Things I Don’t Use: Paper

There have been a lot of efforts to become paperless over the past few decades. If a company has piles of people, that is hard to make it a paperless company you mandate being paperless unless you make it a chore to print anything.

If we can clearly display what might be printed on a large enough screen that is the first step. Users, readers, and reviewers of said content still need the ability to:

  • annotate
  • approve
  • assign
  • collaborate
  • edit
  • iterate
  • read
  • share
  • sign
  • view
  • write

on the content that could be printed but rather not today. And all of these actions can be achieved without printing anything by any number of productivity software suites we are all familiar with by Google, Microsoft, and others. Printing on paper makes little sense nowadays since it, by definition, limits the uses and viewability of the printed content. Again, if you want to limit its viewability, do not print it in the first place assuming the content is born-digital.

Unless the point of printing something is to reduce distribution today and/or limit royalties without the means to actually track its readership, printing on paper has no further purpose.

Print for work

I have worked with organizations that have at least 1.2 printers per person which only encourages printing. Most of the printing was done uselessly unless the print out was a project deliverable…instead of soft (digital) copy. Having printers next to you without getting up from your workspace promotes endless printing for senseless reasons. Remove the printers and remove the urge to print pretty quickly.

I have worked within very few companies that have no printers available anywhere unless you hunt for them, then get permission to output paper for some other (often useless) reason. The harder you make it to print anything that can just be seen or worked on a screen, the less likely anyone will print something.

Print to read

Some people think it is required to print something in order to read something once or maybe twice. We realize after that, the paper gets lost or trashed. Some print something to hand the paper to someone rather than sharing the content to that same person electronically. I have spoken to quite a few university professors that are guilty of this phenomenon.

Awareness

It has nothing to do with retention nor archiving because that grossly assumes organization and that this paper can be found quickly again for reference.

It is not a luxury to print on paper, but rather a selfish mindset to print uselessly. It is a point of awareness to not print at all. You don’t actually have to hold it in your hand in order to read, sign it or pass it on.

Signatures

No one (aside from maybe ourselves) pays any attention to our own signatures. Yes, that’s right. Physical signatures are useless.  Complete wastes of time. Authentication via e-signatures with the date, timestamp, IP address, and GPS location from where it was authenticated is much more specific than anyone’s handwriting will ever be. Courts of law accept e-signature far more than handwritten signatures. Why? Ever heard of forged signatures? You can literally draw anything instead of your own handwritten signature and no one will pay any attention to it today. Including your bank and your credit card company today. Same reason why many merchants don’t require any signatures for payment anymore. Signatures are a total waste of time and resources to supply the means to sign. Even printing receipts which are rarely kept and can not be archived since they are often printed on thermal paper where the writing fades after one year.

Some people print something in order to sign it, then scan the signed paper, only to email the scanned PDF to someone else. E-signatures resolve all this. All useless by today’s digital-first and remote-first work standard now for those who actually care about their workforce since their own work does require them to move anything physically.

Nostalgia

Already a distant memory. Forgotten for the same reasons as writing checks. If you remember writing checks as a means of payment, you likely remember what fun it is to stand in line as each person drafts a check from scratch as you wait and watch. Slow, cumbersome, and useless today.

Payment

Fraud not only led Europe to ban all checks years ago, while the US was getting chips on credit cards.  Contactless apps transfer funds faster anywhere in the world or locally down the street.

Handwriting

Remember all those handwriting lessons from elementary school? Well, they don’t even go to school anymore let alone learn to draw their own name with characters. Typing on a screen is the norm. My handwriting is illegible, just like a medical doctor’s handwriting. I will let you guess which one is more important to be clearly understood. Just another reason to get rid of handwriting altogether.

Why USe Paper?

So why use paper? Paper does not help to organize anything we do. We are clearly terrible at using it properly, storing it, archiving it or finding it again in an efficient and effective manner. We don’t need to use paper to read, write, collaborate, iterate, sign nor transfer its contents to anyone. I loath paper and avoid using it at any cost.

There is one use for paper products that may have a future unless we go back to older ways before toilet paper existed.

How do I: work remotely

Since working remotely and working from home is a hot topic that many people are forced to do this year (2020), I thought I would share how I do this. I have worked remotely on and off since 2000.

