I write this for two reasons:
1.) I am starting that 6-pack experiment in April and have begun preparing for it by eating ultra-clean and ultra-lean. Pretty much all day I’m eating 100% raw foods only…that’s not the plan for the whole month, but it’s been my diet for the last week. It’s not hard as I expected (because I’ve been eating well for a few months now), but keeping this up for a full month and resisting the urge to pig out at social events gets HARD.
However for the month of April I want to see a dramatic change in the way my stomach looks…and for that I need to be calorie deficient for weeks at a time. I can easily keep my current physique with the way I’m eating now, but my diet must be extra-ordinarily good to see those extraordinary results.
2.) As you know I own a business called House Of Rave which is all online. Over the last year I made a lot of small tweaks which cut down on the number of customer support inquires and time spent getting orders out. At a bare minimum I need to spend less than 30 minutes every weekday administering the site…the rest runs on it’s own. That alone can pay all my bills and still save money.
Pretty cool eh! 30 minutes of work per day!
Well…I also like the business to GROW….so to maintain AND grow the site takes about 2 hours per day (mainly spent adding product photo/video reviews).
I will admit…over these first few months of 2010 those small required amounts of time have spoiled me. I’ve stopped updating the site as much as I should. The 1st quarter is never a FANTASTIC time for a business like mine (which sells party supplies) and is also enduring a bad economy, but I think I’ve been slipping quite a bit on my responsibilities to it.
Extraordinary effort doesn’t necessarily mean long hours (although that certainly helps)….because with this business a very consistent tweaking of small things every day can make a HUGE impact. I’ve proved this many times, including one time I documented 30 small changes I made with very clear results (aka MO MONEY)!
I think what I’ll do in April is one day blog about a small HoR change, then the next day document the diet and steps I’ve taken to get a ripped-ass six pack.
Find merchant supplies and POS terminals at Moneris Solutions.
Do you have your March 2010 goals lines up? I do:
Remember, I keep them on my iPhone:
I stopped making monthly goals a while ago because I rarely followed up on them. They always get stuck on a sheet of paper somewhere which I promptly forget about on day 2 of the month.
Now every time I look at my phone, guess what I see? Monthly goals staring me in the face waiting to be completed!
I made the original Seinfeld Calendar post 4 months ago.
It’s simply a giant year calendar that faces my bed so I see it all the time. If I accomplish my daily to-do list, I put a checkmark. If I don’t finish the to-do list, I put a dot:
The whole reasoning for this calendar is to make finishing my daily goals consistent. The quote I keep on top of the calendar sums it up:
Excellence is not an act, but a habit
Here’s the number results of these four months (weekends included):
Good Day: When my written-the-night-before to-do lists get completely finished.
Bad Day: When to-do list not fully finished. Most of the bad days are weekends.
The to-do lists I give myself are generally quite a bit of work. A standard to-do list generally will keep me occupied for a full 8-12 hours. Sometimes it takes less, sometimes it takes more. Most of this work involves me staring at a computer, so 8-12 hours of this per day gets a little straining.
I noticed when I tried getting a checkmark 7 days of the week, I burned myself out! The following days would be very unproductive and filled with low quality work because I was burning myself out. So after figuring out different ways of becoming more productive, I found out the best way is to allow myself about 2 bad days per week. This can be the weekdays or weekends…whatever I feel. This way the work is enjoyable and I still get large amounts of work done.
Here is a recent shot of the filled out calendar:
The first month I was getting REALLY pissed if I didn’t fill out a checkmark for the day, so I started working very hard the next day to fill it out. After a while I started making checking these off a habit. It’s helped me stop procrastinating as much, because in the middle of the day I think, “I can either continue to screw off and get a dot for the day, or just start doing this work, getting it out of the way and get a checkmark for the day.”
I also have less fun going out if I don’t finish all my work. When I finish off a great day of work, it feels good and well deserved to go out. So being more productive actually allows me to have more fun!
Anyhow, I’d highly recommend this Seinfeld Productivity Calendar method. It’s definitely helped me become more focused and productive through the day!
Flashback to January 2007 I decided to try not having any yearly goals. Well that didn’t go well as planned (or…unplanned)?
I like how Earl Nightingale put it:
Think of a ship with the complete voyage mapped out and planned. The captain and crew know exactly where the ship is going and how long it will take – it has a definite goal. And 9,999 times out of 10,000, it will get there.
