The Do not Do List (repost)

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com **
I originally read about this concept from Michael Hyatt (http://michaelhyatt.com/2007/01/the-not-to-do-list.html) According to Hyatt: “the idea is to list all the activities you are intentionally going to stop doing for the sake of greater productivity”
The reality is that as life evolves, and more projects come to life, priorities change and evolve and interest drifts and grows. The numbers of things we do get to a point in which it is impossible to keep up. At that time you have 2 options: lower your standards or get rid of the things that are not worth it for you to do.
One example of this is  yard work. I hate that job, I am not interested in doing it well, and it is in my Do not Do list, I paid a service, my yard looks great and I can enjoy it and use my time for other things.
Not only can this list be used to make you more productive, this list in general contains  a series of lessons. How do you think many of the things on my list got there? I learned from past experiences .I  began my list sometime in 2007, my list is not big but it is full of learning experiences.
Here is my list at the time of this post, and I will go into detail on some of them.
picture-2
The car and the yard are simply two things I hate, and I if I can pay to someone to do it for me, I will.
The next item, I will not finish a bad book or a book that I did not enjoy. This  was something that I read in Steve Leveen book: The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (http://www.amazon.com/Little-Guide-Your-Well-Read-Life/dp/1929154178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246899969&sr=8-1). I tend to finish most of the books I start, but I must admit that after I read this I got permission to dump the ones I didn’t  like and even during 2007 and 2008 I just dumped one book  a year, I am happy I did.
I learned about back ups the hard way, I lost everything, and yes, more than once. One time on my PC, trying some software and once on my phone the same way. I learned the hard way, that rebuilding information is not a fun thing to do, it is painful and can drive you mad. Now its on my list, so I remind myself not to do it.
Finally, on December 2007, I decided that I was going to change my life. At the time I was overweight (more than 70lbs) and I was a heavy smoker. I set a three year plan in motion, from January 2008 to December 2010.
In 2008 the main goal was to stop smoking. Happy to report, that I quit smoking as of January 30th 2008, and I have not touch a cigarette since then. In 2009, the main goal was to get to the doctor and get my health checked (my last visit was a long, long time ago) and I began the process of changing my eating habits, losing  weight and get ready for my 2010 goal. 2010’s  main goal is to exercise, to create the exercise habit.
During 2008 I really did not have to write my goal of not smoking on my Do not Do list, I just did it.  In 2009 (more than 50lbs lighter) I continue to, once in a while, eat my frustrations. During a chat on Do not Do list with the wonderful group of GTDers of the GTD Virtual Study Group (http://gtd-vsg.blogspot.com/) something hit me in the face (isn’t that how this things usually happen?) I should just write on my Do not Do list not to eat my frustrations. I did, that was the item number 6 of my list; and the process of writing it on the list has created a powerful bond to the compromise. I can’t guarantee that I will not eat my frustrations again, but I have done it less, and that it is a good start, something that I am proud of.
Do you have a Do not Do list? if so, will you share it with us? If not, why not? Have you considered creating this list as a way to stop certain things and put on paper other lessons that you have learned.
My Do not Do list has been a great tool, and even though it looks short, it has been a great complement to help increase my productivity, and help me stay focused on the important stuff.

Where are your Goals?

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**
Where are your Goals? and how do you know if you are going to reach them? How do you know if you are in the right track?

Image Courtesy of http://artjunk.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/collage.jpg

I have talk in the past about writing everything down in here http://theentrepreneurnotes.com/2009/05/08/writing-stuff-down/
When I begin writing everything down, I begin to be accomplish goals, it is true that were your attention goes, result shows, I have been able to quit smoking, to read more, spend quality time in other areas of my life, not without mistakes, not without miscalculations, but I have been able to accomplish them, and everything began when I wrote my goals down.
You want to accomplish anything? Write it down and revise it constantly, and you will. I have my goals separated in three categories, Personal, Family and Career. I check them often, I read them often, for only one reason, it is the only way that I know that I can get back on track to accomplish them.
I had a the beginning of this year a reading goal, 24 books. Usually I am able to read more, (last year count 38) The reason I got the number lower was because we have a new Baby and I did not knew how much time I was going to be able to spend reading. In June, I raise the goal, to 52. (As this writing I have read 37). I understand you do not want to track the number of books you read, because you read for pleasure, but I have discover that if I do, even that I read for pleasure, I find the time to read, I find more time if I write it down as a goal that if I am not.
Same thing happen with goals, when you write them down, you bring them to your attention and you begin working on them, you begin unconscious make little steps towards the completion of the goal.
So were are your goals. In your mind. Great! Mine are written down, and your should be written down now, in fact you should begin written them now. Go grab a piece of paper, and a pen and written down. I will be waiting for you.
Did you wrote them down? Go and do it is important.
Now the challenge, read this goals for the next week everyday. After that you will see how much you move towards them, comparing to before, in most cases, you will get more closer to this goals in this week, that what you have done in the last month.

