Category Archives: Lessons learned

Fridays

I originally planned to fill this blog with my journal entries and the lessons I learn from books and courses I’ve taken. But somehow, I didn’t write on this blog as often as I planned. Even though I had several entries in Evernote, I never took the time to convert them to text and publish them here.

I’m hoping to change that starting now.

Here’s an entry from my personal journal written back in May this year.

It’s Friday, the last work day of the week and I don’t feel like doing anything productive at all.

Here are three possible reasons:

  1. I’ve written two articles, the Rejection letters post for Keepinspiring.me, and a guest post for another client. Maybe, unconsciously, my brain thinks the $140 I earned from those two articles is ‘high enough.’

Yes, $140 for three days (Monday to Wednesday) is great, but $140 for 5 days isn’t enough. It’s just average. It’s as if I’m back in a newbie call center job.

  1. I woke up late today. Prior experience suggests I have a tendency not to work, or start working late, if I wake up past 5 PM.
  1. For some reason, phrases like “I’m feeling lazy” and “I don’t feel like working” keep popping up in my head. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy that I need to reverse.

Lessons I learned based on these observations:

  1. Don’t calculate my income and performance based on a per article or per day basis. Instead I should think about my income per week. Right now, my minimum target is at least $250/week.
  2. Stop negative scripts like “I’m lazy.” Examine why I think that way instead, and do either:
    1. Continue with my planned to-do list as usual. Don’t depend on my mood for productivity.
    2. Try to ‘reset’ the day by meditating, napping, or journaling.
  1. Try to wake up by 3 PM, and no later than 4PM even if I sleep late or if I haven’t slept enough hours. If I lack sleep, I’ll nap later in the day instead of waking up late.

 

ramit in manila

2014 Annual Review: An Honest Look at My Personal and Professional Performance Last Year

This is an excerpt of my 2014 annual review, which I wrote on the last week of December. I’m publishing it here to set a public benchmark for myself—a stick to measure myself against on December 2015. My main goal is to avoid repeating my mistakes last year, and to improve on all facets of my life this year.

I’m very nervous about publishing this review, especially my income and failures but I’ve decided to suck it up and just go with it. I’m doing this to hold myself publicly accountable of everything that happened to me. I want to own up to my shortcomings instead of blaming it on my unpredictable health and other external factors.

I’m not just doing this for myself either. I’m publishing this to make others realize that the life of a freelancer isn’t all vacations and working in pajamas.

Here we go… Charley’s 2014 Annual Review

Personal Goals

  1. Invest 20,000 Pesos in a Time Deposit or Mutual Fund to Build my Emergency Funds
    1. Status: Failed
    2. Reason: I’ve saved up 10,000 and 15,000, and about 13,000 on different months, but I wasn’t able to invest any of it because I used it to eat out when I had major fights with my partner. I also used it to pay for my living expenses on months where I barely worked. It seems that building an emergency fund will be harder than I expected.
  2. Be Good Enough to Bike Outside
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: Okay, this might seem a petty goal for you but I just learned to bike last year—on my 25th birthday to be exact! Took me about 30 minutes to learn even when I was using a heavy mountain bike. A few months after that, I went to test my skills at the UP bike lane. I was so scared, but I survived without a scratch. And I can do U-turns well! Success!
  3. Go on my First International Trip
    • Status: Failed
    • Reason: Wasn’t able to save enough money because I didn’t work for 4 months. I also used some of the money I earmarked for this on local travels instead, like my 2 impromptu trips to Baguio, Rizal and Batangas. While this goal is a failure, it’s not a total loss because I managed to get my passport this year.
  4. Learn how to Ice Skate
    skating
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: Went on my very first ice skating lesson late in November. 🙂 I learned how to do forward and backward swizzles, two-foot glide and the one-foot glide. Yes, I still fall but not as much. I don’t feel embarrassed about it as well because I’ve seen tons of skaters more advanced than I am and they still fall, hilariously if I might add.

