How do I: evaluate any work opportunity

We can all find work opportunities for ourselves if we look today. How do you evaluate any work opportunity?

I evaluate any work opportunity based on six factors:

1. Is it remote work?

This first factor was in effect since the beginning of 2019 for me and nothing to do with the pandemic. This was a realization that unless my own work requires moving physical objects, there is no point in being on-site. And I say this as an extravert.

Commuting is a colossal waste of time and natural resources that could be used more productively on anything else you see fit. Seeing/experiencing new places because you want to do so on vacation rather than because you have to commute to work. We saw this very clearly in 2020. I do not see the point of doing any digital work “on-site” for any reason, regardless of who I am working for. Ever. If you have not evolved your thinking, you may be:

A. In survival mode (in an unstable company that is not likely hiring).

B. Trying to justify your commercial office real estate (as it remains mostly empty instead of repurposing it or letting it go).

C. Falsely believing we will all run back to a “normal” shared office space.

D. Failing to realize that we did not need to commute to do digital work in the first place.

E. Forgetting that both global and local relationships can thrive without any physical proximity, thanks to technology.

F. Ignoring the options of scheduled communication and virtual collaboration, regardless of geography.

G. Limiting your own choices locally instead of having more opportunities globally.

H. Restricted because you are still working on digital transformation.

I. Unwilling to work from anywhere.

The smartest companies, those that want to attract and retain the best talent from anywhere (and not limit themselves to local candidates nor people forced to move), realize their employees can be more efficient and effective as a distributed workforce. Back when I traveled for work, I saw travel and commuting as a chore. And it still is. Travel and commuting are not luxuries. Who misses long lines, crowded planes, heavy traffic, or looking for a parking space? Instead, count all the wasted hours that you will never recover. Think about it. Why do that today when you do not have to?

2. Am I paid well?

Some companies are under the illusion that we have lowered our rates because the work can now be done virtually. Those same companies fail to realize that the work has not changed and was able to be done completely virtually for over a decade. My rates have only gone up because I make it easier than ever for clients to engage my services. Simple supply and demand economics. More demand, higher fees. Pay the price or keep looking.

3. Are they listening to me? 

Why should I stay if who I work for doesn’t listen/read/pay attention to what I tell them? I can either help a client or I move on to others that want my help. Obviously, we need to listen, read, pay attention and speak up too. Makes sense? Keep reading.

4. Can I make a difference?

If people are not listening/reading/paying attention to what we tell them, we likely can not make a difference unless we assume we know what they need (which can also backfire) or clarify the goals after changes occur. I am a consultant to make a positive difference for clients, not just to collect billable hours.

I do not speak for my other consulting brethren where some have a drug pusher mentality for clients that can not function without them. Who put themselves in that spot? Who needs help getting out of that?

5. Is it what I want to do?

Priorities change just like many other things change around us constantly. We have control over some of these things, and we do not control many other things. We also choose how we spend/waste our attention. Where we work and where we live is something we do control as adults. How did you decide where to live? Why? Why are you working where you do aside from the pay? What company we work for is something we do control. Who applied for the job? Is it still what you want to be doing? Are you good at it? Are you effective? Or is it just a matter of collecting a paycheck? Does it still give you a sense of accomplishment? Is it fulfilling? Do you like it, or is it painful?

6. Am I treated well?

Yes, being treated well by co-workers is important and it starts with treating others well. Being effective can be more important than expecting friendliness. Work is not supposed to be easy, otherwise, we will get bored quickly.

Who are you serving? Does it matter to them? Is it painful to deal with some people? Why? Are certain colleagues interpersonally manipulative or emotionally abusive? Most of the time that does not happen; otherwise, it becomes a serious HR issue. Are you and your supervisor clear on expectations? Do you remain responsive? Do you remain positive? Sometimes remaining positive is a matter of reframing an open conversation. Having respectful conversations is part of the job.

At any point, we will likely learn something new.

When these six factors erode, it is time to evaluate whether to move on, especially if factors #3 and #4 vaporize. 

What factors matter to you when you evaluate work opportunities?

How do I: Start a mastermind group

After reading Eric Moeller‘s book Levelling Up: The Complete Guide to Starting a Mastermind Group, I started several virtual masterminds:

Writers’ Mastermind Group

A group of writers who all have the common goal of completing their own book project and self-publishing it before Thanksgiving.

I had the idea of having a group of writers who want to complete a book and then pushed them forward (including myself as a peer) with:

  • Creating a daily habit of writing – a manageable 30 minutes every day
  • Holding weekly accountability sessions online for peer accountability and peer support over the summer. This changed to meeting twice a month in the Fall due to other meetings for the same group.
  • Setting realistic goals for each of us (example: write 1 page per day) and declare them
  • Share online resources for design, editing, layout, self-publishing, and other helpful tips to accomplish the ultimate mastermind group goals

Started with an online survey in June to have writers opt-in with qualifying questions.

Two weeks later, I followed up with a scheduled Q&A session via group Zoom call for those already committed and anyone on the fence. Locked in the group that night and we got started. No more procrastination.

We wrote during July, August, and September. Then we had the books edited in October. Pushed for cover designs, formatting, layout, and marketing.

Pushed to finish their book projects and ready to publish in late November.

Podcasting Mastermind Group

During the summer, I also started a mastermind for podcasting with a few podcasters.

Want to join a Mastermind Group? 

Schedule a complimentary call to discuss if it is right for you and get your questions answered today

 

How do I: take notes

Since I listen to podcasts on my smartphone, I often listen and pause the podcast episode that just mentioned something worth noting, since memory fades for everyone. How do I take notes?

