Tag Archives: productivity

3 Tips To A Better Business Mindset

As a business owner you aren’t given any guarantees by your market, your customers or your clients. Your business survives and thrives from the strength of the connections and the relationships you cultivate with your business partners, with your on-line community and with the people you work to supply solutions to.

In the unspoken social contracts of on-line business, expectations are set and managed. You market your product as being capable of doing certain things better than your competitors, or being able to supply exactly what your target market needs.

Then you have to deliver, and the processes involved in providing quality products and customer satisfaction requires you to do things often covered by cliches: tackling the roadblocks, doing the drudgework, ironing out the details and smoothing out the obstacles, making things presentable, etc.

You know, the small details and repetitive tasks involved in running a business.


As someone who owns and runs their own business, by this time you must’ve already experienced the gut-wrenching anxiety that comes with facing all the demands that your brainchild, your creation, generates.

In the years to come new technologies and their ensuing social impact will come that can change the way you do things, or eliminate the need for your product entirely. You need to be able to focus on your core competencies and practices that will help you adjust to and change with the times.


You head your own business. You report to no one but yourself. As an independent entity, your business has no guarantees except for the projects, contracts and commitments you have right now.

Compared to people who work in companies and spend their workweek in cubicles or offices, you do exercise and have a greater degree of freedom: your schedule each day isn’t handed to you from on high, and where you spend your labor and time isn’t controlled by corporate.

On the other hand, this also means you’re responsible for ensuring the business survives and that you make a living off of it for as long as you want to run with it. Your ever-renewing goal then, is to look for and develop ways to prepare to thrive in an uncertain future without a crystal ball at your side. Continue reading 3 Tips To A Better Business Mindset

Looking Back While Planning Forward

10 July 2013, by A. Cedilla

It’s been quite a while since the start of the year — heck, even the start of the second quarter– so it’s definitely about time to take a few steps back, set aside a few hours or an afternoon, and see how you’re really doing, and perhaps getting some pen and paper handy for catching ideas.

So…what’s up? Have you accomplished significant changes in your life at this point? Paid off debts, got certified, made more contacts in the industry, got your blood pressure down, or fulfilled a significant personal goal?

Take a look at what you’ve been doing for the past half-year. In the daily rush it’s often difficult to pay attention to the direction things are going unless we take time to step back and assess the bigger picture. We need time to pass before we can get enough data-points, or tally up enough events, or get enough real-life information on which to make an accurate, contextually-based assessment of what’s going on.

(And you do this how?) Continue reading Looking Back While Planning Forward

Defining Your Territory

17 November 2012, by A. Cedilla

People have more things to deal with today that they have in the past. We also communicate faster, and that comes with a whole set of issues that have put increasing stress on our physical and mental limits.

  • We get pinged and messaged and alerted and beeped, cutting into our crucial concentration.
  • We can get updates on a minute-by-minute basis. Even if we don’t need it.
  • We can get connected everywhere we can get a signal. Unless you plan for it, you can’t be alone with your thoughts.

How do you deal with the speed of life?

You don’t have to imagine, you know how fast things can pile up.

Maybe you have a large paper calendar or a whiteboard, with different pen colors for each family member on the wall beside the fridge.

You probably have a shared online calendar to back that up, as well as note-taking apps to remind you what to get at the grocery store. But how do you spread out the priorities that shuffle in each day and the multiple tugs for your attention, ones that pull you in different directions?

Using information demands increased cognition — but getting data is different from understanding it, which is also different from laying it out in a way that can be useful to your goal. It’s not enough to know the price of rice in China, or who the current mayor of London is, or how sugar crystallizes– unless you know how to use that information when you need it.

“But there’s no time, there’s never enough time!”

Then carve out spaces in your day, and make sure to protect their borders. Continue reading Defining Your Territory

Lessons From Leaving The Yellow Brick Road

09 November 2012, by A. Cedilla

When we talk of brains — you know, like someone being touted as being ‘the brains of the outfit’ or something similar — we’re talking about somebody who has has the smarts, the knowledge and the experience on tap when he needs them, and the eye to see how to use his resources to get things done. He knows the big picture and makes it happen.

