books

Personal Development for Busy People

One of the number one reasons we don’t follow through on something is because of the time commitment it takes to get it done. We’re all busy people, so when it comes to working out, reading that book the internet is raving about, or starting up a new hobby that you think looks interesting, the number one justification is “I don’t have time for that!”

I consider myself “busy people.” Until recently I was working 2 jobs (1 full/1 part time), helping my dad with housework at his place once a week, working out regularly, and trying to have a healthy pregnancy. When I was juggling all of those things, I did still manage to find time to incorporate personal development in my schedule. Here’s how:

Listening to podcasts. Podcasts are a great way for on-the-goers to work some personal development into their day. You can listen on your commute if you’re driving, taking the bus/train, or even walking. I also like to catch up on podcasts when I’m doing chores like dishes or folding laundry. Listening to a few episodes of “Side Hustle School” makes things feel less tedious.

Reading. Probably one of the most difficult personal development mediums for me to follow through with is a book. It’s the easiest one for me to bail out on at the end of the day when I start winding down. Do I really want to read this book that’s going to make me think more after a day of thinking, or should I just watch South Park and completely veg out? Knowing that this is the easiest way for me to self-sabotage, I started bringing my book to the gym after work and reading on the elliptical. Some days I will set my alarm 15 minutes early and spend that time reading before doing my morning routine. If audio books are your thing, you can also listen to personal development books using the same tips from the podcast section above.

Please appreciate that it was very difficult to snap a picture of me reading while also maintaining balance on the elliptical.

Online Learning. To me, online learning is anything from signing up for a 30 day course of some sort, following a certain blog/topic, or enrolling in an online class. These all have varying levels of commitment, but regardless you’ll want to have an internet connection and a computer/tablet/phone so you can participate. The next is creating the time to get online solely for personal development reasons (i.e. not Facebook). For an online course, you’ll obviously need more time than reading someone else’s blog posts, which you can do standing in line for groceries or on the bike at the gym.

Asking Other People. If you’re at a loss for what podcast to listen to or what book to read next, ask someone you know who is into that sort of thing. All of the podcasts I listen to were recommended to me by someone else. When I was looking into things like personal fitness certification and starting a blog for fun/just because, I asked for recommendations for books to read and started paying more attention to different techniques/plugins used on my favorite bloggers’ websites.

What do all of these things have in common?

No matter how you decide to get your personal development fix, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.

  • Know your weaknesses. For me, that’s the desire to wind down at the end of the day and watch something brainless on t.v. Knowing this, I incorporate personal development time into a workout, while I’m doing chores, or by setting my alarm earlier in the morning.
  • Find something you’re genuinely interested in. If you’re already a busy person, it’s going to be even harder to motivate when you’re dedicating time to something you have “meh” feelings about. Find something that you want to pursue and it’s amazing how much harder you’ll work to make time for it.
  • Make the time. Speaking of making time, one of my favorite time related quotes is “You have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce.” Even if it’s not an ideal amount of time, spending 10 minutes on something every day is better than spending no minutes. You can also think of personal development as a way of shortcutting your learning time because you’re learning from an expert and that will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Be Organized. One of the best tips I’ve heard from Side Hustle School was that if you’re a busy person trying to work a side hustle, organization is key. If you only have half an hour of time set aside to work on a project, have an agenda before you sit down so you can get right to it instead of spending 5-10 of those minutes hemming and hawing about where to start. Making lists at the end of a work day or as you go to bed can be a great way to have ‘what’s next’ ready to go for next time.
  • Make yourself accountable. When you’re busy, it can be easy to just say “Eh, there’s always tomorrow.” The problem is when you keep pushing things to tomorrow you’ll never get them done. Find a way to make yourself accountable for personal development- if it’s a matter of paying for something because that makes you feel accountable, then consider signing up for an online course. If you’re more accountable when it comes to other people, find a friend who also needs some accountability help and make it a weekly check-in. Click here for the blog we wrote about accountability partners if this is going to be part of your lifestyle.

More reading when I couldn’t fall back to sleep on Saturday morning. Great way to start the day!

No matter what type of personal development you’re trying to pursue, there is always a way to fit it into your schedule! Try some of the tips mentioned above and find out what motivates you.

If you have any tricks for fitting personal development into a busy schedule, or recommendations for books/podcasts/etc, please comment or send us a message!

Our online course, Internet Marketing For Artists, is online and ready for you! For $30 and 30 days, you can learn the basics of online marketing, search engine optimization, and business marketing best practices for your artistic business… all in 15 minutes a day or less. Click here to learn more or sign up: http://breakingeven.teachable.com/p/internet-marketing-for-artists

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

My Five Favorite Business Books

100startupIt’s no secret that to be a good writer, it helps to be a good reader.
And when I first started this business and time was short, I decided I was only going to read business books (and occasional biography of a business person helped break things up). I now read other things for fun but someone asked me about what my favorite business books were. Here they are in no particular order (with no affiliate links):

$100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

It’s always great to think in the bootstrapping mindset because at the beginning, you want to spend time and money on everything but can’t. His ‘launch’ checklist alone is worth the price of admission but it is available on his website too: http://100startup.com/resources/launch-checklist.pdf There is an awesome amount of case studies that will make even the most hesitant person inspired to try a business on the side.