I open up my “note-taking” app on my smartphone which is as simple as emailing myself and/or someone else who would benefit from this note along with the podcast episode link (or the source of this information) and when I heard it (timecode in the podcast). I would rewind the podcast 15 seconds or more as needed and play that part a few times to be sure I wrote down the memorable points for the note to reference in the future.

The same applies to note-taking conference calls. Note major points or action items with who is responsible. If it is due by the next scheduled meeting, I would include assignments per name in the schedule calendar invite as long as they are smart assignment.

Beyond podcasts and meetings, if any ideas are worth noting because they have value to you as needed/wanted experience, inspiration and/or knowledge, then capture them for future reference. Those ideas can spawn more ideas in the future. If the ideas and points shared have no perceived value to you, don’t note them. Note-taking is a value judgment and not an ego stroke. If you follow the ABC methodology (Always Be Capturing), then purge periodically. Not everything has value.

Do I use paper? Nope. Paper will get lost, ignored, and is not transferable to others without writing/copying it again electronically. Twice the effort is not worth it. Instead, formulate an email that can have your notes in that email shared with all in the meeting by the end of the meeting. No doodling needed. That email may include images of any whiteboard (virtual or physical) annotated as seen or links to slide decks/images/videos shared.

If all your notes are not accessible to you at all times, portable at all times, and transferable from anywhere to anywhere, they have little value. Those recorded ideas can be as distant from you as your smartphone.

The idea behind note-taking is to make those ideas are available for future reference, not perfection. That future reference might be hours, days, weeks, months, or years later. Without such notes, all these fleeting ideas become forgotten details disappearing as fast as time today.

How do I: deal with low attention spans

When there are a lot of distractions going on, it is hard to retain anyone’s attention. So how do I deal with periods of time like this?

People are busy. So am I. If you want someone’s attention, ping them on a scheduled basis to see when you can schedule a short amount of time with them. Now is not likely the best time and you will quickly realize that when asking for their time.

Scheduling short meetings will help retain more focus and attention than an hour (or longer) droning meetings. Imagine if you cut the chatter out completely and limited meetings to 15 total minutes or 30 total minutes. The people who need to make a point will get to it much faster than during a 1-hour to 2-hour meeting.

Need a 5-minute buffer between calls for a breather, a bathroom break or to get a beverage? Add the 5 minutes to your schedule and cut the meeting to 25 minutes instead. Emphasize that hard stop time in the beginning of the meeting. Give a reminder when all of you have 5 minutes left and hold to the scheduled end time as if it was your religion. Need more time? Schedule another block of time in the future. Make sure to get to points you need to cover and add those to a meeting agenda beforehand as a prequel for everyone to prepare as needed.

Now imagine if only the people who need to be there are invited and everyone starts on time regardless of stragglers or late people (no matter how important they might be). Record the decisions made and email this to people who need to know. If decision-makers are not there, no sense in being in the meeting at all. Just reschedule. If decisions don’t need to be made, email the update, and don’t waste time with a meeting. If you need to verbally tell lots of people something, video record it and send it to them. Fewer distractions. More focus. This is easier when everyone is remote and you don’t have to waste time walking to any meeting room or waiting for it to clear out from the last meeting. I don’t miss the useless office.

This goes for home life too. Schedule time with your loved ones as well as friends and be clear when they get your scheduled attention from [start time] to [end time]. They will hold you to it since it that should work for all parties or need to be rescheduled before the scheduled time.

If you notice your metrics (social media traffic, website traffic, emails directed personally to you) drop significantly, it will be noticeable and it often happens seasonally. For example, the last week of the year or just before a major holiday, or during the last weeks of an election, don’t expect anyone’s attention nor true focus. Their mind is elsewhere. Schedule a time afterward.

If you do find the time, focus, and ideas to work on, take that less disrupted time to work on self-assigned projects that mean something to you.

Shiny objects will keep appearing. Everyone is out to steal your attention away from you. Guard your time by ruthlessly filtering out distractions that you have no control over. Realize what you do and don’t control among the many things that take your attention and time away from you. What do you want to do with your own time and attention?

How do I: deal with writer’s block

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Someone asked me recently how do I deal with writer’s block and what is the opposite of it.

Hypergraphia is the opposite of writer’s block.

As a writer, you probably don’t want writer’s block nor hypergraphia. Something in between works well. 

Some writers claim there is no such thing as writer’s block, just as much as no one suffers from speaker’s block (let us assume this is not public speaking which many people are afraid of).

There is a lot of reasons why writers find it hard to write sometimes. Author Steven Pressfield wrote about these challenges, excuses, remedies, and struggles in The War of Art. Note this is not by Sun Tzu who wrote The Art of War, but that is a good read as well.

Besides focus, the structure is often one of those missing elements that may be a common blocker in the writing process. The structure can be used as building blocks for your project and help guide you to what still needs work. Without a structure, it is like creating a building with no plans and no timeline which would not work out well for any existing budget nor sanity. That structure may include an outline that becomes a table of contents. That structure can be fluid (like water) as contents expand and flexible (like bamboo) as it grows more mature and hopefully clear to what it’s for and who’s it for. You can use a mindmap to link ideas together. You can use timelines with multiple swimlanes to figure out time frames for events with each character. These tools will help you fill gaps in your book project.

Don’t waste your time. Schedule your writing time daily. Make your book project a daily habit for as little as 30 minutes a day when you have available time, energy, and ideas flowing.

Take that massive book project which is likely a big hairy audacious goal (BHAG) and break that structure down into finite timely achievable goals (FTAGs). Each goal is a series of doable steps.

Perfect is not an achievable goal, so move on from the myth of perfect and just ship it.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

For help with your own book project, schedule consulting time online with Henrik de Gyor today