giovedì 29 gennaio 2015

9 basic principles of responsive web design

Responsive web design is a great solution to our multi-screen problem, but getting into it from the print perspective is difficult. No fixed page size, no millimetres or inches, no physical constraints to fight against. Designing in pixels for Desktop and Mobile only is also the past, as more and more gadgets can open up a website. Therefore, let's clarify some basic principles of responsive web design here to embrace the fluid web, instead of fighting it. To keep it simple we'll focus on layouts (yes, responsive goes way deeper than that and if you want to learn more this is a good start).

Responsive vs Adaptive web design

It might seem the same but it isn't. Both approaches complement each other, so there is no right or wrong way to do it. Let the content decide.

The flow

As screen sizes become smaller, content starts to take up more vertical space and anything below will be pushed down, it's called the flow. That might be tricky to grasp if you are used to design with pixels and points, but makes total sense when you get used to it.
What is responsive and adaptive web design

Relative units

The canvas can be a desktop, mobile screen or anything in between. Pixel density can also vary, so we need units that are flexible and work everywhere. That's where relative units like percents come in handy. So making something 50% wide means it will always take half of the screen (or viewport, which is the size of the opened browser window).
Relative units in CSS

Breakpoints

Breakpoints allow the layout to change at predefined points, i.e. having 3 columns on a desktop, but only 1 column on a mobile device. Most CSS properties can be changed from one breakpoint to another. Usually where you put one depends on the content. If a sentence breaks, you might need to add a breakpoint. But use them with caution – it can get messy quickly when it's difficult to understand what is influencing what.
Breakpoints in the responsive web design

Max and Min values

Sometimes it's great that content takes up the whole width of a screen, like on a mobile device, but having the same content stretching to the whole width of your TV screen often makes less sense. This is why Min/Max values help. For example having width of 100% and Max width of 1000px would mean that content will fill the screen, but don't go over 1000px.
Min and max widths in CSS

Nested objects

Remember the relative position? Having a lot of elements depending on each other would be difficult to control, therefore wrapping elements in a container keeps it way more understandable, clean and tidy. This is where static units like pixels can help. They are useful for content that you don't want to scale, like logos and buttons.
Nested objects

Mobile or Desktop first

Technically there isn't much of a difference if a project is started from a smaller screen to a bigger (mobile first) or vice versa (desktop first). Yet it adds extra limitations and helps you make decisions if you start with mobile first. Often people start from both ends at once, so really, go and see what works better for you.
Mobile or desktop first

Webfonts vs System fonts

Wanna have a cool looking Futura or Didot on your website? Use webfonts! Although they will look stunning, remember that each will be downloaded and the more you'll have, the longer it will take to load the page. System fonts on the other hand are lightning fast, except when the user doesn't have it locally, it will fall back to a default font.
Webfonts vs System fonts

Bitmap images vs Vectors

Does your icon have lot of details and some fancy effects applied? If yes, use a bitmap. If not, consider using a vector image. For bitmaps use a jpg, png or a gif, for vectors the best choice would be a SVG or an icon font. Each has some benefits and some drawbacks. However keep in mind the size -- no pictures should go online without optimization. Vectors on the other hand often are tiny, but some older browsers won't support it. Also, if it has lots of curves, it might be heavier than a bitmap, so choose wisely.
Bitmap images vs vectors

Feel that we left out something important? Let us know in the comments!

 

VIA: FROONT

Categories: ,

Positioning in web design

Understanding how positioning in the web works is crucial for responsive web design, as it allows us speak the same language with developers and helps make better design decisions. Compared to static design tools (Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch) it's more complex as well, because the position depends on everything around it; scrolling, screen size and other factors.
To complicate things even more, different types of position in the web have names that are quite confusing – Static, Absolute, Relative and Fixed – where static isn’t really static and absolute depends on the placement. Therefore here is a short, visual manual of what is what.

The Z-index

Z-index Before we jump to positioning, lets explain what the Z-index is as it affects all types of positioning in some way. So Z-index is a simple way to tell which element is in front of another one, similar to layers in the static design apps.

DO: Use for buttons, clickable stuff.
DON'T: Avoid text being on top of that clickable stuff as it becomes unclickable...

Static position

Static position Static is the default positioning type. Although the name suggests that nothing is moving it isn’t the case. Static means elements are static to the flow – if one moves, another will move as well.

DO: Your safest bet it will scale on all browsers well. Adding Min and Max limits horizontally and vertically will help to keep the design perfect.
DON'T: Watch out for text blocks with changing content as it can break the design.

Absolute position

Absolute position Absolute positioning defines the element based on X and Y property. The tricky part is that it will be absolute to the parent element that has a position of Relative, Absolute or Fixed. If there are none, it will be absolute to the page. Absolutely positioned elements don’t care much about the flow, meaning they live in their own universe and aren’t affected by anything around them. It will appear on top of any static positioned element.

DO: A menu or logo that needs to be always on the top of the page? Go for it!
DON'T: Absolute and Responsive aren't best friends.

Relative position

Relative position Relatively positioned elements behave exactly like static ones, but they serve as a local frame of reference for absolutely positioned child elements.

DO: Use on a parent container for absolute positioned elements.
DON'T: If a logo or a badge has to always sit on top of the screen, don't wrap them in a relative element.

Fixed position

Fixed position Fixed means the position will always be locked to the size of the browser's window (viewport).

DO: Navigation that is always visible on the top of the screen? Yes!
DON'T: If something is behind a fixed element it won’t be clickable.

Real life

In real life the type of position is often changed as we go and they are mixed together. For example if you want a banner be scrollable until it reaches the top, then at first it will be absolute, but then it will become fixed by adding some JavaScript.

These are the basics, but there is more. What if you want to align two elements side by side? This is where float properties, inline blocks and margins come into play (we'll explain about those soon).

 

VIA: FROONT

Categories: ,

lunedì 26 gennaio 2015

How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide

‘You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.’ ~Mike Murdock

By Leo Babauta

Start with a simple statement: what do you want to be?

Are you hoping to someday be a writer, a musician, a designer, a programmer, a polyglot, a carpenter, a manga artist, an entrepreneur, an expert at something?

How do you get there? Do you write your intention on a piece of paper, and put it in a bottle and launch it to sea, hoping it will manifest? No. The universe isn’t going to make this happen. You are.

Do you set yourself a big goal to complete by the end of the year, or in three months? Sure, but that doesn’t get the job done. In fact, if you think back on most examples in your life, setting big long-term goals probably doesn’t work very often. How many times has this strategy been successful?

I’m going to lay down the law here, based on many many experiments I’ve done in the last 7 years: nothing will change unless you make a daily change.

I’ve tried weekly action steps, things that I do every other day, big bold monthly goals, lots of other permutations. None of them work except daily changes.

If you’re not willing to make it a daily change, you don’t really want to change your life in this way. You only like the idea of learning to draw/speak Japanese/play guitar/program in php/etc. You don’t really want to do it.

So make a daily change. Let’s dig into how it’s done!

How to Turn an Aspiration Into a Daily Change

Let’s name a few aspirations:

  • lose weight
  • write a book
  • stop procrastinating
  • fall in love
  • be happy
  • travel the world
  • drink more water
  • learn Spanish
  • save money
  • take more pictures
  • read more books

How do you turn those lofty ideas into daily changes? Think about what you could do every day that would make the change happen, or at least get you closer to the goal. Sometimes that’s not always easy, but let’s look at some ideas:

  • lose weight – start walking every day, for 10 minutes at first, then 15 after a week, then 20 … once you are walking for 30-40 minutes a day, make another change — drink water instead of soda.
  • write a book – write for 10 minutes a day.
  • stop procrastinating – I can already hear the ironic (and original!) jokes about how people will deal with procrastination later (har!). Anyway, a daily action: set a Most Important Task each morning, then work on it for 10 minutes before opening your browser/mobile device.
  • fall in love – go somewhere each day and meet/social with new people. Or do daily things that make you a fascinating person.
  • be happy – do something each day to make the world better, to help people.
  • travel the world – save money (see next item). Or start selling your stuff, so you can carry your belongings on a backpack and start hitchhiking.
  • save money – start cutting out smaller expenses. Start cooking and eating at home. Sell your car and bike/walk/take the train. Start looking for a smaller home. Do free stuff instead of buying things.
  • drink more water – drink water when you wake up, then every time you take a break (once an hour).
  • learn Spanish – study Spanish sentences in Anki and listen to Pimsleur tapes 10 minutes a day.
  • take more pictures – take pictures at lunch (but dear jeebus, not of your lunch) and post them to your blog.
  • read more books – read every morning and before you go to bed.

