Monday, December 17, 2007

What The Hell Is A Personal Maintenance Day?

Personal Maintenance Day
I try to take two days a week off for personal maintenance: Sundays and Thursdays. Life is one of those positions where flexible scheduling is mandatory, so this doesn't always work out. Even if you don't get paid sick days, everybody's entitled to some personal maintenance days.

We all have stress. From the acute stresses of traffic or a tight deadline to the longer lasting types of stress like a failing relationship or a crappy job, it is literally impossible to have zero stress. Consider also the technological times in which we live. We are now able, as a society, to be exposed to more potentially stressful information than ever before. Political scandal, economic troubles, environmental issues, and an almost disturbing variety in the amount of cell phone plans that are available are just a few of the things that were mostly only important to our grandparents on a local level. Now we can find out the gas prices on the other side of the world at the click of a button.

It's easy to get stressed out. I always hear people saying that they "need a vacation." Vacations are nice once in awhile, but it's not real practical to plan one every time you forget to charge your phone or some jackoff decides to cut in front of you on the freeway. Besides, almost every time somebody I know goes on vacation, I end up learning aound a week and a half later that they now need a "vacation from their vacation." Even getting away for a break from your stressors is stressful. How much luggage to carry, travel and lodging arrangements, cash or credit? Ungh.

What's a stressed out person to do? Take a personal maintenance day! Yeah, that was an exclamation point. It's something to get excited about. Every vehicle needs maintenance, whether it's a skateboard or space shuttle. The same principle applies to you, if for very different reasons.

So what the hell is a personal maintenance day? At first glance, you're likely thinking about grooming. The words personal and maintenance, when butted up against one another just so, frequently inspire ideas of neatly trimmed moustaches, scrubbed teeth, polished nails or shaven legs. That's not the kind of maintenance I'm talking about. Think about that vehicle I mentioned earlier. When you bring your car in to the mechanic for scheduled maintenance for example, does it get a paint job? Not at all. Oftentimes it doesn't even get so much as a soapy sponge dragged across its exterior. The maintenance is done deep down in the guts, within the engine or transmission.

I think of a personal maintenance day as a day off from whatever it is I am doing every other day. An internal changing of gears. So yes, your personal maintenance day might include a spa treatment but again, this only counts because of the de-stressing it brings to you psychologically, on the inside. A haircut because your sister made a comment about your split ends doesn't count, the same haircut because you want to catch up with the latest gossip from your stylist is more like it.

This is where the personal part becomes important. Changing your activities and their pace for the day to those that are less stressful for you is the key.

Sometimes a day to just focus on things that you can't (or just don't) normally get to is just what the doctor ordered. I try to keep Thursday available as a personal maintenance day, and you'll never guess how I spend most of it: cleaning the house. Sounds stressful, right? Not so much for me on Thursday. I abhor cleaning the house most of the time, so I have a tendency toward avoiding it like the plague. But for some reason, if I step away from the computer and turn the music up loud enough, I really get into it. At the end of the day, I can step back and be happy with how nice everything looks, the kids run around twice as hard, and the wife comes home in a much better mood.

Think about your situation. Do you spend too much time on the couch? Maybe a long bicycle ride, a sports league, yoga or kickboxing classes could be part of your personal maintenance. Work outside all the time? Maybe you want to tape Oprah all week and spend five hours on Sunday watching them all.

You could even dedicate a portion of your personal maintenance day toward listing things to do on future maintenance days. This way you'll be getting interst on your maintenance investment. Whatever it is, just make sure to allow yourself some scheduled time toward something completely different than the usual stressful humdrum so you don't breakdown from lack of maintenance.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Six Ways To Keep Your Lover And Blog Readers Clamoring For More

Clamoring For More

You learned in school that your lovers will share many traits with your parent of the opposite sex. Bet you never thought about how much your lover has in common with the people who read your blog, did you? Well, think about it today, because here are six tips to help you score big with both.

Props go to Brian Clark for inspiring this post.

Do something different.


After a little experimenting, you will discover some things that work well consistently, and earn you some kudos. It's easy to get into the rut of returning to these standby techniques over and over, like Pavlov's dog.

