A Know-It-All Doesn’t Know Everything

Know-it-all

Last weekend at a BBQ (and by BBQ I mean an outdoor party where everyone was sweating) there was a woman I hoped I would never see again. I tried to avoid eye contact with her and pretend I didn’t see her (don’t judge), but near the end of the party I looked to my left and there she was.

Crap! I had to talk to her.

I never rarely avoid people, but this woman is like a walking “Cool Facts” app that you wish you hadn’t downloaded. No matter what the topic, from marriage, to kids, to why the Botox she uses is better than what others use (seriously?), she has to share her opinion.

You probably know someone like that. We all do. Those are the friends you take a little longer to answer when they call or text. They’re the ones who are so exhausting you have to refer to your list of excuses to avoid getting together with them. (Am I the only one with a list like that?)

As I drove home from the party I thought about everything this know-it-all woman is missing by having to be right all of the time. These are the top three that came to mind:

Good resources. Web sites, news outlets and blogs are filled with valuable resources to help grow a business, improve relationships and prove that we’re better parents than we think we are. A know-it-all doesn’t want to read or hear about anything that can teach her more than she already knows (or thinks she knows).

New opportunities. Whether it’s meeting a new circle of friends, attending a business seminar or partnering with another business owner, a know-it-all is stubborn and won’t do anything differently. They don’t realize that by closing themselves off to new opportunities, they’re getting in their own way of success.

Relationships and business contacts. A know-it-all is more comfortable staying in touch with a small group of business owners whose businesses haven’t grown in years. These are the business owners who think social media is a fad that will go away sometime soon. Instead of aligning herself with other business owners who could help her expand her business and explore new markets, she stays stuck in the past. She’s the flip phone user in a sea of smartphones.

When you focus on learning new things, listen to others, and expose yourself to new ways of doing business, it’s amazing how much you can grow, both personally and professionally.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows that.

You CAN Share a Home Office Without Plotting a Murder

I admire couples that can work from home together and not strangle each other by the end of the day. It’s not that I’m unreasonable, bitchy or territorial (at least not all of the time), but there’s no way I could stand to share a home office with my spouse.

Period.

Part of the reason I have issues with needing my own space is that I have four siblings. As the middle child, I never had my own room. Either my older sister or my younger, annoying sister (who is now my best friend), was my roommate. We had to share everything.

I envied my friend down the street who was an only child. Her main complaint was that she was bored most of the time. She didn’t get any sympathy from me.

So it’s no wonder that I demand my own workspace, insist that no one touch my supplies (I’ve been told I have office supply issues), and crave as much privacy as possible. I like to work alone.

The other reason I couldn’t work with my significant other is that too much of a good thing can be bad. Think about it: you may adore your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, but if you spend every day and night with him or her, you may drain the fun out of your business and your relationship. Trust me, those cute little habits that first attracted you to him or her will be the same habits that make you want to plot a file cabinet “accident.”

If you’re still willing to work with your spouse (don’t say I didn’t give you plenty of warning), there are a few ways to keep the peace so no one considers hiring a hit man by the end of the day.

Buy duplicate supplies.

No one likes to reach for a stapler and realize it’s on someone else’s desk or in another room. Get creative and buy two sets of office supplies in different colors: one for each of you. While you’re buying extra supplies for your spouse, pick up more sets for the rest of your family.

Don’t share a computer. Ever.

There’s nothing wrong with cutting costs, but sharing a computer will cost you more than money. It will affect your working relationship, put your patience to the test, and, more importantly, destroy your productivity. Whether you use a desktop and your spouse uses a laptop, each of you should have your own device. Sharing a printer shouldn’t be an issue, but if you print more than anyone else in the family, pick up extra cartridges so there’s always a replacement cartridge when someone other than you has a last minute deadline.

Leave the room when you need to take a call.