You get the idea. Not all of these are perfect ideas, but you could come up with something that works better for you. Point is, do it daily.

How to Implement Daily Changes

This method is fairly simple, and if you really implement it, nearly foolproof:

  1. One Change at a Time. You can break this rule, but don’t be surprised if you fail. Do one change for a month before considering a second. Only add another change if you were successful at the first.
  2. Start Small. OK, I’ve said this two bajillion times. No one ever does it, though. Start with 10 minutes or less. Five minutes is better if it’s a hard change. If you fail at that, drop it to 2 minutes.
  3. Do it at the same time each day. OK, not literally at the same minute, like at 6:00 a.m., but after the same trigger in your daily routine — after you drink your first cup of coffee in the morning, after you arrive at work, after you get home, after you brush your teeth, shower, eat breakfast, wake up, eat lunch, turn on your computer, first see your wife each day.
  4. Make a huge commitment to someone. Or multiple people. Make sure it’s someone whose opinion you respect. For example, I made a commitment to studying/coding PHP at least 10 minutes each day to my friend Tynan. I’ve made commitments to my wife, to other friends, to readers of this blog, to readers of a newspaper on Guam, to my kids, and more.
  5. Be accountable. Taking my programming example with Tynan … each day I have to update a Google spreadsheet each day showing how many minutes I programmed/studied each day, and he can (and does) check that shared spreadsheet. The tool you use doesn’t matter — you can post to Facebook or Twitter, email someone, mark it on a calendar, report in person. Just make sure you’re accountable each day, not each month. And make sure the person is checking. If they don’t check on you, you need to find a new accountability partner or group.
  6. Have consequences. The most important consequence for doing or not doing the daily habit is that if you don’t, the people will respect you less, and if you do, they’ll respect you more. If your accountability system isn’t set up this way, find another way to do it. You might need to change who you’re accountable to. But you can add other fun consequences: one friend made a promise to Facebook friends that he’d donate $50 to Mitt Romney’s campaign (this was last year) each time he didn’t follow through on a commitment. I’ve made a promise to eat whale sushi (I won’t fail, because eating a whale is repugnant to me, like eating a cow or a child). I’ve promised to sing a Japanese song in front of strangers if I failed. The consequences can also be positive — a big reward each week if you don’t miss a day, for example. Make the consequences bigger if you miss two straight days, and huge if you miss three.
  7. Enjoy the change. If you don’t do this, you might as well find another change to make. If the daily action feels tedious and chore-like, then you are doing it wrong. Find a way to enjoy it, or you won’t stick to it long. Or find some other change you enjoy more.

That’s it. Seven pretty simple steps, and you’ve got a changed life. None of these steps is impossible — in fact, you can put them into action today.

What daily change will you make today?

‘A year from now you will wish you had started today.’ ~Karen Lamb

 

VIA: zen habits

Categories:

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 7

STOP PROCRASTINATION IN JUST 5 MINUTES

Shortest Answer: Understand how to create new triggers to influence behavioral change.
Short-ish Answer: Break down your current pattern of procrastination by investing in small successive actions. Next create a new trigger that you can associate with a specific responsive behavior. By putting this method into practice over time you will train your subconscious mind to take action almost automatically.
Long Answer:  We live in a society that is totally bombarded with distractions all the time. And now thanks to the internet, “we create more content in 48 hours than we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”, according to Eric Schmidt CEO of Google.
That’s A LOT of YouTube videos, blog posts, Facebook statuses, and tweets that will distract you every day.

Fortunately for you here is a time-tested productivity hack that will help you stop procrastination in just 5 minutes.


We all know how the domino effect works: “A chain reaction is that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on in linear sequence. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small” Wikipedia

Well the same rule is true for procrastination. The more time you invest in procrastinating, the easier it is to find more distractions and continue on procrastinating. So by procrastinating more and more, you’re simply digging yourself a deeper hole, a hole that will be ultimately impossible to get out of.

However, the same is true for being productive. The more you invest time taking small successive actions which require minimum effort towards what you ultimately want to accomplish, the easier it is to continue on your path to successfully accomplishing your goal.
The secret is to systematically break down your current pattern of procrastination by investing in small successive actions towards your goal.

Step #1 Remove Your Attention from the Activity


You have to stop investing more in what you’re currently invested in. Switch it off, close the browser and do whatever you have to do in that moment to remove yourself from the activity that is resulting in you procrastinating.

Breaking your mental state is crucial. It only takes a small amount of effort to remove your attention from the activity you’re currently invested in just for a short period of time.
The point is to break your pattern by stopping yourself from investing any more time in your current activity that is holding you back. Once you have  broken your mental state, you can move on to the next step of breaking your current pattern.

Step #2 Break Your Physical Pattern


Object in motion stays in motion. We all know that. So the next step is to break away from your physical state of inertia by removing yourself from your particular environment, hence furthering yourself away from your distractions.
Break away, if you’re in a room, leave the room. If you’re sitting at your study table, get your butt off the chair and go check for any unexpected surprises in your mailbox. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO REMOVE YOURSELF FROM YOUR ENVIRONMENT TEMPORARILY. If you’re in an office workstation, leave your depressing cubicle and go to the toilet. Even if you’re Bladder is completely empty. Even if your co-workers think you’re a freak for parading the rest-room every couple of hours.

So far you have invested in small effortless actions, that is, removing yourself from the activity and removing yourself from the environment (temporarily). Now, it’s time to move on to what you should be doing by creating a psychological trigger to completely break your current pattern.

Step #3 Implement a new trigger


The trigger could be anything and it should only last for a small fixed amount of time. The goal is to break your previous pattern of procrastination, and start over by investing in small successive actions towards the things you need to do.
Creating a new psychological trigger will enable you to completely break away from your old patterns, and allow you to recreate a new domino effect for the task you want to accomplish. The key is to create a specific responsive behavior that you can associate with your new psychological trigger.
For me the trigger I've used that tends to work best is doing a 5 minute meditation session. Once I've finished my meditation, the next action I associate with this trigger is to go sit down on my work bench and start working on whatever that is needed to be completed.

After weeks of continuously training my brain through practicing my trigger (and the associated responsive behavior), now my subconscious mind automatically associates this new behavior of sitting down at my workbench after doing a 5 minute meditation. Over time, this trigger has become so powerful that I don’t even have to think about my next action. It happens automatically.
But it doesn't have to be meditation for you. Any simple action that you can easily associate to trigger a responsive behavior will work just fine.
For example, a simple habit that you can use as a trigger could be going for a 5 minute walk up your street or getting a glass of water from the kitchen.
Getting out of your house and doing 20 push-ups in your front lawn. The more interesting and exclusive your trigger is, the more power it will be to influence behavior change.

Categories: ,

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 6

Before answering this question, let us understand why do we procrastinate.

Most of the people in the world procrastinate from time to time. Sometimes it is for small things like cleaning the house, buying grocery, washing clothes etc. But most of the times it is for things that are very important for life like going to the gym, completing the exam preparation or  paying your bills. Let us look at some of the reasons responsible for procrastination.
1. Overestimating our own  abilities
A lot of us overestimate our own abilities of completing a piece of work on time. Not only this, we overestimate that how motivated we will be in the future to complete the work at hand. We assume that we will be in the right frame of mind in the future to complete this task. We all have done this at some point in life. Remember the time when you thought that the project could be completed in a day, while it took others a week to complete.

We all come up with a lot of excuses to avoid  work. Like too busy. Too tired. Too broke. Some times these excuses make sense. But most of the times they are like a safety blanket to protect you from doing some real work.
2. Too many distractions
In this advanced age of technology, we have a lot of distractions in life which do not allow us to do real work. How can a person prepare for an exam when he has 30 pending requests of Candy Crush Saga on his facebook page? How can he go to gym when he has to answer hundreds of emails?

Most of us have become slaves to these distractions. We prefer to look at our useless phone notifications then talking face to face with our friends. These distractions have become a part of our life. We have stopped looking at them as distractions and this has contributed a lot towards our procrastination.
3. Self Doubt and Fear
Self doubt can also be a major factor. When we are unsure of how to tackle a project or insecure in our abilities, we might find ourselves putting it off in favor of working on other tasks.

