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Year In Review and Looking to 2019

Year In Review posts are popular right now. I love reading about how others sum up their year and give serious consideration to the year ahead. I have been using The 12 Week Year for much of 2018, so I have a few “years” within 2018, each with its own successes and shortcomings. It is helpful, too, to have an overarching review of the entire 2018 year and think about how I can be better in the next year. Overall, 2018 was a mental and emotional transition year for me. Turning 50 was harder emotionally than I expected it to be. I travelled a lot this year, including a few WordCamps, visits to help my extended family in South Carolina, a trip to Japan to visit my BFF from high school, a trip to Iceland with my family at the end of the summer, and most recently a weekend in Montreal with a dear friend and Christmas in the Dominican Republic with my extended family. Lucky me! And I got a tattoo! Our whole family participated, and while it has taken some adjustment to the idea of this old lady having “ink,” I embrace it and am glad we all…

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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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Be Nice Smiley Face (By Twexy Esy [CC BY-SA 4.0 ) By Twexy Esy [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Being Nice: A Strategy of Kindness

I recently exchanged a text with my 20 year old, which went like this (I love those emojis!) Being nice has been my parental and personal mantra. I recall a time when an elementary school mom came to me privately and told me my daughter had been mean to her daughter. I had a talk with my daughter about being nice … and about how sometimes it is hard to be nice, and sometimes it is easier and more cool to be mean. But I told her it’s always best to try to be nice, even when it is not easy. As I approach the end of my first 50 years on earth, I still struggle with living my own mantra. It is not always easy to be nice, but it is always best to try. As a business owner who interacts with multiple clients every day, being nice is not always top of mind – getting things done, replying to an unending stream of email requests, complaints, misunderstandings – it is easy to be grumpy and unpleasant. Lately I have felt exhausted. This doesn’t just mean I have trouble waking up in the morning (although after years of waking…

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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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