Unless you can talk quietly and not bother your spouse while he or she is in the office (which I don’t think is humanly possible for anyone), leave the room during a call. Another option is to use a headset. It’s a good idea to leave your desk throughout the day anyway, so why not leave during a call?

Use separate workspaces.

Whether you use two desks, or install a long counter with enough room for two chairs, keep your workspaces separate. This is especially true if you have two different working styles. Someone who is a packrat will drive a perfectionist crazy with piles of paper, cups of coffee and the leftovers from his or her last snack. The perfectionist will do the same thing by complaining about the mess and throwing things away without asking.

Compromise on the temperature.

You may like the office to be as cold as a meat locker, but not everyone likes to wear three sweaters, a hat, and gloves to work. Consider using a fan for your side of the room and keep the thermostat above the freeze-your-ass-off temperature.

Working with a spouse can be the perfect arrangement for some couples and a recipe for disaster for others. I’m a firm believer in everyone working together, but not always in the same space.

How to Treat Yourself As Well As You Treat Your Clients

take care of yourself

Most of us do what we can to keep our clients happy, yet we forget about our own needs. Today as you get ready to tackle your to-do list, consider these four ways to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

1. Pace yourself.

Realize your limitations and stop working when you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set for the day. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your business (that’s one of the goals of working for yourself, isn’t it?), but too much of a good thing can be harmful and ultimately lead to burnout.

2. Schedule time with your family.

Whether you plan a four-day getaway, or agree to a two-day staycation, turn off your business and tune into your family. Sure, you may need to answer a few e-mails (emphasis on the word “few”), but the goal is to focus your time and energy on your family. After your getaway, don’t be surprised if you feel recharged and your family feels that they’ve reconnected with you.

3. Take time to learn more.

Whether you virtually attend online webinars, travel to live seminars, or take evening classes, make an effort to keep up with the changes in your industry. Set up a Google Alert to make sure you don’t miss the latest article or blog post about your field.

4. Create a balance between your business needs and your personal needs.

If you travel often for business, but enjoy working out, schedule a time on your calendar to exercise. Treat the appointment the same way you would an appointment with a client and keep it. Schedule time to get together with the group of friends you used to meet for lunch or dinner, but had to put off for business. When you wait for the opportune time to do something for yourself, it rarely happens. You have to schedule it.

The next time you do something for a client, take a few minutes to do something for yourself. Go ahead…you deserve it.

Getting Ready For Working Naked Day

Kate-Spade-ipad-case-home-office-hookeyWhile you’re getting ready to celebrate the 5th annual Working Naked Day tomorrow, why not take a few minutes to read a few of the most popular Working Naked posts from the past year.

Are You Working From Home or Playing Hooky

Last week while I was at Nordstrom I saw your new iPad sleeve. It’s the one that reads, “Working From Home #playhooky.” My working from home radar is always on so I wasn’t surprised I saw it, even though it was on a high shelf.

Is Your Home Office Still Working For You?

Some days you may look forward to working in your home office, while other days you may go straight to a nearby coffee shop to work.

Are You Working From Home or Just Pretending?

Last week I figured out I’ve been pretending to work from home. I found out that my 20 years of working from home has been a sham.

Cool Home Offices to Inspire You

The right home office can inspire you to work harder, or keep you from working at all. It all depends on where you set up your home office, how you furnish it, and whether the space fits your needs.

You Can Still Be Chic, Yet Cheap

When I started working from home two decades ago, I did my best to hide the fact that I had a home office instead of a corporate office. It wasn’t cool to work from home and run a company.

35 Habits to Help Entrepreneurs Stay Productive

Being productive is tough, especially around the holidays. There are some people, though, who manage to power through their to-do list no matter what. This infographic from Entrepreneur.com shares 35 habits of productive people. Think about how much more you could accomplish each day if you adopted only a few of these habits.

