Planning for retirement typically includes saving enough to cover your expenses, reducing costs and maybe downsizing your home. All of this is done in anticipation of the day when you will finally be “free of working”! But will not working really bring you the happiness you are anticipating?
Or is what you are seeking a way to spend your time doing something that you are passionate about? Being constantly under time pressure and on the hook for various nonsense and then constantly worrying about restructuring and being laid off does create a lot of stress. This can sap the enjoyment out of life, but suddenly going from the rat race to idle time with no commitments does not seem to lead to ultimate happiness. In fact, my observations have been that suddenly having nothing you must do can lead to feelings of boredom, isolation, depression and having no purpose. I have witnessed this happening within my own family.
Family gatherings have gone from discussing:
· How stressful work is, how bad management is, how unfair the policies are and what a bad boss they have and how they cannot wait to retire and get out.
· Aches and pains, complaints about the government and society, dealing with limitations due to medical issues, losing touch with other people, regrets about opportunities not taken when they had the chance and never getting to enjoy retirement before it was too late.
The point is, long term happiness is not as simple as ditching your job and then being totally stress free. The human mind is always active and you need something to focus your thoughts and energy on to keep you engaged and maintain your mental and physical health. This must be something compelling and meaningful to you. What we are really seeking is not to stop “working” but to spend our time “working” on something that brings us joy and satisfaction. Haven’t you heard people quoted as saying something like “do something you love and you will never work a day in your life”? The fact is that the people who are working in jobs they really enjoy don’t feel stressed and burned out, even if they are putting in many hours and lots of effort into their work. Think about people who could easily retire with the wealth they have built over many years, like Warren Buffet or Oprah Winfrey or Paul McCartney. But they keep “working” why? They choose to keep on with their work because this drives them, it is not a chore at all. And this is the one to the big keys to enjoying our “retirement years”.
How many times have you heard some say “Once I retire, I will finally have time to …………”? So the questions is – why wait to retire? Why not start now? There are many part time ventures which can be started on the side while still working a full time job, and these can be scaled up or grown as appropriate. Pick something that you enjoy doing and could make you some extra money. I have a friend who has started a side business making furniture and has set a woodworking shop. Someone else I know makes jewelry and sells it online, another person I met makes stained glass window ornaments and sells them at flea markets on her website, and another friend write fiction novels and edits movie scripts on the side…
For me my passion project is information publishing; writing instructional ebooks, how-to guides, business plans and printable items. This satisfies my creative side while utilizing my technical experience and I can see myself continuing to do this once I “retire”. It makes me enough money to fund itself and extra to invest and enjoy on fancy dinners and weekend getaways. Who knows, it might grow to make me enough money to retire earlier that planned. This is not just a sketchy get rich quick scheme. I view my side business as an investment in my long term happiness and health, just like investing in retirement funds, I am, investing in myself. You never know where this may lead you and you never know what will happen with your current company that says they are doing so well, as I’ve learned several times the hard way. Now is the time to start! Remember, it is never too late…until you decide to give up.
So you have thought about starting a side venture, maybe even investigated some ideas and done some research, and even spent some money on courses, training and start-up packages, but still have not yet gotten off the ground with any ventures. Here are the top reasons why folks are hesitant to “take the leap” and how to get past these effectively:
Problem 1: You Do Not Have a Clear Plan. This is the top #1 cause of not moving ahead. Without a clear plan of what your business / venture is what your goals are, it is like you are trying to drive somewhere without having an idea of where you specifically want to go and not having a map or GPS to indicate which direction to go.
Solution 1: Commit to investing the time and effort to first create a clear plan of what you want to accomplish based on your objectives, requirements, and some research. The plan does not need to detail out each and every step to getting set up but should include the purpose / mission of your venture and how this will be accomplished.
Problem 2: You believe you do not have the time. You believe that you are too busy and do not have the time needed to plan out, start up and maintain a side venture. So you put this off until “someday when I have more time”. The problem is that if you currently believe you have not time now, you likely will not believe you have any time later either. There will always be other responsibilities which will require your time. So this time just keeps getting pushed off and you never get around to actually starting anything. Someday
never seems to be today.
