Jay's Journey

Chronicling my wisdom just for you. You're welcome.

This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on March 31st, 2018.

When I look around, I see an unending amount of examples of people just simply getting in their own way. I’m sure I do this as well, but it’s easier to look outward rather than inward sometimes.

Mainly because I strive to be efficient and save time, without sacrificing quality, every chance I get.

For me, time is more valuable than money. For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked at time in this way. I value it, I hate to waste it, and I resent others who just piss it away freely and without a second thought.

Time is the probably the ONE thing you can’t get back, make more of, stop, or even slow down. And, so, for me, time is a precious unit that I can’t bear to waste.

But, aside from a few exceptions, most people just don’t care how much time they waste. It gets rather frustrating.

Sometimes I feel like I’m alone in a sea of people who all do things in the worst way possible, wasting so much time without giving it a thought, and I’m the one guy who really tries to get it done faster, easier, and with much less stress.

Today is a great example. A week ago, I sent an email to someone detailing exactly what I was needing from them and why. My thought was that if I explain this ONCE, I won’t have to answer questions piece-meal, one email question followed by one email answer at a time.

The alternative would be to drag out a simple 5 minute request to instead be spread across several days, with multiple emails for the one simple request (borrow 2 company laptops for testing software).

In other words, I was trying to be efficient by getting it all done in one shot. I know, silly me, what was I thinking?

My email goes a week unanswered. Sigh. So now, I have to send another email to follow up to the one I already sent, basically re-requesting what I already spent time requesting the first time.

The good news is, the second email worked. The question for me is: Why did it take TWO emails to get ONE response?

Ok, so, in this person’s reply, he adds another person to the CC, and says that he’s directing my request to her and that I can work with her to get what I’m requesting.

Great... another person to have to work through to possibly NOT get what could be given in 5 minutes.

And, so I send the obligatory reply, thanking Mr. One Week for his reply, and then have to acknowledge the new person on the email, offering to work with her and help her in any way necessary to complete my request. (It’s TWO laptops to test some software on, that’s it!)

Which in turn begins another loud-sigh moment. She replied, and adds YET ANOTHER person onto the email, saying that I’ll need to set up some time to discuss my “needs” with her and this new person.

All when the original request is typed out TWICE in the email thread below her message.

So, now I have to set up a meeting to request two laptops that were already requested twice before, so they can understand what I’m asking with at best a 50% chance that they can actually fulfill my request, or instead, and more likely, send me over to someone else.

And I know what you’re thinking, because it’s exactly what I’m thinking. Just write back and reference the other emails below and save the time in the meeting.

And you’re thinking that, and I’m thinking that, because it would be efficient, and the fastest, even easiest way to get things done.

HOWEVER, we’re dealing with people who just couldn’t care about doing anything the easy way. And so, my daily uphill battle in Corporate America continues, just as it always has, and always will... with no improvement in sight.

HOPELESS SIGH...

tags: #observations #rants #thoughts #opinion

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Gmail, not my computer Image credit: Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash

Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a generally negative view of Google as an email provider, let alone a corporation. Back in the day, when I didn't know any better, I loved using Google's email, calendar, and docs.

The ease and simplicity of using their services was just too good to be true. And, it turns out, it actually was.

When news story after news story came out about Google's downright evil corporate surveillance of it's users, I stopped using Gmail and Docs many years ago. I also vowed never to use these services ever again.

And I get it. They're a business, and since I didn't pay a dime for these amazing services, they should be allowed to make money somehow from the services they offer. Which is why I chose not to use their services as I eventually learned, I was the product.

To be clear, I do have a Gmail account, but that's just to be able to create playlists, like videos, and comment on YouTube. I don't actually use the email or the docs.

So, I never thought I'd say it, but here we are, and I'm just as shocked as you are. I'm going to miss Google. And that means that at work, they're in the process of migrating us all off Google Workspace over to M365, which is Microsoft's attempt at email and collaboration.

More like Microsoft's email and convolution. Ugh. Thankfully, it'll take a while before I have to use M365.

I'm no stranger to M365 as I used it for my small side-business because I refuse to use Google products, let alone pay for them. So, I know what awaits me when my employer makes the switch, and I'm kind of dreading it.

Having had to use Google Workspace at work, I've become more and more impressed with Google Workspace's ability to actually get work done. The collaboration features are really solid. But what's been even more surprising to me was the individual tools that enable me to get work done.

Little things like the ability to click a button in your calendar entry to create a pre-formatted Meeting Notes document that fully references your meeting from the calendar entry itself. From there, you're asked if you want to share that same document with your attendees – where, because it's Google Docs, you can all view and edit simultaneously. What's more, when you create bullets, you also have the ability to assign bullets as tasks to any of the attendees.

Yeah, Microsoft let's you do that, kinda, with Teams, and Word and Sharepoint, and Outlook fat client, etc. Not as smooth or out-of-your-way easy like Google does it, and, you've got about 3 different tools to do the same thing. Thus, making it hard for a work team to know which tool to use for which task.

The result of this is that information your team needs is spread around several tools and storage locations. Sure, everything is really stored in Sharepoint, but it's disjointed and disparate.

