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Scene from Stranger Things

Are your Clients in the "Upside Down" from "Stranger Things"?

In a recent meeting where I was training a client to use their new WordPress website, I suggested they keep the “front end” open in one browser tab and and the “back end” open in another. My client was having trouble understanding what “front end” and “back end” referred to. Having just finished the Netflix series, “Stranger Things,” it occurred to me that the front/back end of a website, for a client, might be a bit like the “Upside Down” world in this popular Sci-Fi series. In “Stranger Things,” a group of teenage boys attempts to find their lost friend, who they believe is trapped in an alternate dimension they call “The Upside Down.” They filter their experiences through the lens of their favorite game, Dungeons and Dragons, specifically a location called the Vale of Shadows. Their science teacher describes the alternate reality with a drawing of a tightrope, on which balances an acrobat and a flea. On top of the rope, the dimension has rules, you can move forward or backward. The flea, being small, can travel forward and backward, but can do so on the side or even underneath the tightrope, which he describes as another dimension. In our…

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How To Simplify Your Life with Powerful Gmail Filters and Labels

Do you get overwhlemed by a large number of emails in your inbox? Do you find yourself deleting many emails without even opening them because they are junk mail and/or you don’t have time to read them? I LOVE the feeling of “Zero Inbox!” I feel a sense of calm when I have nothing in my inbox, or at least only one or two messages that I have already read. I have 3 email accounts, all of which are hosted with Google/Gmail. Earlier this year I ditched my mail client on my desktop and laptop computer and now only read my email in the browser. This took an adjustment, but the benefits are : My computer is much faster …. I don’t have to store thousands of emails that take up a lot of space on my hard drive I can view each mailbox separately, minimizing distraction while I am working, as I can keep my personal email account closed during working hours. Gmail has a filter that detects “Social” and “Promotions” messages, keeping your “Primary” inbox all about “real” email that needs your attention. On my phone, I use Outlook instead of the the iOS Mail App or Gmail. I…

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It's About Time: One of the Hardest Things about Being a Freelancer

Of all the challenges of being a freelance WordPress website “Implementor” … bookkeeping, invoicing, legal stuff, dealing with difficult clients, finding time to read blogs and keep up with new things, learn code, maintain or repair websites … the one thing I struggle with the most is tracking my time. Even though I bid many of my projects on a flat fee basis, I still do project work. Even on flat fee jobs where time is not directly billable, it is important to keep track of time to get an idea of how long tasks/projects take to be sure that I am not underestimating (or overestimating) the amount of time it takes to complete a job. If you’re like me, tracking time is not something that comes naturally. I recall a former boss, when I worked for an advertising agency, telling me, “if you think about the project in the shower or as you are falling asleep at night, that is billable time.”  My approach is more like, “this will be a very quick task so it’s not worth tracking/billing the time” … and two hours later, I have gotten lost in the project and never turned on a timer and…

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Great Expectations

“You might not need eyes to see!” Last week’s episode of This American Life, entitled “Batman,” is about how expectations affect the way people live their lives. It focuses on the story of Daniel Kish, who is blind, but can navigate the world around him by clicking with his tongue, or “echolocation,” like bats do. He has, by all accounts, exceeded expectations society has of blind people, and he attributes this to the fact that his mother never set low or limited expectations for him, so he never set them for himself. Are expectations good or bad? There are lots of reasons given for not having expectations, or for not having high expectations to avoid disappointment, stress and increase happiness. Expectations can get in the way of great life experiences if we are constantly trying to “live up to” other’s expectations of us. But there is a difference between living UP to expectations and living DOWN to expectations. If we never set a high expectation, or if we are constantly reminded of low expectations others have for us, it is impossible to grow. Our culture seems to prefer HOPE over EXPECTATION. What is the difference between Expectation and Hope? “Expectation influences our behavior and attitudes. It affects how…

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Jumping In

The ball just dropped in Times Square. There’s no time like the present to jump in and begin a new challenge. How many times have you put something off because you are not “ready?” I recall mornings when I rose early to swim in the open water, training for a triathlon. I was never a strong swimmer. The water was cold and I kept imagining bumping into slimy fish or drowning out where no one would find me. I would stand at the edge of the dock for several minutes, tempting myself to turn around and go back inside. It took a lot of courage to finally jump in. So here I go – jumping into an experience, though I don’t feel quite ready. After reading this post yesterday, I confirmed that I need to have faith in my ability to “learn as I go.” The discomfort of starting something new is balanced by Oliver’s observation that “if you’re worried you don’t measure up, that could well be a sign that you do.” This space will be a place for reflections, lessons, and stories that revolve around life as I want to live it: with tender loving care. Perhaps having this goal will inspire…

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