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Closet Entrepreneur

Closet Entrepreneur

Every weekday, my reoccurring wish is not suffer through another traffic jam. Every two weeks, there is an urge to be independent and to control my own destiny. Every month jealousy rages when the media celebrates another start-up company with an un-extraordinary idea. And every year there is a realization…time is slipping by.

Living a Dream

With enough dedication, hard work and maybe a little luck, nothing is impossible. My dream was to always start a business to apply all the things learned during college and graduate school (and, hopefully, create a little wealth). After all, my determination, work ethic and being a little lucky already helped me a lot. However, starting a business would be a great learning experience.


Even after programming all day at work, tinkering at night always brought a little enjoyment because there was something new to learn about. And as someone who enjoys learning, these nightly sessions provided many rewards. Then one night something happened.

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I thought of an idea that could be turned into a business.

The idea itself was simple: it solved my problem of being late. But then there was the realization that it could solve other people’s problem of being late. And then this thinking became a flurry of possibilities…

Procrastination

…but there was a problem: I was late a lot because of my procrastination. Although this procrastination didn’t affect my studies or work, it affected everything else.

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One of my tricks for getting things done is simplify the problem and write down each step on a scrap piece of paper. More importantly, I can scratch off each step after completing it and real progress can be seen. Scratching off each step is a reward in itself — it feels empowering.

So each night, the task of creating a business formed on little scraps of paper. And steps were being scratched off one at a time.

It helped having a friend that helped with the legality of starting a business. And thank goodness for the tech bubble because the bust made a lot of internet-related services, such as web site hosting, dirt cheap.

So less than the price of computer, my simple idea became a real business one night at a time, one step at a time.

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Living a Life

Luckily I had a weekend to myself to create most of the code for my internet start-up.

Within three days, the entire start-up, including the client software, web site and supporting applications, were developed. But now came the hard part: it had to be ready for prime time.

Working on this start-up was fun and rewarding, but it was impossible to dedicate every night to finish my start-up. And that was okay. Working on the same problem for too long only produces new problems. Like everyone else, I tend to get sloppy from working too much.

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Imaginary deadlines were created to ensure that steps were completed within a reasonable time period. But there was always a goal of trying to reach that elusive balance. Work was not to be my entire life — this was supposed to be a learning experience.

Starting a business has been a great learning experience, although it hasn’t created too much wealth yet, I’m still at the beginning of a great journey. Living the dream hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding and, best of all, it’s possible for anyone else to do the same.

Matthew Choinski is the founder of messagingreminder.com, a Baltimore, MD, USA small software start-up offering a service that synchronizes your Microsoft Outlook calendar and sends reminders to your mobile phone. The service is the perfect complement to your mobile phone since it’s easy to use, reliable and very affordable.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero

Ah, Inbox Zero. An achievement that so many of us long for. It’s elusive. It’s a productivity benchmark. It’s an ongoing battle.

It’s also unnecessary.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Inbox Zero was initially termed is incredibly valuable. Merlin Mann coined the phrase years ago and what he has defined it as goes well beyond the term itself.[1]

Yet people have created their own definition of Inbox Zero. They’re not using it with the intent that Mann suggested. Instead, it’s become about having nothing left in immediate view. It’s become about getting your email inbox to zero messages or having an empty inbox on your desk that was once filled with papers. It’s become about removing visual clutter.

But it’s not about that. Not at all.

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Here’s what inbox zero actually is, as defined by Mann:

“It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life. That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it.” – Merlin Mann

The Fake Inbox Zero

The sense of fulfillment one gets from clearing out everything in your inbox is temporary at best, disappointing at worst. Often we find that we’re shooting for Inbox Zero just so that we can say that we’ve got “everything done that needed to be done”. That’s simply not the case.

Certainly, by removing all of your things that sit in your inbox means that they are either taken care of or are well on their way to being taken care of. The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is often applied to clearing out your inbox. But unless you’ve actually done something with the stuff, it’s either not worth having in your inbox in the first place or is still sitting in your “mental inbox”.

You have to do something with the stuff, and for many people, that is a hard thing to do. That’s why Inbox Zero – as defined by Mann – is not achieved as often as many people would like to believe. It’s this “watered down” concept of Inbox Zero that is completed instead. You’ve got no email in your inbox and you’ve got no paper on your desk’s inbox. So that must mean you’re at Inbox Zero.

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Until the next email arrives or the next document comes your way. Then you work to get rid of those as quickly as possible so that you can get back to Inbox Zero: The Lesser again. If it’s something that can be dealt with quickly, then you get there. But if they require more time, then soon you’ve got more stuff in your inboxes. So you switch up tasks to get to the things that don’t require as much time or attention so that you can get closer to this stripped down variation of Inbox Zero.

However, until you deal with the bigger items, you don’t quite get there. Some people feel as if they’ve let themselves (or others) down if they don’t get there. And that, quite frankly, is silly. That’s why this particular version of Inbox Zero doesn’t work.

The Ultimate Way to Get to Inbox Zero

So what’s the ultimate way to get to Inbox Zero?

Have zero inboxes.

The inbox is meant to be a stop along the way to your final destination. It’s the place where stuff sits until you’re ready to put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it.

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So why not skip the inbox altogether? Why not put it in the place where it sits until you’re ready to deal with it? Because that requires immediate action. It means you need to give the item some thought and attention.

You need to step back and look at it rather than file it. That’s why we have a catch-all inbox, both for email and for analog items. It allows us to only look at these things when we’re ready to do so.

The funny thing is that we can decide when we’re ready to without actually looking at the inbox beforehand. We can look at things on our own watch rather than when we are alerted to or feel the need to.

There is no reason why you need an inbox at all to store things for longer than it sits there before you see it. None. It’s a choice. And the choice you should be making is how to deal with things when you first see them, rather than when to deal with things you haven’t looked at yet.

Stop Faking It

Seeing things in your inboxes is simply using your sight. Looking at things in your inbox when you first see them is using insight.

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Stop checking email more than twice per day. Turn off your alerts. Put your desk’s inbox somewhere that it can be accessed by others and only accessed by you when you’re ready to deal with what’s in it. Don’t put it on your desk – that’s productivity poison.

If you want to get to Inbox Zero — the real Inbox Zero — then get rid of those stops along the way. You’ll find that by doing that, you’ll be getting more of the stuff you really want done finished much faster, rather than see them moving along at the speed of not much more than zero.

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Featured photo credit: Web Hosting via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merlin Mann: Inbox Zero

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