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The Best Time Management Strategy: Don’t Find the Time, Find the Why

3325745244_76c62bf2f6_zOver the past few months, I've been interviewing people for my upcoming book on dream jobs. Many of the people I’ve talked to are really busy—they've found or created their dream job, but they also tend to do a lot of other stuff as well. Some of them have side businesses or run ultramarathons on the weekends. Some of them have active family lives. Some of them do all those things... and more. I don't always ask the same questions of interviewees, but one tends to come up pretty often: "How do you find the time?"

I liked this answer I heard yesterday:

"It's less about how do I find time and more about why do I find time. You'll always find time for things that have a strong enough why."

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What to Do When You Have No Idea What to Do

9242342662_d4379074a5_z What's it like to quit your job with no backup plan—and not just any job, but a nationally-known, prestigious position as the host for NPR's Marketplace show

That's what Tess Vigeland did recently, and her brand-new book Leap tells the whole story.

I really like this book, and it was fun to learn that several people in our community were part of its development. It's partly a memoir, but more importantly it puts forward a message on how success can be measured by happiness and fulfillment, not by how far you travel on a traditional career path.

If you want to leave your job—whether you love it, hate it, or are somewhere in between—this book should be at the top of your reading list.

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The Fear of Losing Prestige

2995435776_a6d1e63a54_zChiara Cokieng, born and raised in the Philippines, has been on a journey of multiple career changes. After graduating from a prestigious university program and landing a nice gig as an international consultant with assignments in America, she then quit her job to work on a business idea. The business idea didn’t pan out, at least not right away—so she took on a new role as a full-time employee for a startup. She plans to see this commitment through, but eventually wants to go back to her own thing.

In all of these changes, she’s had to manage the emotional labor of shifting directions, including telling people that what she hoped to do was no longer happening.

Here’s what she describes as the most important thing she’s learned...

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Pioneer Nation Returns in October: Here’s How You Can Join Us!

Last year we debuted an all-new event to serve independent entrepreneurs and anyone who felt underserved by existing business conferences. We called it Pioneer Nation—and the first gathering was a tremendous success.

We'll be returning in October (just two months from now!) for our second edition. If you'd like to hang out in a mountain resort an hour from Portland, Oregon and learn new skills for taking your business to another level, you can join us.

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Creative Ways to Succeed in the Knowledge Economy

Reading:

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I enjoyed each of these stories that have been floating around.

If you want to be negative, there’s at least one major point you could critique about each of them. The woman making tons of money on Etsy isn’t actually handcrafting most of her items, which is the guiding value of Etsy. The Rideshare Guy is essentially trading time for money. The poets, well, I guess you could say it’s more of a party trick than real poetry.

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To Be More Creative, Schedule Your Work at 80% Capacity

3601990852_541f71970d_z I'm fortunate to work with great partners, including a wonderful design studio right in Southeast Portland called Jolby & Friends.

I was recently with the Jolby crew on a site visit, and one of them mentioned something about how they deliberately operate their studio on an "80% capacity" model.

The idea is that they schedule themselves only 80% full in order to be available for last-minute client requests, as well as their own work. I thought this was really interesting!

I wrote to Steven, the studio manager, to ask more about how it works.

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You Don’t Have to Win at Everything


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I had coffee with an aspiring entrepreneur who was struggling with priorities.

“I worry I’m doing everything wrong!” he said.

Everywhere he went, people gave him free advice. They told him about email marketing ... and webinars ... and the latest new social network ... and all the things he had to do to keep up.

"I'm not sure I'll be able to do all these things," he continued. "I can hardly keep up with the list!"

Well, that’s the thing. First of all, it’s very hard to fully "keep up" these day. There’s always a new network to learn, a new tool to master. There’s always one more thing that can be done.

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Waking Up at Night with Big Ideas


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Long ago, right before I started this blog and began the full-time quest to "go everywhere," I went through a six-month period of thinking about it. When I say I was thinking about it, I mean it occupied my mental world approximately 80% of the time. I was still working and going to grad school during the day, but my attention lay elsewhere.

Then, at night, I'd go to bed with a notebook on my nightstand. I kept it there because almost every night, I'd wake up feeling excited. I'd have another idea or something new to add to the outline.

I loved this story of Benny Hsu making $100,000 from his t-shirt designs—a huge entrepreneurial success on his own, no doubt. But I also related to how the project took over his life and became all he thought about.

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A Better Approach to “Never Check Email in the Morning”


226823992_0eb2580004_z 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.

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What If You Had to Work Only One Hour a Day?


One Hour a Day, No More

I once caught bronchitis, 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.

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The Magic Button of Good Design


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At least once a week I receive questions about the design process behind the self-published work I’ve made, in particular the three manifestos I offered a few years ago.

"What software do you use?" people want to know. In other words, how do I “make them look good”?

I'm no designer, but as a writer I appreciate the value of imagery and structure that works in harmony with words. I also know that there’s no big secret to it, nor is there a shortcut.

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Prepare for Tomorrow by Doing One Thing Differently Today


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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.

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To Stop Insanity, It’s Not Just About Doing Things Differently


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"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.

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