We tell ourselves that ‘one day’ we will be ready to make a change, or take a chance; that ‘one day’ the timing will be better, our confidence stronger, our circumstances easier. But that one day never comes. Our self doubt and fear keeps on increasing as the day to submit the work comes nearer.

Lets look at some of the strategies you can apply to get over procrastination.

1. Visualize what you want in the future
We underestimate the power of visualization. It can be a great tool to incorporate a lot of good habits. Ask yourself what will be your future like if you keep on procrastinating and not completing the work at hand.

Picture yourself in a place where you have accomplished everything you wanted in life. Your future success can be a huge motivating factor to not give up your present work.
2. Free yourself from distractions
Remove all the social networking apps from your smartphone . They do nothing except killing your productivity. The constant feed of push notifications will never allow you to focus on your work. Install an extension in your browser that blocks these social networking sites.

You will not lose any friends or miss out on something important in life. If something is really important, its news will reach you.
3. Get a buddy
I know it is very difficult to remain accountable to yourself. But if you have a companion the whole process will become a lot more fun. Share your goals with your buddy. Both of you will be accountable for each other goals. Make sure to discuss the status of your goals with each other on a timely basis. A buddy can become a constant source of motivation and help you get over procrastination.
4. Reward good work
Rewards and Incentives are an amazing way to give up bad habits. Reward yourself if you complete a work before the deadline or if you are able to continue gym for a month.The rewards can be anything like some fun activity with your friends, a good movie or eating your favorite ice cream.

These rewards will keep on motivating you to do good work in the future. But you must use them judiciously. Do not give rewards for a little effort as it can defeat their purpose.
5. Organize your time
This point may sound trivial, yet this is one of the most important things required not only to give up procrastination but to do anything worthwhile in life.

There are hundreds of ToDo lists and Apps out there that help you to manage your time. Choose whatever best fits your need. It is very important to assign priority to different tasks in a day.
Do not over burden yourself with only tasks related to work. Allocate proper time for other activities like playing your favorite sport or going out on a walk. Do not give up sleep as it will come to bite you in the future and make you less productive.  If you become good at organizing your time everything else will fall into place.
We all have been procrastinating for a lot of time now. Procrastination has become a part of our lifestyle and most of us do not even see it as a problem.
I love this quote by Michael McCarthy.

Procrastination is like masturbation, in the beginning it feels good, but in the end, you're just f***ing yourself!

It will be difficult to give up this habit. But that is true for most bad habits. You will have to make a lot of effort in the beginning. Just keep going. A voice from you head will constantly urge you to stop. Don't stop.
I have procrastinated a lot before coming up with this answer. Hope it helps you to come out of this habit.

Categories: ,

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 5

Speaking from personal experience, you won't be able to beat procrastination until you realize three things about it.
Keep in mind that my answer is not scientific and probably would be seen as highly questionable by any professional psychologist. I'm sharing it only because I suffered from a very bad case of procrastination for years--and don't any longer. As a preface, I also want to emphasize that no amount of books, motivational videos and advice--including mine--would help you unless you truly make winning this fight your top priority. The motivation necessary to get over procrastination once and for all, can only come from within.
So here is my story of beating procrastination.When I say I used to suffer from it I don't mean occasional late term papers, missed deadlines and late fees. I mean running my life into the ground--and not being able to do anything about it. To put things into perspective, I have decent abilities and have accomplished some decent results in life. But my procrastination was killing me. I procrastinated for days over tasks that would've taken me an hour to accomplish. I procrastinated over things I hated doing, things I didn't mind doing and even things I thought I liked doing. I was getting nowhere in my life, even though on the surface it looked normal, balanced and satisfying. But internally it was hell, full of guilt, anger and endless resolutions.
Books and articles didn't help. I wouldn't say I read them all, but I read quite a few. They spoke about fear of failure and fear of success, about making small steps and getting out of the comfort zone, about to-do lists and human predisposition for postponing unpleasant things. They were all as useful as getting life advice from a penguin. I was watching my life taking some ugly shape right in front of my eyes--and feeling powerless to avoid that self-destruction.
Then a few things happened that made me brush aside everything I thought I knew about procrastination and more importantly, about myself. As result, I started approaching my procrastination differently. In retrospect, here're the key realizations that helped me, those three things I mentioned in the beginning. Without them I'd be still making resolutions.

1. Realize the true nature of YOUR procrastination. I know it sounds unscientific. After all, procrastination is such a common problem that its roots can't be unique for everyone who suffers from it, right? However, my experience leads me to believe any generalization about root causes of procrastination is dangerous and useless. When you see three people limping they may be limping for three totally different reasons, even if they walk the same. Whether your own cause is indeed a fear of failure or is as exotic and downright spooky as The Demon of Procrastination you need to find it before you can go after it.
To get there you have to observe and analyse your own behavior. Pretty soon you will see a pattern and that pattern may surprise you. In my case, I found that what for years I considered procrastination was essentially a form of internal sabotage. I realized that I was procrastinating over anything that was taking me away from going after my true goals. And that sabotage wasn't work of Rex from Oliver Emberton's great answer. To use his analogy, it was more of Albert who for years felt he was being taken away from his real passion.
2. Realize what you miss by letting procrastination get in the way.
Late term papers and missed deadlines are small potatoes. If you're a chronic procrastinator you have a bigger thing to worry about--not living your life.You know, these finite minutes allocated for your existence? When you procrastinate you're not living them. At least, that's how I feel. You're kind of going though them on autopilot, but it's not the same as living. You can't successfully fight procrastination unless you realize what's at stake.
3. Realize that your procrastination is an addiction and treat it as such.
Again, hardly a scientific claim. People look at procrastination as a personality flaw, a form of laziness, a mind's way to avoid unpleasant tasks. But if you're a chronic procrastinator, this definition of addiction (http://www.merriam-webster.com/d...) likely would sound very familiar: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful. If you didn't consider your procrastination harmful and persistent you wouldn't be asking this question in the first place. As far as I'm concerned, not only procrastination is an addiction, it is probably the most widespread and the least understood addiction in history. So don't treat it lightly and know that the more you succumb to it the worse it becomes.


Once you realize these three things, the rest is easy. I know, it sounds like such a cliche. But it really is. It all comes down to beating a well-understood addiction that prevents you from living a fulfilling life. To overcome it you can choose any method you like. You can you use to-do lists. You can set goals and track your progress. You can create a system of incentives and punishments. You can do what I did (which was a single "overnight quit" resolution, which did work for me).

Whatever it is, the key is not how you do it. The key is why. Until you truly want to stop procrastinating, no amount of patented methods would work. You may get occasional improvements, but they won't stick. Trust me. I've been there. It will be just an illusion. But once you truly know what's at stake, pretty much anything would work. And nothing in the whole procrastinating world would be able to stop you.

Categories: ,

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 4

I wrote my doctoral dissertation on procrastination -- it was what we in the psychology business call an example of 'implosion therapy;' one goes farther into a problematic behavior in hopes of coming out the other side, cured. Recognizing that you have asked for an answer - not a treatise - I nonetheless feel compelled to answer your question in proper Ph.D-2-Ph.D form. Please indulge.
Methodology
My research process followed the standard dissertation recipe: 

  • literature review
  • qualitative research
  • hypothesis development
  • operationalizing variables
  • developing/pretesting a research protocol - quantitative, that is -
  • collecting data
  • analyzing data/significance testing
  • interpreting results
  • going back and interviewing procrastinators/non-procrastinators/people somewhere in between
  • developing treatment protocols, and/or
  • absent protocols, tactics for behavior change.

Hypotheses tested
Based on the above, I hypothesized that there were seven potential predictors of procrastination (I developed & tested a behavioral measure of procrastination, which was the outcome variable). They were:
  • Fear of Success (there is a lot of evidence that many people fear success)
  • Fear of Failure
  • Perfectionism (which can be paralyzing, since few things are perfect the first time around).
  • Issues with Authority Figures ("I am the boss of me" syndrome)
  • Reality Interference (having too many things on one's plate)
  • Issues re-Frustration Tolerance (easily frustrated and/or avoid the experience)
  • Unrealistic-to-completely-absurd planning skills

The answer(s)
All of the above play a role, but by far and away, low frustration tolerance turned out to be the best predictor of procrastination. There are nuances.
  • It's not just a question of avoiding doing something that is frustrating, difficult, and anxiety provoking: the mere anticipation of frustration prevents the procrastinator from even starting.
  • People who procrastinate tend to avoid things they imagine to be frustrating - even if they turn out not to be so. Typically, they begin only when the consequences of not completing the task become, in their minds, more painful than the consequences of completing it.
  • Once that tipping point (pain of not doing exceeds pain of doing) is crossed, and they actually begin the task, they are often shocked to discover it was never that bad at all.