Heck, OneNote doesn't even let you tag users STILL. After years of enterprise users begging Microsoft for the ability to @mention users in OneNote to be able to use OneNote in a task-collaborative manner, Microsoft still couldn't give a shit.

Google Meet is kinda meh, and it needs some updating in features, needing tighter integration with Google Drive, Keep, and Tasks. But from what I've seen with Google's ability to create a truly functional productivity suite, I'm sure it'll continue to get better over time.

Spaces in Google have really gotten pretty good. Spaces are virtual work rooms where chat, documents, and even tasks can be centralized and coordinated. Combined with the features that Google Drive and Docs offer, I'm just really impressed, and much more productive and efficient as an individual and as a member of work teams.

And, since my employer is footing the bill, I don't have to worry about betraying my principles. But, in secret, I really enjoy using Google Workspace as my project documents, emails, calendar, and the ability to stay organized and productive has never been better.

So, this is why I say, reluctantly, and albeit surprisingly, I'm going to really miss Google. Sigh.

tags: #technology #productivity #thoughts

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Look at me, I love to wake up early! Image credit: Zac Durant on Unsplash

Let's start off with the fact that I've had jobs in my life that required me to get up early. And, in several of those jobs I've had to pull all-nighters many times.

And, while in the military, I've pulled 36-hour shifts before. I really don't recommend that as the mind and body gets severely punished when that amount of a lack of sleep is forced upon your body. It physically hurts to move when you've gone that long without sleep and without the aid of some equally toxic or dangerous chemical stimulant.

Having done my time in the past when it comes to waking up before the sun, hitting the ground running, I really do prefer to not do that anymore. To be fair, I've been waking up before my alarm, most days, but not all.

I also find that with my weight loss, I'm requiring less sleep. But all of that doesn't matter for the purpose of this post. What I aim to rant about are these early risers that love to call meetings a full hour before I'm scheduled to start work for the day.

You have to know them. They're the ones that extoll the virtues of getting an early start to the day, how wonderful it is, and all that crap. Save it. I hate getting up early because my circadian rhythm has always been that of the opposite of most people.

Translation: I'm a night owl. I have been for as long as I can remember, and it still holds true to this day. So, while most people love waking up at 4am, 5am, 6am, I prefer to be going to bed at those times after being up all night.

So, these early risers, love scheduling calls first thing in the morning. Like, right at at a time that doesn't even allow you to log on, get settled, read your emails to address anything urgent. Nope. MEETING.

It's just stupid. And, by the way, what are you trying to prove to the world? That you're awesome because YOU like to wake up early, and get right to meetings? Trust me, you're not awesome, you're an idiot.

There's value in letting your team start work at a reasonable hour, letting them get their coffee, settle in, log on to see what landed in their inbox overnight that might need attention, THEN MEET.

Yeah, I know, I sound like an entitled Millennial, or a Gen Z. But, the difference is, I've paid my dues and done the whole waking up at zero-dark thirty for military and civilian jobs. I'm middle-aged now, and should have some say-so as to my schedule.

And actually, I do. Aside from the way-too-early meetings our directors like to have, most days and the schedules of me and my team are of my making.

I just can't stand the showy “look at me, I like to get an early start to my day, and everyone around me should, too!” types. The ones that do their early morning wakeup crap without trying to thrust it upon the rest of us are fine. You leave me alone, I'll leave you alone – you do you.

But for those of you that think the rest of us should conform to you. Well, fuck you. Fuck all y'all. I don't admire you, I don't envy you, and instead, I just loathe you. For the love of God, go take your early morning shit somewhere else.

tags: #rants

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This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on March 9th, 2018.

It's Not Always Crystal Clear

Today turned out to be a great day. The week? Not so much. But today turned out great.

At work, the project team I'm on was able to submit our deliverables. There wasn't instant agreement on the content of those deliverables, but we eventually did reach common ground, and submitted in time for our deadline.

That felt really good, as I will say that I had a big hand in finding that common ground with all team members.

And while I don't necessarily enjoy making decisions by committee (I prefer a hierarchical structure, but that's just me), it's how things work here, and so I can adapt.

I've been doing really well here. Better than well, excellent, actually. My performance reviews and rewards have been top notch. Tangible indicators that my contributions here are both respected and appreciated.

All in all, that feels great. Now combine that with the fact that we were able to come together as a team and pull out our most recent win has me simply stoked.

And, as I touted the team's latest victory to my manager, his question to me was, “What do you have planned for next week's [win]?”

While I said, “Sitting around the pool sipping pina coladas” in a joking manner, I really wasn't. But, alas, it was only a joke because it wouldn't be true.

I did forecast the team's next set of tasks and future wins, and that I do know to be truth. And he did, too, so he was good with my answers.

But there's something else that gave me a little extra pep in my step today.

I gained a bit of clarity... about what's next.

Not what's next week, but what's next for me as a person. Now, to be fair, I've had a lot of ideas about what I'd like to be next, or what I think I would like to be next, but turns out a lot of them were pretty fleeting.