6 things my baby remind me about Entrepreneurship

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**

Our baby is learning to walk, she is able to hold to things and move around. She is a fast crawler, but walking is the next step for her, she look at us proud when she stand up. Last night was not the exception on that, I was watching her, and suddenly hit me, watching her remind me something about entrepreneurship.
This are the six things that she remind me about entrepreneurship:
1.- Be proud of your accomplishments, even if when you have not reach the objective yet. Every time she standup, she looks proud of herself, on Entrepreneurship is the same, be proud of your accomplishments, even when they appear to be minor, and you can easily repeat them.
2.- Crawling is familiar, but standing up allow you to have a better view. She is a fast crawler, but she insist on standing up, she insist on seeing the world as a big girl. Don’t wait to be a big girl, learn, practice and experience the world as if you were, will be less painful when you get there.
3.- No matter how many times you fell, you try again. It amazes me, every time she feel, she just get back to whatever she is using as a support and standup again. The Entrepreneur route is hard, if you are not ready to fail, better don’t try it. You will fell and fail in the way of the Entrepreneur, but you will also succeed and celebrate.
4.- Sometimes is ok, to Crawl to move faster. Even that you are learning to do new things, sometimes is ok to crawl to move faster, but remember to get back to trying to walk again, so you get other opportunities. As an Entrepreneur, you will need to get to old ways to accomplish certain things, but remember to evolve, all those should be temporarily, and make sure that they are not for-life-temporarily.
5.- Hold yourself to a guide, but you must try to walk by yourself. She can’t walk by herself yet, but she is trying hard. She hold herself to something and try to walk all the time. When an Entrepreneur begin, it is really hard to sustain the adventure by itself, it is ok to hold to your old job, or your security, but do not let the dream go away, do not forget to try to walk by yourself.
6.- No matter how hard walking looks, if you try hard, eventually you will make it. I remember when she try the first times to stand up, was a challenge, was difficult, but she try, try again, and again. Now she stand up fast and easy. Remember, your adventure at the beginning will be hard, but only trying again and again will make it look easier.
Entrepreneurship is difficult, is as difficult as it is for my daughter to learn to walk, but she is trying hard, and you should try hard too. Again if you are not going to try hard, why even try in the first place?

Is part of your job as the boss to make them feel special?

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**
One of the interesting things in employment, that most Entrepreneurs and Business Owners forget, is your employee satisfaction, many times you forget that it is not the salary or the extra perks you think can’t afford, it is the little things.


You read about places like Google and Oracle, where their employees are pampered, and think it is impossible for you as an small business owner or entrepreneur to match them; and in a way it is true, but you are looking at the problem from the wrong perspective. Your employees satisfaction are directly related with their productivity, a happy employee will stay later, will put more effort in their job, will walk the extra mile barefoot, an unhappy one, not so much.
Do you think, that you need to spend millions, to make this people happy, let me prove you wrong for a moment. Have you think on Pizza Fridays, Good Free Coffee, Cold Water on the Summer, one Friday afternoon off after a good month?
As a Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur, your resources are limited, but that doesn’t mean that your motivation need to be too, it has been proven on many studies that it is one of the most expensive things on your business is a employee that leave and the consequent need to train the new one. The problem with many entrepreneurs and small business owners is that they try to get this employee back after he cross the line, after he is ready to leave. The problem is that without realizing that after that employee cross that line, it is a matter of time, yes more money will make him or her reconsidering the offer, but the decision is made, employees leave their job because dissatisfaction, and after all those things that bother you as an employee are out, no one can hide them again anymore.
But again, how expensive is to show thanks, to show that you appreciate your team, offer pizza once in a while, and make your employee feel that the job they do, make your business better?
Again most entrepreneurs and small business owners thinks, that it is really expensive, without realizing that at the time this employee quits, you are going to offer them all that money and more.
Stop for a moment, and reflect on this, how much cost you to bring lunch this friday for the whole company? How much is going to cost you to send a thank you note on August 30th to all your employees for the effort on the difficult month? How much is their productivity and happiness affecting your bottom line? Do you think pizza is expensive, an unhappy good employee is thousand times more expensive, yes the one that it is unhappy, but the job is good enough, and again, if that employee had not cross the line yet, trust me, a cheap thanks, a little of attention and make them feel special will go a great way on reel him back, and get that productivity back. If your employee cross the line, sorry, their is no return, after you cross the no return point, no one can reel you back.
What are you going to do to bring productivity up? How much is the cost on list productivity versus the pizza tis friday?