35 habits to stay productive

Source: Entrepreneur.com

Getting Work Done At Home, Even During the Holidays

Guest Post by Angelo DiGangiWorking from home during holidays

The holidays offer a special challenge to those who work from home. Family members don’t always understand that freelancers or small business owners can’t necessarily take the holidays off the way those who work nine-to-five in an office are generally able do. Here are some tips to help you organize your home life in a way that will enable you to get things accomplished, even during the holiday season.

1. Make sure to have a distinct work space.

One key step towards maintaining a strong focus is having a clear delineation between your professional and home life. That means setting a space aside for work and nothing else. Even if you don’t have the funds or square footage for your own home office, you can still create a dedicated area that you use just for professional activities. Of course this should be a part of the house that other people use as little as possible.

2. Make sure your work space looks professional.

When working from home, it is easy to get in the habit of working on your laptop on the couch in front of the television. Having a professional-looking work space instead will help set the right mood and encourage you to get things done. Make sure you have an actual computer desk and an organized-looking workspace, with a filing system for your papers and records. Using appropriate furniture, especially a good office chair, will also help ensure that you don’t get carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive motion related injuries.

3. Make sure to have a distinct work time.

Setting a specific time of day to get work done can help you hold yourself accountable. In addition, it can make it easier for you to schedule other times to do activities with your family and any guests you have in town, so that they don’t feel neglected. You can all plan on enjoying dinner together, for example, then while everyone else goes to a movie, you can go home and take care of whatever business is at hand.

4. Take steps to eliminate distractions.

One of the biggest barriers to getting work done at home is the constant availability of distractions. Once you’ve figured out where and when you’re going to work, try to free the surrounding space of distractions. Keep your desk free of personal papers. Put holiday catalogs and gift to-do lists out of your line of vision. In particular, unless you need the Internet for a project, consider using programs that allow you to turn off the Internet for a few hours to ensure that you use this work time as efficiently as possible.

Angelo DiGangi has been helping customers as a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago area since 1994. Angelo provides advice on home offices for Home Depot’s Home Decorators website. He provides DIY tips on using room dividers, bookcases and other furniture to accent home offices, and separate these areas from the rest of the home.

You Can Still Be the Boss Without Being a Jerk

boss is a jerkYesterday was National Boss Day. While my corporate counterparts may have been sucking up to a boss, I was thinking about ways to thank myself, the boss, for my hard work and dedication to my business.

I’ve come a long way from when I worked for a jerk. This awful boss demanded long work hours, rarely took breaks, and scheduled deadlines that were impossible to meet. She was annoying, a perfectionist, and impossible to please.

The horrible boss I worked for, was me.

When I reminded myself that I left the corporate world to get away from the exact type of boss I had become, I gave myself a break, gave up my awful boss habits, and finally enjoyed working for myself.

If you’re ready to work for a boss who is understanding, reasonable, and respectful of your time and talents, there are a few simple changes you can make.

Limit the number of hours you work each day.

When your commute is only seconds away, it’s easy to go to work early and stay late. Think back to the last time you walked into your home office to work on something for an hour, and then three hours later you were still working. The key is knowing when to stop working and when to start enjoying your personal life.

Keep your to-do list reasonable.

Keep in mind that you can’t do everything. Instead of making a long list of tasks to finish in one day, figure out which tasks you can move to another day or even another week. A long to-do list is overwhelming and can keep you from starting even one task.

Schedule at least one mini-vacation each year.

When you worked for someone else, scheduling two weeks off was easy. When you work for yourself, finding time to take two days off may seem impossible. Make a point to get away from your home office so you can recharge and reconnect with your family. You don’t have to leave town…just leave your home office.

Limit your weekend hours.

Depending on what type of business you own, and whether or not you can avoid it, limit your weekend hours. Some clients may only be able to meet with you on Saturday or Sunday, so it’s important to be flexible. Other than that, schedule all other appointments during the week. (Note to real estate agents: ignore that last suggestion.)

Establish rewards for completing difficult tasks and accomplishing major milestones.