Solution 2: Time management is really about managing yourself within the time you have. The really successful people (and I’m sure you have some examples in mind) have much of the same time constraints as you do, but they have found ways to work with them and not let time work against them. Think about how much time you spend “waiting”, waiting in line, waiting for the dentist or doctor, waiting in traffic….. Is it possible that during this time you could be brainstorming ideas for businesses? Or jotting down an outline for your plan in a notebook or on your phone? Or listening to training audio in the car? Or on the train? This could add up to several hours per week.
What about the time you spend watching TV or on social media? Can you reduce this by 15 minutes per day (that’s almost 2 hours per week) and work on one task each day to set up a side business? Can you get up 15 minutes earlier or go to bed 15 minutes later? Can you be creating advertising material in between watching a youth sports game? Can you be jotting down an outline during a boring meeting? The point here is that you actually have more “free” time (meaning time that is under your control) than you realize.
Use this time to the max by fitting in tasks that match the time slots and you will find that it really adds up to significant results.
Problem 3: You feel that you are all alone and have not support network. You have lots of questions and uncertainties and folks around you either have nothing helpful to offer or worse, they tell you to give on your crazy schemes because “these never work out”, or when one plan does not work out, they are the first to say “I told you so”. And even worse that that, you believe them that there is no hope and give up.
Solution 3: Hang out with the right people. These are folks who are positive and provide you with useful feedback and instill confidence in you. These can be friends, family, people you meet through church or other networks, or you can seek out professional mentors though the small business administration (SBA). The point is you need positive feedback and reinforcement to build you up as you gain momentum on your path and you need to avoid negative energy which will drag you down to a grinding halt.
Problem 4: You try to think of and do everything at once and keep shifting your focus around many different tasks which all seem important and take up a lot of time. This overwhelms you feeds into the “I have no time” belief noted above.
Solution 4: With a good plan, you can focus on doing the most important things first and everything else in the appropriate order. By focusing on one item at a time, you will get better results, avoid overwhelm and gain confidence. See the article on first things first.
Problem 5: You have not yet experienced any significant success. If you set your expectations as “I will be successful when I make $10,000 per month and not before”, then you are setting yourself up for serious disappointment, leading to deciding to quit in the early stages of your venture. Then if you go off and try something else having the same expectations, you will experience the same thing and keep spinning your wheels until you are so exhausted with the whole process that you conclude “it’s just not worth it!”
Solution 5: Reset your expectations so that you experience success along the journey, not just at the end. There is nothing wrong with having a large end goal, but don’t ignore all the successes along the way. When you develop your plan when you set up your website, when you get your first customer, or publish your first eBook or your 10th eBook…..these are all successes, and you need to have the feeling that you are accomplishing good things leading you down the path to where you want to go. This feeling of success and
satisfaction will drive you keep on pursing the venture and result in even greater successes!
One of the big reasons folks are very hesitant to venture into self employment is health insurance. Especially as we get on in life and have families we are responsible for, having health insurance to cover medical expenses is really important. This is one of the reasons to hold onto a job at an employer who provides group coverage at reasonable cost to you, even if you hate what you are doing this benefit often times convinces people to stick with it…..
The truth is that health insurance can be very expensive so you do need to deal with this questions if you venture outside of the corporate world. But this does not need to be a guilt-ridden stressful experience. Health insurance is just a line item cost you need to be aware of and plan for, just like a utility bill. The fact is that in recent times, there have been more options available to self-employed individuals under the Affordable Healthcare Act. In addition, you have the option to continue your current group coverage under COBRA for 18 months once you leave your employer. However, the entire cost will be shifted to you, so it is important to find out what this will be as you research your options, before making any moves.
Another option is Medicare, if you qualify, so this also needs to be considered into your plan depending on when you intend to retire and leave your full time employment. If you decide to go on your own as a self-employed individual, you can find information on the healthcare coverage marketplace at www.healthcare.gov . There is a special enrollment person available to folks who lose their current healthcare coverage due to loss of a job or discontinuation of employment. So, be sure check this out while you are evaluating your options.
