, managing work and removing distractions, then the complete opposite. Keeping focus requires structure, and too often I left myself roam free.

It’s not like I can’t hit goals: cepro just hit its yearly goal on the nose. But in my own ventures, I couldn’t keep the focus long enough to succeed. And that hurt.

Why I’ll Probably Make These Mistakes Again in 2009

Reality check: I’m not going to be perfect in 2009. That I know. I’ll certainly make these mistakes again.

But that won’t stop me from trying. My goal? To cut down on these mistakes as much as possible.

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With Every Transition Comes a New Opportunity

It’s been a mind-boggling week for me.

Last Saturday, I found out that my biggest client was having a much harder time raising the cash needed to pay for my services and needed me to stop working.

Last Tuesday, my day job had its first layoffs ever in 14-plus years. While I’m still there, we were all given reduced working hours and had some benefits cut back.

On Monday, I sold the Online Savings Blog.

As you can imagine, a lot has changed — quickly.

Where Do You Go From Here?

This is the question most difficult to answer.

Two weeks ago, I offered a service, had a big product, and security at my day job. Today, I’ve got a lot less.

It’s a lot of change in not a lot of time. It feels difficult — at least it feels like a big transition — but in reality, it’s not a bad thing at all.

If you step back, you can see that now I have the opportunity to re-work, re-define and re-apply myself.

This sounds a lot like what you tell people who have just lost their jobs. It’s not a loss, it’s an opportunity. But saying it to yourself takes a lot of confidence — something that this kind of transition eats away at.

What I’ve Learned and Can (Hopefully) Apply

Now that I’ve got a fresh start, here’s what I’m working on:

  • Not overextending myself with too many commitments
  • Not starting too many Web sites that I can’t keep up with
  • Not letting my constant flow of ideas overwhelm my current project
  • Focusing on my strengths, not my weaknesses
  • Not trying to do it all, especially if someone else can do it better

In a way, it’s great timing that all of this has happened as the year comes to an end. With the calendar flipping around to the top, we all have a chance to start over and make 2009 better than 2008.

Remember: the next time transition hits you, consider it an opportunity.

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© Jason Unger. A Digital Ink Production.