Some days, I just want to stay in and away from everyone
I’ve always known I’m an introvert. But it wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s Quiet that I realized how much work and cultural practices are built around extroversion. Quiet helped me figure out how to manage my work better to leverage my strengths as an introvert instead of trying to work around my weaknesses. If you are an introvert, this might help you too.
1. Find your optimal level of stimulation
Cain posits that introversion is about sensitiveness to stimuli, which made perfect sense to me. We introverts like to feel in control, we find it hard to adapt to disruptive experiences: strange places, strange people, noise. The key, I’ve learnt, is to first figure out what’s the best level of stimulation that makes you most productive.
Let’s talk about productivity! Raise your hand if you think you work at a terrific pace and rarely waste time being unproductive or procrastinating. What, no one? I’m shocked.
Check out Nilesh’s post about seven free tools he’s used that might help you improve your productivity.
It’s easy to see which of us is more tech-savvy. My recent post about productivity on the Spin Sucks blog described how I use my favorite productivity tool: paper.
That’s right: I have ten notebooks, each with a designated use. Don’t believe me? Check out the post: I have details and a picture.
This is a really interesting list of apps and plug-ins you can use to counter procrastination. I’ve started using Strict Workflow myself to keep me on track.
I also use Rescue Time to check up on my productivity (since Bhaskar recommended it), and of course, email (I write myself notes on things I need to remember) and Google Calendar. I have also found Streak useful to keep track of emails I need to follow up on. I’ve used Remember the Milk and Trello as well, but with less success.
And if you’re feeling stressed out about your productivity levels, Amber Naslund’s post might help you gain perspective.
There is no magic system. Stop looking for it.
So let’s get to work now, you and me both.
I wrote this about my entrepreneurial journey, especially how we got started. I titled it somewhat provocatively, but the point is that I needed to reduce the distractions in my life to think clearly, to figure out what I really wanted to do.
The TV had filled our lives with noise. In the silence, we could hear our thoughts, our dreams.
Towards the end, I offer more tips on reducing distractions and improving your focus, something I struggle with every day. This post was also picked up by women 2.0.
I like reading stories and learnings of other entrepreneurs for motivation: it makes me feel less alone, it gives me hope that we’ll make it too.
I’m not a parent, but I’m in awe of those of you who manage a business and are parents of young children. So this week, here are some tips from other parents who’ve been there.
Sahil Parikh inspired this list with his Productivity Hacks of a Startup Dad: tips that can be useful to all of us, even those who aren’t parents.
I love that building a routine doesn’t work for him (since I keep trying and failing at establishing a routine myself) and that he doesn’t follow general or world news (another practice I’ve been following for a couple of years that makes me feel ignorant but less stressed out). I don’t use email notifications either, though I don’t follow any of the rest of his tips (I do want to follow the first one though, but again, routines seem to be beyond me).
On Women’s Web, Monalisa Saxena writes about managing her business while she was pregnant: a nice set of tips that would probably work for any scheduled downtime, whether a long vacation or maternity leave.
We’ve been feeling like imposters for the last few weeks. You see, whenever we talk to a small-business owner or startup founder, we advise them to focus. To go after one customer segment. To highlight one benefit. To talk in one voice across their marketing channels.
How can you “focus” on more than one thing at a time? How can you “highlight” 37 services? How can you, with the constraints of a small business, manage more than one brand and ensure that your audience doesn’t get confused by conflicting messages?
But we’ve been doing all of this ourselves. We’ve introduced ourselves as “marketing consultants, and we also have a product” or as “we’re building a product, and we also do consulting services.” We’ve been dividing our time between servicing clients and working on the product.
If your feet are on two boats, what happens when the boats gather speed?
Are you ready to start your weekend? Are you taking a long weekend with Gudi Padwa or Bihu or whatever it is you celebrate? (We are, though the holiday is a coincidence — we had planned for a three-day weekend weeks ago, and had been drooling when we thought of it.)
Anyway. While you’re relaxing over the weekend, or as you get back to work on Monday, read these articles on productivity and procrastination, so that you can have a super-charged week. (Or year, if you remember the advice long enough.)
Etienne Garbugli puts together time management tips in this presentation. I especially love these:
Work is the best way to get working. Start with short tasks to get the ball rolling.
