I’m excited for what’s in store for 2013. I’m hoping to do more paid speaking gigs, continue to do excellent work for my clients, and my next book is due out in February! There are lots of projects in the works. I’ll share more details with you as I firm up my plans.
Earlier this year I was inspired to embark on a project of systematically cleaning out my life – one drawer, one shelf, one stack of papers at a time. I am by no means becoming one of those people who only has 100 possessions or lives in a tiny house. My goal is to de-clutter my life by getting rid of the things I don’t use or need.
I attended an interesting session at SXSW this year about minimalism and entrepreneurship. The amazing panel had lots of wonderful ideas about using minimalism when starting a business, but the many of their suggestions could be applied to any business. The main ideas focus on simplicity and freedom instead of material wealth. It inspired me to do my own research on using minimalism as a business owner. These are some of my favorite tips.
Do you work better when your desk is clean? Me too. I think clearer and I’m less distracted if my work area is clean. Clean your desk. Get rid of excess papers by going paperless. Simply processes. Find an organization system that works for you and use it.
Turn Off All Notifications when doing Focused Work.
If I see that I have a new email, voicemail, or notification from one of my social media accounts, I have a hard time not checking it. I do my best and most efficient work when I turn off my ringer and close my social media and email tabs on my browser. Don’t worry about missing something important. It will all be there when your work is done and you take a break. Courtney Carver had a great saying at SXSW: You run the day or the day runs you.
Get Rid of the Old.
Don’t let your office become the final resting place for old computers, equipment, books, and software. When you upgrade, get rid of your old stuff. (Don’t forget to wipe your computers’ memory first.) If there are things you just don’t use anymore (like your fax machine) get rid of it.
Reduce your Overhead.
The less you spend on your overhead, the less you have to work before turning a profit. Take a hard look at all your expenses (rent, phone, internet, office supplies, insurance, etc.) and think about what you really need to run your business.
Do what Works for You.
Ignore what everyone else is doing if it’s not working for you. Look for creative solutions to your problem. You don’t have to do exactly what your competition is doing to be competitive. Do you need a big fancy office, with fancy furniture and rented art work with a huge conference room or do you only need a small office and webcam to hold video conference meetings? In my experience, most clients care more about results than fancy furnishings.
One of the best tips I took from the panel at SXSW was to look at all your expenses and determine if they are a need, a like, or a want. The wants can probably be cut out along with most of the likes. Focusing on your needs will keep your clutter and your expenses down, but it takes discipline to do this.
Understand the “whys” behind your business – Why do you what you do? What’s the ultimate goal? Post these on the wall so you can keep your mind on what really matters to you instead of letting it get needlessly wrapped up in other problems.
If you want more information on minimalism, please check out The Minimalists. These guys were on the panel at SXSW. They have great energy and information to share.
I just got back from the interactive track of South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin – the most amazing conference for all things related to social media. I attended as many sessions as I could but there were dozens of other talks I wish I could have attended. I came back to Phoenix buzzing with ideas.
I attended an interesting session by author/journalist Pernille Tranberg from Copenhagen. She co-authored the book Fake It! Your Guide to Digital Self-Defense. She uses her real name on LinkedIn and Twitter, but she uses fake names on Facebook and for filling out forms online. She has two complete alter egos. Her friends know her fake name on Facebook but she generally doesn’t share that information with others.
In a world that pushes of online transparency, her ideas run in the opposite direction. This is a great tactic for people to use who don’t want everyone looking them up or if they want to have a private online life that is completely separate from their professional life. Having a fake persona makes it less likely that your boss or prospective boss will be able to find you on Facebook or anywhere else you use your fake name. Additionally, if your fake identity is ever stolen it won’t be devastating for you because there are no assets connected to your alter ego.
If you’re interested in creating an alter ego for yourself, check out Fake Name Generator. It will give you a name, address, email address, username, password, profession, and even information like height, weight, blood type, and mother’s maiden name.
Now, does using a fake name violate the terms of service of social media sites that require you to use your real name or have a policy against one person having multiple accounts? Yes. But if no one reports you, how will they ever know?
I also attended a session on Bullying: Social Media as Problem and Solution which featured Marta Gossage, community manager for Reddit. She spoke about how people are encouraged to use pseudonyms on Reddit and by doing so it allows people to share and connect with people in a way that they don’t feel comfortable doing in real life. She said it also reduces the amount of harassment because most people don’t know each other in real life and participants on the site are good at enforcing the ideal that they can attack an idea but not the person.
Marta encourages people to use fake names because it’s easier to share without fear of judgment when no one knows who you are and because it’s easier to delete a fake identity than a real one from the internet. This is particularly true for young people who don’t think before they post and may regret the things they post which might affect their ability to get jobs or accepted into college.
I have a friend who maintained two Facebook profiles during law school – one was under her real name that was mostly a placeholder in case a professional contact tried to look her up. The other was under her fake name where she was free to be herself. Knowing what I know about her career plans, it made sense for her to separate her social life from her professional one. (Don’t worry – she doesn’t do anything bad. She’s just a bit of a free spirit in a conservative industry where some might look down on her boisterousness.)
If you want to create a fake persona online, remember what Benjamin Franklin said: “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Be careful to only share your fake identity with people who will keep it private.
For those of you who don’t know, SXSW is a huge conference that features three track – film, music, and interactive. The interactive track is all about technology and social media. That’s the track I’m attending. There are way more sessions than any person can attend and there’s so many opportunities to meet and hang out with awesome people in general that I’m going to probably be busy from morning ‘til night every day.
I’m super excited to go to the sessions on entrepreneurship, privacy, marketing, stopping bullying, and of course, the legal sessions. I will have the pleasure and honor of speaking about Protecting Your Copyrights In Digital Media. I’m going to talk about what your copyright rights are and your possible courses of action when someone steals your content. I’m part of the Future 15 program so I only get 12 minutes to give my talk. It’s going to be awesome.
And will someone please remind me to do a handstand in front of a big SXSW sign or display? I need to add that picture to my collection. I don’t know if I’ll have time to see the giant longhorn statue on the University of Texas campus, but that would be fun too.