Potential fixes
  • Start with the low anxiety parts of the task first. That way, when the crisis hits, you'll at least be better prepared.
  • Set exceptionally low goals. For instance, if you have a sink full of dirty dishes, set the goal of washing one fork. You'll be surprised at how well this works. I mean it!
  • Set a timer, for a maximum of 20 minutes. Your goal is to do the task you're avoiding for 20 minutes. After that, you must stop. It is a requirement.

I have lots more to say about this. I've run out of juice for the moment, but if you would like more, just say the word.

Categories: ,

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 3

Many natural procrastinators are people who are praised for their intelligence, and misinterpret that as a sign that they don't need to have structure for their brain's daily activities, and don't need to give it the proper respect and exercise that it requires and deserves. So they neglect it - let it run wild on the internet, gorge itself on Facebook and porn and games (the mental equivalent of junk food and jerking off), and allow it to lapse into a vicious cycle of unaccountable information binging and inevitable self loathing.

"Your brain adapts to, and then perpetuates, the habits to which it is constantly exposed. That fact doesn't work in your favor right now, but you can change that."


My suggestions:

1) Structure your time.

  • By scheduling your daily activities, you provide a motivation to be present and diligent for your responsibilities.
  • Plus, this will discourage the huge, unhealthy blocks of surf time that arise when you don't plan your time out ahead.
  • As far as skill acquisition like studying goes, I recommend time management methods like the Pomodoro Technique to give your brain a healthy routine length.

  • You may also want to invest in a timer, or a program that acts like one, so you can monitor how much time you're actually spending plugged in, and hold yourself accountable for it in the future.
  • This tip also extends to structuring your sleep schedule.
  • I assume you're in college, and there's always fun stuff like parties and dorm CoD seshes and recreational drug use happening at any given time in college. Even if not, there's always the internet.
  • Learn to pull the plug, even when you don't feel like you want to stop, and get your 6-8 hours a night.
  • It does wonders for your self-control, self-image, and your presence in real life as opposed to inside your head.

2) Figure out why you procrastinate.

  • Procrastination is a type of experiential avoidance that causes itself through an unwillingness to feel uncomfortable emotions, or be in unpleasant situations, even at personal detriment.
  • I personally was an internet/League of Legends addict because I wanted to  avoid confronting my anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness, and losing myself in my laptop provided an avenue where I could feel 'in control'.

  • It's different for everyone, but this attitude is rather common nowadays.
  • You owe it to yourself to be honest about what it is you're procrastinating from, and why you fell into the habit. It may take some reflection.

3) Learn to tolerate, or even enjoy, putting time and effort into your work.

  • Many Internet users in general, have been conditioned into believing that truly intelligent people don't need to work hard at what they do.
  • I was one such dumbfuck, and since I breezed through my AP science courses in high school, I deluded myself into thinking I didn't need to study for anything, and that cramming was enough. Then college-level Organic Chemistry came along and punched me in the face.
  • You may, presently, also believe that you are smart enough not to study. Don't kid yourself anymore. That's your brain talking, spoiled by lack of discipline and fattened up on trivia that it'll never need to use, trying to sweet-talk you into not eating broccoli and having ice cream instead.
  • You've got to be a tough-love parent, and make sure your kid eats his vegetables.

4) Incentivize your productivity. You are your own RPG hero.

  • Procrastinators have a problem with delaying gratification.
  • Technology addicts, specifically, are driven to surf by the easy 'accomplishment' feeling from learning tidbits of Avatar or My Little Pony trivia, or perfecting their last-hitting in LoL, or racking up no-scopes in CoD. 
  • This is an easier way for your brain to create and savor small hits of  dopamine than confronting real-life responsibilities -responsibilities that are harder, more time-consuming, and that give less obvious, more ambiguous rewards.

  • You can combat this addiction by substituting it.
  • Many recovering procrastinators come to see themselves as their own RPG  player-character, their own Tamagotchi or Sim or Pocket Pikachu.
  • Doing practice problems? EXP into your INT stat. Gym time? Boosting your STR.
  • Going to networking events for your major, socializing with professionals in your desired career? Major levels in Charisma, with points into a possible class change in the future.
  • Personally, I'm not totally absorbed into that style of discipline.
  • But I did borrow an idea from the Pomodoro Technique and DDR, which is combo chains.
  • Every day that I accomplish a general task (studying, exercise, writing in a journal, not looking at porn, etc.) is a link on the chain I drew on my whiteboard, while missing a day erases the chain.
  • I want those suckers to get too long to fit on the board.
  • The main thing about this mindset is that you need to invest in your personal development in terms that your tech-addicted brain is already familiar with.
  • Think about this - if you were playing the Sims, and your Sim self needed to go to work but was playing computer games instead, would you let him stay at his laptop? HELL NO.

5) You are not going to like the change in lifestyle. It is going to feel like shit. Accept it and power through it anyway.

  • The emotions that an addict suffers through while quitting are sweet siren calls, seductively beseeching you to slam your ship into the rocks.
  • Your brain is used to the habits. It likes the habits. It doesn't want you to stop. It will present you with thoughts that tempt you to break your combo and forsake your willpower.
  • You are not your habits. You are not your thoughts. They are the many drops of water in the ocean that you are sailing in.

  • The waters may be stormy and fickle, and may, without the force of your will, push you into shipwreck after shipwreck.
  • It may seem easier just to let your ship be tossed wherever the follies of your brain take it.
  • But it is your duty to captain your ship, especially in harder waters, and wrest yourself back on course with gritted teeth and the knowledge that you are stronger than the storm.

Categories: ,

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 2

I was a very bad Procrastinator for a very long time, until i really understood the basics of why i procrastinate.
In order to understand why you procrastinate, first you should have a strong desire to eliminate procrastination in your life and following the methods mentioned below will be helpful.


 

I. Track down your everyday activity


     When i first started writing down the list of activities that i do everyday, it felt like a waste of time. But later while analyzing the one month data i clearly understood why i don't have enough time to do the necessary activities and it narrowed down to the bad habits that i had created over time.

I was spending most of my time in Facebook and was affected by the "Chain-clicking curse" where watching a video from Facebook will lead to YouTube in-turn to Twitter to see the trend and it goes on and on into loads of unnecessary browsing wasting your precious time.


 

II. Understanding why we procrastinate


We procrastinate because of the habits that we create over time. When we work some random thought strikes our mind, it might be as simple as,
where to go for the next vacation?
and I go to online to check details of it.
it doesn't stop there, then to Facebook to see where my friends went?
and something else catches up my eyes and the clicks goes endlessly.

 

III. How we create Habits


I have been following this routine every day which let me do overtime to complete my work and had no time for the essential things in life. All of these made sense to me when i read the Power of habit by Charles Duhigg.

understanding the basic of habit was big help to me. I starts with acue/Signal in my case it was the random thought and my routine was tosearch about it and reward that i get is leaving a stressful work for that moment/satisfaction by answering my random thought which sucks my time endlessly leaving only a very short period of time to do the necessary.
Now the trick it to replace the bad routine with a good routine which will lead to greater productivity in life, which could be understood by looking at how runners reward themselves

Here the cue is the Running shoe and it lets you to the routine of running which was created over time, running leads to the reward which is sense of accomplishment on completing a run also satisfying the Endorphin craving that you get by looking at the running shoe.


 

IV. How I cured myself by changing my routine


1. Keeping myself distraction free

a. Turn off internet: Most of my work doesn't need internet so turned
     off my WiFi whenever i work.
b. Note pad: Whenever some random thoughts strike rather than searching it
    online i started recording them down in a small note and researched about
    them later
c. Setting Time limits: Started setting a duration to complete my work which        helped me to focus more on my work, Even had set time on socializing     
   with my colleagues spending not more than 5 minutes on
    unnecessary talks.