So what are the typical costs you might be looking at for healthcare coverage as a self employed individual? Keep in mind these are just averages and vary depending on your location and specific requirements. But for quick high level estimating purposes, these are the numbers:
These are just ballpark numbers, but important to consider. You can find more information at www.ehealthinsurance.com
This is why it makes sense to start a venture on the side first while still working for an employer, and then make the transition to move over to working only at your side venture when you are ready (when you have enough resources to retire, when the side venture is bringing in sufficient income). Another option you have is to first transition from your current job to a lower level, less demanding type of work which includes benefits, and then focus more time on building up your side venture, before finally leaving your job. There are many options out there, so it’s important to objectively consider them all before making any decisions, and to be aware of these instead of feeling trapped in what you are currently doing.
While money is not the most important part of deciding what path you want to follow for a side venture, it certainly is something to be considered. If your objective is to be able to transition into a retirement with an established business you can scale up, you do not to be stuck in a venture which require trading a lot of your time for little money. The purpose of starting the venture is to be able to
free up more of your time to enjoy life and not be tied down to the daily grind. So lets look at a some of the most popular side ventures people are starting up and see how much money you can realistically make at these and how much time is required. With this type of evaluation, you can make better informed decisions for what you really want to do and not be influenced by all the
marketing and hype out there. If there are other ventures not listed which you want to see on this list, please feel free to submit a
Blogger: Writing posts and articles about specific topics targeted to an audience. This can be your own
blog that you set up and manage or you can write for someone else’s blog and get paid for the content
you provide. If this is your own blog, income is generated by placing advertising on the blog or selling a
product or service to followers of the blog.
Makes corrections and notes as needed.
safe, plays with them an takes them for walks.
to specific audience groups.
advertising copy, sales material or books.
apps, games, publications, blogs, etc. This includes logos and illustrations for manuals.
play more sophisticated music and/or improve their performance playing in a band or orchestra.
acquire desired items, to save time for the clients.
articles, etc.) and/or creating artwork to be sold.
performance in classes and on exams.
One key principle to follow when starting up a new venture is to be very focused on the most important tasks first. It is very easy when starting out to get overwhelmed with all the “things” you need to do to get started….register a domain, set up a business, set up a website, advertise, hire an accountant, develop a business plan….. Yes these are all significant steps in building a new venture but they cannot all be done at once, certainly not done well. If you have attempted to do this, the result is typically getting overwhelmed and getting stuck with having too much to do in too little time, and then stopping before you even start. Does that sound familiar?
Having to start a venture on the side while still working and having other responsibilities severely limits your available time and can add even more stress and pressure. But the truth is that this may actually be an advantage. You see, if you have more time or lots of time, but still not focused, the result would be that you might end up jumping around between all these tasks to the point that you filled up the time but still not getting anywhere. Haven’t you heard this – “work expands to fill the time”? That’s not a good result. You want to make the time you have be effective to the max.
So how do we approach starting a new venture?
If you follow what the most successful individuals have done to build up their businesses, they have one approach in common. They focus on the road right in front of them. If they need to get from step A to step Z starting today, they will focus today on how to get from step A to B. They will not be thinking about what happens if they get to step L, M or Q or X and then can’t get any further or something bad
may happen….. They jut focus on “How do I get from A to B”? that’s it, then when they get to B, they focus on hoe to get to C, and then so down the road.
They have the confidence to think that when they get to B, they will learn some new information (which they do not have yet) that will point them in the right direction to get to C, and then when they get to C, they will gather even more knowledge and experience to get to D. Does that make sense? One of these folks was quoted as saying that when presented with an idea that sounds good, they first say “yes” then figure out how to make it happen, not the other way around. This is a totally different mindset for those of us who are not comfortable with the unknown and are used to structured activities. But the really successful folks have built up the confidence to take
some calculated risks. You can do this too! As an Entrepretiree you have mitigated much of your risk by starting this now while you are still working, rather than jumping 100% into it.