Fun? Sure! But doable as my next thing? Not really.

So, you might ask: If you're doing so great at work, why are you thinking about what's next?

The answer is: Because, it's what I do.

Maybe it was the military, or maybe lessons learned while growing up, or earlier on in my IT career, but I always need a fallback plan.

It's not an option for me. In my time, I've found myself suddenly laid off more than once. Somehow, I've always managed to stay employed, and land on my feet.

I could say I've been really lucky, but I'm not sure it's all luck. Some of it has to be either preparation, or the ability to seize opportunities that arise from a sudden change of circumstance.

Those opportunities may not be immediately beneficial, but the smaller ones certainly do lead to larger ones.

So, in the back of my mind, I always ask myself the question: What if you lost your job tomorrow?

When I don't have a good answer, I feel vulnerable. I feel like I need to have an answer to that so that a sudden change in circumstances doesn't mean a sudden change in lifestyle.

And, for the past couple of years, I thought I had my what's next solved. Turns out, the ideas I came up could be an eventual thing, but not my absolute next thing.

Well, an epiphany has been brewing. It started as a small seed, but it's blossomed. And has now turned into an undeniable need to take action to make it real.

And, as it turns out, my next can serve as the basis of everything else I've wanted to do, even the eventual stuff.

This time, though, my what's next isn't just one thing, it's two things, with the option to turn into three.

But, in order to quench this thirst, I have to start with one. The one that is the heart of all else. The one that will help facilitate all my other wants and desires for what I'd want to do next if I found myself without a job.

What's more, my absolute next will also help me be better at my current job, perhaps even prolonging my usefulness here. And, it will also help me to possibly make extra money on the side, which would fund my other ventures and passions.

Ok, so what is this next thing I want to do that's got me so excited?

I want to become a copywriter. And right after that, a career and relationship coach for men.

So why a copywriter? When I set out to really think this through, I realized a few things about myself.

First is, I love to write. I find it to be relaxing and therapeutic. And no, just because I can write lengthy posts doesn't mean I'm actually any good at it.

So, becoming a copywriter will challenge me to improve my skills. Maybe say more with less words, make a larger impact with fewer lines on a page. I'll bolster my love for writing with the knowledge of knowing how to write better.

Second is, I want to make extra money. Can never have enough saved for a rainy day, or eventual retirement. Copywriting will give me several avenues in which to do this:

  1. I can write professionally as a freelance writer.
  2. I can write personally to promote products I believe in, and earn affiliate commissions based on my words and feelings about those products.
  3. I can use these skills to write copy for my life coaching website with actual skill and knowledge on how to make the most impact and land clients that would be excited to work with me.

For me, these are very practical reasons for wanting to learn how to be a copywriter. It's applicable here and now, and in the future.

If I found myself suddenly unemployed, my copywriting skills, and all that I intend to do with them could (potentially) enable me to launch an entire business based around this set of skills alone, offering me flexibility of time, hours, and even work location.

Is it any wonder, I'm walking around with my head help up high, smiling, and not feeling as vulnerable as before?

I've finally figured out “What's Next”, and it feels fantastic!

tags: # thoughts #reflections

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You've Got Mail! Photo credit: Yannik Mika at Unsplash

I don't mean too many emails, I mean too many email accounts. With emails all up in them as well. I've just got too many email accounts.

Why? Well, I kind of collect email accounts like some people collect purses, or shoes, or salt and pepper shakers. And this past weekend, I finally realized that it's not good.

Why do I collect email accounts in the first place? Well, mostly because I like to try out new email services. Let's face it, since email as a service is kinda boring, most email providers have to market their service as being unique.

You know, the whole, “A Unique Approach to Email” is the headline. And, to some extent, each email provider does do email a bit different than the other. So, I like trying that unique thing. And, over the years, it's translated to like close to 12 different email accounts. <—– I already updated that number like 3 times while writing this post as I keep remembering more accounts I have laying around.

Some accounts I pay for, and some I don't. The ones I don't pay for are an issue because the old saying goes that if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.

But, with a provider like Zoho (yes, I have an account with them), they'll give you a free account and won't do evil shit with your info. But, for places like Yahoo and Google, and even Microsoft, yeah, they do.

I ditched Yahoo years ago after they had the biggest email breach in human history. It's true, look it up. And, I have Gmail out of necessity because, you know, YouTube, but would ditch them entirely if I could – damn those digital crack dealers!

And, with different email accounts come different email addresses. And with different email accounts and email addresses comes email sprawl – email on many different servers in many parts of the world. And because most email providers offer an email migration tool of some kind, I'm a propagator of my own email across different services.

Because it's just. So. Easy!

I've been on a quest to find the email service that won't be evil with my email by snooping on or selling my data. Then, it needs to have function and utility to enable me to manage my email in a way that's fun, or at least in a way I don't hate it.

A huge bonus if the email service is end to end encrypted with zero knowledge, meaning the staff or third party contractors or anybody but me can't read my email.

Each email service tends to have it's own value triangle: Features, Zero Knowledge Encryption, Fun to Use – You can only pick two.

