This podcast is for aspiring entrepreneurs and those that want to become a designer and implementor of great software solutions. We look at the whole skill set that makes a great developer. This includes tech skills, business and entrepreneurial skills, and life-hacking so you have the time to get the job done while still enjoying life,
Maintaining Momentum And Steady Progress
Holidays and vacations provide us with many benefits. However, maintaining momentum can be difficult during these times. There are more than the normal level of distractions, along with a need to relax at least a little. Fortunately, we can take small steps and keep our forward progress without taking much away from our time off.
A Pause Is Ok While this episode focuses on how to maintain momentum and habits, that is not a requirement. We can afford to put our drive for success on pause for a few weeks. That is why we keep a focus throughout the year. It allows us to take some time off and still see substantial progress each year. However, it is worth looking at ways to keep these desired goals advancing.
Adjusting Priorities Is Key For Maintaining Momentum Our priorities and schedules are the most substantial obstacle to keeping that forward progress. Likewise, the random distractions that seem more prevalent during the holidays make it easy to skip a day of progress. The best way to plan for these unplanned events is to get the key things done early. Push the tasks you want to continue to early in the day. You might even start your day with these items. That gives you a bonus of feeling accomplished even on a day off.
Time Adjustments Nearly everyone sleeps in during the holidays. Use this to your advantage. Plan to get up fifteen or thirty minutes earlier than others. Alternatively, maintain your normal sleep schedule. This approach is both healthy and gives you some valuable quiet time to start the day. I find these times relaxing, refreshing, and something to look forward to throughout the year. As a bonus, it is very satisfying to know you got something done before most people got out of bed.
Holiday Sales, Budgets, and Side Hustles
Holiday sales start to show up earlier and earlier every year. Black Friday has become well known and is not just for your personal purchases. There are a lot of business-related purchases that can be impacted by these seasonal sales. That is worth looking into whether you are using up an annual budget or trying to add tools for your side hustle.
Holiday Sales and Discounts Most sales are driven by timing. There are commissions that salespeople want to earn or sales numbers an organization wants to hit. These are motivations to move a product or service and the buyer can take advantage of it. However, this goes above and beyond the advertised sales and discounts that appear across all manner of products.
For example, I found some deep (50%) discounts on training and conference fees at the end of the year. These savings amounted to hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars I was able to use elsewhere. The discounts had the desired goal. I probably would not have purchased as much had it not been such a good deal. That allowed me to study for (and earn) a certification I might have otherwise passed on. Keep an eye out for discounts that move a product from too expensive into the worthwhile area of your budget.
Planning and Early Purchases When we look ahead to the next year there are often purchases we can see coming. When we get those done sooner rather than later we can often receive discounts. However, cash-flow can be a problem. It is worth taking a close look at your year-end budget and spending to determine whether now is the time to buy ahead for the next year. That applies to subscriptions and licenses as well as other products.
Bulk Discounts and Gifts You may find your business in a situation where there is a desire to thank customers or staff. These are opportunities to buy multiple gifts in bulk, get a seasonal discount, and get ahead of your expenses in the next year. Not all business items are thoughtful gifts. However, you might be able to get some extra tablets, headphones, phones, or other items that would also be an excellent gift for your staff. This tactic may not completely offset the cost of gifts or advance purchases. On the other hand, a lower overall cost is not something to ignore.
Quiet Periods and Blackouts Over The Holidays
There are two sides to quiet periods or closing business over holidays. We might do this to ease our schedules, or vendors may do so. In either case, there is a need to plan and properly communicate with those impacted. Lack of planning can cause all manner of headaches that have no useful solution.
Launching a Product or Service The most common of these challenges in my recent experiences is dealing with a flood of year-end deployments. Sites like the Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon are sent a larger-than-normal number of applications. Thus, typical response times suffer. This response may be expected, or it can derail your launch plans.
Podcasts and books are just some examples. All of your plans to time a release with the calendar can be wasted if the desired platform is not available. For example, launching a podcast on January first typically requires you to complete your submission before the end of November. Make sure you check with scheduled outages and slowdowns for any critical vendors.
A Planned Slow Down Your business may allow you to slow down or stop progress over the holidays. Do not assume this holds for all of your customers. Any planned lack of availability should be communicated weeks and preferably months in advance. Make sure you are not a vendor that leaves customers high-and-dry without plenty of warning. You expect it from your vendors and should provide the same.
Industry Quiet Periods Quiet periods are common in many industries. Therefore, do not be afraid to take advantage of those standards to get yourself and your team a rest. The reduction in focus on external forces may be a chance to improve your infrastructure. While the doors may be closed, you can always do some internal work to prepare for a better year ahead.
Take Advantage of This Time
Implementing An Incremental Approach - Small Progress is Still Progress
We have often touched on the idea of an incremental approach as one that builds to great achievements. Let's look closer at how that works. There are many arguments against these concepts as "not enough." However, it is inarguable that small steps are forward progress, and they can build up habits. Those habits can build great achievements and even become lifetime habits that never fade.