2. Sustaining the habits

a. Tracking your activities: Its quite tough for me to write every activity now and then, so i spent half an hour every day before sleeping to write down the activities of the whole day splitting into hourly activities and do a quick analysis on where to improve next day. It looks something like this,
9:00 - 10:00 : Forecast Meeting
10:00 - 11:00 : Project#1 - Prepared the procedure
b. Prioritizing activities for tomorrow: This summary helps me in prioritizing the activities that i should be concentrating more tomorrow and I write down top 3 things that should be completed tomorrow
c. Monthly and Quarterly Review: then i started analyzing my monthly and quarterly data's to continuously improve my productivity.

 

The methods mentioned above worked perfectly for me and I started finding more time to do the necessary things in life. Hope it will be useful for you as well, Let me know if it was helpful :)

Categories: ,

How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating? - 1

We procrastinate because of the habits that we create over time. When we work some random thought strikes our mind.
Track down your everyday activity

  • Forget logic. Once you've decided to do something, logic and rationale won't help you. Your inner reptile can be placated, scared and excited. But it doesn't speak with language and cannot be reasoned with.
  • Comfort matters. If you're hungry, tired or depressed your baby reptile will rebel. Fail to take care of yourself, and he'll wail and scream and refuse to do a damn thing you say. That's what he's for. Eat, sleep and make time for fun.
  • Nurture discipline. Build a routine of positive and negative reinforcement. If you want a child to eat their vegetables, don't give them dessert first. Reward yourself for successes, and set up assured punishments for your failure. Classic examples include committing to a public goal, or working in a team - social pressure can influence Rex. 
  • Incite emotion. Your reptile brain responds to emotion. That is its language. So get yourself pumped, or terrified. Motivational talks, movies and articles can work, for a while. I use dramatic music (one of my favourite playlists is called Music to conquer worlds by). Picture the bliss associated with getting something done, or the horrors of failing. Make your imagination vivid enough that it shakes you. We use similar tricks on children for a reason: "brush your teeth or they'll fall out".
  • Force a start. The most important thing you can do is start. Much of Rex's instincts are to avoid change, and once you begin something those instincts start to tip into your favour. With enough time, you can even convince Rex to love doing the things he hated. There's a reason we force kids to go to school or to try piano lessons.
  • Bias your environment. Rex is short sighted and not terribly bright. If he sees a Facebook icon, he'll want it. It's like showing a child the start of a cool TV program immediately before bedtime. Design your environment to be free from such distractions: sign out of instant messenger, turn off notifications, turn off email. Have separate places for work and fun, and ideally separate computers (or at least accounts).

Categories: ,

How to Start a Successful Blog Today

By Joshua Fields Millburn How To Start A Blog

How to Start a Blog or Website: Step-by-Step Instructions

So you don’t have any idea where to start, right? Guess what—neither did we. We were clueless. Literally. When we started The Minimalists a few years ago, we had no idea how to start a blog. We could hardly spell HTML, let alone build a beautiful website.

But good news: it’s easier than you think. We’ve learned a ton during our ascent to 4 million readers. And now you can learn from our pain and suffering to circumvent much of the tedium involved in creating a successful blog. Here’s how we started our blog, step by step, followed by additional rationale and insights below:

  1. Domain and Hosting. The first thing we did was go to Bluehost and register our domain. We didn’t even need to set up a WordPress page first, since Bluehost does all that for you. Bluehost’s basic price is $3.95 a month, which works for 99% of people (note: readers at The Minimalists can use this link receive a 50% discount off the monthly price and a free domain name). Then, we did a simple install of WordPress through Bluehost. When we had questions we were able to chat with the “live chat” folks at Bluehost for free; they pointed us in the right direction and made the set-up super easy.
  2. Theme. A good theme gives you the look and feel you want for your blog, allowing you to design your blog exactly how you want it to look. If you’re not a coder (we certainly weren’t), then a theme makes the design work a million times easier. Plus, once you purchase a theme, which are inexpensive for the time they save you, you own it for life. A theme has two halves: the framework (the bones) and the Child Theme (the beauty):
    • Framework. There are several WordPress theme frameworks on the market, but Genesis is without a doubt the best and most flexible choice. Genesis is the first half of your theme. Many themes merely handle the aesthetics of your new blog, but Genesis provides a necessary foundation for your Child Theme. Simply go to StudioPress and purchase the Genesis Framework.
    • Child Theme. After you get your Genesis Framework, you’ll want to find that right Child Theme (which is just a silly way to say “blog design”). The Minimalists uses the beautiful “tru” theme, which is available at BYLT, the Genesis Community Marketplace. Head on over to BYLT, browse their carefully curated collection of themes, and find the design that’s right for you.
  3. Tinkering. Once we had our domain, hosting, WordPress, and theme, we spent a lot of time tweaking the theme to get the look and feel we wanted (i.e., making our vision a reality). Then we spent even more time tweaking the theme and arguing about it and tweaking it some more. We also set up a free Feedburner account so people could subscribe to our site via email and RSS subscriptions. And then we established a free Google Analytics account to track our stats. Feedburner and Google Analytics were both easy to sign up for, and we still use both today.
  4. Plugins. We use only a few plugins on our site: “Google Analytics for WordPress” and really simple Facebook and Twitter share-button plugins (since human beings are intrinsically wired to share value, it’s important to make your posts easy to share with others). They take just a few seconds (literally a few seconds, it’s just a click of a button) to install once your site is all set up. And if you really want to play around with some cool plugins, check out Eight Deuce Media’s 11 WordPress Plugins That Will Get You Laid.
  5. Content. Last, via WordPress we started writing and uploading the content for our pages: About Page, Contact Page, Start Here Page, Books Page, Events Page, Archives Page, etc. Next, we designed our logo using free images we found online and text from a regular word-processing program. Then we put a picture of ourselves in the header (this is important because people identify with people, not logos). Finally we started writing new blog posts and posting them regularly (at least once a week). And the rest is history.

UPDATE: For a video and step-by-step screenshots of the entire process above, check out Joshua’s set-up instructions.

15 Reasons You Should Blog

We were inspired to research and write this essay after reading Joshua Becker’s 15 Reasons I Think You Should Blog, in which he discusses 15 great reasons why you should start a blog. “Why” being the key word here. In other words, he talks about the purpose of blogging, not just how to start a blog. That’s what all these other blogs about blogging seem to miss, they miss the purpose—the why.

3 Reasons You Should NOT Blog

So Becker gave you 15 reasons why you should start a blog, and we’ve shown you how to start a blog, step-by-step, based on our personal experience, but after giving you those detailed instructions—which could literally save you the hundreds of hours of wasted time—we also want to give you some good reasons why you should not start a blog. (Keep in mind that these reasons are just our opinions and we do not pretend to offer them up as some sort of collection of empirical blogging maxims.)

  1. Money. You should not start a blog to make money. We need to get that out of the way first. If your primary objective is to replace your full-time income from blogging, forget about it. It doesn’t work that way. Do you think that Jimi Hendrix picked up his first guitar so he could “supplement his income”? No, he didn’t. Rather, he did it for the love of it, for the joy and fulfillment he received, and the income came thereafter, much later actually.
  2. Notoriety. Don’t plan on getting “Internet famous” right away. Not every site grows as fast as ours did, but that’s totally OK. The truth is that we kind of got lucky. We got a great domain name, somehow cobbled together a logo and site design that people really liked, we write fairly well, and our content connects with people in a unique way. We didn’t start this site to become “famous” though. That’d be ridiculous. Our notoriety and quick rise to “fame,” as it were, came as a surprise to us, and was a result of a little luck and a lot of hard, passionate work.
  3. Traffic. Not all traffic is good traffic (as we explained here), so don’t worry about getting thousands of readers right away.

The funny thing is that all these things can happen. You could make a full-time income off of your blog; we do it, Corbett Barr does it, and so do many others. And you could become Internet famous like Leo Babauta or Chris Brogan. But if these are the sole reasons why you blog, you’ll be miserable, because it will seem like a job, and if it feels like a job you won’t be passionate about it, and so you’ll either (a) hate it, (b) fall flat on your face, or (c) hate it and fall flat on your face.

Instead, write because you’re passionate about it…

20 Recommendations for Your Blog

We receive plenty of emails asking for advice about how to start a blog. About blog topics. About how to blog. About creating meaningful content. About whether we wear boxers or briefs. These are the answers and recommendations we tend to give.

