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Social Outposts – A Strategy for Introverts to Meet New People

Social Outposts – A Strategy for Introverts to Meet New People

    I have a confession to make – I’m an introvert, but I like meeting new people.  That may sound contradictory, but hear me out.  Unlike extroverts, meeting lots of new people all the time is tiring for me – it doesn’t energize me the way running, playing guitar, or even writing does.  I love social contact with close friends though, and I enjoy meeting new people … in limited quantities.

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    Why does this matter?  I’ve moved around a lot in my life, and at one point switched apartments every 6 months for a few years.  Each move has come with it’s own cultural challenges, and in addition I’ve always lost most of my circle of friends.   As an introvert, I needed to make an effort to get out and meet new people – and it recently occurred to me that I had unknowingly stumbled across a strategy to easily meet people without realizing it. I call it using social outposts.

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    What Is a Social Outpost?

    Online, people talk about social media outposts – Facebook and Twitter for example. These are places where your online persona extends out of your blog, so other people can meet you and get to know you through different social media avenues.

    Long before I knew anything about social media, I was doing the same thing with my hobbies to meet new people. I was using real life social outposts by going where people similar to me gathered, and using those meetings to showcase that aspect of my personality and form connections.  Let’s take a look at some real life examples I’ve used.

    Sid’s Social Outposts

    • Open Mic Nights.  I’ve performed at tons of open mic nights. I play guitar, write songs, sing – and even occasionally read my (terrible) poetry.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad I am – by putting myself out there and going to open mic nights consistently, no matter what happens I always am able to form a connection with other musicians when I move to a new city.  Some of those turn into friendships that have lasted years.  Even if I don’t perform, I can always strike up a conversation with someone who has just gotten off stage by complimenting them, commenting on their playing style or song choice.   There’s nothing sinister going on – I’m genuinely interested in music, and by putting myself in a situation that matches my interests, I can find common ground and meet people.
    • Clubs and Meetups.  It seems so cliche that I almost didn’t include it on the list, but the fact is I use these types of meetings to meet people like myself.  My favorites include hiking meetups since we’re spending hours out in the mountains and valleys with no distractions.  If you’re into running, there are running clubs everywhere, and if you aren’t really sure what you want, you can always check out Toastmasters.
    • Networking Events.  I’m a software engineer and love technology – so you’ll always find me at technology related networking events. I don’t know how popular this is in other professions, but for whatever reasons, software engineers love getting together to talk about their latest gadgets or websites we’ve built.  A great way for me to show part of my personality, and easily meet others with similar interests.
    • Organized Classes.  I like playing volleyball, basketball and tennis – but I know there’s always room for me to improve.  I have previously organized basketball and tennis meetups, but when I don’t want to go through the trouble of organizing them, it’s easy to find other people to play.  I just find the local tennis courts and sign up for classes – it’s an outpost where I know I’ll meet other people to get together with for tennis.  You don’t have to sign up for sports classes – acting classes, dance classes, and cooking classes are all options.
    • Concerts.  One of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles was going to concerts.  I spent thousands of dollars attending all kinds of concerts, from big name acts to local bands performing in coffee shops.  By connecting with people on fan forums online and then meeting up in person at the show, I formed friendships quickly with dozens of people.  Very often they would be the same age as me, have similar hobbies and similar income levels.  We’d hang out, meet up for lunch or dinner and if nothing else, would meet up a few times a year to attend different concerts together.
    • Regular Hangouts.  A final note, if you can’t find anything in your new town related to your hobbies or interests, just get out of the house and go to a regular hang out – whether that’s a coffee shop, bar, or happy hour.  Typically my regular hang out will end up being something I wanted to do anyway – such as being a regular at an open mic night, or taking my laptop somewhere so I can work on my website somewhere I know other web developers congregate.

    So, that’s how as an introvert I’m able to quickly meet people whenever I move to a new city – and how I can keep growing my circle of friends. What do you think? Do you have any social outposts that you consistently use to meet people?

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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