Building a remote agency with Authentic Form & Function

by Jake Jorgovan on Mar 30, 2015.
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Building a creative agency is hard. Building a creative agency when you don't live in the same city as your partners can be even harder.

Chris and Bryant at Authentic Form & Function have managed to pull this off.

In this Working Without Pants podcast interview, they share with us how they started up the agency, got their first clients and how they manage working as a remote team.



Writing great proposals and building software products with Nathan Powell

by Jake Jorgovan on Mar 23, 2015.
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As freelance professionals, we are consistently having to create proposals for new projects all of the time. Often this means hassling with Microsoft Word, inDesign or some other design software to make our proposals decent.

The guest on this episode of the Working Without Pants podcast set out to make the process of creating proposals easier.

Nathan Powell of Nusii started his career as a freelance designer / developer and created the proposal design tool Nusii out of a need he experienced first hand. The software makes it simple and easy to create and send beautifully designed proposals to your clients.

In this episode, Nathan shares his story of building up his career and what he has learned from launching a software product. He also shares some of his best practices for writing winning proposals.

If Nusii sounds interesting to you, then visit this link and use the promo code gunio for 50% off your subscription for the first three months.



How to be productive when working from home

by Jake Jorgovan on Mar 11, 2015.
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Lets be honest, working from home isn't always the easiest.

There are a million and one things that can distract you from actually sitting down and doing the work at hand.

Your dog wants attention.
Dishes need to be done.
You just feel lazy and want to go lay in bed.

There is always something in your home that can distract you, so how do you go about staying productive and focused when working from home?

My goal with this post is to give you some simple tactics that will help increase your productivity when working from home.

Face your desk at a wall, not a window

I know you want to enjoy the beautiful views out your window, but a window in front of your desk is a catalyst for distraction.

A squirrel outside can catch your attention when you are in the middle of focusing.

A neighbor working outside can easily become a distraction.

Windows and sunlight are nice. I am not saying you need to work in the dark, but your desk itself should face directly against a wall. This helps keep you in the zone and prevents anything from distracting you.

Set start and end times for your work

Just because you don't have an office to commute to doesn't mean you can't have a schedule.

Set specific times when you are clocking in to work and clocking out. You don't have to do 9-5. You work from home so that you can work whatever hours you want. The important part is to give yourself a hard start and a hard end time. When you do this it forces you to hustle to get your work done.

When you don't have a hard end time, it’s easy to let yourself get distracted and work more hours than you expected.

Get more sleep

Take the extra time that you would have spent commuting and put that toward an extra hour of sleep each night. It's amazing what a good night’s sleep can do to improve your productivity.

Use the pomodoro technique

There is a famous productivity technique called the Pomodoro Technique. The basic premise is to set a timer for 20-30 minutes, sit down, and focus on doing work.

When the timer goes off, get up and take a 5 minute break. Do some dishes, walk the dog, stretch, or whatever it is your heart desires.

Then after your 5 minute break, set the time again and start working.

This technique is great because it forces you to stay in your seat and get work done. You don't get up until the timer goes off.

Turn off the internet & use site blockers

Without any co-workers or employees around, you are free to browse the internet at your liking.

Sometimes the biggest distraction is, not everything in our home, but rather your free reign to surf the internet at your wish.

When you are doing a task that doesn't require the internet, simply turn it off so you don't run the risk of being distracted.

Do you have a few sites you love to waste time on? I'll admit Facebook is my weakness.

Use a simple plugin like SimpleBlocker to set up an on/off switch for visiting these time wasting websites.

These simple blocking programs allow you to have an on/off switch for surfing the web. Yes you can always go turn it off if you want, but the simple act of blocking them stops you from mindlessly surfing between tasks.

Try it out for a day. You will be amazed how many times you try to go to the site and end up at the block screen.

The bottom line

Working from home can be great. I absolutely love it.

But, it does come with its own set of unique challenges. Use the methods described in this post to try to make yourself a bit more productive from home.



The dangers of working from home

by Jake Jorgovan on Mar 3, 2015.
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Photo used under creative commons courtesy of Matt Crawford
The other day I was sitting in my home office heads down getting things done.

Like most days, I didn't get dressed and sat around in my PJ's all day for the sake of comfort.

I was amidst a productivity session of putting out some great writing when my fiancée came home from a work meeting.

She took one look at me and said, "You need to put on real clothes."

Working without pants

It had been two days since I had really left the house and went out in public, yet it had been two extremely productive days.