Running from the Bull. It is Social Media running towards your business.

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**



Social Media is an interesting animal, you go to Facebook, Linkedin, Twiiter or Friendfeed and can connect to many people in the world, more importantly if you are an entrepreneur you can even connect with your customers, suppliers and vendors. Risky business, no question about it. Social Media is like a bull, and you are in Pamplona streets, doesn’t matter if you are ignoring the bull, you are in the streets anyways, eventually you will need to run.
One of the problems with Social Media, is that the distinction between personal and professional is blurry, if you get out in the open with Social Media, people will find your company, your person, and tied them together, no more distinction between my day job and my life after work.
In my case, among other things, I write, but I am also a Sales Manager, doesn’t matter how good or bad is our Social Media involvement, eventually people tied them both, eventually, people find both feeds, eventually, people learn that your baby did not allow you to sleep and that you are happy for a great deal you just sign, unless, you decided to hide from the Bull.
Close your Twiiter, close your Facebook, close your linked in account, or embrace them, show the real you, take the risk, and get ready to run, because, with Social Media as well as the people in Pamplona during the Bull days, or you run, or you will need to confront that Bull one on one.
Are you ignoring Social Media? The bull? Are your shoes tied?

Move on! Thanks for Stoping by.

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**


I have been always impress how people get stuck, trust me sometimes I get stuck too, but I try to pay attention and move on, some people simply can’t, they are unable to make a decision and even after a decision is made, they come back, and begin the process again. Life move too fast to be slowing down, make the decision, and move on, if need it after implementation, move back adjust and move on again, but do not stop, do not get stuck.

I understand, make decisions is one of the most difficult things people do, but you need to learn to make them and move on, the risk of stopping by is too high, and most likely by the time you finally make the decision the original set of premises has change and you need to go to square one, in the mean time, the people that can take decisions, are far, they have move on, evaluate, adjust, reevaluate and won the race.
Got a sour moment at work, move on, leave the job, or move on, but you cannot just stuck yourselves in the same situation, got a sour moment with a client, leave the account or move on, while you are getting stuck, your competition is eating your lunch, while you are stuck complaining about the difficult of the moment, the sad it was, or the unfair, people is moving.
Move on!, stop bringing the unfair, the sadness, the difficulty, stop trying to get even, stop loosing your life. If you are not growing you are dying, if you are stuck, guess what, you are dying.
I can rant the next paragraphs about the economy, how your sales had come down, how upper management project makes no sense, how it is hard for me to write this, about how terribly my grammar was on that email to my costumer, yes that email for the important deal, I can even write about how tough had been the last eight months of the years, how low sales are, how bad is everything, well thanks for sharing, now Move on!
Thanks for sharing, thanks for stopping by. Go to the comments now, leave your rant, after that Move On! Thanks for stopping by!

Work in Progress. No Shining objects allowed.

** Originally published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**

Sometimes you just let life go, don’ push forward, don’t push back, just go were life gets you, you get yourself in stand by. While many people consider this stage something temporal, people is not aware of the risks that this stand by state of mind has for them, they just loose the fuel on their backs, and even though the ideas continue flowing the actions did not show up, after they try to move, they discover that would have been easier to keep moving than begin again, not only that, they found themselves on a desperation stage. Otherwise why do you think they begin moving again.

