Free Take Control Book about Working From Home Temporarily

Tc working homeI’m in my 25th year of working from home as a freelancer, and over the years I’ve learned how to work productively, and how to avoid wasting (too much) time. A lot of people are suddenly discovering what it’s like to have to work from home temporarily.

Glenn Fleishman, a fellow author of Take Control books, has just released a free book with tips and advice on how to set up a home office, and how to get work done. Like me, Glenn has been working at home for years.

As the book blurb for the free Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily says:

We’re in a time of unprecedented uncertainty. In the middle of a global viral outbreak, you were told or asked to work from home—and you’ve never or rarely had to be productive where you live before. What to do? We’re here to take at some stress out of your life with a new, free book that details how to set up a home office and balance work and home life for those not accustomed to it.

Did I say that the book is free?

In this book, you’ll learn more about how to:

  • Stake out a physical space, even if it involves setting up a curtain or moving a bookshelf
  • Pick or adjust a chair if you plan to sit
  • Figure out the right mic and headphones or speakers for your needs
  • Add a monitor for efficiency, or use software to turn an iPad or other devices into a second display
  • Stand while you work without necessarily investing in a new desk
  • Set working hours to avoid never being off the clock
  • Put up a sign or otherwise signify when you’re working to those around you
  • Invest a tiny amount or a lot into noise-canceling headphones or earbuds
  • Use videoconferencing to replace meetings and casual conversation you miss from an office
  • Adjust your expectations and that of your employer to how much work you can produce, initially and in the long haul
  • Take regular breaks to avoid burnout, but if you get in the zone, you can stay there, too
  • Juggle the simultaneous burdens of full-time home parenting with home working
  • Remember to eat lunch

If you’re new to working at home, get Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily. It’s free. As in beer.

Coronavirus and the Culture Industry

These are difficult times for everyone. For some, the worry is that they will get sick and perhaps die of this new plague. For others, it is that they may lose their livelihoods. As stores, restaurants, and bars close around the world, the people working in those businesses may have no protection, no sick pay; or if they do have sick pay, it’s not enough to live on. Here in the UK, “statutory sick pay” is £94 a week.

This is especially tough for creative professionals: musicians, actors, and anyone involved in the production of live performances. By their very nature, these performances are now hazardous, and countries have started cancelling them. In New York, Broadway is shut down; in the UK, individual theaters are starting to close, and it won’t be long before they are all shuttered. (It actually seems irresponsible now that they haven’t all closed.) The performers and staff will have no work, and in general, these performers, eking out a precarious existence even in the best of times, will have little or no support from their governments. When I was living in New York City, I knew some actors who worked in restaurants in between acting gigs, but even that possibility is disappearing. As for musicians who make their living on the road, they’ll have to take a long hiatus. (Obviously, A-list performers will be fine; but it’s the other 99$% who face difficulty.)

But even when this plague winds down – as I hope it eventually will – it may take some time for people to go back to the theaters, the bars, and the concert halls. Unless we can be certain that we have immunity from the disease, it won’t be safe to be in enclosed spaces. I go to the theater in my neighboring Stratford-Upon-Avon regularly, and the average age of the audience aligns with those most at risk from the coronavirus. I can’t imagine them rushing to go back to the theater. Even at the best of times, there are plenty of people coughing in the theater, and you always here this at classical concerts when people try to hold back their coughing until between movements. Sitting there for a couple of hours, listening to that, would be stressful now, and even after things cool off.

So the only thing we can do, if we can afford it, is try to help support these creative professionals. For musicians, you can buy their music, if possible directly from artists. It’s a lot harder to support actors and musicians who are members of an orchestra. I have no solution for this, but we need to ensure that when we get through this crisis, our culture still exists.

Stay safe.

The Zen of Everything Podcast, Episode 19: Original Buddhism, Changing Buddhism

What is “original Buddhism?” In the absence of texts from the Buddha’s times, how can we know what the Buddha really taught? And how does the corpus of later texts help us understand Buddhism?

Find out more at the Zen of Everything website.

How to Write an Elevator Pitch Efficiently and Effectively

An elevator pitch is essentially a short speech intended to generate interest in an idea or proposition within a very limited timeframe. How long does it take to go a couple of floors in an elevator? A few seconds, once the doors close? Or if you’re going to the higher floors in modern buildings, it can take as much as 30 seconds. There may be times when you have to pitch your idea – your product, service, or company – in that brief amount of time. And when you want to do this, you can’t improvise; you have to plan ahead so you can explain your idea quickly.

You’ll use your elevator pitch at other times than just in elevators, but the metaphor – that of time ticking away as the floors go by – is useful. You may use it at conferences when you meet new people, and are networking between panels. You can use it when you run into someone in a coffee shop or grocery store. And you may even use it in an elevator, when you’ve met someone who might invest in your company.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism – The Guardian

Apple devices have gradually simplified in appearance over time under designer Jony Ive, who joined the company in 1992, which is why they are so synonymous with minimalism. By 2002, the Apple desktop computer had evolved into a thin, flat screen mounted on an arm connected to a rounded base. Then, into the 2010s, the screen flattened even more and the base vanished until all that was left were two intersecting lines, one with a right angle for the base and another, straight, for the screen. It sometimes seems, as our machines become infinitely thinner and wider, that we will eventually control them by thought alone, because touch would be too dirty, too analogue.

The Guardian publishes an excerpt from a forthcoming book about minimalism; not the music, but the lifestyle. This excerpt covers two topics: Marie Kondo’s decluttering cult, and Apple’s design philosophy.

For the former, whose method is uncreatively called KonMarie, I like to say that you can’t spell KonMarie without “con.” For our minimal Marie has ventured into the sale of Goop-worthy useless objects, such as, for $75, a tuning fork a quartz crystal. “Marie uses a tuning fork in her everyday life to help her to reset – and she’s never without a crystal. Striking the fork against a crystal creates pure tones that are believed to help restore a sense of balance.”

As for Apple, yes, their products are minimalist, but I think that the approach that the millennial writer takes shows a bit of ignorance of the history of the design of computing devices, and of other electronic devices. Much of the minimalism in Apple devices is a result of miniaturization. We have thin devices because we can; because displays don’t need to be the massive, bulbous CRTs of yore. We have fewer buttons and knobs because we don’t need them. And, Jony Ive, at Apple, was following in the footsteps of his great influence Dieter Rams, whose ten principles for good design were Ive’s guide. Discussing Apple design without looking backward to the history of design, especially of electronic devices post-war, is useless.

The transistor radio I had when I was in my early teens was minimalist compared to radios that preceded it; the Walkman I had in 1980 was minimalist compared to boom boxes. The car I drive is minimalist compared to the fin-adorned Chevys of the 1950s. Minimalism in design is a long trend. What is different is that the word is used now to market devices (though I don’t ever recall hearing anyone at Apple utter that word), and perhaps that is just a recognition that the term has become mainstream.

Source: The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism | Life and style | The Guardian