Monday, April 19, 2010

5 Simpler Ways To Stop Working All The Time

NEW YORK - MAY 20:  New York City firefighters...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Work, work, work. It's never done, is it? And in the world where you're always connected to to everyone else in your network, the line between work-time and life-time is continually blurred. You feel like you're drinking from the fire hose hydrant, and it doesn't feel like it will stop.

Hey, I feel your pain. Really I do. I often get asked how I keep doing all the stuff I do without going insane or tapping into the quantum universe. To be honest, sometimes I do a rotten job at it. But most of the time, I do OK.

Here are five simple techniques I use to keep myself from working non-stop. While they work for me, YMMV.

  • Never work from your inbox
    Treat your email inbox like you do your snail-mail mailbox. Sure, you may spend a moment rifling through the letters while standing outside. But you certainly never shove things back in the mailbox to get to later.

    Why do you do this with your email?

    Get to inbox zero. Now. Stay there. Anything that needs working on, stick it in a folder. I call mine "Action". You can call yours "Work" or whatever else you like. This is where you move stuff to that needs your attention. This is your new repository of work items.

    If you can, shut off your new mail notification system. Checking mail isn't real work. Your real work is in that new folder you created.

  • Remove chatty news feeds
    You don't have to be first to know something. Mashable, Techcrunch, BoingBoing... all are great resources that you don't have to read. Why? Because someone else in your network is. Probably several people. Use your network as your filter of cool information. The biggest stories will cause serious tweeting, facebooking, and blogging from someone else in your network. Someone who is a lot less noisy than those other sources that simply overwhelm you.

  • Stop answering your phone
    Phones are interruptions. And you can tell who is calling. Concerned it might be an emergency? How often does that happen? Not very. And if it is an emergency, they'll call right back. Or reach out to you in another way. Use your voice mail to keep communications on your schedule.

  • RSVP with a "No"
    You don't have to attend everything you are invited to. In fact, you shouldn't. But you want to keep being invited, so be sure and respond to all RSVPs with a polite "no thanks". If you really hate missing things, ask someone who attended for a quick recap. It's not the same as being there, but is better than missing out all together.

  • Work on "battery time".
    Work expands to fill the time allotted for it. It also -- sometimes -- contracts as required. Working on a project that will take you longer than 2 hours? Break it up into chunks. Working on something that won't take 2 hours? Then go on to something else. Or simply stop when you are done with that project. Take a break. File some papers. Check your voice mail. Then get back to work. :)

Got a quick tip others could learn from? Leave it below.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Effective SEO: The ONLY 5 Things That Matter

Buring Money
Image by purpleslog via Flickr
Don't run away just yet. I promise not to turn this blog into one more place where some SEO1 expert moron spews out stuff they know nothing about. In fact, this will probably be one of the few times I talk about SEO. I promise.

But it's an important topic: The SEO "industry" has convinced everyone that this stuff is hard. Sorry, but it's not. I'm a firm believer that the most effective approach is to teach your designers and developers the basic and fundamental concepts behind good website design, architecture and implementation. Done properly, your web pages will get the rank they deserve. And you can worry about running your business instead of wasting money trying to find ways to subvert Google. Because you're never going to win that game.

Below is a talk I gave at Social Media Club Phoenix last week. I typically lead a "social media 101" discussion prior to the meeting. My class was about double the size from months prior. I have to assume that at least some of it was the topic: Dispelling SEO Myths -- something you wouldn't typically hear spoken about at Social Media Club. And because of that swell in attendance, I decided to post it here. Seems like lots of businesses are struggling with this. As usual, I have a simpler way to handle it.

Yes, just those five things. No, I'm not kidding. You could go deeper, but you're wasting your time if you haven't done those five things. You're also wasting your time if you can't do those things so are considering hiring an outside firm to do something else for you. That's wasting your money, because "something else" won't work. Do the things I tell you. If you can't, spend your money trying to get that changed so that you can do those things. Or if you want, give half of that money to me. I'll at least be upfront with you and tell you nothing will happen. Your expectations will be properly set and you'll know you're wasting money, rather than finding out what a waste it was six months from now. I'm kidding, obviously. Save your money until you can spend it on something that will work.

Preemptive strike for you SEO-types -- Don't bother. You may have examples upon examples of how your trick or technique works. I don't care. You and I both know the tricks you try have limited chances of working and only work for a limited time. You and I also know that every time it doesn't work, you blame it on the client's inability to implement your plan. I get that. See above. I'm trying to fix that. But no, I don't think you should be able to charge stupid amounts of money each and every month to unsuspecting clients who haven't the foggiest how your efforts actually help them sell more stuff. Because they probably don't. You can't argue me out of my position. I can't argue you out of yours. Let's just agree to disagree on this, OK?

Preemptive strike for those who want to hire me for SEO work -- If you want me to help you come up with a strategy to dump your outsourced SEO firm and bring it in-house, I can help. But if you're looking for someone to "just do the work", that's not me. I know plenty of very nice, very smart and very fair people who do SEO work and am happy to make a referral. That is, if any of them are still talking to me after reading this post.

1 - Search Engine Optimization. I hate the term and much prefer "SEF", or making your pages Search Engine Friendly.

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