As I'd like to get this post out relatively quickly, I won't go into which service meets each of the elements of the value triangle, but maybe in another post.

For the purposes of this post, I've come to the realization that I have way too many email accounts, and this past weekend I started to do something about it.

I started by first embracing the fact that I can't have all three elements in the value triangle. Then, based on that, I decided that in order to have all three elements, I'll need TWO email accounts. One that does what I want without zero knowledge encryption while being fun to use and fast, and then one with zero knowledge encryption that can at least do the basics without sucking too bad.

I settled on the two that will get the job done for me in the way I need to and want to:

  • Fastmail as my daily driver: It's way fast, feature packed, and at least private, but without the zero knowledge encryption.
  • Protonmail as my virtual safe deposit box: Stuff I'd only want my spouse, priest, attorney, or doctor to know go in there. I also have their VPN service, so it's kinda free and I get a stupid amount of storage, like 500GB.

And, by doing that, I feel relieved. Like I'm getting a handle on things.

Now, for all the email addresses that I have out there. I'd started using an email masking and forward service a couple of years ago called SimpleLogin.io. It's great because you can create an email alias, on the fly even, for every website you have to sign up for some kind of an online account.

It's also great for signing up for newsletters, basically, anything you have to give out your email address for. Instead of giving out your real email address that they can sell, give them an alias instead.

Then, when that alias email address is sold or compromised in some data breach (which happens daily now), you can easily disable that alias in the SimpleLogin dashboard.

So, just today I had to register for jury duty. On the county's website, I created an alias on the fly of the countyname@mydomain.com. And now that email alias forwards email to the actual mailbox of my choosing. SimpleLogin also allows you to specify multiple mailboxes to send that email to.

That doesn't really help me as I'm a recovering email account collector, but it's good to know I can do that if I want. So, with that service, I can also give people an email address that I can determine where it lands. It saves people from having to always update my email address, or even have to keep several of them in my addressbook entry.

I just give them one address, and whichever or how ever many email services I use on the back end, all they need be concerned with is the one email address I gave them.

So, the next step is to take the next week or two, and pull all my emails off these other services other than the two I've decided to use, and cancel the rest. Until I fall off the wagon again, that is.

tags: #technology #reflections #productivity

If you like my work and you received value from this post, please consider buying me a coffee:

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This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on February 14th, 2018.

Hey! Not Fair!

While at a Super Bowl party a couple Sundays ago, I overheard two guys talking while I was grabbing my Buffalo wings. These guys, who were each wearing their favorite football team's jerseys, with neither of their teams actually in the game, were sharing why they “hate” Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

“It's like, this guy [Tom Brady] is in the Super Bowl every single year”, one of them said. And then the other one continued, “Yeah, and the Patriots? Really? Couldn't some other team get a chance to play for once?”

What I Was Thinking

Thankfully my back was turned to them, because it took all I had to keep from laughing. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots team and staff are definitely the stuff of legends. Love them or hate them, they've built a dynasty that belongs in any conversation that includes Dallas, San Francisco, Green Bay, even Pittsburgh.

Did any team that has won a Super Bowl, whether it's once, or multiple times in their franchise's history, ever just show up off the street for the Super Bowl and was instantly awesome?

The answer is NO. The Super Bowl is the pinnacle game that determines the one true champion of the sport for that year. To get there, you have to endure a regular season of at least ten bone-crushing games. Then, if you've got enough wins, you get to go to the playoffs. That's several more bone-crushing weeks.

Then, only after you've eliminated all comers in your conference, you get to face off with another team that defeated all who dared in their conference.

Then, and only then, do the two best teams, one from each conference, get to duke it out for the right to claim “World Champion” until the next year.

When the new season starts, it's a clean slate for all teams, and every team has the same chance to progress through the gauntlet that eventually sees the two best teams face off for the title for another year.

So, the teams that get there fought hard, each and every game. The teams that didn't win, didn't necessarily fight any less hard, although some actually didn't fight as hard. And some teams couldn't last as long on the field. And other teams made bad decisions, or made enough mistakes to cost them the game.

In a nutshell, it's a COMPETITION.

So what these two guys were bellyaching about, wishing another team had “a chance” to play in the Super Bowl other than the perennial Patriots, is to me all about the concept of what's fair.

These guys didn't think it was fair, that the same team would keep going back to the Super Bowl. Nor did they think that it was fair that one quarterback should have so many appearances in this one championship game, seemingly year after year.

But yet, at least one other team has more Super Bowl wins than New England, and that's the Pittsburgh Steelers. Has anyone griped about wishing another team had a chance to play in the Super Bowl during any of their multiple appearances and subsequent wins?

Doubt it.

Fair’s Fair, or All’s Fair?

I see this a lot in children's competitions now. Everyone gets a trophy for participation for just about any sport now. Even some 5K runs in town now offer ribbons to all who run the race.

One NFL player landed in hot water a few years back for giving his kid's Participation trophy back to the sport's organizers, saying that the only trophy his kid will receive will be the one for actually winning.

So, with all that... is working your ass off, preparing day and night, never stopping or quitting until you reach your goal, only to finally reach it, “fair”?

