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Pimp Your Work

January 13th, 2008

5 New Year’s Resolutions You’ve (Probably) Already Broken

It’s only a couple of weeks into 2008, the ink is still wet on your list of New Year’s Resolutions, and yet you’ve probably broken some of them already.  Here are some popular resolutions that have probably made it on, and off, your list:

1.  Take it easy on the coffee.  I know, it makes you more productive or focused, but too much of a good thing can be bad.  According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch:

Coffee does have modest cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat that should be considered. Studies have been largely inconclusive regarding coffee and its effect on women’s health issues such as breast health, cancer, and osteoporosis.

2.  Exercise and eat healthy. If motivation is your problem, Leo over at zen habits has a list of 31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise.  As for a healthier diet, the benefits of eating healthier will reflect well on your disposition, skin, and overall health.  If that’s not enough motivation, the consequences of an unbalanced diet should be enough to scare you.  (I know that it scares me, especially since I was sick and hospitalized multiple times during 2007.)

3.  For your own sake, step away from the computer. Not completely, of course, but don’t forget to take some breaks.  Repetitive Strain Injury is an occupational hazard of office workers everywhere.  Have trouble remembering to take breaks?  That’s where programs like WorkRave come in.

4.  Become more organized or productive.   You can’t expect this to happen unless you plan for it.  Getting organized is more than just about the motivation, it also involves creating or applying a system that works for you.  It’s also a continuing process - not something that is done overnight or over one year.

5.  Spend more time with loved ones.   After you read this post, go give your parents, spouse, grandparents, or best friend a call.  Then make an appointment to meet sometime soon.  I myself am guilty of postponing lunch with my best friend.  If we’re not going to make changes now, it might soon be too late.  That may sound morbid, as if I implied death, but I only meant if they move away or start feeling resentment towards you.  Really.

Were any of these your resolutions?  If so, are they left unbroken so far?  Share it with us in the comments.

By Celine -- 1 comment

January 4th, 2008

How’s your morale? Find out with Morale-O-Meter

Since morale is an important factor when it comes to work quality and productivity, it’s something you should be aware of.  Buster McLeod has created the Morale-O-Meter. This nifty tool helps you measure your morale quantitatively and lets you show your progress on your website.  Here’s a clip from the tool page:


  1. Keep track of, and share, your morale, health, sleep, alcohol consumption, and caffeine consumption
  2. Compare your day with the days of others
  3. Customize a free graph of your morale trends to put on your own site
  4. Get (optional) daily email reminders about each day

By Celine -- 0 comments

December 5th, 2007

Are you successful? Find out now! (Part 2)

In a previous post, we talked about the different ways for you to measure success. Now, we’ll try to measure success as accurately as we can. Here’s how:

1. Grab any writing tool you like, whether it’s pen and paper, Notepad, or a mind mapping tool. For this example, I’m using Mindomo.

2. Write your name in the center of your writing space.

3. Around your name, write down your main ideas of what success is.
They don’t have to be detailed, we can add detail later. It’ll look something like this:

Read More

By Celine -- 0 comments

November 30th, 2007

Are you successful? Find out now! (Part 1)

*Cartoon by Andy Singer

Success. It means many things to different people.

A man lives in a small farmhouse with his wife and two kids. He spends his days on the field, and his nights reading to his kids. Is he successful?

How about a young stockbroker with a six-figure income who doesn’t have savings or an emergency fund, but can buy anything she wants. This includes the latest designer clothes and the most high-tech gadgets. Is she successful?

The thing is, success means whatever your definition of success is. Here are some common ideas:

Career. Some people measure success via the corporate ladder, or how far they’ve gone in their careers. Your ambition greatly depends on your position in the company, or any specific rewards you’ve gotten for your good work. Sometimes, you don’t have to be at the top to feel successful - I know some people who would prefer to be team captains rather than managers, or creative directors rather than CEOs. It all depends on where you want to be career-wise.

Family life. Some people dream of meeting “the one”, settling down, and raising kids. For them, having a stable family life is ideal, where the relationships are harmonious and everyone is healthy. People who define success via family life might often pass up “important” career opportunities just to be near and accessible to their loved ones. An example would be a mother declining a promotion that would require her to be out of town for 4 days in a week, or a spouse who would work at a job he isn’t passionate about if the job could pay for his wife’s hospitalization. Also, they spend most of their free time with their family.

Money.  This type of definition may depend on a few different things: the assets one has, one’s income, or one’s savings.  For some people, the more income you have, the better.  for others, the more they save, the more financially free they feel.  I know of someone who measures his financial success mostly on how much he earns from the stock market. If money is one of the ways in which you measure success, figure out where you want to be financially, and see if you’re taking steps to get there.

Objects and possessions.  Whether it’s a house in the Hamptons or the entire collection of Star Trek commemorative plates, some people measure their success based on the objects within their possession.  For example, a young teenager may have an iPhone, and think that she’s “made it”.