Now let’s take another ship – just like the first – only let’s not put a crew on it, or a captain at the helm. Let’s give it no aiming point, no goal, and no destination. We just start the engines and let it go. I think you’ll agree that if it gets out of the harbor at all, it will either sink or wind up on some deserted beach – a derelict. It can’t go anyplace because it has no destination and no guidance.
While 2007 was a good year, it was also a relatively stagnant year. At the end of 2007 I wasn’t much further along as I should or could have been with clear cut goals. It’s a pretty gross feeling.
Somewhere in the February to April part of 2008 I once again started focusing and making very clear cut goals on yearly/monthly revenue and other things. It worked great. Making month to month comparisons was especially helpful because you can literally SEE yourself slipping or getting lazy in numbers:
Before I made my 2009 list of goals, I made sure to really think about each goal first. I used this criteria:
- Is this goal something I REALLY want?
- Am I willing to put in the time and effort to accomplish this, or is it just something I’d “like” to accomplish?
- Will this actually benefit me?
- Be specific.
Here are some of my top level biz goals for 2009:
- Have first $83,333 revenue month at House Of Rave ($1,000,000/year equiv) by 4th quarter 2009.
- Spend around one full month with the House Of Rave drop shipper to re-vamp and improve processes.
- Make and upload two HoR product picture/video reviews per week.
- Keep a more aggressive track on month to month income, taking a few minutes on the 1st, 10th, 15th and 25th of the month to make sure monthly goals are being met…and if not, ways to meet them by months end.
- Start preparing for holiday seasons & mini-seasons 3 months in advance. One month for product additions, two months for tweaking.
- Any changes made should be measured. Don’t simply make changes and see they improve things, actually measure what was improved. How did each specific change effect traffic, conversion rate, or revenue (and other metrics)?
- …tying in from #6: Keep a close watch on month-to-month trends and numbers. Print out charts and keep in a folder like I keep my daily to-do lists.
- Maintain and increase current year-to-year growth rate of House Of Rave: If I compare House Of Rave revenue from X-month 2007 to X-month 2008 there was a minimum of 177% increase and a maximum of 504% increase. I’ll post the numbers at some point. Profit was increased by 307% from 2007 to 2008.
SOME PERSONAL GOALS:
- Start buying proper furnishings.
For some reason I hate owning a lot of big stuff, especially furniture. It has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with portability and freedom. Previously I’ve lived in furnished apartments which provide all the furniture (and it’s nice furniture too). When I started living in a house I absolutely detested the idea of having to BUY a bed. It took the combined force of my mom and my roommate (who owns the house) to make me buy a bed. My mom literally stuffed hundreds of dollars in cash into my palm saying I had to buy a real bed with it…and my roommate said he wouldn’t let me live there if I slept on anything but a proper bed.
I can sleep on the floor with a thin sheet for all I care, so a bed seemed like a ridiculous notion to me (I know I know….I sound like a homeless person).
Anyhow, a few months ago I think I officially became an adult when I…….bought new pillows. Under my own will power I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a king sized pillow and a body pillow. It was a big step. It was the first (non-forced) purchase I’ve ever made that benefited my own physical comfort. This is the first cautious step into slowly becoming somewhat of a grown up.
- Spend a few short minutes every morning for some thinking time.
I used to take yoga classes and after an hour of intense positions you’d just lay there. Those few moments made all that work worth it. Like clockwork this sudden feeling of mental clarity would hit me. My mind would slow down to a halt and this euphoric sensation would take over. It’s hard to describe, but very cool.
I would try to duplicate this some mornings without the hour of yoga preceeding it, and I found that simply sitting in a comfortable meditation-like position (but not comfortable enough to fall asleep), would yield a similar clarity, but without the brain-shutting-down part. This means I can think about my plans, goals and objectives for the day in a clear state. I also tend to get some great ideas during this time (although about 50% of my ideas still come to me whilst showering).
Doing this morning exercise every day would feel great and be very beneficial.
So far these are the only goals I have that I know I can stick to. They can always be modified or added to during the year.
Anyhow, have a great 2009!
First post of the year!
Let’s get started. For starters, I’m not going goal-less this year like I tried in 2007. That worked out OK, but setting clear goals is quite an important task. I was using some pretty flawed logic in that goal-less post.