There were no distractions, no commutes, and no time wasted dressing myself up to go out in public. Instead, I sat at my home and got shit done!

While working from home can be wonderful, it can also be a vicious cycle to get into.

One day you don't get dressed, and then the next, and then the next. Soon you are a smelly, hairy dude that no woman wants to touch.

My fiancée acts as my censor for when things are going too far, but not every guy is lucky enough to have a woman who will tell him when he needs to clean the hell up.

Instead, you need to become your own censor.

Get dressed at least twice per week

I know, jeans are not as comfortable as pajama pants.

A button-up does not have the same flow as a t-shirt.

Lets be real, shaving sucks.

But have some decency and clean yourself up every once in a while.

You partner will appreciate it if you do, and if you’re single then it will increase your chances of actually finding a partner.

Work from somewhere else one day per week

Find a coffee shop, a co-working space or somewhere else that you enjoy working.

Make it a habit of visiting this coffee shop once per week. This small ritual will force you to get out of the house and clean yourself up.

Dress up even when you’re not going out

Another solution is to simply get dressed even when you’re not going out. This sounds ridiculous but your partner will appreciate it, trust me.

Instead of having your partner coming home to you in pajama pants, try getting dressed up, clean shaven and putting on some nice cologne.

It’s an unexpected surprise and your partner will appreciate it.

The bottom line

I will be honest in saying that I write this whole article in pajama pants and a t-shirt.

I get it, you want to be comfortable. Be comfortable and enjoy it. But don't let the habit go on for too long.

Get yourself dressed up every now and then and get out of the house. Your will be better off because of it.



How to become indispensable

by Jake Jorgovan on Feb 23, 2015.
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When I was in college one of my good friends always had the coolest internships and the best jobs.

While most students were slaving away for free, he was getting paid for his internships, and paid well.

He had job offers flying at him left and right, and he never took an internship that didn't pay. If he had decided to drop out of school, he would have had no problem walking straight into a high paying job.

In talking with my friend, I asked him how he got to this position, how he had so many offers and paid internships?

He had a simple philosophy:

"I get inside the company and set myself up so they have no choice but to hire me."

He made himself indispensable.

Becoming a linchpin

In Seth Godin's book, Linchpin, he describes a new mentality on how to approach your work.

Traditionally people have gone to work and waited for people to tell them what to do. Seth proposes that in order to become a linchpin (an indispensable individual) you must dive into your work, take initiative, and make yourself indispensable to the people who are hiring you.

This applies to your full-time employer, or to the company that hires you on a contract basis.

If you just show up and do what is asked, then you are another replaceable cog in their machine.

If you show up, go above and beyond, and deliver more value than they expect, then you become indispensable.

Indispensable in action

My friend in college had this mentality and executed it with every opportunity he came across.

For one company, he showed up and helped them re-organize their servers and project management system. No one asked him to do this, but he saw room for improvement and wrote up a solution that would make things better.

Organizing the server did two things for him:

First, the company loved him because projects became more organized and easier to manage.

Second, he now had unique knowledge to manage an aspect of their company. They could not hire someone else with that knowledge.

He made himself indispensable and his compensation grew as a result of it.

How to make yourself indispensable

You can't fake your way to becoming indispensable. You can only do it one way.

You can only do it by creating value for the company hiring you.

You must learn new skills that aid in the tasks you are doing.
You must look for things that are broken, and fix them without being asked.
You must take initiative and find ways that you can create value for your employer.

You must do all of this without expectations.

Don't go above and beyond on your job and then immediately ask for a nice bonus. Instead, consistently deliver beyond expectation. Your employer will take notice over time.

A good employer will see the value that you bring to the table and compensate you accordingly.

A poor employer will shrug off your efforts and give no reward.

Part of becoming indispensable is choosing the right employers to become indispensable for. If your gifts, your value, and your efforts are not rewarded, then eventually you must take your talents elsewhere.

The great thing about the linchpin mentality is that it prepares you for growth. It prepares you to grow in your current position, or in your next career opportunity.

Even if your opportunities are not rewarded at your current position, your skills are changing. Your knowledge and your mindset are growing. These will aid you when you seek out the next position and make yourself indispensable there.

The bottom line

Don't sit by and wait for people to tell you what to do.

Instead, dive in and take initiative. Start projects on your own and seek out ways to create value.

If you create enough value, you will eventually become indispensable.



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