Don't be afraid to experiment a little. You will likely find something that gets their attention in a better, or at the very least, different way. And remember, experimenting is how you came up with those standby techniques in the first place, Romeo.

Make it all about them.


You can talk about yourself all day if you want to, but people will stop listening. Show that you are genuinely interested in the other person, either by showering them with attention whether they deserve it or not, or by gently asking them for feedback.

And would it kill you to show up with flowers once in awhile, just because?

Don't be afraid to brag a little.


Sure, your lover and your readers might already know how awesome you are. What about everybody else out there who don't already know? Someone has to tell them how awesome you are.

The trick is to keep it to just a little. Mention one or two of your best (and most pertinent) qualities or achievements in appropriate situations, and leave it at that. When every conversation starts becoming about you, you, you, it's time to change it up. See the above tip.

Be honest, not brutal


Honesty really is the best policy. Ask anybody who's had to learn to be honest, and they'll tell you the same.

With that having been said, remember that sometimes a question never asked is what it is because it need never be answered. A person can live an honest life without ever asking or telling how many people they have slept with, or if their books or blogs are written under a psuedonym.

Think before you speak...


...or hit the publish button. Remember that once you have said something, you really can never completely take it back.

By all means, apologize proptly when you screw up, but bear in mind that the slate is never completely clean.

Quit Complaining


We all have problems. Maybe you have a headache tonight, or maybe your pagerank went down to zero. While it's essential to your well-being to vent to some extent, you can't just leave the vent open 24/7.

Hey, it's a free country and you're allowed to complain if you want, but that doesn't mean you should make it your primary purpose in life. Your mojo points and RSS subscribers will drop like hot rocks if all you do is complain.

There are so many people who do this, Bloggrrl wrote a post just to complain about it!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Migrating Classic Blogger To Wordpress (Video)

I held out with blogger for a long time, mainly because it's completely free. Having recently discovered that visitors cannot leave comments that include their URLs, it has really hit home how little control I have over my blog presence with this platform. I don't want it to sound like a huge bitch-fest, because I understand and appreciate that Blogger is free, and it has served me well enough for the time I have used it. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (translation: I don't want them to delete my blog).

With that having been said, I have a feeling that I'm not the only pissed off person who doesn't want to alienate their visitors in this fashion, and has been waiting for an excuse to move to Wordpress and give one of those dofollow plugins a try. Lifecruiser has been good enough to post some detailed instructions on moving away from blogger, a move I have decided is right for me at this time.

I wasn't sure how the migration would go with my classic template, so I did a dry run using a test server and a fresh Wordpress installation. Fortunately for you, I got the whole thing on video screen capture using a free screen capture tool I found.

video


It's not exactly Hollywood quality cinematography, and toward the second half my voice starts getting way ahead of the video. What're you gonna do, right? It does show, however, how easy it is to make the switch for those bloggers who are still holding out for fear of technical difficulties.

I only did minor preparations before recording, and these were in the interest of shaving a little time off the video. These things were:

  • installed Wordpress (which is only a couple clicks and takes only a few minutes)

  • deleted the default "Hello World" post

  • opened up the login pages for my new Wordpress installation and Blogger

  • pre-typed the login information into above

  • opened notepad and named an empty text file


That's really all, and the video ends up being just over six minutes long. Keep in mind too, that users of the "new" blogger XML templates (a majority, I believe) will be able to skip logging into Blogger and doing anything in there at all, which accounts for much of this six-ish minutes. I was forced to do this only by my previous refusal to give way to change (a decision I will stand by, since it ultimately means I'll only end up having to design the site twice, rather than thrice), as the import is only supposed to work with the "new" style blogger blogs.

Of course, it takes some time to pick out a domain name and get hosting but hey, it's the holiday season. You have to expect to do a little shopping. I already have my new domain name in the oven. Stick around for the reveal.

I know it's a pain in the ass to comment here now, but if anybody brings themselves to going through the grueling process, make sure to paste a URL into the comment so I can give out some manual link love. Yeah, I said it.

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Five Ways To Lose Blog Readership

Panic
This one's for the bloggers out there. Every once in awhile, I like to post a good list. This seems to happen fairly often when there are a bunch of drafts I am trying to get finished, and need to bang out a post so my loyal readers (that's you!) know I haven't keeled over and died over the weekend.