Or, is “fair” allowing other teams and players that didn't spend as much time on the things needed to make the best of the best to play in the biggest football game of the year, so that the joy and reward is spread around evenly?

So, what is the concept of “fair”?

In my mind, there is no such thing as “fair”. Period.

There's being the best, and then there's everyone else. In sports, in career, in life.

The best prepare. The best take the challenge and make the sacrifices needed to be the best. The best make opportunities to succeed even when there don't appear to be any. The best will find a way to win, to achieve, to overcome, to finish what seems impossible to sometimes even start.

Not just in a game, but in every situation in life.

And when you give it your all, your heart and soul, in the preparation, the sacrifice, and physical and emotional pain it takes to elevate yourself to the next level, and still lose, it hurts!

It sucks. It feels futile. It makes you question everything. It can even make you give up.

But, those that don't give up only get stronger. They only get better. They figure out what went right and what didn't, and improve what went right, and fix what went wrong.

In other words, figure out a way to win. It may not be that game, or that job you wanted, or the promotion you thought for sure was yours. But, if you keep going, keep working, keep improving, it could be the next one. Or, it may be the one after that.

And the one you finally win could be even better, even sweeter, even more amazing than the ones you lost.

My First Experience With Competition

My first taste of winning came when I was 9 years old. I was in a kid's bowling league, and my mom would take my brother and I to the bowling alley every Friday night to practice, then every Saturday morning to bowl in our children's league. I'd even beg my mom to take us several nights during the week so I could practice even more.

I took to bowling pretty well. I seemed to have the hand-eye coordination needed, and I was able to take coaching from older mentors really well.

That season, I won a record 8 trophies, and, was the only minor that was invited to bowl in an adult tournament, and actually kept up!

Up to that point, I'd never won anything that I could remember. And so, I can imagine what it would feel like if that despite my hard work and preparation for each game, combined with the focus and concentration and the will to win each game, despite setbacks, those trophies were given to other kids that didn't win.

It would suck more than losing! Not because I was stingy and didn't want to share with others. It was because I was able to put the right things into place at exactly the right time to win those games. Maybe another bowler even spent more time than me preparing. But, in the end, I did what was needed to win.

If that would have been negated because someone else felt bad, and needed some kind of validation that even though they lost, they still won something... what motivation would that kid have to ever push themselves for anything?

In my years, I've played sports, went for jobs, was put in for promotions, even tried to get the girl that was out of my league.

Sometimes I won, other times I lost (many times, actually), but in the end, I have a job I love, in a career that I've been doing forever, still working to be the best every day, and yes, I even got the girl of my dreams.

So, no, I don't believe in fair where everyone gets a trophy for playing. I believe in the reward going to the person that put in the most work, to get the result needed to win the game (or job, or promotion, etc.).

That's what I call “fair”.

tags: #thoughts #opinion

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Do the opposite of what they say! Image credit: cottonbro studio at Pexels

Now here's some advice I wish I could tell my grown boys. They surely don't want to hear about this sort of stuff from their old man, but maybe you do.

And, even as you're reading this, your knee-jerk reaction might be to be somewhat indignant, if you're a woman. Or, maybe, as a woman, you'll chuckle and agree. But see, this advice really isn't for women, it's for guys.

Women already have tons of resources both online and in the real world on how to land a man. So, here's a little advice for the dudes. Although, if you're a woman and want to read this as well, I welcome you, too.

Now, this comes from experience, and from a bit of self-improvement that I took on between my first and second marriages. After my divorce, I really took on a journey of self-re-discovery. I lost a bunch of weight, worked out, read a lot, and decided to learn how to better carry myself when it came to attracting the opposite sex.

And, I dated A LOT

What I learned from all those experiences in improving myself was that women will very rarely tell you anything up front. Well, anything up front as far as men understand it. In the fair language of “Womanese”, women think they're being very candid and up front with you, but to men, all we hear are veiled answers and cryptic riddles.

And, to be even more frank, women will answer your questions with what they believe to be true, even it's not exactly factually true. And, it's often when we as men call out the disparity between her fiction she believes to be true and the actual fact-based truth, that sparks often start to fly.

So, what does that all mean when I advise you to never ask a woman advice about other women? It means that they'll typically tell you what they think they should want, instead of what they really want, or rather, what they really respond to.

Allow me to illustrate. Say you ask a female friend that you're truly just friends with what you should do to win over a lady you've had your eye on. She may answer with any or all of the following:

  • You should buy her flowers!
  • You should treat her to dinner and a movie!
  • You should loudly profess your love to her in a very public and romantic way!
  • You should do nice things for her for no reason! That'll get her to realize what a nice guy you are!
  • Just be there for her, and she'll eventually come around to realize you're the perfect guy for her!
  • Buy her a really nice (translated as 'expensive') gift to “woo” her!
  • (If you've been dating her already) You should sweep her off her feet and take her on a romantic weekend getaway!

So, why is this bad advice, aside from the fact every scenario sounds like it came from a drippy romantic comedy? Because all that nice guy stuff doesn't get you the girl. If anything, it gets you “friend-zoned” with the girl.

