You’ve heard the conventional wisdom: never check email in the morning.That sounds great, unless your job involves communicating with people, or if you happen to care about what people have to say to you. In either of those cases, you very well might want (or need!) to see what's happened overnight just as you sit down to work. It's also true, though, that it's easy to get sucked into replies and never end up creating or building or just working on something that requires long-term focus, all because you can't get your nose out of the inbox. Years ago I found a better way that I still use most days of the week. Here's how it works. Read More
This is an excerpt from Working On the Road: The Unconventional Guide to Full-Time Freedom by Nora Dunn.Traveling full-time can actually cost far less than it does to live in one place. This is due to a number of cost-saving factors, ranging from volunteering in trade for free accommodation, using frequent flyer miles, spending time in places where the cost of living is cheaper (sometimes), and judiciously monitoring your spending. There's no template solution to how much money you’ll need to begin your life working abroad, but you can use these questions to help gauge the expenses you’ll have and how they will vary based on itineraries, priorities and travel style. Read More
I caught bronchitis last winter, and it lasted for more than a week. I spent much of the day sleeping or complaining.But of course, I still had to work sometime. My energy level was constantly low, but every so often I'd muster enough strength to work through a few tasks or half-heartedly reply to emails before crashing on the couch. The rest of the time, when I wasn’t sleeping or complaining, I was on the couch reading or watching bad TV shows on my iPad. Once in a while I’d be inspired to boil water for herbal tea. It was rough—even worse than the dreaded man flu. Read More
Here’s a trick that will help every time.Work hard during the day, and cross off as many things from your list as you can. But as you’re winding down, save something. Leave one thing undone. Don’t actually do that one more task—but do identify it. Stop before you’re completely ready to stop. Build a bridge to the future, and leave your current day’s work knowing what you’re going to do next. It will work. Every time. Read More
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."-attributed to Albert Einstein, but likely apocryphal Whoever said it, you’ve probably heard this quotation at some point. And in one way or another, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of doing the same thing over and over, all the while expecting a different outcome. I think the real danger of going insane doesn’t come from something new, but rather from something that we’ve been doing for a while. Most of us are smart enough to realize that if we try something new and it doesn’t work, we can’t just keep trying the same way and expect different results. We might try again, but we’ll usually switch up the tactic. Even mice in a maze will learn to adapt and attempt different solutions. Read More
I’ve been working on my tax return this week, which is complicated for a lot of reasons. First, I run several different businesses which all have their own set of accounting. WDS, our annual gathering, has its own legal structure, including a foundation that is completely separate from all my other projects. Last year we started an all-new event that also has its own legal structure.So yeah, it’s complicated. It takes about 20 hours just to prepare all the info for my accountant, and as with most tax-prep tasks, it’s not usually a fun process. But I do enjoy seeing some of the charges on my statements from the previous year. They remind me of the crazy life I have, and the many fun experiences that I'm fortunate to participate in. As I went through all the expenses, a few things stood out that I thought were especially interesting or noteworthy. And yes, my accountant usually has a lot of questions for me about these things before we actually complete the return and file with the IRS. Read More
As part of the promotion for this year’s B-School program with my friend Marie, I wanted to point out two very clear things:1. I think this course is fantastic, and well worth the cost. If you like the idea of establishing a freedom business, like I’ve done and so many AONC readers have done, this is a great way to get going in a structured program. 2. If you don’t have the money or aren't sure you're ready, you don’t need to pay for this or anything else. You’re not "missing out." There are always other ways you can learn and participate. Read More
In reading the transcript of Bob Dylan’s speech at MusiCares, I also liked this part on the origins of his songwriting:
“There's nothing secret about it. You just do it subliminally and unconsciously, because that's all enough, and that's all I sang. That was all that was dear to me. They were the only kinds of songs that made sense.
I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs. And I played them, and I met other people that played them back when nobody was doing it. Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that's fair game, that everything belongs to everyone.
For three or four years all I listened to were folk standards. I went to sleep singing folk songs. I sang them everywhere, clubs, parties, bars, coffeehouses, fields, festivals. And I met other singers along the way who did the same thing and we just learned songs from each other. I could learn one song and sing it next in an hour if I'd heard it just once."Read More
From time to time people ask my advice about marketing to Generation X or Millennials or any other group of people. When this happens, I always worry.One research firm offered me $250 for an hour-long consultation on this exact topic. I said no, partly because I don’t like to trade time for money, but also on the principle of “What would I say?” If forced to say something, I suppose I’d say that unless you’re selling diapers, it’s a bad idea to market to people based on what generation you think they belong to on account of their birth year. Instead, maybe you should think first about making something that matters. Then, stop putting people in boxes based on how you expect them to behave and what you think they want. You might be surprised at the results, and you might be a lot more successful. Cartoon: Tom Fishburne Read More
I met a guy who was a busy executive at a startup in Silicon Valley. His family, a wife and three young kids, lived several states away. He lived in a hotel during the week, worked every evening, and flew home every weekend before returning to the office on Monday morning. Not a very dedicated family guy, right?On the contrary. When I asked him about living in two cities, he admitted it was sometimes a challenge. But then he talked about what the weekends were like. “We do everything together,” he said. “We go camping. We bake and cook. We play hard the whole weekend long. I know I have to go back on Monday, so I'm constantly thinking about how to squeeze as much time and as many experiences in as we can.” His family had discussed the arrangement of him being away mid-week, and they re-evaluated it twice a year. So far, at least, it was working. Read More
The best and most honest answer is that I wasn’t good at anything else. For better or worse, I learned that I was a terrible employee. I was unreliable and unskilled.I’ve written before about my last official job, lugging boxes onto FedEx trucks in the middle of the night. Stacking boxes was surprisingly hard! It wasn’t just about picking up the box and tossing it in the truck—you had to stack it in a certain way that led to maximum efficiency (and presumably out of some concern for the contents, though that never seemed to be much of a priority). I lacked the spatial reasoning to do this task well. I was decent enough at Tetris, but when it came to real boxes, I sucked. I kept waiting for that big horizontal bar to come down the chute, so I could clear off four lines of bricks or boxes all at once, but it never arrived. Instead, the supervisor kept messing with me, adding boxes with incorrect zip codes to the queue while laughing at my poorly-stacked pallets. Whatever. I quit and never went back. Read More
This morning I woke up at 7:20am, and it felt so late. There was a touch of light outside—what was that? Oh right, sunrise.For the past few mornings I’ve been getting up at the entirely unreasonable hour of 5:30am or sometimes even earlier. My breakfast place opens at 6am and I’ve been at the front of the line shortly thereafter. The sun rose two hours after I’d been awake. Two nights earlier, I went to bed with my laptop on the nightstand. Yep—it was another product launch week. As I made another cup of coffee on the morning after having slept “so late,” I thought back on the launches over the years. How many have I done? I honestly don’t remember. Read More