Fail to post for an entire year. Guilty as charged. It is advisable to post every day on a new blog, in order to garner interest in what you have to say. I agree that posts should come often, though I personally am not in the habit of posting much on the weekends. Monday seems to be a good day for readership, I'm guessing that this has to do with people reading when they get back to work or school. Saturdays are almost always the weakest days for my blogs, with Fridays and Sundays standing a decent chance of lesser readership as well, especially during widespread nice weather.

Make your readers jump through hoops in order to comment. Oftentimes, people will stumble onto your blog by way of a link from another blog or site, or from a search, and have an opinion on your content. Remember, it's these interactions that make a blog a blog in the first place, so avoid blogging in such a manner that a casual reader won't be able to comment without logging in. Make it easy for otheres to join in on the conversation, or risk pissing your readers off.

Post your everyday play-by-play. This one isn't set in stone, since many people have blogs which are specifically intended to keep in touch with family and close friends. If, however, you are blogging towards a slightly larger audience, you should really think twice before spitting out hourly posts with titles like I Finally Got That Crap Off The Wall Behind The Wastebasket or You Won't Believe What Color My Cat's Diarrhea Is Today. Posting often is important, but not if you're just going to write bullshit.

Don't Link To Anybody. I have somewhere in the vicinity of a zillion blogs in my reader. Every day I find posts that are relvevant to whatever it is that I'm writing about, or better yet, give me a fresh idea or two, and I sprinkle links to these into my own posts. If you're blogging, you should be doing this too. I could only think of two or three reasons why linking is one of the things that makes bloggers bloggers, so I defer here to Penelope Trunk's more comprehensive list.

Post Too Much. "But Chris," I can hear you wondering, "You just said that not posting enough was a problem. Now posting too much is no good, either?" That's right. In fact, I just finished getting rid of a bunch of feeds for this very reason. I enjoyed some of the content, but find that I simply cannot devote the time to wading through 30 posts a day from one blog. It makes me a little frazzled to open up the reader and see an insane number of unread posts. Anything exceeding 800, I generally consider insane. There was actually a small study published about this very topic earlier this year, see for yourself.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

About You

You've seen my about page. This is the page where you get to tell a little about yourself, and also see who else has been reading.

I'd really appreciate it if you'd take a minute to let me know a little about you, it helps to prevent me from feeling like I'm talking to myself.

You don't have to give out your address or anything, but I'd be interested in knowing what kind of work or business you've tried from home, if any, and what types of things you like or don't like about Zero Commute.

By the way (and this is important), I completely stole this idea from Pearl over at fresh-perspectives.net. You can see her implementation of it here.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

About Me

My name is Chris, and I've always believed that there are better ways to earn a living than getting paid a salary or an hourly wage (as decided by someone else). These don't seem to go up as quickly as the cost of living sometimes, and if you have to do twice as much work one day, you likely aren't going to get paid twice as much.

I've tried a number of things, some have met with wild success, while many have met with quite the opposite, or worse.

Zero Commute is dedicated to discussing various ways to make money from home. These include telecommuting, freelancing, blogging and various kinds of businesses that you can start on your own. Especially of interest are any kinds of businesses which can be started without having to have huge amounts of startup capital available.

I am always willing to look at success stories or guest posts, so don't be afraid to let me know if you have some of these.
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Monday, November 27, 2006

Are You a Work at Home Scam Magnet?

Do you need to find a job where you can work at home, and need to do it today? Do you need a few hundred dollars this Friday in order to pay for last month's heating bill?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you need to step back and look at the big picture. Not your work at home needs, nor your bank account, but the big picture of the internet. You need to take a step outside of yourself or you're going to get scammed.

True Story: My mother came over this weekend to hang out with us and the kids, and we got to talking about about work at home stuff, as we often do. She told me that she stumbled across an "opportunity" where she could cash checks for some third party, and she would keep 20 percent or something.

Let me tell you, the only reason I didn't smack the crap out of her is because she gave birth to me.

The point: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If somebody can make 200 bucks by cashing a check (without risking some jail time), why the hell are they going to pay you to do it?
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