Lessons of A Lipstick Queen by Poppy King

Mainly a memoir, this book is about a young woman running a business. In a lot of ways, I saw myself and in a lot of ways, I didn’t. She has a lot of great one liners and her candidness is appreciated because so many people aren’t. It was nice to hear about someone feeling insecure, making ‘bad’ decisions, and otherwise admitting to the things no business owner ever wants to admit. Plus I love learning from people outside our industry in particular.

Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler

If you are worried people are going to know you read self help books, this will tip them off for sure. From the clouds on the cover to the exclamation mark in the title, you know you are in for it. I do this goal setting exercise with myself at the beginning of each year (or I guess more accurately, at the end of the current year for the following year). You don’t have to read the whole book; just use if for the questions you are supposed to ask yourself (the book has elaboration on those questions, which is sometimes needed honestly).

Problogger Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Written before social media was anything big, this is how to get blog traffic without it. A lot of what he says is still true today. If you want to use a blog as part of your business strategy (and if you want more traffic to your website or to build relationships, you might as well have a blog), this is a great book about the tech, the content, the marketing (though again, the social media piece is missing) and the money parts of blogging.

Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk

The hundreds (literally) of social media case studies are great for showing and not telling. Also a great overview of each social network, its strengths, and its weaknesses. Whether you are just starting with social media or have been doing it for awhile, this will get you thinking. Content is king but context is God indeed! Enjoy all the pictures of actual posts with their own ‘how to do it better’ makeovers, I did!
I’ve certainly read more than this but these are ones I really enjoyed. What five books influenced the way you started your business/career?
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Three Things I’ve Learned from Being Quiet

Do you ever feel that people are trying to give you a hint?

This past Christmas, my family gave me a couple books (not unusual), and the titles seemed to be a not-so-subtle plea: When Words Matter Most (not sure of the author) and Quiet by Susan Cain. Hmm, I thought, that can’t be a coincidence. My family doesn’t give gifts at random.

I’ve always been quiet- one of my teachers wrote in a college recommendation that I was “painfully shy.” It’s not as if it was news to anyone (least of all myself), and it’s something that I have to work at every day. But, to be honest, I’m just throwing punches in the dark, trying to change my personality and the way I’m fundamentally wired in order to become this “better” thing: an extrovert. It turns out, Quiet is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read from a personal and professional standpoint.

Quiet explores behavioral, psychological and physiological differences between introverts and extroverts (most of which seems like common knowledge, but there are some interesting . She also makes some important clarifications, for instance being an introvert doesn’t make you shy or sensitive, although you’re more likely to be one or both. This book isn’t about “finding yourself” or “coping with you introversion.” It does offer some insight about different personalities, and, from my point of view, empowers readers to find out what they need. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from being quiet:

Quiet

1. Speaking May Never Get Easier. I’m never going to be comfortable with public or impromptu speaking. And I’m okay with that. That’s not to say I’ll never run a meeting, give a presentation, or do another Tech Thursday video. It just means going about it in a different, more comfortable way. One example: for many of our Tech Thursday videos, if I didn’t mentally or physically have an outline of the subject matter, I blanked out in front of the camera (my brother calls this my “freeze”- rather than fight or flight, I have a third reaction based on the deer in the headlights model). Although I’d grown used to the camera, there was still something short-circuiting in my brain when that little red “Recording” light came on.

Introverted people are more likely to get overstimulated, especially in situations such as public speaking or talk. And, oftentimes, they’ll end up leaving a presentation thinking “Man, I sounded dumb,” or “Oh SNAP, I forgot this one huge point (or five little points)!” As it turns out, that’s not uncommon: “Overarousal interferes with attention and short term memory- key components of the ability to speak on the fly” (126). The key is finding out what does work. This may mean preparation well in advance, a brief meditation beforehand- whatever helps you get in the zone.

2. Finding Your Balance. Some people do their best work alone, some require more stimulation, and others need a mix. There’s a certain level of self-awareness involved here. Personally, I’ve found that although I enjoy having a quiet space to get work done solo, I need to interact with other people (usually, asking Nicole for feedback on something, or collaborating with others on a project). Sometimes it’s going to a Business After Hours. Even though meetings and presentations to a certain extent terrify me, I go back to my quiet desk-space with a new energy that propels whatever I’m working on privately (and I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to do both).