Why? Because women think, or better yet, tell themselves they should want the nice guy. Instead, you know what they actually respond to?

Yup, the bad boy. Think about it. Any time you liked a girl, and she didn't come straight out with it that she wasn't into you, but always talked about “Trevor” or “Brad”, she was hoping you'd take the hint.

Yet, the girl you had your eye on could't stop talking about that other guy who wouldn't give her the time of day – and when he did, it was to basically blow her off.

And you knew that Trevor or Brad treated her like shit, didn't you? Couldn't give her the time of day, but she couldn't stop talking about him constantly, even fantasizing about the day she captures his attention and his heart.

It's because women respond to a guy who's hard to get, doesn't care about her feelings, and is his own man. In other words, not a sap.

The guys who gush over the girl, buy her things, put her on a pedestal and would never dare to call her out on her crazy notions usually get friend-zoned. Billy Bad Boy gets to make out with her, while you're standing outside her house in the rain wishing she'd notice you.

Sounds harsh, I know, but it's true. It's happened to me more times than I care to remember. But, once I realized that I needed to treat a girl differently, I started to win in the game of love.

I'm not saying to treat women like shit to get what you want. I'm just saying, treat them like you can take them or leave them, combined with the ability to make them laugh. If you can master the art of being aloof, and being able to bust her chops in a funny way, you'll be the one she can't stop talking about with her new friend-zone buddy.

Believe me, don't believe, doesn't matter to me. What I do know is that I've got the girl of my dreams, and we've been together for 20 years now.

And, I still let her think I can take her or leave her, while also leaving her in stitches every chance I can. Don't get me wrong, I tell her I love her and that she's the most important person in my life, but I keep her on her toes.

Every 10th or so time she tells me she loves me, I'll short circuit her wiring by saying, “That's nice. Thanks.” Or, I won't say anything and let her cry out loud, “You didn't say it back!” To which I reply, “I'm with you ain't I?”

Each one elicits a response that resembles her stomping one foot on the ground and loudly exclaiming, “HONEY!!” But, see, it keeps her on her toes. And while she acts indignant, she knows I'm my own man, and that as my own man, I love her very much.

But, that doesn't mean I'm willing to put up with an unlimited amount of crap, either. However, the teasing, the hard to get, and the barbs are all of what keep things fresh and exciting, even after 20 years.

And before you go saying, “Sure, that works on her, but there ain't no other woman out there willing to put up with your B.S.!” I'd say that you would be wrong. See, I was doing stuff like this even before I met my wife, and there were several women who wanted to land me as their catch.

And it wasn't until I met my now wife, that I refused to be caught. See, this enabled me to pick her as much as she picked me.

The old saying is that women is want someone that they can feel safe with, who'll protect them, yet make them laugh.

Basically, a clown ninja.

In the meantime, stop asking women advice about other women, or you'll get every way possible on how to lose her, instead of how to truly win her over. This time, try a different approach and see if that can keep you out of the friend-zone.

tags: #opinion #relationships

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This post was originally posted on my previous blog site called Jay's Journal on February 6th, 2018.

Here's to ME!

Last week, while at work, I started something that I never intended to start. Turns out, I needed to do this mini-project way more than I realized. Both in result, and in actual benefit.

What I started last week was to chip away at organizing my work emails, and took on the challenge of figuring out the best way to leverage Microsoft's OneNote alongside Outlook. The MS Office suite is standard issue at work, and while I've been using these and many other Microsoft products for multiple decades now, I never really took the time to learn OneNote, let alone learn how to use it with Outlook to create a killer productivity combo.

But, starting last week, that's exactly what I did.

First Step: Email

I started with trying to figure out a way to reduce the size of my inbox, without losing any emails. I keep all my emails for work, for various reasons, most of which benefit me at some time or another. I learned a very long time ago not to rely on subjective and inaccurate human memories, it's all in black and white. This helps on many levels and for many reasons.

At my work, we're not allowed to use the standard archiving feature of Outlook. It's automated, it's reliable, and... it's disabled.

And with me having less than 1GB free on a 5GB mailbox, I had to do something. Having just started the new year, there's no way I could cram an upcoming year's worth of email into less than 1GB of space.

So, I first went through and deleted all the crap. All the meeting responses (Accepted, Declined, Tentative). The meetings already happened, and I just don't care who accepted, declined, and “tried their best” to make it any longer.

Then I cleaned out all the corporate announcements. I'm sure it was important to know about our upcoming open enrollment, but it already happened, and I signed up. As well, can I no longer keep the announcement of a company vice president that I never met is stepping down several months after the announcement went out in the first place. Again, by now, it's already happened, and we all know who replaced him or her.

So, after that, I went from .98GB of free space to... 1GB of free space. Yay, progress, but I need to do more. Way more.

Second Step: OneNote

Knowing the Internet has an answer for everything, I did a search on how to master OneNote. It's a tool I've used for a while, but never really used it. In other words, I used the basic features and functions, but never went beyond that. So, I found some articles on Lifehacker and Make Use Of and found my answers.

