If you like this article, tell a friend!      

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hitting 4 hours a day - with the help of a tomato

I blogged earlier about how I was struggling trying to reach my goal of 4 hours of good work a day. I'm happy to report that the last two weeks have been very productive and I've gotten to 4 hours a day!

I went over the tipping point with the help of a technique I read on a blog... I would love to give the kudos, but I honestly can't remember where I got it from. It's called the "Pomodoro Technique" (after looking into this technique some more, I discovered pomodoro means tomato. You'll hafta check it out yourself to find out why it's called that).

In a nutshell, you basically set a timer for 25 minutes (one Pomodoro). You start the timer, and you have to work on one task for 25 straight minutes. If you stop and do something else, you have to start the 25 minutes over. If you're tempted to do something else, you should just write it down, then decide if it's worth it to start over. You must stop at the end of the 25 min, and take a 5 or 30 min break (depending on how many you've done already).

The technique is great because it makes you focus on one task; as I mentioned in previous posts, I have a hard time doing that. But I like that it recognizes distractions occur, and it has you write down the distraction so you can get to it during your breaks. Or you combine them together to form a whole 25 minute session. The forced 25 minute session (technically you're not allowed to go over) also gives you some sense of urgency to get your task completed so you also are inspired to be efficient.

I used this method to tackle important tasks that I procrastinate on. I procrastinate because the task appears too big to tackle, or tasks where I feel some self doubt on. For instance, as I mentioned before, I hired a programmer to help with the latest NOTtheBookStore.com. His part is done, but I have a lot of things I still wish to change on the site. Taking one look at the code floored me. But I set my iPhone to 25 minutes one day, with the goal to figure out how to change the design of the front home page. I ended up figuring out how to do it, and along the way learning about organizing functions, object oriented php, css, and why Internet Explorer is a pain in the ass for web designers.

I relax the forced 25 minute rule... if I need to keep going I do. I know I'm not motivated by deadlines as much as normal people, and the bigger issue for me is getting going and staying going. I tend to doubt the "big picture" when I dig into things, so when things are moving and I don't have that problem, I want to keep it going!

So with two weeks and counting on my sabbatical, I'm starting to hit max productivity. This is a great learning because once I go back to the "Corporate" part of my Corporatepreneurship, I know I can do 1-2 hour chunks after work and keep up the "preneurship" part.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Why you owe it to the world to run with your ideas

When I was maybe 13-14 years old, my family drove down to Chicago to visit my aunt and my uncle. I remember us going out to some tennis courts near where they lived and hitting around a bit with the family. My dad just didn't look right the whole time, looking like he was in pain. Later that day, we found out his stomach was bothering him a lot. My dad loves spicy food (he was born in the Hunan province of China, which is known for spicy food), but he started having these ulcers and had to cut way back.

The next day, we were going to drive back to Milwaukee, and my dad was so bad he couldn't drive. My mom, who didn't drive the mini-van much, gave it a go even though my uncle offered to drive us back. We did fine, as I sat in the front seat and helped navigate. My dad laid down in the second row of seats, still suffering from pain. When we neared the Milwaukee area, he let out an audible groan, and my mom started getting scared and we decided to go to the hospital where a family friend practiced. We helped my dad out of the car to the emergency room, where they put him in a wheelchair. I'll never forget the image of my dad in obvious pain sitting in a wheelchair clutching his insurance card.

I don't remember how long my dad stayed in the hospital, probably a day or two, but I do remember what happened next. Ulcers were through to be a weakening of the stomach lining, causing your stomach acid to irritate the stomach. It was also conventional wisdom to think that stress would cause the acid levels of your stomach to increase, causing ulcers. But one of the doctors treating my dad had read about a new line of thinking for ulcers based off some new research that showed that ulcers were caused by bacteria. They put my dad on anti-biotics and Pepto Bismol, and within a few weeks he was cured.

The doctors that helped discover this bacteria being the cause of ulcers deservedly won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2005. I love this story for many reasons, of course number one being the quality of life my dad now enjoys. The second part of this story I love is how people took a different approach from conventional wisdom and solved an age old problem. 

This is where entrepreneurs fit in. They're the ones that zig when everyone zags, and are passionate about their goals enough to keep pushing on even when others constantly shoot you down. The doctors were willing to think outside the box and not be dissuaded by public skepticism. One of the doctors actually drank some of the bacteria himself to prove to others that it was the cause of ulcers. How many problems are out there right now because people refuse to believe anything other than conventional wisdom? Is there a cure for cancer out there that we're not seeing because everyone thinks cancer is a mutation of cells in the body? Maybe it's caused by bacteria, or a fungus? I have no idea, but I wonder what alternate theories there are out there. On a business note, are there opportunities out there that everyone's passing up? Or even discouraging you from doing because they think it's ludicrous? If you think you're right, you owe it to the world to at least try. 

My dad has never relapsed and eats spicy food now whenever he can find someone else to enjoy it with (my mom doesn't eat spicy food at all!). One of my favorite images of him now is watching him eating something so spicy it makes him sweat. He usually follows that up by saying, "mmm that's good!" All because someone challenged conventional wisdom and believed in their idea.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Do schools kill creativity?

YES. [End of blog]

Just kidding - but seriously I am concerned about how poorly prepared for the real world our education system makes people. ESPECIALLY future entrepreneurs. Any school system (especially before college) is primarily based on funneling people into a "this is how it's done' way of thinking. Fortunately others are beginning to see this as evidenced by this great video! Schools make people afraid to make mistakes and learn to try new things. My favorite entrepreneurial quote is something along the lines of "it took [insert famous business person here] 5 tries before they had a successful business". My take is - if this is the case - get busy failing because true success takes time and experimentation.

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.


The Corporatepreneur © 2008. Template by Dicas Blogger.