Archive for August, 2009

Escape from the crazy house

A toddler girl crying

Image via Wikipedia

Working from home is usually great. It’s nice to simply walk upstairs to have lunch with my family. Having the flexibility to get some work done after-hours is awesome.  Having my kids knock on the door and tell me about their latest accomplishment is priceless.  Most days I can honestly say that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Today is not one of those days.

My wife and I returned from our trip to Florida earlier in the week and we were blessed to have family pitch in and watch the kids while we were gone. Everyone said the girls were pretty much angels. While I love to hear that, what it means is that they’ve actually stored up all their naughtyness for our return home.




And more screaming.

It’s downright awful. I feel bad for my wife who has to deal with it the most, while I lock myself in my office in an attempt to get work done.  But my door can only block out so many decibels, and have moved to my favorite wifi hotspot for the afternoon. Now I’m trying to get some programming done and drinking a delicious Newcastle Brown Ale in an attempt to get back to the low level of stress I attained with a week away. Serenity now!

I really have no great profound advice to go along with this post, just that the flexibility we have to work from Anywhere (home) also gives us the flexibility to escape a temporary nightmare (aka hectic environment) with minimal consequences.  In other words, if you need to get away, have a beer, and get work done…do it!

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Live the Anywhere Lifestyle for cheap with LessCabinFever

LessCabinFeverWhile I was at BizConf last week, I ended up talking to a guy who was living a similar lifestyle to mine: husband and father of young kids who works from home running his own business. We got onto the topic of how our careers really give us the flexibility to work pretty much wherever we want. He said that his family recently spent a few weeks in the mountains and he was able to work remotely and keep up with his business duties, all while getting some vacation time in as well.  

He then told me about a site called LessCabinFever where you can actually swap houses with other folks who are looking to do the same thing.  Today I checked it out and thought it looked pretty cool even though there aren’t many listings on there at this point. I expect the listing quantity to grow as this is a great idea, especially for us Work Anywhere folks.  

You’ll now see my Grand Rapids home listed among the few listings they’ve got up.  Setting up an account and creating the listing was super easy and I’ll keep you posted on any swaps I make in the future.  After a week in Florida, I’m totally up for escaping to warmer areas in the future (especially in the winter!).

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Quick and easy proofing with FineTuna

FineTunaI posted a link to this app on Twitter today, but wanted to re-post here on AnywhereMan for anyone in the community that needs to send an occasional design or layout proof to clients.  I had to send a two-page flyer proof to a client today and wanted them to be able to make simple markups to it, such as “move this here”, “change this text”, “remove this”, etc.  

Enter FineTuna, a super easy way to send and comment on proofs.  You don’t even need an account.  Simply upload your image file or point to it’s location on the web and you’re all set. You’re proof will be assigned a unique URL that you can simply send to your client (or you can email them from the app itself).  Just bookmark that URL and you can get back to the working proof at any time.  

There’s nothing super complex about the functionality of FineTuna. Just add comments, draw lines, etc, but it works great for a simple review process.  They also offer a plugin for Firefox that allows you to create instant screenshots of the page you’re on and upload direct to FineTune (but it wasn’t working for my version of FF…bummer!).

I thought some of you Anywhere folks would find this useful for remote collaboration processes. Enjoy!

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Update from BizConf

I’ve been having a blast at BizConf here on Amelia Island just outside of Jacksonville. The conference ended last night and the number of quality folks I met and the knowledge I gained are truly priceless. The accommodations at the Ritz Carlton aren’t too shabby either. :-) Seriously, this place is incredible.

Many thanks go out to Obie Fernandez and the Hashrocket folks for putting on such a wonderful conference, and to Jason Sadler at for holding the contest that got me here in the first place. I had a chance to hang out with Jason and he’s super awesome.

Check out the BizConf Flickr feed for some photos from the conference.

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Off to BizConf

BizConfAs someone who spends a lot of his time working alone, it’s very important to get out and interact with people on a regular basis (social media interactions don’t count). It’s also important to take vacations (which can be a little tougher to do when you don’t get paid-time-off…ah the freelance life!).  

This week I’ll get to combine these two things as I fly down to the Jacksonville, FL area for a learning and networking conference called BizConf. As I mentioned earlier, I actually won this trip and am blessed to have my airfare, meals, and lodging all provided. It’s a two day conference put on by Jacksonville Rails firm Hashrocket.

