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Review: Undress for Success

Review: Undress for Success

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    Kate Lister and Tom Harnish have been working at home for years. For sixteen years, they operated a home business. They’ve codified the advice they’ve generated in a ll those years of working at home in a new book, Undress for Success. The book covers an introduction to moving towards a home office, with a heavy emphasis on teleworking.

    Telecommuting And You

    Section titles like ‘Expose Yourself — Are Your Right for E-work?’ or ‘Dirty Underwear — Uncovering the Scams’ do add an element of fun to what is essentially a book on changing your career. It is easy to read — the writing style reminds me of a blog. Each section is broken down into chapters, which are then subdivided into bite-sized pieces of information on specific topics. Even though the book is 262 pages, I was able to breeze through it, bookmarking sections I wanted to come back to later.

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    The five primary sections of Undress for Success cover the basics of e-work (meaning work you can do from home over your computer), telecommuting, freelancing, running your own home business, and the appropriate technology. Far and away, the emphasis of the book is on telecommuting: that section racks up 114 pages. In comparison, freelancing gets just 38 pages. I wouldn’t really recommend the book as the introduction to all things freelance or entrepreneurial — but its coverage of telecommuting and teleworking is solid.

    The Bare Bones of Working At Home

    Lister and Harnish are careful to point out that working from home is not for everyone. They interviewed scores of folks who work at home, talking about the challenges they face and how they cope with them. My favorite was easily the approach one programmer named Madison takes to make sure her family knows when she’s on the job and has to focus on her work: “To make sure everyone knows when she isn’t available, she wears a tiara when she’s ‘at work.'”

    It’s hard to guess the coping mechanisms you’ll come up with when you’re working at home yourself, but the fact that Undress for Success actually gets its hands dirty with the various problems someone working at home faces certainly makes it a better resource.

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    The book also includes several chapters on convincing an employer to let you make the switch to working at home — up to and including helping you outline the benefits that making the switch to telecommuting will bring to your employer. While we’ve discussed talking to your boss about telecommuting here recently, Lister and Harnish have the room to go into depth in covering that topic thoroughly.

    Another useful portion of the telecommuting section is the focused look at a number of careers that Undress for Success offers. Those include:

    • Call Center Agent
    • Virtual Assistant
    • Medical Transcriptionist
    • Teacher or Tutor
    • Remote Tech
    • Writer
    • Telemedicine

    For each of those careers, there is a chapter covering what you can expect, training, scheduling, compensation and even stories from workers in the trenches. There’s even information on the scams in each career, equipping you to avoid them.

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    The Drawbacks to ‘Undress for Success’

    While Lister and Harnish provide a solid reference on telecommuting, along information on handling issues like convincing your family that you’re actually at work even if you are still in your pajamas, I think that Undress for Success is missing something. That something is a discussion of other work-at-home options beyond telecommuting. The sections on freelancing and starting a home business are fairly bare bones — and since moving into freelancing is essentially creating a business, I don’t think that dividing the two into separate sections really helped.

    At best, Undress for Success offers just enough information on creating your own business to get you thinking, “Hm, I could do that.” If you were to decide to go that route based on this particular book, though, you’ll still find yourself looking for a lot of introductory level material. It is important to do plenty of research before embarking on any entrepreneurial venture, but I can’t help feeling that the book could have included a little more information on getting started. I know that Lister and Harnish have written about small business topics before — their first book was Finding Money: The Small Business Guide to Financing — perhaps they were able to go more in-depth on business topics there.

    Readability and Moving Forward

    Overall, I found Undress for Success very readable — and very interesting. It does overreach a bit, but if you’re looking for information on moving into telecommuting, this book is an ideal starting point. Furthermore, if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to sitting down and plowing through a book, the format works well: each section is just short enough that you can read one whenever you actually have a minute. In Undress for Success, Kate Lister and Tom Harnish have brought together an introductory guide to working at home that provides a starting point for readers to explore telecommuting and teleworking. You can find more information at their website, also named Undress for Success.

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    If you’ve been considering making the switch to working at home, I’m interested in hearing what books, websites and other resources have helped you in the decision making process — no matter what option you wound up going with. I know that books like Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week have inspired more than a few people to explore telecommuting, but what else is out there. Please share your resources in the comments.

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

    Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

    Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

    There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

    Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

    Why We Procrastinate After All?

    We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

    Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

    Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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    To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

    If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

    Is Procrastination Bad?

    Yes it is.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

    Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

    Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

    It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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    The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

    Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

    For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

    A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

    Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

    Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

    How Bad Procrastination Can Be

    Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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    After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

    One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

    That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

    Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

    In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

    You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

    More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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    Procrastination, a Technical Failure

    Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

    It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

    It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

    Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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