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Working with Friends: Maintain Your Friendship By Being Businesslike

You have probably read about the dangers of working for friends as clients. Yet, despite warnings, many of us have, at one time or another, discounted or donated work to friends because we are nice and we like to help our friends. In the end, this often turns out to be a bad idea and can damage a good friendship. If you decide to help your friends for free or a big discount, here are 4 suggestions on how to make this work better for both of you. Have a written contract and set limits on what is included in your offer. You may complete the work you offered to do for free or next to nothing, and your friend may come back for more work later with the expectation that you will work for free. You might think your offer was limited to one time, but they may think it is lifetime offer. It can feel awkward to get all business-like with your friend, but having a formal is important to maintain the value of your friendship and your business. Have contract that specifies what you are doing, and a limit on how much time you will spend, the…

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google drive app

Don’t Be Afraid of Google Drive. It’s Awesome.

Google Drive can make your workflow very efficient and effective. Sometimes it can be confusing working with Google, so following is a quick overview of how to use Google Drive and make it work for you. Watch a video overview First, download the Google Drive backup and sync app for your computer. That will put a little cloud icon at the top of your screen (on a Mac), which will allow you to sync selected folders and files to your hard drive of your computer. Now, files will show in your Google Drive folder automatically on your computer, making it quick and easy for you to access documents offline, to access photographs, etc. When you open a Google Documents from your the Google Drive folder on your computer, it will open as a Google Doc live on the web, not downloaded as a new version on the local computer. If it’s an Excel sheet or a Word document, the file will open on your computer, and then when you save it, the new file will overwrite the former version. This is why I recommend using the Google apps, like Google Sheets and Google Docs, because then you’ll be working with…

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shiny stars Photo-by-rawpixel-on-Unsplash

How to Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome: Easy Steps To Productivity

This week I am happy to share a guest post from Rene Morozowich. Rene is a Pittsburgh-based WordPress developer who loves a good plan, a cup of tea and an afternoon nap. Read more about Rene here. You’re scrolling through Twitter, catching up on Slack or browsing through your emails when you see it. Something new. Something promising. Something that will revolutionize your business, your process, your life. You have to investigate it. Right. Now. Before you know it, your entire afternoon is gone and you don’t have anything to show for it. You’ve succumbed to shiny object syndrome again. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole checking out the newest and shiniest object, try this: Quickly add the shiny object to your “to investigate” list. Your list could live in a Google doc, a Trello card or as a note on your phone, but it should be easy to access. Once the shiny object is on the list, return to your previously scheduled programming. Schedule time to look through the list later in the day or week, namely during a time when you’re not usually very productive anyway (the 2:00 slump or Friday afternoon). When the time comes, peruse the…

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Toggl Timer

I Hate Tracking Time For Work. Do You?

I’ve said it a million times. I suck at tracking time! I have tried most every time tracker there is and written numerous posts about my struggle with time tracking. No matter what I try, I still resist starting a timer, forget to turn it off, or to assign it to the correct project. My favorite time tracker, when I am tracking successfully, is Toggl. I have written about why I like this the best. I think subconsciously, I don’t start the timer because: I think I will only be doing something for a few minutes I multi-task, so jump between things every few minutes I don’t want to know how much time I am spending/wasting on something I am “playing” or learning and don’t think I will be billing or accountable for that time Whatever the reason, not tracking time is an excuse to WASTE time. I have recently been trying to lose a few pounds I gained over the summer. I spent a month doing the Total Wellness Challenge, where I was accountable to eat healthy foods and avoid processed and unhealthy foods. While I felt better, I didn’t lose weight doing this, and it was really frustrating….

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Using iPhone Notes App to Scan Documents

Mind Blown! How to Scan Documents With Your Phone

Gone are the days when we rely on fax machines, but scanners are still necessary for making a digital copy of paper documents. When my scanner broke, I resorted to photos of paper documents, which were hard to read, had shadows and a background of the surface they were taken on. Then I discovered ho to scan documents with my phone! It’s true! Your iPhone has a built-in scanner! (Android phones work too. Here is how) This makes it is so easy to make digital copies of documents, convert them to PDF format – and even mark them up or sign them! – and send them via email or text, or save them to my files on my phone, Dropbox, iCloud or Google Drive. How to Scan Documents with iPhone Here’s how it works: Launch the Notes app on your iPhone or iPad. Create a New Note. Tap the More button just above the keyboard. … Tap Scan Document from the list of options. Line up the document you want to scan. If the scanner doesn’t automatically scan, tap the shutter button to manually scan the document. Repeat the step above for each page you want to scan for a single document. Tap Save when you’ve scanned all of the pages…