Where do you choose to work

Once adults, we choose where we live. We choose where and whom we work for. These are all choices, not forced requirements. We assume they are givens while they are not. They are choices throughout our lives along with the responsibilities that come with them. We can adapt to change if we are willing to change before change happens to us.

Some have chosen to relocate for a variety of reasons. In late 2017, I delocated from the Washington DC area to the southernmost tip of South Carolina. All of my wife’s family moved here and after visiting a few years ago, we understood why they moved. The beauty and year-round weather of the Lowcountry make sense for living here. Remote work from here makes even more sense.

I have a home office with a door to keep other residents out and minimize distracting sounds from my pets, my spouse, and the kitchen.

If I record a podcast, I normally record in my home office for optimal sound on my end.

Since I use a laptop with a long battery life, it provides me a portable workspace where ever I choose to work that day. I have the option to work in any room of my house that I wish thanks to wifi. I have the luxury spending a lot of time inside a screened-in porch or outside on the back porch under a patio umbrella when the weather permits it more than 10 months of the year.

If I want to work at a coffee shop, I have all of them fully scoped out (outdoors mostly). I know where to sit if I want the white noise of the shop, the right amount of light, and power outlets if needed, and the best wifi connection. I do not have scheduled work calls when I go there due to the noise.

Coffee shops can be uber-productive for focused work. I have written entire books at coffee shops within a few weeks with an endless supply of coffee and small meals provided during 12 hour daily bursts.

Work where you can get work done. Don’t limit yourself. Change it up and see what you have been missing.

When are your scheduled hours?

As a business owner, I work every day. More on some days. Less on other days. The productivity needle needs to move every day for my own satisfaction. I segment days of the week for availability for virtual meetings and calls vs. deep work without interruption. The learning needle needs to move on a daily basis as part of a personal fulfillment challenge to myself that does not end during life.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi

I loath and avoid any unproductive days. If nothing was accomplished and nothing was learned, it was a wasted day. I am very self-aware that I become very moody from the lack of productivity and fulfillment. I choose to move the needle by working to improve this daily.

If I am ever actively waiting for something, I am listening to an audiobook, podcast, or speaking with someone to learn something.

I have scheduled hours for calls and collaborative meetings on most days. I don’t pay attention to calls that come in before or after that time. I will check voicemail a couple times a day. People can not schedule time with me outside these hours because my calendar is blocked outside these hours.

I have scheduled focus time almost daily which is often in the early morning and late afternoon. No phone available, no calls. no emails during that time.

I schedule time for different clients and different projects.

If it is not scheduled, it will not happen. The schedule is flexible though, not rigid.

Any social activities are scheduled even with friends or I ignore them. If they don’t accept the calendar invite, I cancel the meeting with a templated email to see if they want to reschedule in a month. My wife has a hard time getting me to attend even family events because those need to scheduled too or I ignore them. Even if it’s my birthday. Scheduled or ignored. You see our time is too valuable to waste on unproductive tasks. And every task takes time. Life is too short.

When I am very busy, I even schedule sleep (normally between 11pm-5am) or in three-hour time blocks when I am super busy with large projects. Meals are also scheduled to stay on track so I do not forget those and whom I will have them with.

My morning and evening are purposely routine.

What do you work on?

I am either doing client work, taking scheduled calls, or self-assigned projects to create content like this, more podcasts, or new books.

I only accept remote work now. Whether it is for long term contract work or short term scheduled calls. I get calls every week to come to another metropolitan area to work for big company X (regardless of industry/sector) and I decline all travel now. Does not matter who, what, why, where nor how much. The answer is “remote only” or “No”.  The client has challenges that need to be resolved. Resolving those challenges is why I consult remotely.  It is not about seeing anyone, shaking their hand, breaking bread with them, and other such fluff, but rather effective communication and experience in successfully resolving challenging. I don’t babysit staff nor systems anymore.  That is what management does when they are not enabling, empowering, or assigning their teams how and what to work on. Leadership figures out what to do and when to achieve company goals.

When it comes to Digital Asset Management (DAM) work, the first keyword is digital. All digital work can be done remotely. If you don’t believe it,  you might not be effective and efficient in-person either. Fix the effectiveness of communication first. Then work on efficiency as part of the continual improvement process.

I can find and train people to manage day-to-day operations of any DAM system for any client. That can be done remotely too. No one needs to go to an office for that.