  1. Find Your Niche. You needn’t have a niche, but it helps. What are you passionate about? Running? Cooking? Being a parent? Have you found your passion? If so, whatever it is, write about that. If not, then you must first find your passion. (Note: We generally recommend that people don’t blog about minimalism or the paleo diet or any other heavily saturated topic. But what we really mean when we say this is: don’t blog about something unless you have a unique perspective. If you’ve embraced simple living and have a unique perspective, then by all means have at it. Enjoy yourself.)
  2. Define Your Ideal Readers. Once you’ve found your niche, you need to know who will be reading your stuff. For example, we write about living intentionally; our ideal readers are people who are interested in exploring minimalism so they can clear the path toward more meaningful lives. If you want to write about your newborn baby growing up, that’s great; your ideal readers are probably your friends and family, and that’s wonderful. If you want to write about restoring classic cars, that’s cool too. Tailor your writing to your readers (whether it’s your family or your local community or whomever else will read your blog).
  3. Add Value. Your content must add value to your readers’ lives. This is the only way you will get Great Quality Readers to your site (and keep them coming back). Adding value is the only way to get someone’s longterm buy-in. We both learned this after a decade of leading and managing people in the corporate world.
  4. Be Original. Yes, there are other blogs out there about the same thing you want to write about. Q: So why is your blog any different? A: Because of you. You are what makes your blog different; it’s about your perspective, your creativity, the value that you add.
  5. Be Interesting. Write epic, awesome content. Especially if you want people to share it with others.
  6. Be Yourself. Part of being interesting is telling your story. Every person is unique, and your story is an important one. The important part of story telling, however, is removing the superfluous details that make the story uninteresting. A great storyteller removes 99% of what really happens—the absorptive details—and leaves the interesting 1% for the reader.
  7. Be Honest. Your blog needs to be real—it needs to feel real—if you want people to read it. You can be your blog or your blog can be you. That is, do you really embody the stuff that you write about? If not, people will see through you. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” is the famous Gandhi quote. Perhaps bloggers should be the blog they want to write for the world.
  8. Transparency. Being transparent is different from being honest. You needn’t share every detail about your life just for the sake of being honest. Always be honest, and be transparent when it adds value to what you’re writing. (You won’t ever see pictures of us using the restroom on our site; it’s just not relevant.)
  9. Time. Once you’ve learned how to start a blog, you’ll learn that blogging takes a lot of time, especially if you’re as neurotic as we are (we spent over 10 hours testing the fonts on this site). And see those black Twitter and Facebook icons in the header? We spent four hours on those). That said, once you have your design set up, don’t tweak it too much, spend the time on your writing.
  10. Vision. The reason our site design looks good is because we have a great host, we have a great theme, and most important, we had a vision of how we wanted our blog to look. Once we had the vision, we worked hard to make that vision a reality. (N.B. neither of us had any design experience prior to starting this site.) It’s hard to create a great looking site if you don’t know what you want it to look like.
  11. Find Your Voice. Over time, good writers discover their voice and their writing tends to develop a certain aesthetic, one that is appealing to their readers. Finding your voice makes your writing feel more alive, more real, more urgent. Read Joshua’s essay about Finding Your Voice.
  12. We Instead of You. Use statements of we/our rather than you/your, especially when talking about negative behaviors or tendencies. It reads far less accusatorially. Think of it this way: we’re writing peer-to-peer; we are not gods.
  13. When to Post. Q: When is the best day/time to post a blog post? Answer: It doesn’t really matter. We don’t adhere to a particular schedule. Some weeks we post one essay; sometimes we post three. It’s important to write consistently, but you needn’t get too bogged down in the details.
  14. Social Media. Yes, we recommend using Twitter and Facebook to help connect with readers and other bloggers, but don’t get too caught up in it. Focus on the writing first, social media thereafter.
  15. Ignore Negative Criticism and Stupidity. Sure, we get a lot of negative comments and stupid questions from ignorant people who aren’t really our readers (e.g., negative comments like “You’re not real minimalists” and stupid questions like “Are you guys gay?”). We call these people seagulls: they fly in, shit on your site, and fly away. But we pay them no mind; our site is not for them. Delete their comment and move on.
  16. Research. Spend your time researching what you’re writing about. The reason we are able to use so many helpful, relevant links in our essays is because we put in the time to research our topics. That doesn’t mean that we read every blog regularly, but we do put in the time reading them when we’re doing our research.
  17. Keep It Simple. This is where minimalism can be applied to any blog, irrespective of its genre. No need to place superfluous advertisements or widgets all over your site; stick to the basics and remove anything you don’t need, remove anything that doesn’t add value.
  18. Picture. Put a picture of yourself on your blog. People identify with other people. If two goofy guys from Ohio aren’t too afraid to put their pictures on their site, then you have nothing to worry about.
  19. Comments. If you’re going to have comments on your site, then read The Five Words That Kill Your Blog by Scott Stratten.
  20. Live Your Life. You’re blogging about your life (or about certain aspects of your life, at least), so you still need to live your life. There are things that we always put before writing: exercise, health, relationships, experiences, personal growth, contribution.

 

VIA: The Minimalists

Categories: , , , , ,

How to Increase Your Website’s Traffic Without Any Marketing

How to Increase Your Website’s Traffic Without Any Marketing

by Neil Patel

no marketing

What if I told you that you can increase your traffic without any marketing? That’s right… even if you don’t have a marketing bone in your body, you can generate more traffic and sales.

“How?” you may ask. All you have to do is follow this long tail strategy:

Leveraging long tail SEO

Who doesn’t want to rank for terms like “credit cards” and “auto insurance,” right? Although those terms are lucrative, they are actually extremely difficult to rank for.

On the other hand, long tail keywords are much less competitive, and they will drive the majority of your traffic.

seo

If you look at Quick Sprout, 91% of my search traffic comes from long tail phrases. And just like Quick Sprout’s, the majority of your search traffic comes from long tail traffic too.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t rank for any head terms. It just means that I rank for more long tail phrases. You probably experience the same thing as most sites rank for dozens of head terms and hundreds, if not thousands, of long tail terms.

How do you rank for more long tail terms?

First, you need to log into Google Webmaster Tools. Once you are in, you’ll want to click on “search traffic,” then “search queries.”

navigation

You’ll see a page with a list of keywords that looks like this:

keywords

The table will list all the keywords you rank for. What you need to do next is take the head keywords (phrases that contain one or two words) you rank for and type them into Google.

For example, I rank for the term “online marketing.” So I typed it into Google and then scrolled all the way to the bottom of the first page until I saw a table that showed “searches related to online marketing.”

related keywords

These are phrases that Google sees as relevant to a term you already rank for. And the head term is much harder to rank for than those long tail terms.

So if you blend some of those long tail phrases into the page that already ranks for the relevant head term, you’ll start getting more search traffic.

All I am doing is sprinkling in the phrases that make sense, two or three times within the page.

I used this strategy on a monthly basis on Quick Sprout in 2013. And the results were great.

In January 2013, I received 120,365 search visitors:

jan traffic

In December 2013, my search traffic climbed to 174,496 visitors:

dec traffic

Does this strategy still work?

Although I’ve used this strategy a couple of years ago on Quick Sprout, it still works. It doesn’t take a ton of time, and it is really easy… especially if you have a blog.

We do the same thing with our KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg blogs on a monthly basis. I would also continue to do it on Quick Sprout, but I just don’t have the time.

What I’ve found is that if you combine the tip I mentioned above with the marketing tactics in this blog post on increasing your click-through rate, you should be able to double your search traffic within one year.

Conclusion

You don’t have to know a lot about online marketing to generate traffic or sales. Simple things like adjusting the keywords within your content or tweaking the titles of your blog posts can increase your traffic.

If you are going to use the tactic above, don’t adjust your title tag too much unless you are trying to optimize your click-through rates. Instead, focus your efforts on optimizing the keywords within your content. By adding long tail phrases, you’ll generate more search traffic.

 

VIA: Quick Sprout Blog by Neil Patel

Categories: , , ,

10 Secrets of Becoming a Successful Entrepreneur

There is a myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. Here's what success truly means.