“Brains” is vision in execution: the ability to extract useful knowledge from various knowledge sources and experience, and using that effectively to get the desired results.

And of course, there are other qualities we like to hear about and work towards calling our own. Like being someone having “nerves of steel”, or “the heart of a lion.” It feels kinda nice picturing yourself like that, isn’t it?

The thing in personal characteristics though, is that we’re socialized to measure ourselves against other people all the time.

From who gets the gold star to who brings homes the biggest chunk of bacon, we’re taught to look at other people as our competition, and to push ourselves and do better than them. Keeping-up-with-the-Joneses is a well-recognized phenomenon, and so is Beating-the-Joneses.

And when you fall into this tendency of thinking that what you have isn’t enough by itself — aughh, you’re just not good enough on your own — you get trapped into believing you have to look to other people to give what you lack, that only other people have it all together.

That’s giving your power away. Continue reading Lessons From Leaving The Yellow Brick Road

When Will You Get Around To It?

14 May 2012, by A. Cedilla

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
-Theodore Roosevelt


“Yeah, I’ll get to that later. Promise.”
“Don’t worry, it’s on my to-do list.”
“Sure, sure, just let me finish this first…”

You say the usual words, sure you have time, but then you blink — and it’s too late.

Something came up.

Something else happened and the opening you were counting on is gone.

Windows of opportunity close, the fork in the road disappears and you have no other choice. You blink, you stutter, you swear…and then you put your shoulder to the wheel and push. Grudgingly, resignedly, you push. You’ve got no choice, right?

But what if you do?

“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.”
Denis Waitley, motivational speaker and author

Procrastination is a mind-game you play with yourself, pure and simple. All the pressure and obstacles that you’re experiencing? They–and their supporting structures — are all happening in your head. It’s rare to find anybody past college not haunted by the Ghosts of Projects undone, or weighed down with the unwelcome realizations that they have a Lot Of Things To Do.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started.”
David Allen, productivity consultant, author

And it’s even more difficult when you forget to factor in human nature. Continue reading When Will You Get Around To It?

Don’t Quite Know What To Do? Develop An Eye for Service

11 April 2012, by A. Cedilla

When you have a dream about making money from following your passion, sometimes the passion can get in the way of realizing the dream. So what more if you don’t know what your true passion is? What do you do?

Everyone daydreams. All of us, at one time or another, entertained vivid mental movies where we get everything we want. Dreams, daydreams, fantasies — or more specifically, visions — are important because they give us the outlines of something we want. They give us something to aspire to. They’re symbols.

They’re like bright fluttery curtains behind which are hidden our true desires and deeply held convictions, and to make our dreams come true, to real-ize our truth, we have to work at pulling back the curtain. Keyword: work.

Now, when you’ve got a number of years under your belt and gained the maturity from those years, hopefully you’ve accepted learned a few things about yourself and your many dreams.

Some dreams you outgrew, some you realized weren’t right for who you were growing into, and some were all flash and no substance — and yet the flash was so, well, flashy and pretty and dazzling and fascinating it’s hard to let the dream go. But looking past that it’s not the dream but what the dream represents, that’s linked to the flash and makes it so irresistible.

Dreams are fuzzy and free. Reality is more demanding. You want something, you can’t wait for it to fall into your lap. I.e, you go for it. You make your moves. You act. You work.

But what if you don’t know your passion? Even more, what if you have your passion, but you want it to stay a passion and not become, eww, work? If you still want to make enough money to keep body and soul together (plus a vacation on the side, a little sumpthin’-sumpthin’ to fall back on, and a few extras), what then? Continue reading Don’t Quite Know What To Do? Develop An Eye for Service

What’s Your Agenda?