Short Term Goals:
- Join the Austin Rock Gym instead of a regular gym. Two years ago I went indoor rock climbing every other day for about 3 months and saw big changes in my all around strength. Rock climbing is more fun than a normal gym, uses more muscles and this gym is only 4 miles from where I live so I can bicycle there…which bring me to:
- Buy a bike. I found a good trick to buying a cheap bike that will last. Go to Wal-Mart, buy one of those $100 bikes, then go to a bike shop and get a $30 tune-up. I didn’t believe it at first, but it literally changes the entire way the bike rides and feels. I used to have one, but I left it at my old apartment when I moved, and within two weeks it was gone.
- Locate 3-D Printers around Austin. I’ve been interested in the newly emerging technology 3-D Printing (aka rapid prototyping) for a long time, and want to start getting involved with it in some form. I’ve already found a $49,000 3D printer I can use on the cheap. <-- Just the thought of that gets me excited!
- Buy a big stopwatch. Shouldn’t be that hard :-) I’ve been timing myself when doing work, and it makes things so much more interesting! Suppose I have a bunch of orders to sift through on a Monday for HouseOfRave and Bodymonkey, I’ll keep a mark on time and see how fast I can knock them out of the way. It keeps me from goofing off during the task, makes me work faster because I’m “racing” against the clock and makes the work more interesting. If I set a goal of 20 minutes for myself and finish before that, it makes me feel like I’ve “won” something, sounds dorky, but it works! I tried doing this with an egg timer, only to find out that egg timers tick REALLY loudly. Plus they only measure elapsed time which doesn’t get you racing quite as fast.
Medium Term Goals:
- Learn Joomla. Joomla is a dynamic content management system. In a nutshell, you can build dynamic web pages with it and there’s lots of benefits to using it. I usually download software, install it then play with it to learn it, however this time I’m viewing every Flash tutorial I can find about Joomla and learning it BEFORE I install it. I’ve alreay started all of this.
- Learn AutoCAD. Once I have 3D printers to use, it means very little unless I can provide a .stl file for the printer to print. I want to learn the 3D drafting system AutoCAD (very commonly used in architecture & engineering) so I can create and manipulate 3D files. I’ve already got my hands on it and installed it on my desktop. In the future I’ll most likely send my AutoCAD work to a drafter, as this program takes talent to use very well, however it’s always good to know what you’re talking about when sending a project to an artist.
Year Long Goals & Wants:
- I want to fly on a private jet. Cheapest rates I’ve seen are $1,100/hour for a 6-seater Learjet. Purpose of this goal? None really, I just think it’s a neat, rare experience.
- Take a Zero-G Flight. For $3,675 you go on a Boeing 727 and do 14+ parabolic maneuvers which make you completely weightless for about a minute followed by 1.8g’s of gravity against you as you go up. How…..freakin…..awesome! This is really expensive and doesn’t include lodging or a flight to the take-off location, so it might have to wait till next year.
- Go to Japan. I’ve been to Japan before…and seen THE AIRPORT. I’d like to take at least a week this year and properly visit. EVERYONE I know whose been loves it for the high intensity energy of the cities, the food, the culture and the absurdly dedicated work ethic (I could use some o’ that).
- Re-Learn Spanish. All those years of formal training in Spanish through middle school, high school and college didn’t do it for me. It’s said that learning how to use between 100 and 200 essential words in any language is enough to be partially fluent, and this is what those “Learn Spanish” CD’s teach. I’ve already started doing these courses, and after only 10 lessons of the Pimsleur Spanish course I swear I could have decent conversations. However the Pimsleur course teaches formal Spanish which works well in Spain….but since I live in Texas, this doesn’t fly. Therefore this goal is to re-take a different Spanish course that offers a more Hispanic translation, I’ve been recommended to use the Rocket Spanish course.
- Spread the word about Jelly. It’s a great way for independent workers to work together.
- Practice speed-reading more. No need to explain the benefits of being able to read a page of a book in 60 seconds or much less. I used to be able to do this in high school when I’d read about 2 books a week…mainly just on the bus. Nowadays I practice this by going to the public library and reading every newspaper they have REALLY REALLY fast. At first you hardly pick up any information, but over time you start absorbing more and more by simply scanning through. Since about 50% of an article in any news story is generally fluff, being able to quickly spot and pick up vital information so quickly is pretty useful. This means I need to go to the library maybe twice a week and practice for 30 minutes at a time (the rest of the time I usually read all the new magazines).