In terms of deciding on a venture to start, the first task (step A) should be to determine if this will meet your requirements in terms of how much money it will make and how much time will be required etc. Do not get bogged down trying to figure out if you need to incorporate or file an LLC or how to set up a payment system or what your logo should look like…. First and foremost, just focus entirely on determining if this venture will meet your requirements, that’s it. Once you have determined that this a viable venture for you, then move on to the next step, and then when that is done, move onto the next, one at a time. Really resist the temptation to think too far ahead, this will only get in your way and slow you down, or worse totally derail your success.
One thing that helped a lot was consulting with a SCORE mentor. These are folks, typically retired executives, who advise small business owners on questions they have. This is a free service provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Check it out: http://www.sba.gov
There is an endless unlimited supply of “Profitable Business” ideas and headlines about how you can make a full time income with little effort and little time. But most (almost all) are just high level headlines about someone who has made some money doing something that appears to be an easy overnight success. The idea is to convince you that you too can achieve this same success with little effort, to encourage you to click on the offer or supply an email address and then ultimately buy a product, course, package or subscription so you too can be “successful”.
In actuality, the truth is that while it is possible that you could achieve success with these systems, most of the time the folks really achieving success are the ones selling the course or product or subscription. This is much like the people who made money selling tools (shovels, picks, camping gear, etc.) during the gold rush of the 1800’s ended up seeing more success that the ones trying to find the gold. This is not to say these systems are all scams, they are not but the concern is that they do not present all the details and steps and effort needed to get from step A to step Z. A lot of these systems tend to skip steps B though Y in their sales materials. Then once you start investing in the product or system, and you realize that you do not have enough information to go any further, they try to upsell you with the next level “expert system” or “personal coaching” or “gold membership” or “example templates:” or something else that you need to buy (at significant cost) in order to make any progress towards being successful. And since you have already invested in the system, there is a lot of temptation to take it further rather than losing your initial investment and then starting over with another system.
If you actually know all the steps and efforts the creators of these went through to get the results, then you would have more realistic expectations for these and would be able to make more informed decisions on what might be right for you. No one sets up a blog today and makes $10,000 in their sleep by next month. That’s just not reality. They may be making that much today, but there were some important steps they followed and they understood the path before embarking on it.
My goal here is to save you from being frustrated by getting excited about a new idea, investing time and money in it, getting disappointed when the results do not happen, then repeating the process. It can feel like you are chasing your tail, constantly looking for the next “big thing” and never finding it. We do not want this to be you, and we certainly do not have time to waste on ventures which are not appropriate. Maybe when we were younger, we could afford to do this, but with retirement approaching, now is no time to be caught in an endless loop of spending and hoping “this is the one”.
So how do we make realistic assessments of these ideas? In the next article, let’s take some common side venture ideas and break them down into the key metrics that we can use to match our requirements like time required, potential income, startup cost, special training needed, and scalability.
Here are some side venture ideas that do not require large investments of time or money but really do bring in extra income. You can easily manage several of these at the same time. Here are some real life ventures that are currently running now:
Here is a book that I would highly recommend you read if you are seriously considering getting started in side ventures. This book is perfect for Entrepretirees because it gets right to the point, does not waste any of your time, is very realistic about what is possible and it keeps you on a timeline of 27 days so you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you are not left hoping that "one day something will work out". This book enable you to work with what resources and knowledge you have right now, so there is not waiting for additional training or major cost investments. I urge you to give it a try, well worth the time invested in reading this.
Rather than running off and starting up a side business solely focused on making a lot of money quickly (and there are tons of these “ventures” out there to chase), an Entrepretiree is seeking more of a lifestyle approach to venturing into a side business which can potentially become a main business. Simply stated “money is not everything”. Yes money is certainly important but it is more of a vehicle to help you get to where you want to go, whether that is being able to travel, move somewhere else, spend time volunteering, learn a new language or instrument, or become a full time business owner. It is important to focus first on what you want to do and then figure out the money part, and never the other way around or you risk being just as stressed in your side venture after retirement are you are in your full time career before retirement. And this is not at all where you want to be. The purpose of being proactive and starting to build your retirement venture before you retire is that you have time to test it out and make adjustments to align it with your desired future now, before you jump into it with both feet.