Free time.  Timothy Ferriss of The 4 Hour Work Week comes to mind with this one.  Some people measure success based on the free time they have to do the things they love.  This means that they are in full control of their time, often without having to sacrifice so much time on something they’re not passionate about just to earn a bit of money. 

Monumental discoveries or achievements.  If you dream of winning the Nobel Prize or writing a bestselling novel, then you probably measure success based on achievement.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that the achievement is quantifiable.  For example, an artist may simply want one of her paintings exhibited at the Met.  Or a playwright might want to have his work staged on Broadway.

Physical and mental health.  It’s hard to be completely healthy in this world of processed foods and psychological disorders.  If you’ve never been hospitalized and are considered to be of sound mental faculties, then you might consider yourself a success.  My grandfather is 81 and he can still play tennis in winter.  According to him, he feels very successful, compared to his wife who has to walk with a cane and takes tens of pills everyday.

The common good or society at large.  It’s hard to find people who devote their lives to the greater good, but they do exist.  They go where they’re needed, whether it’s on a medical mission, building homes for impoverished families, or teaching in a third world country.  Of course, “good” is still relative, but as long as they feel they’re making a positive contribution to the planet and society, then they can consider themselves successful.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, where you’ll learn how to measure success more accurately.

As for you, how do you define success? Share it with us in the comments.

By Celine -- 2 comments

October 25th, 2007

Do You Recognize the 5 Early Warning Signs of Workaholism?

What are you doing right now? Oh, right, you’re working.  How about an hour later?  Still working, right?  How about at around 11pm tonight?  Oh of course - you’re working.  Do yourself a favor and prevent yourself from being a complete workaholic by keeping an eye out for these symptoms:

You find yourself working even if you’re not in the office.  Instead of watching some TV or sleeping when you get home, you still spend your remaining working hours catching up on some work.  Whether it’s typing reports or answering work related emails, it’s still considered work.  This is especially common among people who work from home.  As a solution, designate a specific working space and time and stick to it.  Make a rule to work on office hours only - you’re not paid extra for the work you do at home.

 Your phone never stops beeping.  Unless you’re a doctor, being on call 24/7 for your boss or clients is ridiculous.  You’re putting them in charge of your time even if you’re away from them.  The solution? Turn off your phone or put it on silent mode once office hours are over.  Also, don’t give business contacts your personal number.

You micromanage.   Do you do every little thing including stapling reports and putting things in envelopes?  Stop it.  Nobody cares if you’ve got the most perfect stapling style - there are just some things you have to delegate.  If it falls outside your job description, and as long as someone else has the skills and time to do it - give them these menial tasks.

All you talk about is work.  I admit I have this symptom.  On my personal blog, I talk about work.  When people ask me how I am, I reply in terms of work.  I’m stopping this now.  You have to stop it too.  You’re more than just your work, so talk about other things - your personal life, your hobbies, your adventures.  What? You don’t have any of that because work took over your life?  Well, reclaim your life.  Take some time off to do the things you used to do before work took over your life like a giant blob from space.  whether it’s a couple of hours or an entire day, you need other experiences you can think and talk about.

It’s 10pm, do you know where your friends are?  They’re probably either asleep, partying, or resting in the comfort of their own homes.  If you haven’t been spending time with your friends, relatives, and your family, you need to make time for them.  An hour a day reading to the kids doesn’t sound so bad.  How about a couple of hours of quality time with your spouse?  Have a regular get together with your friends as well.  Doing this will remind you why you’re working hard in the first place.

Hmm… I just realized that I am a workaholic. Help me!

By Celine -- 3 comments

October 13th, 2007

What you should do this weekend: nothing!

A few days ago I wrote about making a great to-do list.  This weekend (or the next) here’s what should be on your tasklist:


That’s right, nothing.

You probably spend all week pimping your work that by the end of the week you probably feel overworked and overpimped (that sounds nasty).  One day each week, you should actually plan for a break.  An entire day that doesn’t involve the following:

  • working
  • compulsively checking and replying to email
  • planning
  • networking
  • TV marathons
  • fast food

If you’re the productive workaholic, this probably sounds impossible to you.  “But what will I do all day?!”  Well, here are a few ideas:

  • turn off your cellphone
  • go for a walk
  • catch up with an old friend
  • go back to a hobby you’ve abandoned/forgotten
  • cook your own meals at home
  • you can watch good movies or shows, but don’t run an entire marathon - your eyes need rest
  •  call some relatives (that is, if you don’t already hate them)
  • read a book
  • meditate
  • do some gardening
  • sleep

Personally, I juggle work, school, and my personal life all week.  Every once in a while, I spend an entire day just sleeping, watching a good movie, or going back to an old hobby.  Doing this once every weekend will be quite refreshing, and you’ll start the following week feeling renewed.  I know that some of you might have a hard time getting an entire free day, so here are some alternatives:

  • instead of a Do Nothing Day, try a half-day
  • spend 2 hours every workday as your Do Nothing Time

Sometimes, all it takes is a little break to prevent overworking insanity.