Entrepreneur suffer from this, stop pushing for sales, and begin expecting for them to go, stop creating new messages for marketing, because the great one is coming, or start getting into many new adventures that the focus gets diluted.
I am not saying that as an Entrepreneur you can’t have more than one activity, I am saying that unless you are moving forward, yes actually moving forward, on all of them, all that you re doing is going around and around in the same circle, if your business is not growing, is dying.
Entrepreneurs, freeze out of fear, stop trying to sell the product, stop trying to bring a new marketing ideas, stop trying to bring more money, or simply money out of the adventure they are in or they begin placing their focus on other adventures, that are going to save the day. The problem with that in many occasions just create a bigger problem that the problem they originally had.
Success is measure in actions, if you are not moving, you are failing, if you are not selling more you fail, if you have no new marketing ideas, you fail, if your actions are not clearly moving forward the adventure, you fail. I am not saying that the best thing sometimes people can do is close a chapter and let it go, even some adventures that are in cruise control, can be let go, but understand that if they do not grow they will die.
Entrepreneurs, tend to suffer from this, some people call it the shinning object syndrome, the entrepreneur will follow the shinier object, sometimes without measuring the consequences.
How can you as an Entrepreneur can avoid this, well I promise that a soon as I discover I will write about it, for now I am keeping a list of active actions, projects and initiatives, and set the important tasks that I need to move forward, and I am sure that I am not embarking any new adventures, until some of this activities can be on cruise control, handed to someone that keep it growing, or that I am simply willing to let go. In the mean time, this plate is full, I appreciate you are sharing your shinning object, but please keep it away, we are working in here, no shinning objects allowed.
How are you avoiding the shinning objects, and keep your actions moving you forward to your objectives?


Your filter eat my email

** Originally Published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**
Years ago, I learn to set filters to help me manage my inbox, on those days I was on the over 250 emails daily and honestly was impossible for me to keep up otherwise, I honestly do not had the time to touch any email more than once. I have been keeping my inbox in zero since the end of 2003, I was managing 7 inboxes, and getting inbox zero  every 24 to 48 hours.
The trick for me was priority, and learn to filter stuff. At that time I was working on Outlook, today I work on a Mac, but my filter setup is the same, even that I do not have the same volume I use to have, I have learn that filters can save you an incredible amount of time.
I set filter got high priority mails, my boss, my top costumers, emails that I am CCd that do not come from the previous categories, (trust me if the boss or the top costumer CCd me, I want to read it). Each one of this filters move my emails to folders I work first, the rest of the emails keep on the inbox for a review.
After I clean those emails, I continue to moving to the next step, I have filters for ezines and subscriptions, that go to another folder, a low priority one.
After all this pre-clasification is done, the amount of noise get really identify, if it is noise, I just create a rule, to get that email directly in the trash, I do not even try to unsubscribe, in my experience, that imply another set of emails that I am not interested in read, a rule that move it to the trash is more more effective.
This help me get those spam emails, some of them self inflicting spam, but spam at the end of the day, move out my view and allow me to keep with my life, trust me, after I got rid of those, there is no much noise left, the time to set up each filter less than 5 minutes, the improvement in productivity, hours.
Now If I can get my iphone to learn those rules…

The Value of Productivity. Can you afford to be productive?

** Originally Published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**

When I read my first book on productivity, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey (http://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People/dp/0743269519/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247861976&sr=8-1) I had no understanding on the need to be productive, nor did I understood the importance of productivity, I read it because someone recommend me the book, and told me that the book will have the opportunity to influence my life and change it forever. That person was right, and I am grateful for that.
Since then I have read many books on productivity,I have learn a lot about productivity over the years, have learn to appreciate productivity, have been on times more or less productive, and have understand the reason why I am productive, and the reason I strive for productivity, including, increase my quality of life.
When I began reading about productivity, I did not understood the value or the cost of productivity, forget about the fact, that I though I could afford to be unproductive. Sadly people don’t know how expensive is to be unproductive, people think that being productive is too much work, and maybe they are right, but the cost of being unproductive is so high that only a few people can afford it.
After you get to certain level on your professional career or your business, but specially in your business, time is the only asset you can never get back, and learn to use that time wisely is the only way to improve. Spend the time and resources need it to learn about productivity and be highly productive, is a cost you cannot afford not to spend, learn your peak times, your valleys, the time that the best you can do is close your eyes for 15 minutes, the time that go into a meeting is simply a bad idea, learn how to maximize the little time you have is more essential that anything else. For this reason people look into GTD Systems, TimeDesign, 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People, and many more, is to learn to manage time, and learn to identify how to maximize the little time we have, to learn to reduce the unproductive time cost.
The problem with productivity is that people do not understand it, people think to be productive is too much work and too expensive, they think they are too busy to be productive, the hidden cost of being unproductively is hiding from them, they think they are too busy to stop and think, from people that just have no understanding and knowledge about productivity at all, I often ask myself, how can they afford not to be productive, I know I can’t.
I am amaze by the people that measure their time in hours. If you are measuring your time in hours, you better be invoicing per hour, otherwise, you are loosing your time. I am not saying every job should be billed by hour, but if your job is to produce the biggest output per hour, you need to find ways to maximize those hours, not to measure them.
Last week, I was working with someone without a computer, when I ask about some information that I need they told me that their technician was fixing their computer, in shock, I ask since when, he had 2 days waiting for it. I was in shock, this person cost per hour will buy a new laptop, the expenses of two days down, I really don’t want to see that invoice, and he has no clue about that invoice, I even ask why he did not have a backup machine, the answer, I do not need it, my computer is a really good one.
In 2007 my laptop died on a friday afternoon, with a really important presentation on Monday, with a costumer outside of the office. I went a bough a new computer, that friday afternoon, I did not had the time to fix it, I went an got a $399 netbook and was up and running in less than 2 hours. Later I fix my laptop, I simply did not have the time to fix that and I could not afford not to have a computer to do my job. There are times that the best you can do, is let things go, there is no need to push for a lost cause.
The problem when you can’t understand that time is your most important resource, is that you can waste it, you will waste it.
Over the years I have developed a Do Not Do List, and I have talk about it before (http://theentrepreneurnotes.com/2009/07/08/the-do-not-do-list/) more than anything to avoid mistakes I have made in the past, like came to the office after a 12 hour trip. What I was thinking?,correctly I was not thinking, I was to tired for that, but I went to the office and sit there for ninety minutes, looking at the screen, trying to do the expense report, the only thing my brain was able to do after that plane trip. I waste 90 minutes that I will have never get back.
You need to let the trees go, and see the forest, if the computer die, stop focusing on the computer down and focus on how you will get back a soon as possible, worry about details later.
Do you have a more important resource than time? What is your story, on a time waster situation and how you bounce back.