By Naveen Jain

I've been an entrepreneur most of my adult life. Recently, on a long business flight, I began thinking about what it takes to become successful as an entrepreneur--and how I would even define the meaning of success. The two ideas became more intertwined in my thinking: success as an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial success. I've given a lot of talks over the years on the subject of entrepreneurship. The first thing I find I have to do is to dispel the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. I've found that entrepreneurial success usually comes through great execution, simply by doing a superior job of doing the blocking and tackling.
But what else does it take to succeed as an entrepreneur, and how should an entrepreneur define success?
Here's what I came up with, a Top 10 List:

10. You must be passionate about what you are trying to achieve.

That means you’re willing to sacrifice a large part of your waking hours to the idea you’ve come up with. Passion will ignite the same intensity in others who join you as you build a team to succeed in this endeavor. And with passion, both your team and your customers are more likely to truly believe in what you are trying to do.

9. Great entrepreneurs focus intensely on an opportunity where others see nothing.

This focus and intensity help eliminate wasted effort and distractions. Most companies die from indigestion rather than starvation, i.e., companies suffer from doing too many things at the same time rather than doing too few things very well. Stay focused on the mission.

8. Success comes only from hard work.

We all know that there is no such thing as overnight success. Behind every overnight success lie years of hard work and sweat. People with luck will tell you there’s no easy way to achieve success--and that luck comes to those who work hard. Successful entrepreneurs always give 100% of their efforts to everything they do. If you know you are giving your best effort, you’ll never have any reason for regrets. Focus on things you can control; stay focused on your efforts, and let the results be what they will be.

7. The road to success is going to be long, so remember to enjoy the journey.

Everyone will teach you to focus on goals, but successful people focus on the journey and celebrate the milestones along the way. Is it worth spending a large part of your life trying to reach the destination if you didn’t enjoy the journey? Won’t the team you attract to join you on your mission also enjoy the journey more? Wouldn’t it be better for all of you to have the time of your life during the journey, even if the destination is never reached?

6. Trust your gut instinct more than any spreadsheet.

There are too many variables in the real world that you simply can’t put into a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets spit out results from your inexact assumptions and give you a false sense of security. In most cases, your heart and gut are still your best guide. The human brain works as a binary computer and can analyze only the exact information-based zeros and ones (or black and white). Our heart is more like a chemical computer that uses fuzzy logic to analyze information that can’t be easily defined in zeros and ones. We’ve all had experiences in business where our heart told us something was wrong while our brain was still trying to use logic to figure it all out. Sometimes a faint voice based on instinct resonates far more strongly than overpowering logic.

5. Be flexible but persistent--every entrepreneur has to be agile to perform.

You have to continuously learn and adapt as new information becomes available. At the same time, you have to remain persistent to the cause and mission of your enterprise. That’s where that faint voice becomes so important, especially when it is giving you early warning signals that things are going off track. Successful entrepreneurs find the balance between listening to that voice and staying persistent in driving for success--because sometimes success is waiting right across from the transitional bump that’s disguised as failure.

4. Rely on your team. It’s a simple fact: No individual can be good at everything.

Everyone needs people who have complementary sets of skills. Entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch, and it’s very hard for them to believe that they are not good at certain things. It takes a lot of soul searching to find your own core skills and strengths. After that, find the smartest people you can who complement your strengths. It’s easy to get attracted to people who are like you; the trick is to find people who are not like you but who are good at what they do--and what you can’t do.

3. Execution, execution, execution.

Unless you are the smartest person on earth (and who is), it’s likely that many others have thought about doing the same thing you’re trying to do. Success doesn’t necessarily come from breakthrough innovation but from flawless execution. A great strategy alone won’t win a game or a battle; the win comes from basic blocking and tackling. All of us have seen entrepreneurs who waste too much time writing business plans and preparing PowerPoints. I believe that a business plan is too long if it’s more than one page. Besides, things never turn out exactly the way you envisioned them. No matter how much time you spend perfecting the plan, you still have to adapt according to the ground realities. You’re going to learn a lot more useful information from taking action rather than hypothesizing. Remember: Stay flexible, and adapt as new information becomes available.

2. I can’t imagine anyone ever achieving long-term success without having honesty and integrity.

These two qualities need to be at the core of everything we do. Everybody has a conscience, but too many people stop listening to it. There is always that faint voice that warns you when you are not being completely honest or even slightly off track from the path of integrity. Be sure to listen to that voice.

1. Success is a long journey and much more rewarding if you give back.

By the time you get to success, lots of people will have helped you along the way. You’ll learn, as I have, that you rarely get a chance to help the people who helped you, because in most cases, you don’t even know who they were. The only way to pay back the debts we owe is to help people we can help--and hope they will go on to help more people. When we are successful, we draw so much from the community and society that we live in that we should think in terms of how we can help others in return. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being kind to people. Other times, offering a sympathetic ear or a kind word is all that’s needed. It’s our responsibility to do “good” with the resources we have available. 

Measuring Success

I hope you have internalized the secrets of becoming a successful entrepreneur. The next question you are likely to ask yourself is: How do we measure success? Success, of course, is very personal; there is no universal way of measuring success. What do successful people like Bill Gates and Mother Teresa have in common? On the surface, it’s hard to find anything they share-;and yet both are successful. I personally believe the real metric of success isn’t the size of your bank account. It’s the number of lives in which you might be able to make a positive difference. This is the measure of success we need to apply while we are on our journey to success.

 

VIA: Inc.com

Categories: , , , ,

11 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My First Blog

by Neil Patel

blogging

I don’t like bragging, but I have to say I’m a pretty good blogger. It’s not because I am smart or anything like that, it’s actually because I screwed up one too many times. After starting four blogs and making hundreds of mistakes over seven years, eventually you are bound to figure out what to do and what not to do.

I just wish someone told me all of this before I started my first blog. Here are 11 things you should know before starting your first blog:

You need to be social

When I started blogging, I hoped that I would get a ton of traffic through search engines because all of the other popular blogs got a lot of Google love. The reality is you won’t get too much traffic from Google because your blog is new…it takes years before your search engine traffic kicks in.

So, how do you get traffic in the short run? You do it through social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and StumbleUpon are just a few examples of social sites that can drive you a ton of traffic.

If you are willing to spend money, you can buy traffic from StumbleUpon ads or Facebook ads, but if you aren’t, you’ll have to focus on building your social media profiles. This means you’ll have to spend time participating in the community, befriending other people, sharing stories and even messaging other users.

As you go through this process, don’t put all of your time and energy into one social media site because sometimes even the popular sites die down. I made my first blog, Pronet Advertising, popular by consistently getting on the front page of Digg. Today, however, Digg isn’t popular. You have to diversify your social media traffic.

Once you build up your social media profiles, you can make almost any blog popular. For example, my business partner and I were able to get the Crazy Egg blog to over 100,000 visitors a month in less than one year. We did this by promoting the blog content on our social profiles.

Consistency is the key to growth

I never realized consistency was important until it affected my traffic…in a negative way. Sometimes, I used to write a blog each week, while other times I would write five blog posts a week. It wasn’t until June 2009 that I realized that not being consistent can hurt your traffic.

Back in May 2009, I used to blog five times a month, and my traffic stats were 45,237 visitors a month.

may traffic

When I slowed down on my blogging, my traffic tanked to 35,786 visitors a month.

june traffic

I had to blog consistently for three months to get back to my May traffic numbers. This just goes to show that you need to blog on a consistent basis, or else your traffic won’t grow on a regular basis.

For that reason, you better love what you are blogging about, or you won’t have the will power to blog on a consistent basis.

What goes online, stays online

When I first started blogging, I used to create mediocre content. My content did all right from a traffic standpoint because I was good at leveraging social media.

Over time, I got lazy and the quality of my content continually decreased. This prompted a handful of people to email me and tell me how I sucked. To make matters worse, a few bloggers even blogged about how my content sucked.

Your brand is everything, and I hope you don’t have to go through what I went through. Treat it like gold and do whatever you can to protect it. Make sure every piece of content you put out on the web is a masterpiece because if you screw up once, it will be on the web forever.

I was able to recover my brand over time, but I did lose a few consulting clients during that time period, which hurt my income.

It’s all in the list

I’ve said it time and time again, the best traffic source for your blog is through emails. I used to be a big believer that RSS traffic was the best form of traffic, but over time people stopped using their feed readers, which is why Google shut theirs down.

So, why should you collect emails? Take Quick Sprout, for example. Emails make up 13.91% of my overall traffic; they drive 41% of my comments; and email subscribers are 3.9 times more likely to share the content via the social web.

And it’s not just with Quick Sprout…we see similar stats from our email list on our KISSmetrics blog.

