I love research-backed books that help us understand why we do what we do. Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson's Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes was no exception. The book takes a look at common marital conflicts and situations, showing the underlying economic principles that influence our actions. For example:
The book goes into far more depth, and is an excellent read. It's illustrated with case studies (problem couples who usually end up patching things up) and lots of research.
Here are some thoughts I particularly like:
If there are areas you care about but you feel helpless in, put in the time and effort to develop the comparative advantage in at least one of them. The authors tell the story of one economist who put the time into at least learning how to bathe an infant so that his wife wouldn't end up with all the child-rearing tasks - and so that he wouldn't get tempted to take advantage of that kind of a division.
Looking for things to read? In terms of marriage research, I'd recommend "Spousonomics" and Susan Page's "The 8 Essential Traits of Couples who Thrive". What do you like?
A chance remark by the turtle about Daddy Long Legs led me to request the 1955 musical from the Toronto Public Library, and then to read the book online. Fred Astaire's dance sequences (particularly the first one where he makes drumsticks dance better than most people do) and a couple of good lines, and a nice ending made me smile. Yes, the age gap's bigger in the movie than it was in the book, and it must've been hard for Astaire to perform that with what was going on in his personal life, but it's still a good one.
The book, on the other hand, was an unexpectedly delightful find. It's written as a series of letters from this orphan-turned-aspiring-writer, with vivid descriptions and general cheer. I'm half-inspired to do more letter-writing myself, or to bring that kind of vivacity to my blog.
(Will you put up with descriptions of life? In any case, it is my blog, and I would like to be able to remember. =) Prepare for more adjectives!)
Now I am on the lookout for other epistolary gems. I have requested "A Woman of Independent Means" from the library, remembering my mom's recommendation. Do you have any favourites?
One of the key points of "Effortless entrepreneur" is that you need to create systems and delegate work so that you can free up time to improve your business.
p38. Work on the business from the outside, not in it. A great entrepreneur builds systems to run the business as if it were a machine, and stands over it instead of being part of its inner workings. A business owner should sell that machine to clients and perfect its functionality, but not sit in the gear room. How many times have you seen a local store owner answering phones, doing paperwork, and assisting customers all at once? This business owner works IN the business, not ON it, and hasn't identified the different positions within his business, such as receptionist, salesperson, and cashier. Instead, he does all those jobs himself.
Creating manuals and training maps for each position from the get-go forces you to evaluate what needs to be done and helps identify tasks you might not think of right away. That can mean fewer unpleasant surprises down the road. At first, you'll likely have to work IN your business and do most, if not all, of the work for each position. That's common when you start out. But create a system that allows you to just work ON it as soon as possible. Once that system is operative, a business gains its true value.
Work on your business, not just in it. It makes sense, although lots of small-business owners find it hard to make that jump.
How can people practice this now? After all, even if you work for a company, you work for yourself, too.
It's kinda like what Trent (The Simple Dollar) writes about in "Who is your real boss? Some perspectives on career success":
My belief is this: the people that succeed are the people who invest that energy and time and patience and thought a little differently. What do I mean?
- Option A: Let’s say you go to work each day and leave it all on the table. When you leave work, you’re so drained you can barely make it home. You sit on the couch, vegetate for a while, eat dinner, vegetate a bit more, then hit the sack. Or perhaps you’re a parent and you leave work with just enough energy to get through your parental requirements in the evening.
- Option B: On the other hand, let’s say you go to work and intentionally keep half of your energy for yourself. You give the company 50% of the gas in your tank. After you leave, you spend that 50% improving yourself. You go to night classes. You go to the gym. You go to the library. You go to meetings of professional growth groups, like Toastmasters.
Well, maybe not 50%. If you can do your work with 80% effort, and then invest the rest into building skills and processes, then it's like a savvy entrepreneur investing time into building systems, not just fighting fires. Sometimes it's more like a full-energy work and 20% extra, but I enjoy the work and the learning along the way.
At work, I'm learning about the way we work on projects: the processes, the templates, the questions and conversations. I like making systems, processes, and tools, so I'm learning how to improve things.
I'm working on applying this idea of "working on the business, not just in it" in personal life as well. Hence the household optimizations: batch cooking and a chest freezer, tweaked routines, relationship-building. Capacity-building for future adventures.
I'm looking forward to do even better. At work, I want to to learn more about Drupal 7, consulting, and the processes we have. I'm also looking forward to writing up more notes and coaching others. In the rest of life, I'd like to experiment with delegating again, invest time into becoming a better writer, and continue building wonderful relationships.
How about you? How can you not only work in your business, but on it?
Effortless entrepreneur: Work smart, play hard, make millions
2010 Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman
Three Rivers Press
I moved more of my book notes online, reasoning that a braindump is better than occasional whining about the lack of a good system. ;) Fellow Emacs geeks who use Org will probably get the most out of this, as they can open it in Emacs and work with the hierarchy, but someday I may figure out a neat little hyperlinked solution that will make it easy for everyone else. Or I'll pull more and more of these posts into my blog, where they'll be individually linkable and commentable.
Compare: http://sachachua.com/blog/category/book/ , which wins points for being graphical and highlighted and comment-friendly, but loses topical organization, overview, search, and offline access.
It's a start. Here's what's working well:
CAPTURE: Using Org + Remember to capture book notes uses the same process as my other notes. Diagrams can be scanned in and attached to files. I used to scan and OCR dogeared pages, but typing or dictating them in is okay, and it helps me review. The capture part of my process is fantastic.
ORGANIZATION: org-refile or copying and pasting are easy, so this part of the process is fine.
REVIEW: I might schedule times to refresh my memory of certain books. I can do that with Org agenda fairly easily.
SHARING: Here's where the process breaks down a little. org2blog-post-subtree is great, and I've used that a number of times to post the relevant subtree of book notes. That adds the notes as entries in my blog, storing the post ID in my Org file so that I can get back to the post afterwards. org2blog also makes it easy to edit entries, hooray.
Once it's in my blog, people can use the categories to find other entries. However, my current blog layout doesn't highlight the categories, and it's not easy to browse the different book-related categories. Maybe it's worth tweaking a "reading" or "book" category layout page.
Aha! How's http://sachachua.com/blog/book-notes/ ? It's a manually-edited list at the top (thanks, Org!), followed by an automatically-generated index. I'll gradually move my other notes into this system - text notes in my Org file and blog entries for linkability/commentability. Progress…