So what are some Entrepretiree requirements to be aware of?
Some suggested ideas include:
An "Entrepretiree" is someone who is an entrepreneur with the intention to transition their part-time side business/hustle into their main occupation once they retire. It is a proactive approach to planning for retirement to keep you from being caught off guard should circumstances (possibly beyond your control) make the retirement decision for you. Even if you have carefully planned out your finances and timeline and are retiring on your own terms when you want to, it is still super important to have a plan on what you will do after you retire. Everyone needs a purpose, a routine, something to give meaning to their existence and motivate them to get up every morning. Ideally this would be something you are already familiar with doing that you could just step further into. Yes, you could wait for retirement and then start thinking about what you want to do next, but by then you risk losing momentum and you may conclude that it is too late to start planning your next gig. Setting up a new venture is work and it takes time. You may actually have too much time at that point and the time may feel empty and without direction or routine as you work to get going again. There are many stories of retirees who think "once I retire you will find me on the golf course" or "on the beach all year long". But after a few months, this leisurely lifestyle loses its appeal and excitement and they seek more fulfilling activities. This not just the fate of retirees, the same stories hold for lottery winners. Agree or not, not but the fact is that people need to be engaged in meaningful productive activities to have purpose in their lives and feel good about things. The "job stress" and "daily grind" we feel leading to burnout is when you lose control over what you are doing and when our are doing it, and feel that you are forced to do things that do not align with your values or vision or deepest desires but you do not have a choice, and now life is passing you by.
But you do have a choice. That is why the time to start planning what YOU want to do is NOW! The future will be here before you realize it. Wouldn't it be great if you had a meaningful side venture set up and running that drove and excited you and when you retired (for any reason) you could just step further into this and ramp it up (as much or as little as you wanted)? This is what being an Entrepretiree is all about. The benefits of this are many. To just name a few, we have:
Chemical Engineering 101: Optimized Extraction Of Aromatic Organic Compounds From Thermally Processed Herbal Rubiaceae Seeds (Commonly Referred To As “HOW TO MAKE GREAT COFFEE”)
WHAT MAKES GREAT COFFEE?
When we think of great coffee, we think of a rich tasting brew with a deep color, fragrant aroma and full flavor rich in aromatics and some sweetness, with little bitterness or sourness. We generally think of coffee which tastes as good as it smells out of the bag.
Specific qualities of great coffee are generally:
SO WHERE DO WE START?
THE BASICS, #1 INGREDIENTS
The first things to look at are the raw ingredients used to make coffee. Coffee is a natural product and it contains many delicate compounds which make up its aroma, taste, flavors and mouth feel. Some of these compounds are volatile (they can evaporate out of the coffee as it stands exposed to the air) and some will break down when they are exposed to heat, light (especially sunlight) or moisture (water, humidity in the air, or condensation). Coffee will also pick up flavors and tastes from its surroundings.
To get the best most flavorful knock-your-socks-off cup of coffee that tastes as good as it smells, you must start with quality coffee beans and you must store them appropriately so as to maximize the delicious life of the coffee and prevent it from going stale for as long as possible.
So here are the basics for managing your coffee supply:
The next thing to look at is the equipment used to make your coffee. Everything that touches your coffee should be spotlessly clean. Think about if you were ordering coffee at a restaurant or coffee house. You would not want to see old stained coffee pots and coffeemakers full of scale and residue…yuck!
Another critical piece of your brewing system which makes contact with the coffee and greatly influences its quality is the filter. A good filter will produce a clean tasting flavorful cup of delicious coffee, while a bad filter can produce a bland cup of coffee with a cardboard like flavor. So always use good quality filters. This means:
Have you heard this statement before? “I like how coffee smells, but I don’t like how it tastes”
So why is it that coffee which starts out smelling heavenly out of the bag ends up not tasting so great when it’s in your cup? What happened to all those great flavors and aromas?
