While I Was 34…

You should listen to my 2013 theme song while you read this: Prizefighter by the Eels.

  • I became an adventurer.
    Thanks in large part to two unconferences, Up To All Of Us and World Domination Summit, I am more determined than ever to make everything an experience worth having.
  • I became a caregiver.
    This was an experience I wish could have been avoided, but I have learned a lot. We have to find a way for things like this to be avoided. We have to allow people the opportunity to leave this world on their own terms. Also, fuck cancer.
  • I began to learn how to overcome rejection.
    WDS was huge for me if only for Jia Jiang’s presentation on embracing rejection. I’ve done things this year I never would have thought of doing, simply by not worrying if someone said “no.” I’m definitely still a work in progress, but I’ve found most of the time the answer is “yes.”
  • I began to find my niche.
    I have many friends and colleagues who are freelancers on the side, and some full time. I have a true passion for helping them succeed. Some people might call it coaching. Some people call it consulting. I’m not sure what I’m calling it yet, but I’m still the guy you should call first. 😉
  • I again realized that I need a product.
    Is 2014 the year of the product for me? I hope so, in some form or another.
  • I confirmed that travel is my passion.
    I want to explore everything and bring as many people along for the ride as I can. I look for opportunities to explore every chance I get. And now I’m buying a hippie van mobile office so I can do it more often and for longer periods of time.
  • I started coaching high school rugby.
    Go Mustangs.
  • I camped more.
    Outside. Campfires. Bike rides. Hiking. Cool, fresh air. Exploration. Get out there, people. So much to see and do.
  • I found new people, and deepened relationships with other people, who are all awesome.
    Overused word? You bet. But it can be true. From new people I just met this year to acquaintances turning to friends to friends turning to best friends, it’s been wonderful to find support, laugh and cry with humans that truly care. People who just want to make things better for everyone.
  • Once again, I realized we live in the future.
    I love the future. The technology. The progress. The openness. The opportunity. Don’t let the media fool you, this is a great time to be alive.
  • I fell back in love with games.
    Cards Against Humanity. Relic Expedition. Magic The Gathering. Geeksboro Cafe. All wonderful.
  • I received more confirmation that life is short. Vita brevis!
    All you people saving all your money for a rainy day or retirement, think again. Do you really want to limit your adventures to a time when you can’t walk or talk or do anything else very well?

Live now. Travel, explore and have fun for as long as you can. Enjoy the ride.

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Simplify With Shoeboxed

You all know how much I preach about simplifying. I also know a good value when I see one. Some folks will look at Shoeboxed and say, “$30 a month? Ouch!”. I used to look at services that way also, but a good friend of mine, Jane Bozarth, likes to remind me about value over price, and breaking down services and products by how much you use them. In addition, I look at how much time, effort and/or stress a service saves me.

Shoeboxed is one of these services.

Shoeboxed Magic Envelope
Shoeboxed Magic Envelope

Here’s my process:

  1. Shoeboxed sends me Magic Envelopes.
  2. I stuff Magic Envelopes with papers and receipts and even kids’ artwork.
  3. I drop Magic Envelope into mail (they include prepaid shipping).
  4. Shoeboxed scans all my docs with OCR.
  5. Shoeboxed sends the docs back (alternatively, you can have them securely shred and recycle your papers).
  6. I access my files online, export expenses to Freshbooks or export everything to Evernote.

Not much to it. I have a ScanSnap document scanner. It works very well. But you know what I found? I never took the time to process all that paperwork. It takes a long time to scan files and organize them, even when scanning directly into Evernote. My time is very valuable to me. So $1 per day to have someone else send me Magic Envelopes and do all that work for me? Sounds like I’m ripping THEM off.

Here’s another use case: last year I was way behind on getting my taxes organized (shocking, I know). I had a bunch of receipt to scan, process, organize and import into my accounting tool, Freshbooks. I simply sent all my 2012 stuff to Shoeboxed, then exported to a CSV file and imported all of that into Freshbooks. That was easy.

We’re all “busy”. But I think we’d be less so if we let experts do things for us for reasonable prices. Delegate, people. It’s ok. You can thank me later. Try them out and let them help you catch up. You don’t have to pay for a full year, just sign up for a free month and send them as much as you can stuff in.

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Setting Aside Critical Time for Processing

These days, we’re all scattered in at least a few different directions. It seems we have more distractions, more responsibilities and more, in general, to just do. The challenge is focus. We can’t operate at a high level if we can’t focus. This has been a major issue for me in recent years, and especially since I quit the day job in 2012. I’m constantly doing work for clients or handling family responsibilities. Rarely do I find, or take, the time to focus on my own stuff.

I look around my office and see a giant, distracting mess. The mess itself doesn’t bother me from a visual perspective. It’s the fact that it’s unfinished business. Papers that need scanning and filing, computer equipment that needs to be repaired or recycled. Hard drives that need to be tagged and archived. Stuff everywhere, and each with an unfinished task item (or four) associated with it.

This happens in business and in life. I need to manage this better. I’ve gotten help from services like Shoeboxed, but I don’t even use them as often as I should. Part of my “Better Brian” experiment is to recognize these issues and take action to make them better, if not rid myself of them altogether.

How? Process. Strict times to process information. Not do any work, just processing. Friday afternoons are typically filled with last second work to meet a deadline, or just abandoned altogether because a cold beer is sitting right outside my office. Being more disciplined to stick to my scheduled planning/processing time on those days will certainly help. And, I can still enjoy that beer.

In addition to a shorter daily reflection and processing time, I need to stop working at noon on Fridays, and use those 3-4 hours to clean up, plan for the next week and process any outstanding documents, invoices, etc. that will bug me all weekend. This is clearing the mental clutter and giving me a sense of accomplishment at the same time. Plus beer!

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