Archive for the ‘Being Productive’ Category

I don’t often repost other people’s blogs, but this blogger has some excellent insight into thought processes… Definitely worth sharing.

Four Mental Stages of Learning Any New Skill – Drew Iaconis.


How To Survive a Sociopath Boss

I once had a boss who is described in this article. But the crazy thing was, I really liked and respected him. I even defended him when coworkers would vent. Have you ever had a boss that everyone else in the office hated?

10 Things You Should Know About Goals

Excellent article that I may just have to make into a sign to hang over my desk.

Employers redefine educational requirements

Excellent article about online learning resources, many of which are FREE. And employers are rethinking the need for a diploma as knowledge takes priority. You now have no excuse for not learning something new today.

Finally immerging from a whirlwind formal educational adventure – 43 units in 3 semesters – to complete Associates’ degrees started many, many years ago, I’ve been thinking about what I learned apart from the content of the courses…

  1. You’re never too old to learn. In fact, I found that, because of life experiences, the theories and principles were easier to grasp. I was able to recall situations in which I had performed tasks that gave substance to ideas.
  2. You’re not alone. When I went to school in the 80s, it seemed like a cookie-cutter experience in which administrative bureaucracy prevented anyone who didn’t fit into the mold of “student” (18, living with parents, completely flexible schedule) from actually getting through the coursework. School is not like that anymore. In the past three semesters, I was able to take all my classes online, working around whatever else was going on in my life, and the administrators and instructors have been helpful and accommodating.
  3. Life experience makes one more resourceful. Had I been 18, I might have tolerated the $1200 price tag for books for the spring semester, but by researching alternative sources, I was able to get that bill down to $390. Which, of course, made me feel like I was smart enough to do this school thing. Additionally, using OneNote while I studied, making it a tactile as well as mental exercise, really helped with retention. I adapted to e-books from which I could copy/paste diagrams/tables/illustrations into OneNote. Technology is a wonderful thing.
  4. Always think outside the box. Being the Nerdy Woman, I set up a matrix in Excel, indicating which courses were available (not every course is offered every semester) to complete various majors. Within the accounting, business, and management fields, there was some overlap. So by taking just one or two more courses, I could increase the breadth of my knowledge and get an additional degree. Or two. Or three. I graduated with four – Accounting, Business, Management, and Management/Supervision.
  5. Don’t think you can’t afford to go to school. I really should have checked into financial aid when Nerdy Girl was younger. I didn’t realize that living on one income, with a minor child at home, I was able to get tuition waivers and grants for books.

Apart from formal education, there are lots of online learning resources that are FREE or very affordable. So why aren’t you learning something new today?

I’ve often wondered how much large companies budget for customer satisfaction handlers. You know, the people who respond when customers complain. Of course, those same people would also respond if you were to send a compliment to the company, but I doubt the company spends any time training them how to do that. Oh, but wouldn’t such a thing make their day?

We’re quick to complain when someone does something wrong, something that displeases us, something that does not meet our expectations. And maybe that last is the crux of it. We expect products to be as advertised. We expect people we work with to look professional and do their jobs. So why don’t we acknowledge companies and people who exceed our expectations rather than only speaking up when they fall short?

Exhale. Look around. Find something that pleases or amuses you. It could be the receptionist who looks professional instead of punk today. Or the Hugh Laurie music playing while you wait in line at Starbucks. Anything. And the day is already a little bit better.

Now, take 5 seconds to tell the receptionist she looks nice. It is NOT harassment to compliment her. She probably agonized for 2 hours getting ready for work, hoping her new appearance would be noticed. And when she smiles, you’ll feel better.

If you’re the boss, acknowledge extra effort from everyone. Let them know they’re appreciated. It’s worth more than a raise in pay.

Dash off an e-mail to a company whose product exceeds your expectations. It won’t take but a minute. It will feel awkward, maybe even goofy, but somewhere out there, your message will be read and a stranger will smile. I’ll bet you’ll be smiling, too.

I don’t know how I get to some of the places I’ve been. I mean online, of course. Although it’s probably happened a time or two when I’m in the car.

Yesterday afternoon, I ran a search for writing. Bazillion sites in the results. So I narrowed it to blog writing. I’m still new at this form of writing and I know it can be better. Much better. I’m smiling as I write this because yesterday a blogger I follow posted a how-to article on that very subject. Check out Kana’s Chronicles. Good stuff.

mastermind-matrix-800Following one of the hits, I signed up for and saved a few articles as pdf files to be read later. I followed links to six more websites, created shortcuts to some and dashed off an e-mail to a webmaster with a badly broken style sheet.

Some years ago, I signed up for, a website that connects freelancers with clients, but never did anything with it. After my foray into blog writing, I decided to search for freelance work, hoping to find similar websites that don’t require paid membership to use it well. I visited several but they weren’t very forthcoming about fees. Some had lots of contracts posted, others not so much, and one where most of the jobs were of the envelope-stuffing variety for which they are willing to pay enormous sums. I used to work as a writer for an insurance broker, preparing proposals and marketing materials so I wasn’t completely out of my element.

Time to eliminate some of the chaff. Narrowed search to freelance writing and followed a link to yet another bid/contract site. On this one, I looked at some of the listings and came across one that was very explicit about their search engine optimization (SEO) requirements. Which led to a search for pagerank checkers/software. Which led to a search for search engines (beyond Google and Bing, Yahoo and Zippy). There are actually quite a few. More than 250.

My mind wandered to things I need to do before I start any serious self-promotion for freelance work. Like get up to speed on MS Office 2010. I used to teach MS Office but that was when Office XP was the latest and greatest. They’ve rearranged everything and taken away some features I loved. Oh well. Thus the search for free tutorials for Microsoft Office. Which reminded me that they are discontinuing a favorite freebie, Microsoft Reader. Created when ePublishing was in its infancy, it was orphaned years ago. Born prematurely, I knew the end would come. Sigh.

Of course, that led me to a search for ebook publishing software because soon my OpenWorks Publisher will be obsolete (okay, it already is obsolete). I followed a link that hasn’t been updated in two years but the list of articles was interesting. In the writing category…”7 Ways to Unblock Your Creativity.” Click. Perusing the article, suggestion #4 said “Do a mind map.” Oh yeah. I’d seen software for that a couple of years ago. Ooooh. A link to a website about mind mapping. Click.

From there to the software page where they list several companies that make mind mapping software, including an open source freebie which I downloaded, of course. These software packages run about $250.00. Little bit too pricey for a test driver.

I don’t know how I got where I went next. I’m actually going to include the link to this one: because this site has a lot of really informative articles including What is Mind Mapping- (and How to Get Started Immediately). I signed up for the author’s free eBook and then followed a link from his Study Matrix Mind Map to another website, Amazing. Go. Don’t worry. New window. I’ll be here when you’re done.

Confession: I always thought mind mapping was just for brainstorming and organizing random but somehow related ideas. More. So, so much more. Check it out.

Last note: I wrote the other day about Google’s covert recording of our lives. I’ve decided I don’t mind being molested if a) I know it’s happening, and b) I benefit directly from it. I could not have recalled all the places I’ve been today if not for I log in with my Windows Live ID so I can collect the reward points. In return, Bing not only rewards me, they maintain a history of my searches and the links I followed from the results. I can delete it or stop the recording, but I like it. I’ll get rewards points if you click on my link to their site and you decide to sign up.

By the by, Bing also restricts ads to the righthand column instead of being comingled with the search results, suggests similar or related searches that might narrow the results for you, and if you search for something that has images, thumbnails appear in the results list and a larger image pops up when you mouse over it. Dang. They’re just doing it way better than Google.