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Weekly review: Week ending March 14, 2014

Lots of talking to people last week. I think I’ll keep this week fairly loose and unstructured, aside from the stuff that’s already on the list…

Blog posts

Sketches

  1. 2014.03.07 Maps versus tables of contents #information #organization
  2. 2014.03.10 Making more use of delegation #delegation
  3. 2014.03.10 Trying out goal factoring #goals #factoring #rationality
  4. 2014.03.10 Trying out goal factoring part 2 #goals #factoring #rationality #delegation
  5. 2014.03.11 Deciding how to spend time #time
  6. 2014.03.11 Imagining a weekly Emacs course #weekly
  7. 2014.03.11 Reflecting on goal factoring #goals #factoring #rationality
  8. 2014.03.11 Trying out goal factoring #goals #factoring #rationality
  9. 2014.03.11 What do I want from financial independence communities #finance #community
  10. 2014.03.12 A buffet of goals #metaphor #goals
  11. 2014.03.12 Visual note-taking – Sacha Chua, Meloney Hall page 1 #sketchnoting #live #interview
  12. 2014.03.12 Visual note-taking – Sacha Chua, Meloney Hall page 2 #sketchnoting #live #interview
  13. 2014.03.13 Frugal Fire 002 – Justin – Root of Good

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (52.1h – 31%)
    • Earn (14.7h – 28% of Business)
      • [X] Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
      • [ ] Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Build (19.0h – 36% of Business)
      • [X] Build – Coding – Set up NodeJS conveniences in Emacs
      • [X] Build – Emacs: Upgrade Org to 8.x, finally
      • [X] Build – Emacs: Write a function that copies an HTML export to the clipboard
      • [X] Get Org to handle graphs
      • [X] Get Quantified Awesome to pick up categories from my tasks again
      • Drawing (5.6h)
      • Delegation (6.7h)
        • [X] Build – Delegation: Review and merge Maisnam’s changes
        • [X] Delegation: Document process for setting up a public conversation
      • Packaging (2.7h)
      • Paperwork (0.7h)
    • Connect (18.4h – 35% of Business)
      • [X] Connect: Record financial independence show
      • [X] Connect: Record primer with Jordan
      • [X] Connect: Talk to Denise Bahs about upcoming session
      • [X] Connect: Talk to Meloney Hall’s group
      • [X] Connect: Talk to blogging class
      • [X] Connect: Talk to other visual thinkers
      • [ ] Talk to Tom Marble about Emacs
      • [ ] Hang out with Andrew Burke
  • Relationships (6.6h – 3%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (13.6h – 8%)
    • [X] Practice goal factoring
    • [ ] Deposit USD
    • [ ] Follow up regarding transaction summaries
    • Writing (5.9h)
  • Discretionary – Play (12.9h – 7%)
  • Personal routines (22.2h – 13%)
  • Unpaid work (15.9h – 9%)
  • Sleep (68.0h – 40% – average of 9.7 per day)

Frugal Fire 002: Justin McCurry (RootOfGood)

Update 2014-03-24: Transcript now available!

In this episode, we interviewed Justin McCurry (RootOfGood) about retiring at 33. He’s been learning how to relax and enjoy life as a stay-at-home dad, and has mostly gotten the hang of it six months in. =) You can download the MP3 from archive.org

2014-03-13 Frugal Fire 002 - Justin - Root of Good

2014-03-13 Frugal Fire 002 – Justin – Root of Good

Other resources we mentioned:

Join the community on Google+: http://gplus.to/mustachians. For more information about the Frugal Fire show (including how to subscribe to the podcast), check out the Frugal FIRE page. [Read more →]

Going fishing for three years

People often ask me if I could draw for them, or write for them, or code for them. I refer all that business to other people. Here’s why.

2014-02-19 Teaching people to fish, selling fish, fishing for yourself #experiment #sharing #my-learning #teaching #confederates #community

2014-02-19 Teaching people to fish, selling fish, fishing for yourself #experiment #sharing #my-learning #teaching #confederates #community

You see, some people want to learn how to fish. These are the people who want to learn more about sketchnoting or Emacs or other things I’m interested in.

Many people want to buy fish. They don’t want to learn things themselves, but they can build on what they buy.

Most people just want to buy sushi. (Or fish and chips, or whatever.) Already prepared, no work needed, yum. They’re too busy to cook. They don’t want to know the details. They just want good stuff.

I want to learn how to fish for rare fish. The kind of fish few people bother with because you have to go into uncharted waters. Interesting, elusive fish, almost too smart to get caught. I want to learn how to ask good questions and share what I’m learning.

I want to be part of a community of enthusiasts who swap tips and stories. I want to find other people who have gotten bitten by that bug, and I want to help other people discover the joy of exploration. That’s why I’m not selling any fish. I’m focusing on learning how to fish rare fish, and teaching what I’m learning. My top priority is to learn how to fish. But I’ll take the time to teach you to fish because I want to be able to learn from you someday.

Sure, I might be able to learn a little while catching fish for other people. I know from experience, though–both mine and others–that it’s too easy to get used to that. You forget there’s a world beyond the fishponds. Better to force myself out there, while I can.

At least for the next three years (the rest of this 5-year experiment), I’ll be out fishing. That is, drawing, writing, learning, playing – somewhere out there, where few people get to go. What would wild success be like? Plenty of stories, maybe a few mementos, and a great community to keep exploring with.

2014-02-19 Imagining wild success for this experiment #experiment.png

2014-02-19 Imagining wild success for this experiment #experiment.png

Thanks to Evan Smith for the nudge to explore this metaphor!

(Note: I don’t know anything about fishing, and I’m not planning to add it as a hobby. But I do like cooking, though, which might explain some things.)

