Posts in the ‘Tips and Tricks’ category

Software for Starving Students (and other cheap folks)

If you are looking for a package of free software for your starving student or starving entrepreneur, check out

The good people over there have compiled a fairly large collection of best-in-class free software applications. The package includes multimedia, utilities, internet, academic tools, games and productivity software that would appeal to or be useful to a student. A complete list can be found here.

There are two different packages available, one is for Mac OS X the other is for Windows. The packages are in the form of CD images that you download and burn to disk.

Don’t Be Indispensable – If You Want To Get Ahead

Many people think that if you want to get ahead you need to make yourself indispensable. This sounds logical and intuitive, but it is wrong.

Being indispensable is a fine way to gain job security, but this is not the same as getting ahead and job security is never permanent no matter how indispensable you are. Eventually some person, some technology, or plain bad luck will disrupt the status quo and your job security will disappear.

The truth is that if you make yourself indispensable, you can’t take a vacation without being bothered. If you are indispensable, you can’t get promoted because it would be too inconvenient to backfill your position. If you are indispensable, you will continue to be stuck doing the same job, the same tasks, until that job ceases to exist.

You don’t want to be indispensable.

This does not mean you shouldn’t do a good job. You need to do a good job. You should be doing a great job. But don’t be the only one that can do that job. Be a leader. Be dynamic. Teach others to do the job as well as you. If the job is too hard for others to do, then find ways to make it simpler. Create processes, procedures and tools that make your job so simple a hamster could do it. Make yourself obsolete.

As you become obsolete, expand your job to include other difficult tasks. Become great at doing those tasks. Find ways to make doing those tasks simple. Teach others to do them. Make yourself obsolete.

Make yourself obsolete. Make yourself obsolete, again and again.

Soon you will find that you are not great at doing tasks. You are great at solving problems. You are great at seeing the big picture and breaking it down into simple components. You will not be indispensable in your job because you are an expert at finding ways other people can do your job easier and cheaper.

You can be promoted and you can get ahead because you are not indispensable in your current job and the next job is always harder. Until you start doing it…

How to get promoted when you work from home

One of the dangers of working from home is that it is more difficult to move your career forward. “Out of sight, Out of mind” often applies to telecommuters. What options are available to the upwardly mobile teleworker? How do you set yourself up for promotion when the odds are stacked against you?

I’m glad you asked. It turns out that the steps that are necessary to get promoted when you work from home are the same as those that are necessary to get promoted when you work in an office. Like everything else however, the telecommuter must work smarter.

Here are the 3 steps to getting promoted:
Read the rest of this article »

The Cluttered Desk; The Tidy Desk

A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind”

“A tidy desk is the sign of an insane mind”

What does your desk really say about you? Do you have trouble finding things? Do you know exactly where everything is? Would someone else be able to find anything?

My desk is a mess, but I can tell you exactly where everything is. The system works for me. But what if I had an assistant or needed to bring in extra help for a short time? Would my organizational style help or hinder?

I have been in the mood to tidy up lately (much to the joy of my wife) so naturally I turned to the internet. Nothing like some cyber procrastination to get things off on the right foot.

I found a couple of articles, but basically they all included the same information that I boiled down to some simple strategies for getting organized.

  1. Really want to get and stay organized. If you don’t really want it, it ain’t gonna happen. Don’t even bother with the rest of this article if your heart isn’t in it.
  2. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Spend a set amount of time each day. Perhaps 20 minutes, perhaps an hour. Whatever is necessary to plug through the current mess without burning out.
  3. Come up with a strategy. For instance “In, Pending, Out”. Or  “Keep, Toss, Move”. Or “Working, Reference, Archive”. You can come up with any combination of categories, you just need a category and a place for everything. Don’t forget to have and use a category for trash. You must throw things away.
  4. Develop a routine. Get in the habit of processing all current papers using your chosen strategy. Practice this strategy even while you are still working through the existing mess. Without developing a habit, your desk will eventually return to it’s wild state, and you will have to start over again.

I was amazed to see how many services and consultants there are that want to help you get organized. But hey, if you’ve tried everything else, you may need to bring in the big guns.

Me… I will try it on my own for a while.

Cabin Fever

It’s the beginning of February. It’s cold outside. I live in the suburbs. My family has one car. (And I don’t get to use it.)

These are the makings of home office cabin fever.

When the weather is nice, the highlight of my day is walking out to the mailbox to check the mail. It’s a nice leisurely stroll of about 100 yards. It’s not much, but it breaks up the day. Trash day is a bonus, that is an extra trip to the curb and back to bring in the cans. But in the winter, those two excursions aren’t nearly as pleasant. In fact, I find myself trying to combine them or speed up the amount of time spent outside.

What do you do to get through the winter months? What do you do to solve the one-car problem when there is no place to walk to? Is it just a matter of staying focussed and hoping winter ends soon? Ah… that wouldn’t be so hard if that damn groundhog hadn’t seen his shadow.

Please share any advice in the comments section.