A few months ago, I exposed a prevailing cultural myth: that we can achieve success if we’ll just “work a little harder.” In that post, I shared a number of options for working smarter. In discussions online, several folks said that wasn't realistic. They simply had too much to do. Another way to work smarter and earn more is to convert administrative hours into productive ones, and this often means hiring someone else to handle those administrative tasks. Now there's another option: you can let technology handle them for you, all for free. Here's a five step roadmap to creating your own virtual assistant.
Most mornings this month, I've listened to a Joel Osteen sermon from his audiobook. Aside from being a fantastic way to start the day, I've learned a very subtle and powerful lesson. I may be a little groggy in the wee hours, but it didn't take long for me to realize that he starts and ends each sermon the exact same way - using precisely the same words. That struck me as odd. When we're just starting out, we look at the Greats and hope that one day we can perform as effortlessly as they do - being natural, winging it, just going with the flow. Eventually, we realize that's a myth. Read on to learn what you can do instead.
The old saying quipped that the only thing we knew for certain was death and taxes. Now, I think we can add uncertainty to that list. All we know about the future is that it's going to be different. And yet, there was very little training available to prepare us for that. Until Jonathan Fields literally wrote the book on it. The subtitle captures it well for me: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. I don't just want to learn to endure; I want to thrive. I read the book within days of its arrival and felt like I'd just received the instruction manual to my own brain. I thought it could be that powerful, but I wanted to apply the principles for a few weeks to see for sure. I'm convinced.
Over the weekend, the "Occupy" movement organized a protest in my city, Corpus Christi, Texas. I stumbled upon it from the stream of messages on Facebook and Twitter. After spending Saturday morning at the 3E office (ironically planning the next few positions we're going to add) alongside other entrepreneurs, I was irritated. To be honest, I'm not sure I even understand what exactly they want - or if they're just expressing general frustration. I support their right to protest. It's quite the American thing to do, as Tom Peters reminded us. And other folks made lots of great points in Facebook debates. I agree that there are problems in our financial system, and that American capitalism isn't perfect. But I don't think that's the real problem. The world has changed dramatically in the last few years. Young people are realizing that their education isn't an express ticket to success, and it hurts. We have a choice. We can throw a temper tantrum about how unfair it is that the game has changed, or we can figure out how to play by the new rules. Here's how to do just that.
One Saturday evening in July, I noticed lots of folks on Facebook updating their statuses to say that they wouldn't be online for a week. Eventually, it was clear that this was the result of a sermon by our pastor. On the way to church the next morning, I remember lamenting to my husband that I wasn't looking forward to this message. For the most part, I didn't feel like social media was a time drain for me, and I often use it for business or specific relationship-building. We went anyway, and the message wasn't what I expected. In essence, Pastor Bil asked if we thought we were living up to God's purpose for our lives, and if not, what was distracting us or keeping us artificially busy. I decided to be more mindful about my time and start tracking it again (an old CPA habit). I also decided to stop watching television for the week. I didn't think I watched it much, so I wasn't expecting much change in that area. Boy, was I wrong.