Honestly, I’m totally pumped to meet a bunch of other web app developers and attend the wide variety of sessions being offered. Presenters will be covering everything from running your business to photography to productivity to communication…lots of great topics. The coolest thing is that there are only 75 attendees, so a great chance to really get to know not only the other attendees but the presenters as well. 

I’ll hopefully be tweeting from the conference, and if any topics covered are relevant to the Anywhere Lifestyle, I’ll try to highlight them here on AnywhereMan.  I’m guessing some of my fellow attendees are living the Anywhere Life like me, so maybe I’ll even meet some good folks to profile in a future post.

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Profile: Jason Sadler at

Jason at IWearYourShirtHe loves social media. He loves promoting other companies. He loves taking pictures and making videos.

He loves shirts.

Of all the discoveries I’ve made on Twitter in the past year, none have been as entertaining nor engaging as Jason Sadler. Jason wears shirts, just like you and me (or most of us). But the thing is, he actually gets paid to wear shirts, starting with $1 on January 1st steadily increasing by $1 each day until he hits $365 for December 31st.

If you do the math on that you’ll realize Jason will be making a nice $60,000+ salary this year.  And that doesn’t include monthly sponsorships which cost $1500/month. 

So what does the price for a day get you? Jason will Tweet about you (to his 15,000+ followers), talk about you on Facebook, write you up in his blog, do a live video on Ustream, put together a daily recap video (always entertaining!), and take pictures throughout the day and post them on Flickr…all while wearing whatever shirt you want to have him wear. 

Oh yeah, and don’t bother trying to book him to wear your company’s shirt this year because he’s all sold out. And so is almost half of 2010 already. (Act fast to get in on the action!)

Did I already mention he gets paid to wear shirts? Why did you or I not think of this?

The reason I’m introducing you to Jason here on AnywhereMan is that he is the perfect example of someone living the Anywhere Lifestyle. Since he is getting paid to wear shirts, and a person can (and generally should) wear shirts in all locations, Jason is able to take his “work” with him. Just this past week he was in New York City and was able to do his daily social media routine there. In the past he’s taken vacations and gone on other trips without missing a beat. All the guy needs is web access and a shirt and he’s good to go.

I encourage you to check out, get involved with Jason’s shirt-wearing antics, and even tune in for his daily Ustream show.  Plus, the guy gives a lot of stuff away…or at least his sponsors do.  You’ll have to check out the winner of the June contest.  That being said, I look forward to meeting Jason in person this coming week at BizConf! (as well as his buddy Evan who will be sharing shirt-wearing duties with Jason in 2010)

Jason’s business idea is something that inspires me, the AnywhereMan. Just think of the risk of selling a day of shirt-wearing for $1 on January 1st in hopes that doing it for cheap then would result in the reward of people being willing to pay $365 by the end of the year. That risk has paid off, Jason is able to really mold his work around his lifestyle, and his followers are getting an entertaining dose of super awesome antics…and shirts.

PS – Vote for Jason in the StartupNation Home Based 100 contest.

IWearYourShirt Sample Platter:

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Submit topic ideas for AnywhereMan relevant to freelance and telework

AnywhereMan To DoOne of the things I really want to accomplish with AnywhereMan is to really create a sub-community within the growing freelance and telework communities.  As part of this smaller group, we can hold open discussions regarding topics relevant to us, ask for and offer advice to fellow community members, and really just encourage each other through our interactions both on this blog itself and outside its “walls.” (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc)

So at this point, as I sit here in my [plastic] adirondack chair watching the sunset from my backyard (as an Anywhere should), I ask you: What topics would you like to see covered on AnywhereMan?  Things like daily scheduling, productivity, hardware, software, home office, mobile technologies, work/life balance, lifestyle design, getting in to a telework positiong, making the leap to freelance work…OR ANYTHING! And really, I will not claim to have all the answers. I see my role on AnywhereMan as a facilitator bringing methods, ideas, and questions of his own to the table. 

I’ve got plenty of topics lined up but I want to make sure that we as a growing community are having an active discussion relevant to the readers.  To me, the best part of social media is the new definition of WWW: World Wide Watercooler. 

The AnywhereMan watercooler is now open.

What would you like to discuss here pertaining to the freelance and telework lifestyle? Submit any and all ideas!