Switching between clients/projects is unproductive.
Always know the one thing you really need to get done during the day.
This weekend’s links are all about starting startups and working in startups.
If you’re just starting out, Daniel Tenner has advice for you. It’s awesome advice — even if you don’t agree or decide to ignore it anyway, read it.
Leo Widrich offers ten myths about startups. I found #1 particularly eye-opening: but it makes sense that deadlines don’t work “when you’re trying to do something innovative and new; when you don’t have a manual to refer to on how to perform your tasks.”
Rob Heaton tells you to check that you’re wearing trousers first, that is, try simple solutions first. This paragraph is key:
It’s a pleasant delusion to believe that all our problems require hard solutions. This way we feel interesting, get to do challenging things and become more attractive to members of our preferred sex. If you’re constantly feeling tired it’s tempting to become concerned about your iron levels, consider painting your ceiling a relaxing shade of ochre and look into buying a new pillow that fits your personality better. But you probably just need to go to bed a bit earlier. Perhaps on some level of consciousness we find it hard to believe that anything simple could possibly make a dent in our problems, which as we already know are of course really difficult and can only be solved by a super-genius such as ourselves. But there will always be simple things you are doing badly that you should look at first, especially in a startup where you deliberately ignore 90% of things so that you can do the other 10% really, really right.
Joel Gascoigne’s thoughts on building a minimum viable product (MVP) also made me sit up and think, especially as that’s in line with what we’re trying to do with Markitty.
Speaking of Markitty, if you haven’t yet read Nilesh’s account of our journey so far, do it now.
Unmana is out of action for a few days due to a small accident so I am bringing you this weekend’s reading. This one is going to be a mix of personal and business: hope you will find it useful and enjoyable.
If you feel you are always busy but still stress out for not doing enough, you must read Rethinking Productivity by Amber Naslund:
“Productivity, at its essence, means being able to bring things about. But sometimes, making that happen is as much about what you don’t do.”
And similarly this old piece by Paul Graham explains why some of us feel our whole day is wasted even if we have to attend one meeting.
Don’t hate me for including this one in a weekend reads list: Joel talks about the need for hard work and uses some interesting celebrity examples.
Read this hackathon experience of our hacker, Virendra, if you haven’t gone off to work by now and are still with me.
And a replug of our earlier post if you missed the announcement — we are live with Markitty Beta. Go sign-up now and let us know what you think of Markitty.
Have a good weekend!
Have you been lulled by heavy meals and year-end cheer? So have we. Let’s keep it light this week, shall we? No complicated guides and rules to remember in this round-up: just some food for thought as you lie back in your chair and digest that big meal.
MarketingProfs tells us about three things businesses can learn from non-profit organizations.
How do you get more replies to your emails?
Here are five ways you can build deeper relationships with your customers.
And here are 6 things really productive people do.
Take a guilt-free break! Yes, really.
Okay now, that’s enough reading. Go start your weekend!
We use Trello to manage our tasks, and this post gives you a lovely breakdown of why and how you should use it. And it’s free!
Here are six writing tips from Roald Dahl, via Copyblogger.
Copyblogger also breaks down Facebook’s EdgeRank and tells you what you should be doing for more engagement. Tl;DR? Keep trying different things to engage your audience (as Sahil Khan says here).
Create better landing pages with these tips from Hubspot: we especially like the last one!
Rand Fishkin ponders how you can get the best out of your employees.
And lastly, I loved this article about productivity myths. Now I can continue to not get up early or sort my emails properly without feeling guilty!
Being a small business or a startup means you don’t have much to spend on fancy tools, but a small business also needs to be extremely focused and productive to compete with bigger and more established businesses! Here are some tools I use that make my workweek easier, and that you might want to try out. Each of these is free, or has a free version you can use.
Evernote lets you take notes (text, audio, video), store web-clips, documents and stores all of these on the cloud so you can access from any of your devices. It’s an installed application, so you can use it even when you are offline and it syncs the data when you are connected. Most of us use multiple devices nowadays with one computer at work, another at home and then smart phone and maybe a tablet – install Evernote on each one and your life will be much easier. There is a web version too, if you prefer that.