A reward doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. A walk around the block or going out for a cup of coffee can serve as a motivator to get the job done. Even taking time off to shop online, watch the latest trending video, or read a book you downloaded months ago can be as good as a pat on the back.

Don’t expect perfection all of the time.

Before you retype an e-mail for the third time, or make another change on a proposal, ask yourself why. Perfectionism is a dangerous trap. Before you know it, your standards become outrageously and unreasonably high. Find a balance between what is acceptable and what could hurt your credibility.

When you work for the boss from hell, and the boss isn’t you, you can quit and do your best to find another job. But when you’re the boss from hell, you can continue to make yourself miserable, or take steps to improve your working relationship with yourself.

How a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Grow Your Business

Virtual assistant for small businessYou may be Working Naked, but you still wear several hats from marketing director to business manager to publicist, among other jobs. While some of us (myself included) think we can do everything ourselves, others who know they can’t, and are ready to grow their businesses, hire virtual assistants.

Several small business owners who work with virtual assistants shared what their virtual assistants do for them. In some cases virtual assistants seemed to be even more valuable than their spouses.

“My virtual assistant handles all my website design and maintenance. I’ve gone from four published books to eight. She has also saved my neck during a couple of major e-mail crises, performed troubleshooting of all sorts of stuff, and researched the best option for me on various technologies and platforms. She lives about 5000 miles away from me in Alaska and we’ve never met.”
—Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing expert

”My virtual assistant has always been based in Copenhagen. I have used my virtual personal assistant for over a year and find that it is the only way to maintain efficiency and excellent service levels than any other method. She schedules all of my global meetings, does all of our invoicing and travel arrangements- getting me to and from clients in the US to Europe.
—Jennifer Hicks, founder of ink Communications and co-founder of bGrand

“My virtual assistant does many of the things I am not qualified to do: She created a web site for me and maintains it by adding new materials, links, resources etc. She does this also for an existing site I have. My virtual assistant pushes me and encourages me. We’re a team that just happens to sit in two different states.”
—Jane Cranston, ExecutiveCoachNY

“Over the years, my virtual assistant has done a variety of tasks for me including formatting/updating documents, creation of Powerpoint presentations, flyer development, database management, email marketing, and website design/update. Over the years she has also helped me to automate as much as possible so I’ve actually used her less as time has gone on.”
—Jackie Nagel, President of Synnovatia

How has a virtual assistant helped you?

What Makes You an Entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and ages. What links most entrepreneurs is their desire to call the shots and stop answering to others. This infographic, originally posted on Bit Rebels (my favorite technology/geek site), illustrates 9 signs you might be an Entrepreneur.  How many characteristics describe you?

 characteristics-of-an-entrepreneur-infographic

Unlocking the Best Guest Posts

Best guest postsI like to think I know everything, but I know I don’t. That’s why I ask home-based business owners from different fields to share their expertise on Working Naked. Over the past several years I’ve had an impressive group of guest bloggers contribute. In case you’ve missed any of them, here are a few guest posts from the past.‏

Knowing What You Could Earn May Bring You Home

By Steve Anderson

Working from home was a dream long before it became a reality, and that’s because I needed plenty of time to convince myself that leaving the corporate office was not some crazy dream.

How to Protect Your Small Business

By DeAnn Flores Chase

As a small business lawyer, I work with entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals on a daily basis. For new business owners, I advise that an entity be formed from the start. For existing business owners, I advise that an entity be formed as soon as possible.

6 Tips for Staying Safe While Searching for Virtual Jobs

By Sara Sutton Fell

Almost 3 million Americans work from home (or telecommute) full-time, and another 15 to 20 million work from home at least one to two days each week, so it’s no surprise that interest in telecommuting jobs is growing. And with that growth comes an increasing number of work-from-home job scams prowling the Internet every day. It’s estimated that only one out of every 60-70 work-from-home jobs is legitimate and the remaining listings are scams.