I review 1099 Corp to Corp contract work only. No W-2 work what so ever. I own my consultancy, so I am no one’s employee. I am a short-term contractor. Short term means 1 hour, a few weeks, or up to 9 months. Identify problem > Fix problem > Move on > Repeat for next client. This is what a consultant does. I do not milk clients endlessly for ever-increasing headcounts delays and billable hours like other consulting firms.

How do you get client work?

They call me, email me, or schedule me online.

As a remote consultant in a specialized field, I decline 100% of all client contracts that do not accept remote consulting, whether the work requires a few weeks of work or a few months of work. I have done that since 2019. That policy goes for any client of any size, most of them are global companies.

Previously, I would establish access, connections, trust, and toolsets needed in person, then go remote.

Once we realize that none of these things needs to be done in person, remote work is possible for everyone. I am not here to justifying anyone’s commercial office real estate spend. Those days are over and so is the office in my opinion. That realization will come shortly as soon as the mindset adapt to the new normal, not how we did something in the past. Remote work is work. Location is almost irrelevant. There is no more ‘magic’ that happens at the water cooler, office kitchen, coffee machine nor bathroom. This is because everyone’s already disappeared from the office that matters and there is no available audience in person.

Adapt, iterate, and thrive. Otherwise, let someone else run things as they should without fail nor delay.

My time is too valuable to waste traveling to any location when 100% of my work is digital and not physical.

Full disclosure, I don’t hire any staff for my businesses. All of them are fixed-term contractors for client work or they are task-based contractors.

Not surprisingly, 100% of everyone I have surveyed about remote work wants more remote work opportunities, whether they are gainfully employed or not.

I spoke with a few people hired last month in the field of DAM. To work remotely, of course, not just during COVID-19 and then run back to an office for senseless purposes.

If someone does not move nor create physical objects for work, they have no reason to work in a commercial office environment. Even after COVID-19 is under control. Remote work and distributed work is the new norm. It is time to get used to it.

What are you listening to while working?

Whether I am on a call or not, I am often wearing noise-canceling headphones.

Often I am wearing noise-canceling headphones much of the day.

When I am walking on the beach I have a Bluetooth earbud in one ear that is not facing the ocean which I alternate when walking back. This allows the effects of hearing ocean waves in the other ear as additional stimulation. While walking on the beach, I am listening to an audiobook or podcast to learn something.

When focusing on a task, sometimes light jazz instrumental music in the background from Spotify helps my focus.

When I doing less focused work, I may listen to an audiobook, a podcast, or a webinar.

Silence is very welcome when true concentration is needed.

What about job security?

You can work on your own dreams or you can work on someone else’s dreams. Owning your own business is the way to work on your own dreams so they can become a reality. Even if we are the most important person in a company, there is still no job security because the company can still fail. Job security is a myth. ‘Permanent’ positions are a myth too. Even if you are a government employee or employee of a multi-national corporation. All employees are expendable, even the CEO. Everyone is replaceable. And so is every company. Stop believing in myths and make a difference that matters.

What do you do for entertainment?

I will watch a movie or a series online as a reward at night before sleep however I may not finish it for a week if I am exhausted and fall asleep during the show, but it is on-demand so it does not matter.

No gaming. No alcohol. No drugs. No in-person group activities. Minimal sugar per week.

I can count the number of parties I attend per year on less than one hand and prefer to keep it that way.

Friends are scheduled for a call online once a month.

Do you travel for work?

Not anymore. Since travel does not benefit me nor my clients, there is no point considering where I live. It is a waste of time for all parties. I used to schedule travel early in the morning or late at night. I did not want to waste daytime hours traveling without a benefit to me and my clients. Most people work during the day and rest at night.

When I travel (not since 2019), I usually avoid working in a car, plane, train, subway,  or other means of transport because I find it too cramped and prefer resting during the travel. Business-class or first class can fix the cramped space challenge if you really plan to work. It can be better for networking depending on who you sit near. I have heard of other authors flying during very long flights (to Asia and back) and executing most of a book by effectively using that uninterrupted time during the flight at cruising altitude since meals and drinks are brought to you in a scheduled manner. You did not even need to ask, just acknowledge, confirm, or decline.

With noise-canceling headphones in flight, you can drown out all the plane’s droning noises which are amazing to have near silence on a plane in flight.

I used to drive up to 40,000 miles a year. Now I have my car self-drive me less 400 miles a month, mostly to the beach a few times a week in the early morning. Not for work.