The answer to this has to do with the chemistry of the coffee brewing process. Roasted coffee beans contain many compounds (chemicals) which make up the characteristics of the qualities of the coffee. Some of these compounds have great aromas and flavors. Some are sweet. Some make the coffee feel smooth when you drink it. But others are bitter, or sour. Some taste like cardboard and some make your teeth feel squeaky when you drink them. And then there is caffeine which is also a compound extracted from coffee. Caffeine tastes bitter at high concentrations, but in coffee there is not enough caffeine to add any flavor.
The balance of flavors in the cup of coffee you drink is determined by the brewing process used to extract out or dissolve out the compounds from the coffee beans and get them into your cup. Brewing is a chemical process known as “extraction” which removes compounds from one substance (coffee beans) by using a solvent (water). The purpose of the brewing process is to extract out the greatest amount of the good compounds (flavors, aromas, sweetness, smoothness) and leave behind as many of the bad compounds (sourness, bitterness, off flavors) as possible.
Hot water works much faster than cold water in extracting out compounds from solid materials, especially compounds which contain oil. Cold water will work too, but it will take a long time, just like making ice tea using a pitcher of cold water and tea bags.
For brewing coffee, the typical brewing process is to grind the beans and then pass hot water over them to extract out the desired compounds. The coffee is ground to increase its surface area. More surface area means more contact with the hot water and that means more compounds are extracted. The coffee/water mixture is then filtered to separate out the solid parts (the coffee grounds), and the result is the delicious cup of coffee you can drink.
It might sound like more extraction is better because it means more flavor, but this is not the case since the extraction is taking out the good and bad compounds from the coffee and dissolving them into the coffee you will drink. More extraction means more bad compounds which can overpower the good compounds and result in a very bitter flavorless cup of coffee. The trick is to extract out the right balance of compounds mostly good ones and a minimum of bad ones. There is a point in the extraction process where the quality of the brewed coffee is optimized (the best you will get). Too little or too much extraction will make less than great coffee.
In general coffee that is under extracted (too little extraction of compounds out of the coffee) has a weak flavor and tastes sour. And coffee that is over extracted (too much extraction of compounds out of the coffee) has a strong but bitter flavor and may cause your teeth to feel squeaky.
The extraction is determined by the following factors:
There is an optimal point for all these factors where the best coffee is produced. All of these factors need to be considered to get to this point. Let’s look at each one.
THE TYPE OF BREWING METHOD USED
Making coffee is a type of chemical process known as extraction where compounds in one material (ground coffee beans) are dissolved out into a liquid solvent (water). There are different methods for doing this extraction. Some use electronic systems to control the extraction and others are manual which allow the process to be varied but also requires someone to perform and closely monitor the process.
The most common electric coffee making systems are drip coffee makers and percolator systems. There also espresso making systems which use a different process where hot water under pressure is forced through the coffee beans in a very short time.
Drip coffee makers are the most common type of coffee making systems. In this system, water is heated to a set temperature and then the hot water is showered over the ground coffee which is in a basket lined with either a paper filter or metal screen. The water passes over and through the ground coffee and drips out the bottom of the basket into a coffee pot. The coffee pot is either glass or it can be stainless steel. Coffee makers with glass coffee pots typically have a hot plate under the pot to keep the brewed coffee warm. Stainless steel coffee pots are typically thermal type carafes which keep the brewed coffee warm through their insulating properties, much like a Thermos bottle where there are 2 walls of the bottle with air space in between to reduce the conduction of heat out of the pot. Of the two types of coffee pots, stainless steel thermal carafes are more expensive but they are able to maintain coffee for a longer time without losing any flavor. The heated glass pots will tend to drive off the flavors and aromas of the coffee as more heat is added after brewing. Many restaurants use drip coffee making systems, as do coffee shops since they are reliable, consistent, economical, and easy to clean.