Work Goals

  1. Put up a basic writer’s website
    • Status: Success
    • Reason: My freelance writer site, however simple and lacking in design, is up and giving me quality client leads.
  2. Publish at least 6 guest posts in different popular blogs on my target niches
    • Status: Published 4 out of 6. Failed
    • Reason/Notes: Published 2 guest posts on Brazen, 2 on PicktheBrain and 1 on YourOnline.Biz. Even though I didn’t hit the target number of posts, I consider this a success because these guest posts brought me 3 new clients. The posts are also doing well because they were syndicated in different websites and shared hundreds of times.
  3. Publish 3 articles for a magazine in my target industry
    • Status: Failed
    • Reason: I took a 3-week vacation sometime in March so I could focus on learning how to write pitches or queries for magazines. But for some weird reason, I got overwhelmed and depressed during this time. I didn’t know what to do, I was so confused with everything that I had to learn and I gave up. Until now, pitching magazines still seem like a daunting task to me.
  4. Get 2 clients willing to pay my set rates for ghosted and authored work by pitching and marketing my services.
    • Status: Success
    • Reason/Notes: Sent an email pitch to 5 people. One of them replied but the deal didn’t push through. That’s okay, because in terms of prospecting, 1 reply out of 5 emails is still a good result.
    • Applied to a few jobs—got 1 for guest posting but it’s not a regular source of income. Pays $50-75. Got 1 referral from a friend, but the client pays late and wants too many phone calls. While he’s not an ideal client, I managed to convince him to pay 3x more than what he usually pays, so I got $60 per 600-800 words.
    • I got two one-off clients: one in the coaching industry and another in the recruitment industry. Both of them said they’d hire me for other work in the future.

Other Things I Did or Accomplished

excited

  • Got myself closer to two of my favorite authors and mentors, Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss by connecting with Charlie Hoehn. Last November, he announced that he’ll be giving one of his courses for free in exchange for detailed notes. I submitted an entry and was chosen, probably from over hundreds of applicants. Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re best buds now but it’s a start
  • Met Ramit Sethi when he visited Manila. ramit

He’s one of the people on my must-meet list. Despite his strict and scary demeanor on his emails, he’s incredibly friendly and approachable.

  • Met new friends through the IWT Manila meet-up.new friends and acquaintances at iwtramit in manila
  • Went on all Pinoy500 meetings and met almost all of them. Got great support from the groupGot my first client who agreed to pay a down payment before I start working. Invisible script shattered!
  • Got syndicated by Chicago Tribune and Business Insider three times!!!
  • I got so much work I declined some job offers that were below my target pay or not in my target niche. Hoorah!
  • I was offered a regular contributor role at Careerattraction.com after 1 guest post
  • Conquered my fear of heights by joining a trapeze flying classtrapeze2 trapeze
  • Conquered my lactose intolerance.. first by drinking different types of milk, then by eating different types of cheese (cooked), then graduating to cheese plates. I love cheese!

 

An Overview of My Income for 2014

Income USD PHP conversion Notes
Lowest monthly income $100        4,200.00 Php This was in October when I only worked about 3-4 hours. I was burned out after two months of working full time hours in August and September
Highest monthly income $1119.64      47,024.88 Php This was in August when I accepted 2 copywriting projects
Average monthly income $512.0117      21,504.49 Php Monthly income for an average of a 4-6 hour workday, divided by 12.
Total annual income $6,144.14    258,053.88 Php  

Other notes

  • Highest Paid Project: $750 (Presentation)
  • Highest Paid Article: $400 (Rush article)
  • Lowest Paid Article: $8 (Blog post). I’m happy to report that I no longer accept work at this rate.