Resources

If you need proof that there are very successful companies, both large and small, that have done remote work or distributed work for years, you can listen to a number of examples and hear how they do it:

https://distributed.blog/podcast/

https://remoteworklife.io/

How do I: write a book

 

open-book-5218061_1280Disclosure: Links to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

After writing over 7 books in three years, I want to share some thoughts on how I write a book as I continue to write more.

Research

Start by looking at what is out there. I prefer to find a topic that has not been writing about much (think niche topic) instead of adding my own take to the crowded mass market of books.

What is available today from Amazon, Google as well as podcasts among many other sources of information?

Consume it. Study it. Research your topic or idea thoroughly.

Note that my MBTI scores for consuming data and research is close to the highest it goes.

Read

Note that I personally write non-fiction and typically read non-fiction too. The best writers are heavy readers too. Keep consuming a variety of content. Feed your curiosity.

Identify

What is the topic you seek? Do a gap analysis of your research.

Find out what is missing. Why is it missing?

Does it really matter to your audience/readers and not just you? You can definitely write for you based on your curiosity and own interests, however, blogging might be more successful than book writing in that case. It is easier to reach an audience.

Draft the keywords based on the topics that matter.

How many people on LinkedIn have these topic keywords in their profile? Is there enough people that care about the topic to have it as part of their profession?

Who is the audience beyond who you are interviewing? Identify your audience so you know who you are writing for.

Goals

What are your goals for this book before you start writing it? Imagine the end state with goals.

What do you want to do with the book?

What do your readers want out of the book?

Is anyone interested?

What is in it for the reader?

WIIFM (or you)?

Is this a readers’ book or writers’ book? Be careful since there is a big difference between the two. One may feed your ego while the other might sell if it has value for the readers.

What are the calls to action? What do you want the reader to do at the end?

Take the big hairy audacious goal (B-HAG) of creating a book and break it apart into smaller groups of finite, tidy, achievable goals (F-TAGs) as steps/tasks in your book process.

Reverse Engineer YOUR Book Project into a PLAN

Envision your end goals for this book. Based on these end-state goals, how do you get there?

Reverse engineer the book and its marketing.

What are those steps and tasks in reverse order? Break down the tasks and steps that need to occur.

Where are the gaps? What is missing in the plan? Do a gap analysis.

What do you need to learn (more time spend) or pay someone to do (more money spend)?

A book project is still a project. Treat it like project manager with specifications, timelines with deadlines and budgets.  Prioritize those tasks.

Set realistic time-based milestones to avoid delays. How long will it take you to do each part? Be realistic to include sleeping, eating, and bathroom breaks included. Oh, and much of the other things you need to continue doing too. Drop the time-wasters that do not add value to your life and you will find time to do this book project even it’s 30 minutes daily.

Strategize

Since plans fail often and then iterate, have a strategy.

What is not going to change whether this is your first book or your Nth book? What is going to change?

What will you do and what will you not do?

How are you going to engage and retain your audience in each chapter?

Promote before release to hold yourself accountable once you have a clear idea of why, how, what, and when you are delivering.

Have difficultly aligning the ideas, events and characters?  Try mind-mapping them for better clarity.

Interview

Use (true) stories throughout your nonfiction book.  It does not need to be your own personal stories that you experienced as long as you don’t plagiarize. Plenty of authors use other people’s stories with great success if told with clarity.

If you are writing fiction, you have the creative freedom to change reality into your own.

Groups

Utilize groups for many things. Groups for encouragement and ideation like virtual mastermind groups. Groups to interviews. Groups for feedback. Group-based (heavy user vs. lite user) for tiered pricing. Groupings of professionals (such as editors) as backups when you need to scale up or if some are not available at the moment you need them. Start a mastermind with people who have a common goal and are not competitors.

Writing

Make it a daily habit of writing every day. If you don’t have the focus or ideas flowing on your project, write something else like a blog or journal that day. Exercise that writing so you can build on it.

Keep your goals in mind. Then make it happen by doing it.

Start with an outline to organize your thoughts first for you and then ultimately for the reader.

Do you need a timeline? If so, build one for yourself. You don’t have to present the book in that sequence though.

If you are not sure what to add or how to structure it yet, create a mind map online.

Provide value to your readers in every chapter, not filler. Writing is not about word counts.