Tell me what you think!

  • What can I help you learn how to fish?
  • Are you looking for rare fish too? Let’s learn together!

Frugal Fire 001: Introductions

In this episode, Jordan Read and I talk about our plans for a new Google Hangout on Air / podcast show around financial independence and retiring early. Check out the Mustachians community on Google+ for upcoming events. The next show is tonight (March 13, Thursday) at 8 PM EDT. We’ll be talking to Justin from Root of Good, who’s six months into early retirement. =) To subscribe to this podcast, add this feed to your reader: http://sachachua.com/blog/category/frugal-fire/podcast Download the MP3

Drafting a baby-steps guide to managing your tasks with Org Mode for Emacs

Org mode for Emacs is powerful and flexible, which can make it intimidating for newcomers. After helping several people with essentially the same problem–an unmanageably large heap of tasks–I thought about what might help people get the hang of the key features of Org Mode slowly.

Here are some general ideas. Start by writing your tasks down. Group them into projects. Once you get the hang of that, schedule your tasks. You might find yourself overestimating what you can do in a day, so reschedule or get rid of tasks as needed.

2014-02-08 A path toward taming your TODO list

2014-02-08 A path toward taming your TODO list

Here’s a visual overview of how you can apply that to Org, starting with simple outlines and moving on to scheduling.

2014-02-16 Org TODO basics

2014-02-16 Org TODO basics

I’ve started to put together an outline/draft for A Baby Steps Guide to Managing Your Tasks with Org Mode, which you can find at sach.ac/baby-steps-org-todo. Comments and questions welcome!

How much does it cost to start with virtual assistance?

If you’re not used to delegation, hiring a virtual assistant can be daunting. It’s a concept that’s hard to grasp. How can I outsource my tasks? What kind of assistant should I hire? Where can I set up my virtual workplace? And this big question: Does it cost a lot to get started?

2014-02-13 How much does it cost to start with virtual assistance

2014-02-13 How much does it cost to start with virtual assistance

1. It takes less money than you think.

Hiring a virtual assistant will cost you money, but it’s not as expensive as you think.

How can hiring another living, breathing, employee to do tasks that you could have done yourself be cheaper? Let’s look at an economic concept called comparative advantage.

Comparative advantage refers to any entity’s ability to produce services or goods at a much lower cost. Imagine that you’re a blogger with several hours of interviews to transcribe. Yes, you may be a fast typist. Still, this task can eat up a lot of your precious time. You could spend that time writing or consulting instead. Hire an assistant. Even if he or she works slower than you, it can mean that you’ll be able to focus on tasks that have more value to you. Besides, with the right tools and a lot of experience, your assistant might even be faster.

You don’t have to make a full-time commitment or even a part-time commitment. You’ll find many freelancers open to one-off projects. For example, you can try data entry, editing, or basic bookkeeping. Take a look at Fiverr for ideas. For $5, you can get customized logo, proofreading for over 3,000 words of text, or a one-minute voiceover. I’ve used Fiverr to find people who can summarize my blog posts in tweets, type the text in my sketches,

If you want more supervision, you can hire your own assistant through a marketplace like oDesk. These sites have work trackers where you can check on your assistants’ progress. Whether you’re looking for the best skills or the best rates, you can work with people from all over the world. I outsource the most through oDesk. I like the management tools there, and I’m happy with the people I’ve found. There are many places to find freelancers, so look around.

2. It takes less training than you think.

You don’t have to spend hours on training. Most of the people that you’ll find on Fiverr or oDesk are already experienced freelancers. Just think about it – would they succeed selling their services if they weren’t?

Start with something simple, such as transcription and data entry. These kinds of tasks are pretty straightforward and simple enough to do with minimal instruction. Make sure that your instructions are clear and easy to follow. You don’t have to write detailed training manuals, either. You might start by demonstrating a task, and then have your assistant document the process along the way.

2014-02-02 A path for learning to delegate or outsource

2014-02-02 A path for learning to delegate or outsource

2014-02-10 Delegation as programming

2014-02-10 Delegation as programming – also mentioned at What the LEGO Movie and programming are helping me learn about delegation

If you want to get a head start, check out my process library and my delegation board for examples. I’d love to hear what you do with this!

3. It takes less risk than you think.

Trust takes time to develop. I can understand why you might hesitate at the idea of hiring an unseen assistant (a complete stranger!) to do work for you. No matter how small the task may be, it’s still your money and your time at stake here. Goodness knows I’ve had some interviewees and even virtual team members who gave me the heebie-jeebies. You can limit your risk by starting with tasks that don’t require a lot of access, and you can share more as you get to know your team.

2013-11-27 Trust and assistants

2013-11-27 Trust and assistants

Many job marketplaces have safety systems and guarantees. For example, on Fiverr, you can dispute orders or get a credit refund if it doesn’t work out. One time, I paid for a Fiverr gig for transcription, and then the provider stopped communicating. Since the transcript was very late, Fiverr reminded me that I could cancel the order, and I did. oDesk gives you tools to resolve issues too. I hired a web developer and it turned out that he didn’t have the skills I needed. Because he was one of the contractors covered by the new oDesk guarantee, it was easy to get a refund.

Delegation is something you learn through constant practice. Like anything else, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. Protect yourself from big mistakes and learn from small ones. It’s all part of the learning process. Start small. Let your virtual assistants work with small tasks first before trying bigger ones.

If worrying about the cost was getting in your way, I hope this helps you get started!

I wrote this post with a little help from Marie Alexis Miravite, who spent maybe 2 hours on this. (See the task in Trello.) I spent half an hour editing it and adding more stories, sketches, and links. =) What do you think?