Are you willing to risk everything?

** Originally Published on www.theentrepreneurnotes.com**
About Witness Protection Program

That was the question in a discussion with an entrepreneur this morning. This person was questioning how much he needed to risk, his finances, his family, his reputation. What if I fail? My answer was: What if you succeed?
The Entrepreneur route is scary, security is a dream; as it is in a non-entrepreneurial situation. You are writing your own check, conscious or not. The problem again is not the risk, the problem is on risk management.
Your entrepreneurship can be in many things, from shoemaker, to designer , to writer, and any combination of these and many other things. I have friends that cook, design, are marketers, writers, pilots, artists, it doesn’t matter, they are all entrepreneurs, they are building their dream. The problem is entrepreneurship will take a big chunk of time, energy, attention, finances and reputation, and many times all these elements bring the insecurities out, when you are not seeing the results you are expecting, you get frustrated, fear grows, and doubt begins to block the vision. At this time you start considering, how much are you willing to risk?
This morning I read a quote by David Eddings, and even though he was talking about writing, it applies so well to entrepreneurship:
A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin.
David Eddings
After reading this, I smiled, and discovered that Eddings could have been talking about entrepreneurship as well; read the following now:
Entrepreneurship apprenticeship usually involves a million steps (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin.
I am a writer, I have wanted to be a writer since I was 14 years old, but that was not socially accepted by my family and the people around me (most of them at least) and the people that were willing to support me were the ones that people around me called the weird ones, and you do not want to be associate with them.
By the time I was in my twenties, I sent my writer to a witness protection program, and I created a lawyer out of him. When the lawyer began writing again, I panicked and ran to protect myself, before people could find out about it, so I sent my writer to get an MBA.
Mission accomplished, I hid the writer so well, that it took him 10 years to find his way out, without fear, out of the hole.
I am again, at that time in my life, when  I am looking to making the hard decision, send my writer to the witness protection program again, or set him free, let it be, let him out, let him shine.
The problem is, how much do I need to risk in order to let my writer out of the witness protection program?
Writers, entrepreneurs and sales people suffer from the same problem, it is called insecurity. I have yet to meet any of these three kinds of people that do not doubt every morning of their abilities. When you combine the three of them, they make an insecurity bomb. Welcome to my world.
Are you willing to risk everything for that dream? If you are not, then send your entrepreneur to the witness protection program, make out of him anything else; but if you are going to take your entrepreneur out of there, you need to understand that people will judge you, people will be afraid of what you are doing, in many cases, more afraid that you will discover their own witness protection program than what you are doing. People will tell you that you are crazy and should follow a so-called normal life, in other words, send your entrepreneur, or writer, or designer, or artist, to the witness protection program, hide it well and be what they call responsible.
How much are you willing to risk? Are you willing to risk everything? Are you willing to take yourself out of the Witness Relocation Program?