Go do.

Editing

Editing is often clarifying and simplifying. Editing is about keeping which words count.

Read it out loud. If it is hard to read, edit to make it easier to read aloud and understand with better clarity. If the book was a long speech, could you read your long script so it flowed nicely?

Use Grammarly to assist your editing beyond spellchecks and grammar checks.

Cut out the fluff. Details are good if it helps bring out clarity and context as needed, but not if it brings out ambiguity and confusion.

Confusion is rarely a goal whether you are editing for the engaged reader nor for the successful writer.

Feedback

Don’t write, edit, and publish in a vacuum. Writers are often blind to their own edits.

Ask some people to read a draft of a chapter or two for feedback. Ask to read the finished version for a review. That is what some groups are for. Do not ask family and close friends for feedback because it will be biased based on your relationship with them.

Emotion clouds logic. If it does not make sense, fix it. Do not defend what is not clear.

I am not a fan of overpolishing. No need for 50 drafts.  Don’t waste time in delaying the release of a newly finished book.

The best feedback is respectful of you, but not the work. You are not your work. Unfiltered advice works. You need to know the challenges and suggestions on how to fix them, not how great you are. “It’s good” actually tells you nothing. Ask for specificity so you know where and why you might need to focus your attention on a possible challenge.

If someone actually spent the time to consume your work, listen carefully. Be sure they first understand the context, then the content. You can quiz them on it to check if they got it or not.

As part of the feedback process, I have the text-to-speech function turned on my computer to read the book back to me word for word so I am not assuming what I wrote was there, but rather hear it as written.

Writers assume clarity after a while or get lost in ambiguity. Some writers shelve a book project for months so they can revisit it and find the gaps to fill in their book.

Ask some people to read the finished version for a review. Your followers, even social media is one avenue for this.

Hire

Books don’t get done alone. At least not the books that get done efficiently.

Hire a professional editor.

Hire a professional copy editor.

Hire someone who has extensive experience formatting your book as an ebook, as a print book and/or as an audiobook. This might be a few different people. Do you need to know them? No. Results are what matter.

Design

Hire a book cover designer. If the book has graphics or photos, hire a designer for the layout. Note that the formatting will be different for different types of ebooks and print books.

Marketing

If you suck at marketing, hire a book marketer with a well-proven track record and recommendations. Otherwise, have a marketing plan before you publish the book (to create the buzz before release and possible anticipation after you wrap up all editing and design) and have several marketing plans with different avenues and directions after you publish. Do you need to know your marketer? No. You need an alignment of clear common goals. You will know if and where your marketing will work if the right questions are asked (like “how did you hear about my book?”) and links are tracked.

Metadata

In order for your book to be findable (if no one can find it, no one will buy it), you need metadata which includes categorization for your book. ISBN is part of it.

Publishing

A few years ago, I was asked to write a book for a publisher, however, their contract had no royalties for ebook sales (about 60% of the book market) and they would not negotiate that, so I declined. in my opinion, publishers provide very little value because they do very little today.  This is why I choose to self-publish my books. I have yet to see any reason why I would not continue to self-publish which allows more control, more credit, more royalties.

When it comes to creating a book that you write, it is all up to you anyways, so why fork over the responsibilities unless you don’t want to do it in the first place. Commit or don’t. There is no gray area.

As far as book formats, ebooks will continue to come through. As far as audiobooks (fastest-growing book format due to ease of listening), I will pass for now because I choose to create podcast series instead which are created at a lower production cost.

Print books are great for people who want to hold a piece of you and your writings in their hands. My books will not be in bookstores (for the short time they still exist) because they are not for general audiences. Personally, I don’t need my books to appear on a shelf as just another dust collector. I am totally okay with that. Personally, I loathe paper.

TIPS

You can find few book writers’ tips from a non-fiction writers group

What book writing tips would you like to share?

Are you writing a book?

Schedule a consulting call about your own book project

 

Webinar Recording: The Art of Getting Great Podcast Guests

We put so much work creating our podcast, including finding the right guests for our show. We share some services, and tactics that we use to attain influential guests on our podcasts. We also share how to be a good guest. Watch this webinar on The Art of Getting Great Podcast Guests

Special thanks to Razz Misher, Organizer of the Savannah Podcast Meetup for having  Henrik de Gyor as one of the guests.

 

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