Even pajama recommendation requests will do!

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Am I enjoying myself?

IMG_0620 One of my daughters is busy making "crafts" in our living room right now. By that I mean there is a mess of stamps, stickers, paper, tape, pencils, and crayons dominating the layout of our table. She loves her craft time. Who knows what she’ll create today? It’s always something exciting…to a parent at least.

She just walked up and showed me her latest creation: a paper moon with tape hanging all over it.  It was…well…what you’d expect a four year old to make when given the previously mentioned tools and materials.  As she handed the creation over, she asked me if I thought she had done a good job.

Of course I answered, "Yes."

But then I felt inclined to ask her if she enjoyed making her latest craft.  She said she did, and I reminded her that is what’s important when she’s working on these things. It’s not always how good her artistic creations are, but if she’s enjoying herself, that will lead to good things.

It’s been said before, and it sounds so simple and stupid, but that totally applies to my lifestyle as a freelancer. It’s good to ask, "Am I enjoying myself?" on a regular basis. Sure, there are many tasks in our careers that we need to suck up and just deal with, but if in our career as a whole we answer that question with a "No", then it’s time to consider our options.

This is exactly what led me from a regular job to a telework opportunity, and later from that opportunity to taking the leap of running my own freelance business full-time.  In fact, I still ask myself that question almost daily, and it helps me focus on the direction I want to take my business.

Are you enjoying yourself?

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The difference a battery can make

Rusty batteryThe battery on my notebook PC has been almost completely dead for a few months, thus I’ve had to keep myself close to an outlet lately.  A few times I’ve even gone in the garage, grabbed a super long extension cord, and gone through the rest of the hassle of moving my “office” out to the hammock. (Fresh air is important, especially here in MN where we’re stuck indoors half the year!)

Every room in my house does, in fact, have multiple outlets, but this tedious act of putting my notebook on “sleep”, unplugging the power cord, fetching it from behind my desk, and taking the whole system with me has been a pain in the rear-hind (a word invented by my 4 year-old). Lately I’ve found myself tending to stay in my home office.

Today I got a new battery, twice the capacity of my old one. Life is good. I’m on my couch in my living room right now catching up on blogs, following up on emails, and enjoying the freedom that the lack of being plugged-in can bring. Really I’m only feet away from my office, but it doesn’t matter. I have the freedom. I have the “power.” (isn’t that a He-Man line?)

Anyways, just wanted to point out that sometimes just a little thing like a battery and the freedom to move around the house can make a big difference in attitude and mindset. I’m getting work done right now, but really I feel like I’m doing it on my terms and out of my own free will as I’m not stuck in the same place I spend most of my day.  You’ll find that I’m big on the atmosphere of the place I get work done…mood, sights, sounds, etc. A simple thing like a new battery has re-opened my options.  

Other things can have this very same effect. Re-arranging a room, getting a new light in your office, moving your office to another room of the house, putting your desk against another wall, new speakers for your music, a new monitor, etc.  Little things make a big difference when you have the option to be Anywhere but are sometimes stuck in one general area for a while.

Do something different today.

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It’s not what happens to you, but how you react…

epictetus01 I posted this quote by Epictetus on my Twitter account today just as a reminder of how so much of life is how we react and adapt to the situations thrown at us.  The more I think about it, the more I see this can really be applied to our lives as Anywhere People as well. 

In these days of crappy economies, bailouts, and layoffs (in the USA at least), many people are being thrown into situations where they are out of a job and are forced to do what they can to pay their bills and earn a living.  I agree with what the folks at Outright call it on one of their blogs: “Unintentional Entrepreneur”.  That about sums it up perfectly!

Many people out there are without jobs right now. As a freelancer, I often feel as if I have to find a new “job” every month in the form of a new project or new client.  But getting discouraged NEVER does any good. Sure, millions of people are totally getting the short end of the stick right now, and we should voice our displeasure with these things. However, look forward: You STILL have abilities, skills, talents, aptitudes, creativity, etc. 

I honestly believe that the best kind of innovation comes in the form of grass-roots entrepreneurial movements.  Focus! Innovate! Create! Do what you do best, do it some more, and you’ll figure out how to make money doing it.

I echo Gary Vaynerchuk’s sentiments exactly: Wipe the tears away, get out there, and Crush It!

Let’s make the move from corporate-driven back to entrepreneur-driven economies.

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