01 February 2010, by A. Cedilla

When I think of the word “agenda” the image that comes to mind is of two groups of people looking at each other over a long table in the board room.

Think Wallstreet, with Gordon Gekko, or that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman and his colleagues try to one-up each other with, of all things, the fonts on their business cards.

When we think of agenda what pops up is the idea of a meeting or a discussion — sometimes a heated negotiation or a nefarious plan (“I don’t trust that guy, he’s got an agenda….”).

While the latter covers some of the more emotional connotations of the word agenda, what it boils down to is: an agenda is a list of things to talk about. So, you discuss the items on the agenda in a meeting. I hope that’s clear.

An agenda is not a To-Do list. Those are personal and task oriented. An agenda can be seen as a program of sorts, listing topics and issues presented for of discussion.

(Quick insert: An agenda is also not a credenza, even though they sound somewhat the same. I once made the mistake of confusing the two, in writing. It wasn’t pretty.

And a credenza is not a place of discussion, although you can have a quick chat beside one. Remember, you can put the notes for your agenda on the credenza, but not the other way around.) Continue reading What’s Your Agenda?

Stumbling Blocks, Building Blocks, Starting Blocks 2

29 January 2010, by A. Cedilla

Coming in from part 1:

You can use the blockage (pun intended) to learn more about yourself.

In the long view, everything can be used — we can re-frame the mistakes as lessons — ones on learning about the world, about yourself, about how to handle life as it comes…

Hopefully then, you can release the illusion of control over everything in your life (“I’m the King of The World!”), and strive towards making the best of what you’ve got and been given.

You can also use the stumbling blocks as course corrections, reconsidering which way you want to go. Remember Pong (the computer game)?

You play it by positioning the slider so that the ball can bounce off it. In this case, you use the block to bounce off of, making it a starting block. Continue reading Stumbling Blocks, Building Blocks, Starting Blocks 2

Stumbling Blocks, Building Blocks, Starting Blocks

27 January 2010, by A. Cedilla

Writing an article is like assembling a jig-saw puzzle with words.

You have a central idea, and then all the little ideas get pieced together in an orderly pattern — words to a sentence, then sentences to a paragraph — making the connections until the pieces (which make little sense on their own) form into an image of the whole and show you the big picture.

In doing the research for this article, somehow the jigsaw pieces became blocks.

This is mainly because life rarely gives us the top of the puzzle box to guide us even as we try to connect the pieces we’re given. If we stick with the puzzle analogy, some pieces don’t make any sense, some come in from out of the blue, and some disappear just when we need them the most.

We don’t always get the big picture, and in the process the puzzle image failed, so, being more appropriate for what comes next, the blocks took over.

Picture it, a child’s set of blocks. Depending on who’s using them, and where they are, these blocks can do a lot of things.

The kids can build things with them when they’re playing. Blocks can hurt when thrown across a room, or trip you up when they’re left on the floor. They can also prop up your laptop when you’re too cheap to buy a proper laptop stand (Hey, it if works, why not?) Continue reading Stumbling Blocks, Building Blocks, Starting Blocks

Work While You Work 2

13 January 2010, by A. Cedilla

While the goal tracker mentioned in part one teaches you to focus on the activities that are directly linked to your most important, vital outcomes (the actions that will bring you the most bang for your buck) the method mentioned in this second part is a concentration aid.

The Pomodoro technique teaches you to manage your mental environment, a difficult thing to do in these split-focus, multi-tasking modern days.

To move in this time we are taught to dart our attention all over the place, looking at the shiny, the relentless, the most strident, the terribly, terribly IN-terr-esting.

The long-term effect? We keep needing more and more stimulation to push through our desensitized filters, and this drains us even as we develop a craving to the speed at which the stimuli comes at us, leading to a vicious circle.

To practice the Pomodoro technique then, would be quite uncomfortable until you get used to what it demands of you. It may take a while to realize the value of this mental training, but the results will pay out, as soon as you truly get it, and over a life-time. Continue reading Work While You Work 2