A Few Minutes A Day There are many skills that we can build in minutes a day. Vocabulary is an example we see in daily calendars. There is a flurry of something-a-day calendars that show up at the end of each year. Try one of them out, and you will see it does work. You can build your vocabulary a word at a time, learn history a fact a day, or other skills and knowledge. Schools typically use forty-five minutes to an hour each day to build skills but do not underestimate the value of shorter time investments.
Use Reflection Time The end of the year often provides us a little "downtime" where we can think about what we want in the year ahead. This year, skip waiting until January first to consider your resolutions. Instead, start thinking about how to direct your life a few weeks sooner. You can start today with a little work towards a goal. Do a few pushups, walk for a few minutes, read an article that teaches you about a new skill. These little investments grow to impressive achievements just as saving a few pennies a day can add up.
That is the value of an incremental approach. It has little risk, with a small investment per day. However, the return on those investments can be life-changing.
Everything Is An Incremental Approach When you look back on your life, there is no skill we learn that was not built a step at a time. We talk a word at a time, learn math a rule at a time, and build muscles a workout at a time. Our challenge is to accept that even a little progress is still good. Yes, there are situations where the gain dissolves before we next test a skill. On the other hand, we do not know until we try. Take the risk of a few minutes a day towards your favorite goal and see how it helps.
More Value From An Incremental Approach
System Backups - Prepare for the Worst
Sometimes it is important to get back to the basics when we plan for success. One of the most basic tasks to address is the idea of system backups. Many modern organizations build this into their daily processes. However, we may not be able to take advantage of that for our personal work. Moreover, side hustles need to include some of these standard processes to avoid data loss.
Side Hustle System Backups A full backup is the most direct approach to solving this problem. While we have more reliable systems today than in years past, there are still problems that can arrive. You do not want to be one spilled coffee away from losing your life's work. Therefore, we need to create a procedure that backs up our data regularly (weekly or more frequently) and stores it "off-site." The other site can be the "cloud," and many services make this easy.
Synchronize Your Work It is not uncommon for us to have different machines that we use for work and home. We might even have multiple machines at home or work that we use regularly. One of the benefits of a good strategy for system backups is that we can synchronize across environments. When we do this, our turn around time after a system crash can be negligible. All we have to do is move to another machine or environment.
When you combine this concept with virtual machines and related automation, you may be able to suffer a system crash without missing a beat. This benefit does not even require a full backup. You can take advantage of services like box or DropBox to quickly synchronize data across many machines. I personally have seen a substantial increase in productivity once I embraced these cloud services.
Make The Most of Version Control
Setting Work Boundaries And Separating Your Life
The holy grail of full-time work from our home has several challenges. One of the most impactful snares is a blurring of the lines between work and the rest of our life. Therefore, we need to consider how some work boundaries can be set and enforced. Slave labor is never a goal, and we need to be aware of whether we are being taken for granted.
Quality Or Quantity There is always a trade-off in accomplishing a goal. We can do it fast, cheap, or of quality. You get two of the three. Thus, fast and cheap products will lack quality. High quality requires either more resources (time, money, etc.) or takes longer to complete. Our boss or manager is making that decision for us, whether they recognize it or not. We are part of that decision whether we recognize it or not.
When we start our careers, there are limits to those three pillars. We are not going to be fast, and quality is more costly than later in our experience. Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to start their careers with many long hours poured into the job. There is nothing wrong with that. We are saying that investing time helps us get to the value and quality expected of our work. As we gain experience, our time should be reduced as our pay and quality are more on par with our typical work.
Lack of Work Boundaries Can Lead To Free Labor One of the benefits of hourly work is you get paid for each hour. There are modifiers like overtime or holiday pay. Nevertheless, we are trading time for money. That means we know what our worth is. On the other hand, a salary can gloss over hourly worth and depreciate our value. When you are on salary and work eighty hours a week, there is no difference in your compensation when you work for only forty hours. That equates to essentially working for free when you exceed the expected workload.
Likewise, when you got a flat rate for overtime work, there is less quality returned per hour and a greater cost to you. For example, a project requires eighty hours of work. It is easier to do that over a period of two or more weeks than one. You will also be more likely to produce a quality result when those hours span a longer time. When we blur work boundaries, the time spent per week can be hidden and cause someone to make ill-informed decisions.
Nine Months For a Baby There is a bit of wisdom that says a baby takes nine months to be born no matter how many helpers you provide the mother. This example is relative to many projects and activities. We can not simply pour on effort or other resources and see a corresponding reduction of time to completion. We need to recognize when we can put more effort into a project with impact while distinguishing the times that an impact is not possible. It is part of our job or role to provide that wisdom. We have experience and wisdom to lean on that helps us properly plan out a path to success. That means it is our duty to push back when expectations are unrealistic and inform decision-makers when making a choice that will reduce product quality.
Making Effective Use of Your Time
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I started a boot camp a couple months ago and found this podcast to listen to at my job when I’m not able to code. Even though I’m new this podcast is easy to follow and has some great advice. Thanks!