So, I set up a way to tie in my Outlook tasks to OneNote, which are tied to this year's project notebook. I then figured a way to export my emails to a separate notebook called oddly enough, “Archives”. Then, I ported all my emails over to the archive notebook, and deleted the originals from my mailbox.

I rinsed and repeated with my sent folder, and any other sub-folder I had in my mailbox that has lived past it's usefulness.

After several alternating crashes between Outlook and OneNote, my export/import process was complete.

  1. Because Microsoft
  2. I had a LOT of emails to push across

So, after archiving all emails prior to this year, I had like 3GB of space left. Now THAT'S progress! But still not good enough.

With OneNote, I organized my notebooks for my projects, and my general notes, and now they're easy to find and use. Organization is starting to be fun again! I'm on a roll, so I'm gonna do more.

Third Step: Outlook again

Now that my entirely useless emails from past to present are gone, and all my known project emails that lived in their own folders are moved out, where else could I free up space?

Well, of course, my INBOX (cue scary music)!

In the previous years, I'd tried, and failed, at keeping my emails in their neat little folders, according to their topic or project. And, by failed, I mean some made it into their folders (already archived now), but most simply got left in the inbox.

So, I start combing through my inbox to find the emails that belong to specific folders, and I move them there. Then, I repeat the Export/AppCrash/Import routine between Outlook and OneNote.

This took a while. As I had tons of emails in their respective folders, I had even more email that was unorganized in my inbox. But, in this case, patience won the day, or the week, in this case. After chipping away at it, little by little, my inbox had only the emails from January 1st and newer in there.

My inbox now had 4.1GB of free space. Pretty good, eh? NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

And, being a glutton for punishment, I decided I could do even more.

Fourth Step: Reinventing my Outlook Experience

I decided that if things were going to change, they really needed to change, from top to bottom. So, I completely revamped the layout of my Outlook. I stripped away persistent menus, added useful side widgets, and basically brought my Outlook to a very minimal yet functional appearance.

For my inbox, my calendar, even my tasks – every single section, now has a fresh new and uncluttered look. In this case, uncluttered doesn't mean unusable, it means easier to see and do what I need when I need to. Then, when I don't need Outlook, it stays out of my way.

Next, I set up some custom inbox processing rules. There are several emails that come in with alerts and notifications that just don't impact me. They're automated blast emails from various systems and products that I don't personally use or maintain, so I set up a rule that intercepts those before they hit my inbox and take them directly to my Trash.

That alone saves me close to 50 emails a day, and up to several hundred over a weekend.

Then, I created new subfolders that actually make sense for what I'm doing this year for work. Easy to read, easy to access, and it has to make sense to use or it's gone.

Once that was done, I created a couple of “Quick Steps” with Outlook. These are handy little buttons you can click that will do one or more thing with or to your email when you click them. So, I created quicksteps that would take any email I select, then it would give it a Category with a color coding for easy reading, and then would automatically move it out of my inbox and into the folder designated for that Quick Step.

So, I have multiple Quick Steps created, and they're all visible at the top of my Outlook workspace, when I have my menus pulled down.

Now, I do have to manually select the email, and select the Quick Step that is best for that message, but that's not a bad thing. It's not bad because I now am present with each email, and have to decide what to do with every email that comes into my inbox.

I either, Quick Step it based on which category and folder it needs to go in, I can delete it, or I can reply to it, then Quick Step both the email and the reply, or when the time is right, archive it to my OneNote.

Whichever I choose, I have to read my email in order to decide what to do with it.

And, the beautiful, glorious result is: I've reached INBOX ZERO! Plus, 4.8GB out of 5GB free!

I have no emails in my inbox at the moment. When emails come in, I read them when I'm able, I process what to do with them, and get them out of my inbox.

If I'm worried that an email that gets Quick Stepped into oblivion by being out of sight from my inbox and hiding in a folder (which could also happen if it's buried within hundreds of other emails in the inbox), I Quick Step it, then go to it's new location and right-click the message and place a follow up flag on it for a time that's appropriate, and set a reminder from the same flagging feature.

By adding the flag, it places that email in my “To Do” list, that I can now see all the time as part of my new minimal heads up layout for Outlook, and the reminder will pop up in my face when I set it to, so that I can really take action on it if I somehow ignore it glaring at me from Outlook as a side widget.

And there you have it! Inbox Zero, a way to sustain and maintain it, and a stress-free way to handle emails without running out of space.

All the things I never declared as a New Year's Resolution, but did it anyway, and am so stoked about my new organization system!

Have you done anything unintentionally (at first) this year that you can claim as an unexpected New Year's Resolution win?

tags: #thoughts #reflections #productivity

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That's a lot of sweat Photo Credit: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When I was researching which virtual donation service to use, BuyMeACoffee.com or Ko-Fi, I came across a YouTube video that reminded me of how hard it is to build a business offering your services on Fiverr.

I'd started a side hustle business a couple of years ago, and my thought was to sell my services on Fiverr. I'd done a few Fiverr gigs even a few more years farther back, so I thought I'd go bigger and use Fiverr as a platform to sell my virtual services.