By Celine -- 0 comments

October 6th, 2007

5 tips to getting rid of unproductive obsessions

“The agriculture ministry is not in charge of Gundam,” said the agricultural ministry official of Japan. What does this have to do with pimping anyone’s work? Well, if you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ve probably heard by now that some Japanese bureaucrat spent his working hours making 260 contributions of Gundam-related entries to Wikipedia. Replace Gundam with Star Trek, stamp-collecting, sex -whatever your obsession is - and you’re probably just a couple of steps away from that Japanese bureaucrat. You’re letting your fun, albeit unproductive, obsessions get in the way of your life. I myself am that way sometimes (although I won’t mention which of the above obsessions are mine). To avoid falling off the obsession tree while hitting every branch on your way down, here are 5 tips you should take to heart:

Read More

By Celine -- 0 comments

March 8th, 2007

Five Strategies to Pimp Your Work

We have a lot of different ideas on how to Pimp Your Work. And we present them, sometimes relentlessly, as multitudes of ideas hit us. I thought I’d take a little higher view of pimping your work and move all of this to strategy.

Here are five strategies to Pimp Your Work:

Be Financially Secure. Have enough saved in the bank to live on for a year. Why? So you won’t be desperate to take a job that isn’t right for you.

Know Yourself. Know what work excites you and what work bores you to death. Know the level of office politics you can tolerate.

Understand Corporate Speak. When a company says that they will be looking for ways to improve efficiency in your department, you should know whether that means laying people off or increasing productivity as you continue to work.

Improve Your Skills. There is a need to balance the “next new thing” with practical increases in your skill set. Improvement, however, is necessary to maintain your position in the marketplace regardless of where you work today.

Performance Counts. Always work towards top performance. If you perform well, the chances of being laid off are less. If you are laid off, your performance will be the criteria on which you will be hired again at a different company. People want to work with people who perform.

Yes, there are tools and tips. But they all fall into these strategies to Pimp Your Work.

By Scot Herrick -- 1 comment

February 16th, 2007

Resistance is futile: Reflection time

One of the things I decided to do for myself the year before last was to attend one of those GTD: Roadmap seminars from David Allen. The place was packed with people from all over the country coming into the seminar — I was fortunate in that I was able to simply take a bus downtown and get dropped off right in front of the hotel where the seminar took place.

During the seminar (which was really good — go if you can), they offered to join a new subscription service called GTD:Connect. I’m not going to review that here, as it has been reviewed extensively out in the blogosphere. One of my reasons for working the subscription service is that I wanted to continue to work on a few things about ME. How to stay organized, be connected with others around a discipline, and have resources immediately available to me to help things out. And, interestingly, I’ve been able to help out a lot of others through the effort as well.

A lot of background information to get to the “resistance” point: most everyone within the Connect service makes a good point that we need to do more reflection about what we are doing.

Now, this is pretty interesting considering that GTD stands for Getting Things Done — making yourself more productive. One would think it would be a lot more about how to do things faster. It is about that, of course, but the reflection theme about what we’re working on is also a dominate point in the service.

And that’s where “resistance” comes into play. If we accept that we’re not attracted to our work, it means there is resistance. If you don’t want to look at your “to-do” list, there is resistance in your system somewhere.

If we, in a disciplined manner, spend time reflecting on what we do and the resistance to what we are trying to do, we can Pimp our Work. Or our life. Identify what causes our resistance and then attack the resistance. Make it your goal to be attracted to everything that you do. Reflecting on resistance will give you a great framework for improving your work.

Resistance takes away from your passion, your best work, and your opportunities. Let reflection be the weapon to remove resistance from your work.

By Scot Herrick -- 0 comments

February 15th, 2007

Resistance is futile: System Check

When you are doing your work, you are really following a process. Either your process or the one the business set up for you to follow.

Need to get some supplies? If you work for a company, for example, that could mean anything from going to speak with Paul to order the supplies to going online to a selected vendor and ordering supplies via the Internet. In either case, you are following a process to order supplies.

How well that process works will give you plenty of opportunities to check out “resistance.” Is Paul incapable of ordering supplies? That will give you resistance to going to him. Is the vendor’s web site difficult to use? That will give you resistance to ordering through the vendor.

The same is true in your personal work. The work you do follows a process — a personal system for organizing your work, your tasks, and how you go about things.

One of the first places you should check for resistance are in these systems. Are you repelled or attracted to your “to-do” list? Are you repelled or attracted to making those phone calls? Are you repelled or attracted to chatting with your manager? Are you repelled or attracted to writing posts for Pimp Your Work?

Wherever you feel resistance to doing the work is an opportunity to determine what is causing the resistance. It’s an opportunity to Pimp Your Work.

By Scot Herrick -- 0 comments