Monthly Archives: February 2006

Maximizing Efficiency

In my effort to become ever more productive throughout the day, I’ve done several more things:

For starters, if I need to concentrate for a prolonged period of time and start to drift, I’ve found these things work pretty well:

Ear plugs. Blocking all audible input greatly reduces the amount of things to concentrate on, therefore helping concentration. I use them time to time if I have a large amount of “boring” work to do.

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When I work out now, I bring a checklist of exercises to do. I wish I had started this years ago!

There’s a quote I like by Brian Tracy that says: “At the age of 24 I began setting clear, written goals for each area of my life. I accomplished more in the following year than I had in the previous 24.”

Setting goals and creating plans helps accomplish more in any field, so I don’t know why it took me so long to apply it in the gym. Instead of simply stopping when I get tired or unmotivated, I now finish long workouts, and I can see my progress in visual form on the checklist.

I got the initial checklist from this workout plan post at AskMen.com, then slightly modified it to be one workout with more sets.

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My latest motivational addition to my room comes in the form of a large poster I had printed out at Kinkos on foam board. It’s a quote I stole from Stephen Stephanian’s website.

I put this board right in front of my desk so I can’t ignore it.

Steve Balmer Video – Enthusiasm & Body Language

There is a short video clip of Steve Balmer, the billionaire CEO of Microsoft, which has been out for a while now, but I find myself watching it everyday.

To get people motivated, you have to lead by example, and this guy DOES IT. This is a famous video from a Microsoft company meeting where he comes out screaming and jumping with unsurpassed energy, apparently he pulls stuff like this at all the speeches he makes…I love CRAZY business people!

If a guy 30 years older than me can show THAT much enthusiasm (or insanity) for what he does, as a 23 years old with all the opportunity in the world, what am I doing?

While looking up some more videos of Steve Balmer, I found some interviews with him by Robert Scoble:


(Video Link)

I was again enthralled with Balmers enthusiasm, but I picked up something else from this video….by watching it on mute. He NEVER crosses his hands or hides them, and he frequently uses them in combination with his speech in a very animated manner. Interesting.

Note to self:
Start working on developing better body language and becoming more energetic.

Stop Thinking About Products

Too often people take a look at some of my small businesses and want to replicate them with different products/services.

These people first start searching for a product to sell. I think this mentality is wrong. First people should get serious about researching what goes into creating a small online business, THEN start looking for a product.

Many people don’t realize the first steps it takes to setup a fully functioning ecommerce website. This is just a short list of things to do:

  • Finding a domain name, buying the domain
  • Setting DNS servers for domain
  • Finding hosting to resolve domain
  • Creating an entire website
  • Enabling shopping cart capabilities
  • Opening a merchant account
  • Finding suppliers or means of production for products/services
  • Installing SSL security
  • Getting page properly indexed in DMOZ and search engines
  • Reaching customers
  • Drawing people to the website
  • Converting visitors into sales

Trying to do this on a budget of maybe less than $100 isn’t easy, so much of it must be done yourself. Something simple as designing a logo can be difficult if you don’t know how to use PhotoShop or other software.

Fortunately, there are solutions nowadays that take most of the technical stuff out of the process such as Volusion.com and Yahoo Stores, but even then it still really helps to be somewhat tech savvy.

If you’re serious about sometime starting up a small online business, first do some serious reading and research about the business and technical side….then decide on your product/service later. Don’t be afraid to sail uncharted waters.

Staying Organized

I’m currently involved with tons of different projects, and staying organized is a task all unto its own. After years of trial and error, here are my favorite ways for staying organized in different areas:

DAILY TO-DO’s:
Favorite method: Sticky Note Chain.
I’ve experimented extensively in this area, and nothing comes close to a sticky note. I’ve tried Palm Pilots and computer calendars to no end….but nothing beats the sticky note.

Instead of setting my day hour-by-hour, I just write down TASKS. This way I can easily compensate for unexpected new tasks. If I don’t finish the list, I don’t sleep.

Alternate Methods: Outlook Calendar, AT Notes.

TAXES:
Favorite Method:
Binder with transparent folders in conjunction with the spending cork board and Excel. When I have a tax write off I need to remember, I put it in the binder at the end of each month. Receipts are extremely important in this area.

EXPENSES:
Favorite Method: Cork board coupled with month end closeout on Excel.
When I get a receipt or incur an expense, it goes up here. I tabulate at the end of every month the total amount. This also gives you a real time visualization of your spending habits.

EMAIL:
Favorite Method:
Outlook. I used to hate Outlook for a while, then was told by a mentor to start using it. I begrudgingly did so, and now I would never leave Outlook. As much as I hated it tying all my accounts into one, I now view it as a godsend.

For example, I used to view House Of Rave emails only when I got a chance or felt like it. Now with Outlook integrating all my email accounts in one place, order problems and customer inquiries get answered almost right away instead of in hours or days. This obviously improves profit and customer satisfaction which tends to = $$$

Outlook also allows me to sort all mail into different folders for future reference. I honestly don’t know how I was running my businesses without this earlier.

Business Cards/Contacts:
If I am handed a business card, I almost always snap a picture of it with my camera. I then upload the picture to the Buinsess Cards folders on my computer. I also enter the persons information into Outlook.

My list of organizational techniques is always changing, but for now these are most efficient ways that work for me in particular!

Starting Charity Account with AdSense

I’ve complained about Google AdSense many times before, saying I will never put them on NevBlog. Well, that’s changed.

I have a very under-funded Charity Account with Bank of America which I recently started, and not much money has gone into it. This account automatically accumulates money every week from my main account, but relatively slowly compared to the other accounts.

Starting this Feb 1st I put a vertical Google Adsense banner on NevBlog to generate income for this new charity account. I tried to make it very un-invasive:

Leaving the ad relatively out of the way is contrary to maximizing its profit potential, but I don’t want to clutter the site.

So far the return is extremely BAD. The first day I got several thousand impressions, 8 clicks and a grand total of 38 cents. If that’s a taste of the profit to come, then I’m not sure AdSense is even worth it.

I thought this would be a painless way to increase the amount of money I give away, so hopefully the profits improve!

Monthly Expenses, Win Everyday, New Biz

I’ve started more aggressively tracking my monthly expenses starting this January. I utilized the help of a cork board and dry erase board to do this. Every time I incur an expense, I write it down on the dry erase board and post the receipt.

I also keep an Excel file full of my expenses and tax deductions, but the cork board is always there to stare me in the face for what I spend. For January I incurred roughly the following expenses:

I know people who pay higher monthly rents than my entire monthly expenses. These are bound to go up, especially in the investment category. Luckily, many of my investment dollars are tax deductible.

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I was speaking to a mentor of mine about being more productive, and he passed down a simple phrase that was passed down to him:

For some reason, that phrase really stuck with me. He explained that, “Everyday should be a small victory.

This means writing out all of your tasks the night before, then executing them all before you sleep the next day. If you finish everything and then some, you have won.

I used to plan out my day by hour, but it NEVER worked. I realized that everyday is different, and unexpected things always pop up, so an hourly schedule is not the best. My days are more planned out now using Microsoft Outlook Calendar and plain old sticky notes.

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I had set a goal of 1-31-2006 to launch another new small business of mine. I’ve postponed that launch date for 5 more days. It should be done by then!