I thought the premise was pretty sound: offer my services on Fiverr, and let Fiverr do my marketing for me. I'd show up on searches for Fiverr services, and I could let Fiverr handle the payments and transactions.

I'd never have to chase a client for payment, and the mechanisms for delivery were already built into Fiverr. There was a messaging system, and an automated way in which to obtain anything needed from the customer in order to fulfill an order for my services.

Something the video I referenced before touches on, that I also realized, was that when it comes to delivery of your service, there are no days off.

None.

No weekends, no holidays, no personal days, no sick days. No. Days. Off.

The way Fiverr is set up is that when you purchase a “gig”, that gig is agreed to be delivered in a certain number of days. Not weekdays, calendar days. So, if you purchase a gig and it's agreed that the gig will be delivered in 4 days, if that 4th day is on a Saturday, you better deliver on the Saturday it's due.

If on that Saturday, the customer's order is due at 2am, because they ordered it 4 days ago at 2am, it had better be ready by then, or you're toast.

If it's not, you get penalized, and the customer gets mad – likely resulting in a refund, meaning you essentially worked for free. If you have a successful enough Fiverr profile, you'll be delivering your finished product 7 days a week.

So, you might be saying to yourself, “So? Just manage your time so that you get everything done earlier than expected so you can enjoy your weekends and evenings.”

And, in theory, that would be correct. However, in order to facilitate that, you're rushing orders to get them off your plate. That can invite inaccuracy, and other mistakes. As well, Fiverr lets you charge an additional fee for “Rush” jobs, but only if the customer wants their order done in a rush and they opt for it.

So, if you're hurrying to deliver an order by the end of your day on Friday, so you can get away for the weekend, but it's not due until Sunday, a customer just got a free rush on their order.

What's more, is that if a prospective customer messages you, day or night, you're expected to respond within an hour. If you don't, you won't get fired from Fiverr, but you will get penalized. Your profile won't show as high up in search results for freelancers with your same skillset.

The ones that answer faster get placed toward the top. And, as a general rule, that makes sense, right? Reward the ones that are on the ball and respond quickly to their prospective and existing customer's messages.

But, the fact that the system actively penalizes you for taking time during a 24 hour day for rest and recovery, or even personal appointments, etc., is akin to working in a sweatshop.

I mean, Fiverr isn't saying don't do those things. They're not saying don't take days off, or an hour or two for yourself, or even not to observe holidays. But, if you do, you fall behind in getting your profile featured in search results. So, it's almost just as bad.

The good thing about Fiverr is that now you can charge well over $5 for the services you offer. In the early days, it was $5 and only $5, but you could find creative ways to get more than just $5 for a single “gig”. If you added extras and rush fees, etc.

But now, there's a lot more flexibility in how much you can charge. Now, if only that same flexibility carried over into managing delivery dates and message response times. Until then, I assert, Fiverr is basically a virtual sweat shop.

And, for some, that's ok. For others, like me, no thanks, I'll figure it out some other way.

tags: #opinion

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Chillin' like a villain Photo credit: Lisa Fotios at Pexels

I'd intended to post all during the weekend, until I the honey-do list started piling up. Then, when I finished it, I decided I was too lazy to write. Saturday turned into Sunday, and now, here we are on Monday.

I guess my grand plan didn't work out in the first weekend I tried to do something different. Oh well, rather than beat myself up, I'll just be glad a I had a weekend to try to relax.

The weekend didn't go all according to plan, however, even beyond not publishing any new posts. We'd made plans with my youngest son for Sunday. We thought it would be great to invite him and his wife over on Sunday so they could bring their baby, our granddaughter, over for a fun visit. Our granddaughter is 10 months old and she's beyond adorable.

So we thought, let's make an afternoon of it. Have the kids over, then we'd invite my wife's parents, who are also the great-grandparents, over as well. My son, my father-in-law, and I would work on my car while the women visited and gushed over the baby.

Then, we'd order some pizzas, have an early dinner, and everyone would be home by 6pm. Monday (today, as I write this), is a holiday for me, so I'd even have an extra day to relax. It was a nearly perfect plan.

Everyone agreed and was on board. It was going to be a great day. Then, Saturday night happened. And Saturday night has unfortunately become a little too normal.

On Saturday night, my son and daughter-in-law got into yet another blow out argument. Thankfully, by the time the night was over, they were able to calm down and talk things through, or so my son tells me.

However, we told them that they should probably take Sunday and try to work through their issues. It was late on Saturday by the time we got word they were talking calmly again, and we were too beat on Sunday to entertain anyway.

So, I just tried to relax on Sunday, but still worrying about my son and his family. My wife called her parents earlier in the day to let them know we weren't going to be able to get together after all, and they understood.

And with a relaxing Sunday, I still have the rest of today as a holiday to get my final hours of long-weekend relaxation in before going back to work for a short week.

So, I figured, as I took the weekend to rest, let's get another blog post published, and get back on track. I'm back to getting back on track, and will continue to try to improve. That's the best I can do at the moment. Thank you for reading and for sticking by me on this blog.

tags: #thoughts

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