- Go to more city council meetings. I’ve randomly gone and sat in on city council meetings before, and sometimes they’re boring, sometimes they’re interesting. However you always learn about new city decisions much before they’re announced. It can’t hurt to attend more of these, you never know who you’ll meet or what information you’ll hear.
- Increase eCommerce income by 100%. This means HouseOfRave.com and BodyMonkey.com should both double their income from the corresponding month last year. This will be accomplished through recently changes in both systems and email marketing, both of which have already started.
That’s all the publicly available goals I’ve got for now, I may add more later. Have a happy & prosperous 2008!
After I was done with college, I’ve always struggled with staying focused on my own businesses, websites and various projects. When you don’t HAVE to wake up early in the morning and work, sometimes you don’t.
I’ve always had some sort of excuse for not working or being distracted. Even my recent stint at the loft was mainly an effort to be more productive. At one point I blamed the place I was living for being “too boring” and not stimulating enough, and then in another place I blamed it for being “too distracting.”
I would often go to coffee shops or various places to “Liven up the atmosphere” to get more work done, but most of the time the difference between staying home and going elsewhere was very little…and when you go elsewhere, it often means transportation time, buying coffee, being distracted by happenings around you, making a stop to a restaurant for lunch etc. etc. etc..
After a while of doing this and only being semi-productive each day, I got used to not doing much work each day. So what I THINK is a lot of work really isn’t even 3 solid hours worth.
So as of the last few weeks I’ve come to the stark realization that there is no substitute for plain, dumb, hard work. All the people I’ve seen who’ve really accomplished something have simply just worked harder than the rest. The big trend in business books now is to say “Don’t work hard, work smart.” From what I’ve seen, most people who’ve achieved greatness have done both at the same time.
Of all the little tips and tricks and motivators I’ve used over the years, the only one I’ve stuck to for a substantial length of time is making a to-do list the night before. So if it’s Wednesday night right now, I should already be whipping up Thursday’s to-do list.
For 2007 I’ve decided NOT to set any goals.
When I was reading the book Good to Great, some successful guy said that people around him would always say, “THIS is going to be the year that (insert goal)” and it would almost never happen. However when someone just shut up and handled their business, good things started following very quickly.
When I was trying to draft some New Years Resolutions, I wrote some down…but they just didn’t sit right…. So I decided I didn’t want any. I still have long-term directions, but for 2007 I shall be for the most part goal-less.
Almost 2006, so it’s time to start setting goals. I made a poster board with goals and a sort of calendar to make sure I work towards those goals every month. Goals rarely get accomplished unless they are constantly kept track of.
I’ve also bought a giant cork board to thumb-tack inspirational articles right in front of my desk. I’ll start putting up quotes, articles, pictures or anything that inspires me to work harder.
I think a great financial move I’ve made is splitting my money into separate accounts. It really shows how much money I have for what purpose. I had too much cash sitting in my extremely low-yield permanent savings account (aka “No Risk” account), so I maxed my Roth IRA for the year by adding $2,000 to it, and threw $1,000 into an EmigrantDirect savings account.
I also recently opened up a 2nd Spending Account specifically for the holidays and larger purchases. I noticed every holiday season is much more expensive than other months, so I’ve been stashing a little money each week for a couple of months and built up around $800 for gifts and other holiday expenses.
It makes me feel good that I can buy gifts for family and friends without worrying about prices.
The second scooter I bought has recently been fully registered and is now actually legal to drive. Almost immediately after I bought it, I got a ticket for driving with: No insurance, No inspection and No registration.
I’ve also got two parking tickets, each $50 a piece. In relation, it takes me $3 to fill an entire tank of gas.
I’ve also been yelled at several times for cutting through standing traffic. One cop said I was a “Traffic Unit” like everyone else and couldn’t go through just because I could. I disagree. I’m not sure what kind of ticket I can get for moving through a line of traffic, but I’m willing to find out.
Despite $700+ extra dollars of additional costs (Not counting helmet, gloves etc), I have been able to easily absorb these costs thanks to my “Bills Account.”
Visit GoDaddy.com and see if yourname.com is available. If yes, buy it. I don’t know why, but it just seems a good idea. It costs $9 or less per year. NevilleMedhora.com redirects to my original webpage, http://www.neville1.com/. Having a website throughout the years has really helped me in many ways.