If you’re the type of person who will die of thirst before risking small talk at the water cooler, chances are you aren’t going to do your best work in an office with an open-floor plan and constant drop-ins. However, if you are the guy glued to the water cooler, chances are you aren’t going to want to work in isolation for hours on end. Finding out how you work best could yield some amazing results. Who knows- you could be the next Einstein…

3. It’s not a matter of better vs. worse, good vs. bad, or any of those opposite pairings (which is what I was expecting). For the longest time, I convinced myself that being quiet was “bad” and that I needed to talk more to be a better person. Quiet is a way to determine whether you identify as an introvert, extrovert, or both, without assigning judgement. Everything has strengths and weaknesses. This book was eye-opening for me in terms of playing up my strengths (patience, empathy, listening) in my professional life, and stress less about becoming something I’m not (a toned-down version of Billy Mays, maybe), especially regarding my professional development.

So, if you’re looking for a good read (or want to explore the world of introversion), check out Quiet. Worst case, you learn something you didn’t know before, like what happens to introverted fish in an unfamiliar pond (this isn’t a metaphor- there was literally a fish in a pond study in this book).

And, if you’re not into the idea of committing to a book, Susan Cain gives a TED Talk on “The Power of Introverts” that you can check out, too.

 

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Oyster: Netflix for Books

When I was younger, I used to burn through books like it was my job. Although Mom was ultimately thrilled that one of her kids enjoyed reading, the amount of books that were needed to keep me busy cost a lot of money and took up a lot of space in the house. Once my own bookshelves were filled, I started having stray stacks in my room, then gradually throughout the house. I haven’t entirely relinquished my affinity for print, but getting a Kindle at least made saving space possible.

Recently, my reading experience (and maybe yours, too) just improved tenfold. I learned about a little thing called Oyster (named after one of Shakespeare’s famous lines- “the world is mine oyster”), an app that allows you to stream an unlimited amount of books each month for $9.95. Last week, I signed up for a free, 14 day trial. Minus the little glitch with the recent power outage, using Oyster has been not only fun, but easy.

Oyster

Books as far as the eye can see.

When I try to conceptualize how many titles Oyster offers, I picture the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. There are books everywhere, as far as the eye can see, and they’re all yours if you want them. It’s exciting stuff. The first book I downloaded was Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules by David Sedaris. Then I went a little download-happy, and have a ton of books to look forward to in the next 9-ish days.

How does it work? Just like Netflix, you stream the material online through the app. So, you can’t download it and keep it forever, but as long as the app is on your device and you’re a paying customer, you can access the book if you need/want. Also much like Netflix, Oyster updates it’s content frequently enough that it doesn’t get stale.

My fun reading for the week

My fun reading for the week

It’s easy to access.

The website is user-friendly and easy to navigate, so you can feel comfortable recommending it to your great-aunt who accidentally posts status updates instead of sending private messages on Facebook. Plus, it’s not exclusive to any one device. You can access it on your computer, on your Apple products, Android devices, or Google Play. Just remember your username and password, and login from wherever!

Encourages diversity in reading.

There are many topics that I’m curious about, and my first instinct is to do some reading and learn more about them. However, when I want to get a book on Amazon about, say, political influence on the arts, 9 times out of 10 I promptly lose interest in the pursuit of knowledge when I see the price tag. With something like Oyster, I can get all kinds of new information for about $10 a month, which for me is more appealing than binge-watching Arrested Development on Netflix (mainly because I’m all caught up).

With the vast spectrum of genres and authors, there’s a potential to explore not only what you enjoy reading, but subjects you are vaguely intrigued by or passionately curious about. Oyster also has children’s books, so you can share the love with the kiddos.

You can give it as a gift.

If you know someone who would love to try something like Oyster out, you can buy them a subscription. All you need is their e-mail and some cash. There are different options, if you want to just give them one month versus one year. My Christmas shopping just became remarkably simple. Another incentive for gift giving: for every gift subscription purchased, 10% of the proceeds go to a literacy-based charity.

Share_Oyster

You can share with friends.

I haven’t explored this option yet, but when you sign in to Oyster, you automatically have a profile. It displays your reading list, and you can add a picture and mini-biography if so inclined. If you have friends using it, you can all share what you’re reading. Reading, while a fun solo adventure, is also a fun when it’s social. That’s why book clubs exist.

Oyster is fun.

In addition to what’s listed above, the founders of Oyster have created a website with a bit of fun pizzazz. At the bottom of the About page, there is an animated text area that says “You might enjoy Oyster if…” followed by a changing list of answers (including “you have dated or dumped someone because of their taste in books”).

In the list of Genres, there is a section called Famous Reading Lists. This showcases what books certain famous people have read, such as Steve Jobs,J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Junot Diaz, Margot Tenenbaum, and Lisa Simpson. These folks have a sense of humor, and that’s the sort of crew I feel good about giving my money.

Oyster is cool, but don’t take my word for it. Check out the 14 day trial- it’s free, and you just might get hooked.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.