Archive for March, 2011

How I Conquered My Gmail Inbox With ActiveInbox


Just wanted to give a quick testimonial for a Chrome/Firefox plugin that turns your Gmail inbox into an absolute “getting things done” (GTD) factory. It’s called ActiveInbox and I am proud to say it’s allowed me to finally create a good system of managing tasks, follow-up items, and project-related items within my Gmail inbox.

I use Gmail interfaces for both my personal and business accounts, and I find that (especially with my business account) many of the items that get emailed to me are tasks: Update this, change that, etc. With ActiveInbox, I can assign those emails as task to specific projects, give them a due date, and even leave associated internal notes.

A few weeks ago I had literally thousands of emails in my inboxes, and after a day with ActiveInbox I was at inbox zero with both of them. I consider that a major victory.

Have you used this plugin? If so, share your story and experience in the comments below.

For the rest of you, check out ActiveInbox today.

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Get 5 GB of Storage Free with Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Cloud Drive image

Amazon Cloud Drive image

Ironically I was just sitting down to figure out a good system for my wife to back up her photos when I noticed the announcement on Amazon about their new Cloud Drive service which offers 5 GB of storage for free.

You can upgrade to premium plans with additional storage, and if you purchase a full MP3 album from the Amazon store they’ll give you a year of 20 GB storage for free.

Check out the Cloud Player, too, which allows you to listen to get those gigs and gigs of music off your local drive yet playable from anywhere.

Anywhere? Hey I kind of like that.

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The levitating ice

Signs of Spring: Levitating Ice

Live Your Life On Purpose With Help From Michael Hyatt


Creating Your Personal Life Plan cover

I just signed up for Michael Hyatt‘s email list so that I could download his new e-book, Creating Your Personal Life Plan.  I haven’t even read it in full yet but after just skimming through the topics I can already tell it’s going to be a good one.

There are so many things in life that we plan: vacations, projects, events…but do we ever set out a plan for our life itself? I certainly haven’t and I can’t help but think planning everything else would get that much simpler if I had a set of goals and actionable items for my life as a whole.

Definitely take the time to sign up for Michael’s email list and download this free e-book. Also, his blog is one of my favorites so go ahead and add that to your reader app. Lots of great topics on everything from leadership to technology to lifehacks to book reviews. A goodie-bag of awesomeness.

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Re-Thinking My Approach To Billing

After last week’s discussion on Freelance Jam – specifically the portion about billing based on hours versus a flat fee – I’ve been analyzing my entire billing system. For the past three years I’ve billed based on hours and it’s worked fine.

However, in the past few months I’ve been taking on bigger projects. I also feel like I’ve dramatically improved my design and development process. And I’m also realizing that the better I define the project scope and strategy up front, the better the project turns out. I’d love to invest more time into that but I’ve always done things somewhat “open-ended”  (read charged by the hour) to allow clients to change their minds along the way. But that seems to be incredibly in-efficient, especially when working on larger projects.

I still don’t have a complete plan for making the switch to flat fees, but it’s looking like that’s the direction I will go. Herre are a few of the articles I’ve been reading that are making me re-think the whole billing thing:

So if anything, in Freelance Jam’s short existence so far, it’s helping me evaluate my very own freelance business. Hopefully it’s doing the same to some extent for our viewers.

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Freelance Jam #2: Getting Paid

Check out this week’s Freelance Jam show, complete with our first guest! Having a great time so far.

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The Quick Summary and Review of 37signals’ Rework

Cover of "Rework"

Cover of Rework

My summary of the book: Focus on the essentials of your business – the pieces that are most important – and stop thinking or worrying about anything else until absolutely necessary. And be flexible.

My review: Excellent book. An easy read and lots of very very practical advice for businesses of any size.

Check it out (affiliate link).

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The State of the Freelancer by Freshbooks


Freshbooks posted this info-graphic today with some very interesting statistics regarding people who consider themselves freelancers. Freshbooks has access to fantastic, real data as they are one of the top invoicing apps for freelancers (Hey, I love Freshbooks!).

The stat that stuck out the most to me was that 24.5% of freelancers have never worked a full-time job. Can you really know how good you’ve got it as a freelancer when you’ve never worked for the man?

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The Butt Card

Saw this card in hanging on the bulletin board at the doctor’s office this morning. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything relevant to this blog. It just made me chuckle.

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Do You Use Twitter?

Twitter logo initial

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Twitter’s fifth birthday. Happy Birthday, Twitter!

For me personally, Twitter has been a major component in connecting with others in my field, connecting with potential clients, and keeping a pulse on trends and topics that are relevant to my business.

In fact, I’ve got a call this afternoon to discuss a project with a client that I initially responded to on Twitter a few years back. He was complaining about his then current web developer. I stepped in and offered my services. We struck up a great working relationship and are now onto new projects.

I still remember my Twitter “aha” moment that started soon after I started freelancing full-time. I even wrote a post about my initial discoveries.

So, do you use Twitter? It almost seems like a silly question. I know most of you probably do, but maybe some of you don’t. Why or why not?

If you DO use Twitter, how has it helped you and/or your business or career? Has it ever hurt your brand in any way?

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