If you want to start collecting emails from your blog, follow the steps in this blog post.

Blogging isn’t free

I started blogging years ago because I thought it was an affordable way to drive more business to my startup. And although it’s effective, it isn’t too affordable. Sure it’s cheaper than most marketing strategies, but it still costs a lot of money to do it right.

Let me explain…

If you just want to create a personal blog, you can do so for free through WordPress.com. And if you want to host a blog on your own server with your own domain name, you can do so for under $50 a year.

But if you are trying to make money from your blog, you will have to spend money to make it. Here are a few things that you will end up spending money on:

  • Unique design – you don’t want to use a generic theme if you plan on monetizing your blog.
  • Custom development – there aren’t plugins for everything you need. It costs money to have a developer create unique email collection modules or make an ad that scrolls with the user.
  • A/B testing – if you want to maximize your revenue, you will have to A/B test your call to actions and monetization methods. If you don’t have the skill set to do this, you’ll have to spend money hiring consultants.
  • Social media marketing – sometimes to get more social love, you have to spend money. Every once in a while, I spend money paying consultants to help me boost my StumbleUpon or even Facebook traffic.

The above bullet points are just some examples of expenses you will incur. You can spread out your expenses over time and figure out how to do things on a budget, but don’t expect to create a great blog for free. If you don’t invest in your blog, it won’t grow as fast.

It took me years before I spent money on blogging, and I wish I did it sooner as Quick Sprout would have been much larger. Here are my expenses for Quick Sprout last month:

  • Hosting – $750 (I use Akamai as my CDN, which adds up fast)
  • Design – $7,700 (I am releasing an Advanced Guide to Content Marketing at the end of this month, similar to the Advanced Guide to SEO)
  • Writers – $3,000 (I had a writer help me edit and correct the Advanced Guide to Content Marketing…it’s over 40,000 words)
  • Coding – $3,500 (I needed to hire someone to code the Advanced Guide to Content Marketing)
  • Time management – $4,000 (I have an assistant because it saves me 2 to 3 hours a day. I can then put those 2 to 3 hours towards blogging and responding to comments.)
  • Emails – $731 (my SendGrid and Aweber bills add up)
  • Plugin development – $4500 (I’m creating a WordPress plugin that will help me collect more emails on Quick Sprout and get more social media traffic.)

I have a ton of small expenses as well, but the ones above are the major ones. They add up to $24,181, which just covers one month worth of expenses. It may seem like a lot of my expenses are one-time, but it’s very rare that I spend less than $20,000 a month on Quick Sprout.

I don’t mind the expenses, but I just wanted to let you know that you have to spend money to do things right. Without spending money, it’s rare that you can create a blog with a big audience.

It’s easy to get new traffic, but hard to retain it

If you look at the image below, you’ll notice that Quick Sprout received 441,676 visits and 340,176 unique visitors over the last 30 days.

current traffic

Out of all of those visitors, can you guess how many are returning visitors? 31%.

In the past, I had only 18% of my visitors as repeat visitors, but over time I’ve been able to increase the number. I wish I had focused on that earlier because my traffic would have been much higher if I had focused on it years ago.

Here’s how you can retain your visitors:

  • Survey them – learn what they want and provide it to them. I use Qualaroo and Survey Monkey to figure out what you wanted to read, and then I write it.
  • Build a community – if you can make your readers feel part of something, they’ll be more likely to come back. This is the main reason I focus so hard on improving the number of comments on Quick Sprout and why I try to respond to every email I get from you.
  • Collect emails – as I mentioned above, you should collect emails. It’s one of the best ways to increase your repeat visitor count.
Strike while the iron is hot

There’s always going to be a new method of content marketing that is hot…you just have to leverage it before everyone else. It doesn’t matter what your blog is on; you can always make boring topics fun to read…you just have to get creative.

When you find one of these hot ideas, keep leveraging them until they die down.

With KISSmetrics, we realized that infographics were going to be hot, so we decided to create one every single week. We ended up cranking out 47 infographics, which generated 2,512,596 visits from 41,142 backlinks, 41,359 tweets and 20,859 likes.

I tried creating infographics on Quick Sprout, but I was too late. By the time I got into it, they were already played out, they didn’t get as many social shares, nor did they drive as much traffic as they did for KISSmetrics.

Another example is The Oatmeal. The founder of that site, Matt, realized that quizzes and comics where popular, so he created a site that only contained quizzes and comics. Again, that strategy is played out so if you want to boost your traffic you’ll have to come up with a different one.

If you find a hot content idea, keep milking it until it lasts…because sooner or later it will get played out just like everything else does.

Content length affects traffic

I didn’t realize content length affects traffic until I started to write really detailed posts. It wasn’t because I was trying to game Google or any social site, but it was because I wanted to write content that helps you. And I couldn’t figure out how to do that without writing really detailed content.

The beautiful part about writing detailed content is that it ranks higher on Google. If you look at the results page on page one of Google, each site on average will have at least 2000 words of content. That just shows that Google really sees content as king.

Just make sure you don’t fill your posts with fluff to reach the 2,000 word content. Always write for users and never for search engines. It just happens that people prefer detailed content with actionable steps, and it’s hard to do that in a few hundred words.

Write your posts in a conversational manner

People prefer conversations over lectures. That’s why you never fall asleep when you have a conversation with your friends, but you would fall asleep in your high school lecture.

I never used to write in a conversational manner, but when I did, my time on site increased by 22.7%. And when I ran a Crazy Egg heatmap, I noticed that people used to scroll more than before.

quicksprout heatmap

You can make your content more conversational by:

  • Using the words “you” and “I”- these are two words that are common in conversations. By using them, you will be talking to your readers instead of at them.
  • Use line breaks – don’t make your paragraphs go on forever. Not only will that make your blog harder to read, but it will make your content feel more like a lecture than a conversation.
  • Italicize words – have you noticed that I italicize words and phrases throughout each of my blog posts? I especially do it when I am asking you a question or answer one. It helps keep you engaged because it makes certain parts seem more like a conversation.
  • Don’t be too formal – conversations are friendly and not formal. Don’t write your posts as if you are writing an essay.
Design is marketing

I always felt that design was important, but I never nit-picked every little thing. Why? Because I felt that my design was better than the average blog’s out there. This, however, created frustration among my readers with certain things such as lack of abilityto find the popular posts on Quick Sprout.

Eventually, I was able to please you once I fine-tuned my design.

As you already know, being average isn’t good enough. You need to be the best! And to be the best, you need an awesome design…not a mediocre one. You need one that drives traffic to your money pages, that boosts your conversion rate and, most importantly, that makes the content easy to read.

The size of your font, typography and even spacing are all little things that are part of your design. Those elements can have a big impact on whether your content is going to be read by someone.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have an attractive design because you can then submit it to the CSS galleries, which usually can drive 500 to 3,000 visitors to your website, assuming you submit your site to at least 10 galleries.

People matter

When I started my first blog, all I cared about is how many visitors I had and how I could convert those visitors into customers. I never really cared about my readers.

These days, I don’t focus on visitor count or even revenue; instead, I judge how well I am doing by the following parameters:

  1. The number of comments – usually when you leave a comment, you are asking a question. I then respond back as I love helping you and other people.
  2. The numbers of emails – just like comments, most of the emails I receive are from you asking for help. I enjoy responding to you and others as it brings a smile to my face.

These days, I do make money, and lot more than I used to when I first started blogging, but money is a side effect of solving problems and helping people. If I had to put a dollar value on my responses to comments and emails, I probably would be in red. But how could you put a price on helping people? :)

Sure, by helping people I’m gaining a ton of good karma points, which probably helps me, but I wouldn’t trade helping you for any sum of money.

With your blog, don’t just focus on traffic and revenue. Focus on helping people too as the rest will come once you help out enough people.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you can avoid the mistakes I made when I first started blogging. I would hate for you to repeat my mistakes as they hindered my growth.

If you want to make your blog popular, focus on solving one problem at a time. It’s going to be too hard to implement all of the tactics above…but if you focus on them individually, eventually you’ll conquer them all.

So, what other blogging mistakes should you avoid?

 

VIA: Quick Sprout Blog by Neil Patel

Categories: , ,

Copyright © Niente Canzoni d'Amore | Powered by Blogger

Design by Anders Noren | Blogger Theme by NewBloggerThemes.com | BTheme.net        Up ↑