My findings and observations:

  • The months I barely worked severely affected my total earnings for the year.
  • If not for my savings due to good months were I earned more than enough, I would have been in debt.
  • Total months I didn’t work at all for whatever reason (sad, sick, etc) = 3. It’s 4 if you count October where I ‘barely’ worked.
  • High-earning (productive) months, are often followed by at least 1 low-earning (non-productive) month. Ex: Jan-Mar I earned $600+/month, but I got burned out and had to rest

That ends my 2014 annual review. Next up, I’ll post more in-depth findings based on my observations, like what I did to achieve my best results and the different areas of my life that need improvement.

personal development, blogger, no bs,

The 1 Week No BS Experiment (#1wknobs)

Last week, I was telling my accountability partner about my problem in staying focused and productive throughout the day. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that too often, after finishing one or two tasks, I feel like taking a break. Sometimes, I can’t even convince myself to finish one task because my brain keeps distracting me with different things, like play Sims, read, hop on Pinterest, or check Facebook. My brain keeps coming up with BS excuses like, “I’m hungry” even though I just ate, or “I’m sleepy” or “I’m tired” even if I had sufficient sleep the previous night.

What’s surprising is he (my accountability partner), too, is facing something similar. Apparently, I’m not the only one prone to succumbing to unscheduled breaks and mind wandering.  For some reason, this realization comforted me. Now I know I’m not So we agreed that we both need to work on this challenge– to train ourselves to cut the BS excuses and get shit done.
So I came up with the idea for the 1 Week No BS Experiment, so both of us can nudge each other back into work mode. Here’s how the experiment works:
Every time one of us would feel lazy, we’d post it on Facebook with the hashtag, “#1wknobs”. We can post why we don’t feel like working, or just use the designated hashtag. For example, I overslept last week so I posted this: “Ugh. I just woke up! Overslept by 3 hours! #1wknobs.”
personal development, blogger, no bs,
That’s a signal to my accountability partner that, “hey, I’m not working even when I’m supposed to.” Granted, it’s not the usual checking-Facebook-instead-of-working kinda break, for me it still applies because I ignored my alarm clock and slept in, even if my scheduled wake up time already gave me 7.5 hours of sleep.
Essentially, the #1wknobs experiment is designed to help us do the following:
  • Be aware of when the urge to oversleep, take a break or just do nothing strikes
  • Encourage us to admit it to another person, thereby inducing guilt, or at least the feeling that somebody’s watching and that I should work– a feeling lost in many freelancers and work at home folks.
  • Nudge each other back on the right track

 

The Loopholes of the 1 Week No BS Experiment
Of course, our experiment has some loopholes. The first and biggest challenge is, the fact that we can’t constantly keep checking our Facebook account just to see if the other posted something.
To counter that, we set pre-determined check-up times at 1PM and 8PM. The problem is if I post something at 2PM, my accountability partner won’t see it for another 6 hours, thereby leaving me 6 hours break time with no one to stop me or tell me otherwise.
Yes, I know that I could just be my own guard and force myself back to work during those 6 hours, instead of waiting for someone to tell me. I wish it were that easy. I wouldn’t need to go through this experiment if that were always the case.
Sometimes, I’d get back to work after spending 30 minutes on Facebook, but other times, half a day could pass by with me watching TV and surfing the web. It’s surprising, really, how I get my work done despite these unscheduled breaks.
The second loophole is we don’t want other people to see what we’re posting, because that could potentially pose a threat to our jobs. What would my clients think if they find out that I’m playing Sims instead of writing their newsletter?
We solved that issue by using Facebook’s custom settings, so only he can see my post and vice versa. But it’s too tedious to change the privacy settings of our post every time!
Another problem is sometimes, we forget to post updates on Facebook. For example, last week I was out furniture shopping with my partner, instead of researching for an article. While I did manage to complete my research work late that night, I forgot to update my Facebook account of my unscheduled shopping trip.
The Experiment’s Results and Improvements Moving Forward
This week, the hashtag was used less than 10 times. Based on that number, it means both of us took less than 10 unscheduled breaks during the week. I know that’s highly improbable. But that’s okay. I know this experiment is a work in progress and that in time, we can both improve our posting and check-in frequency as we both become more aware of our work habits.
As for the results, I did manage to complete all my work related tasks this week. Unfortunately, because of my other unscheduled breaks, I didn’t have time to do my own marketing and blogging tasks. I really hope this will improve in the near future.
I’m also planning to propose several tweaks to the experiment in our next accountability call on Monday. That is, if my accountability partner is willing to continue this experiment with me.