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Boomerang App

Keep Your Inbox Sane With The Amazing Boomerang

I have tried MANY Email clients for desktop and my iPhone. On my desktop, I prefer to use Gmail in the browser. I like keeping my email accounts separate, and I think not having an email client makes my computer run faster. I have written about the ways I use Gmail and how I keep my thousands of messages organized and under control using labels and filters. I have also been using the Gmail app on my phone, as I like how it separates out “Social,” “Updates,” and “Promotional” messages from the main inbox. My favorite Gmail trick is Boomerang for Gmail. I have been using this extension within Gmail on my desktop and laptop for a while and love it. I discovered an app for my phone last year, but when I tried it, there were not enough features, such as the intuitive inbox category separation mentioned above. Since I last checked, the app has been updated and has now become my default phone app for mail. What I Love About Boomerang for Gmail Note: Boomerang also has an extension for Outlook. I am a fan of Inbox Zero. My “Type A” personality favors a neat and clean inbox…

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alarm clock

The Early Bird Gets It Done: Does When You Wake Up Affect Your Productivity?

I have noticed that I am more productive on days when I wake up early (5am) than I am on days when I “sleep in,” which for me means 7-8am. It’s decadent to lie in bed and pull out a book – or to be honest my cell phone – and aimlessly scroll through my Twitter feed, then bounce to Instagram, then to email. Before I know it an hour has gone by, and I am still in bed, and I feel like a slug most of the rest of the day. I justify this by telling myself, “Everyone needs unstructured time” and “I don’t have any place I have to be – I need  sleep!” Yet, I notice on the days that start off without a wake up plan I am almost always regretfully unproductive. The Best Part of Waking Up On the days when I wake up at 5am, I head out to exercise with my running or biking group. There is a deadline – a meeting time – so I have to be on time. This means I pop out of bed and get going without distraction. Usually, when I get home, I shower, eat breakfast, walk…

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Photo of plant growing in dirt

Year One: The First 12 Week Year

I recently completed my first “12 Week Year.” Overall, it was a productive and more importantly, focused experience. I was able to connect my daily tasks to some overarching goals, and to think about other long-term goals for the next year. To Grow or Not To Grow As an entrepreneur, I love connecting with other entrepreneurs and sharing ideas for how to improve processes, increase revenue and to be happier and more satisfied with my life and business. Part of being an entrepreneur is having a passion for growing and getting better at we do, or expanding our services. While I definitely share these qualities, I also have been struggling with the idea that I am generally satisfied with my business and my life. I have been asking myself if I really WANT to grow my business. I am fortunate that I don’t have pressure to make more money, but I worry that if I don’t continue to expand, I will fall behind and will not only struggle to be competitive for new business, but also to fit in with my colleagues. Life Goals The 12 Week Year has helped me create a vision of what I want to improve…

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bird's nest Photo from Deposit Photos

Making Decisions in Business & Life

I am in a new phase of life, commonly referred to as “The Empty Nest.” I dropped my youngest child at college last year and am adjusting to what this means for my life and my business, and how these relate to each other. It seems fitting to pay more attention to the decisions I am making on a short term and longer term basis. My approach to decision making has been much more deliberate than at other times in my life, perhaps because I am viewing this as a “fresh start” and most likely my final pass at combining life and business. I have established 3 steps for making decisions – whether decisions for tasks for a single day, or for a week, month, quarter or year. What is the priority? I recently spent time researching and practicing methods for productivity. I implemented some new practices, such as meditation, inbox pause and list making. I also utilized tools such as Rescue Time and Pomodoro breaks. While at the time, I was really focused on these new things, as time has gone on I have found myself falling into old patterns. I don’t meditate as often as I hoped to,…

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smiling balloon Photo from Pixabay

What are Your Expectations for Joy?

“Finding Joy” in life and in business has become a trend. I am sure that 40 or more years ago, the concept of being happy in all that you do was not a prominent philosophy. Joy and happiness have become a criteria for decision making, career and job searching, and social interaction. WHAT IS JOY? Joy is defined in the dictionary as “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” A google search for “finding joy” turns up The Bible (1 THESSALONIANS 5:16,“Be joyful always”), several blogs and self-help websites, including Oprah’s website and HuffPost, which has an article about joy that states that, “Joy is what makes life beautiful.” There are books about joy, including The Book of Joy which I have been digesting over the past few months in audiobook format. And podcasts, and e-courses and more, like this blog post on No Sidebar by Hilary Barnett, which tells us, “Joy doesn’t just happen. You have to dig for it.” Joy should even guide us when we clean out and organize our closets, as we are told in the best selling book, Spark Joy by Marie Kondo. Joy is also an attitude, a religion, a choice. If I can be…

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