Percolators used to be the standard coffee making systems before drip became more popular but they are still used. Usually at large gatherings you see coffee urns which are large percolating systems. In a percolator, the coarse ground coffee is placed into a basket at the top of the coffee pot. Water is added to the bottom. The percolator heats water to boiling and then uses the pressure created by the steam to force the hot water up through a tube and sprays it over the basket where it comes into contact with the ground coffee. The water is recycled many times until the desired strength of the coffee is reached. For electric systems, the percolator will automatically turn off at a preset time. For stove top systems, the person making the coffee must keep track of the time and turn off the stove when the coffee is done. This method is different from drip coffee where the water passes through the coffee only one time. Percolator systems are used for large gatherings like conventions, weddings, church events etc. because you can make a large amount of coffee quickly without needing to watch over it and the pot keeps it hot.
Espresso requires a specialized coffee making system where hot water under pressure is forced through finely ground coffee to extract out the maximum amount of flavor in a very short time.
There are also the pod type coffee makers. These systems are fully automatic and do not allow for any variation on the brewing process beyond the settings on the user panel (i.e. some allow for “Strong” vs. “Regular”). The coffee is contained in a sealed plastic cup with a filter at the bottom. Therefore the amount of coffee used is set by the supplier and cannot be varied. The water temperature and brew time are automatically controlled by the machine. So the only part of the brewing process that the person making the coffee can control is the type of water used to make the coffee.
Popular manual methods for making coffee include French press and pour-over. The French press is a cylindrical glass coffee pot with a stainless steel plunger with a screen at the bottom. The ground coffee and hot water are added to the pot and then the plunger/screen are placed at the top of the pot. After a set amount of time, the person making the coffee presses the plunger down and the screen slides down the pot and strains out and compresses the ground coffee at the bottom of the pot. The brewed coffee above the screen is then poured out into a cup to drink. People like this method because it results in a more full flavored and full bodied coffee than drip coffee. Paper filters used in drip coffee tend to remove some of oils in coffee which contain the flavors and aromas of the coffee beans.
The Pour-over is much like a manual version of drip coffee. The ground coffee is placed in a screen or paper or cloth filter in a funnel which is placed over the coffee pot. The person making the coffee boils the water in a kettle and then lets it sit for a minute before pouring the hot water slowly over the ground coffee in a circular motion so as to wet all the ground coffee evenly. The water passes over and through the ground coffee and then drips out the bottom of the funnel into the coffee pot. This method requires that the person carefully pours the hot water at a controlled rate so all of the ground coffee is in contact with the hot water for a set amount of time. Specialty coffee shops use this method to produce very flavorful coffees.
Moka pot is a two-chamber pot used on the stovetop, typically used in Europe and Latin America, for making espresso-like coffee. The Moka pot uses stem to brew the coffee by boiling water in the lower chamber and then passing the steam pressurized hot water through the coffee basket and then into the top collection chamber.
This pot uses steam to pressurize the hot brewing water, which allows for higher brewing and extracting temperatures. This is similar to the espresso brewing process, however the pressure is lower than pressures used during espresso brewing. The result is a bolder more intense flavorful coffee than drip brewed coffee, somewhere between drip and espresso brew.
TURKISH & GREEK COFFEE
Turkish coffee is made by taking very finely ground coffee beans and boiling them in a special pot (with a narrow neck and a long handle) on top of the stove. After a set amount of time, the heat is removed and the ground coffee sinks to the bottom of the pot. The brewed coffee is poured off the top of the pot. It still contains suspended solids after it is poured into the cup. This sinks to the bottom and laves a layer of sediment in the cup.
Each of these methods noted above requires the coffee beans to be ground to a specific size range to achieve the best results.
GRIND OF THE COFFEE
Each brewing method works best with a specific grind size. The rule is:
The finer the grind of the coffee, the greater the extraction of compounds. If the coffee is ground too fine for the brewing method, the brewed coffee will be too strong and bitter and might make your mouth squeaky. You will end up with ground coffee that smells great before you brew it but does not taste great after you brew it.
If the ground coffee is too coarse, the coffee will be too weak and have too little flavor, aroma and body. Once again you will end up with ground coffee that smells great before you brew it but does not taste great after you brew it.
The method of grinding is important as it is important for all the ground coffee to be uniform in size. If there is variation in the size of the ground coffee (some pieces are big and some are very small) then the quality of the brewed coffee will not be consistent as some of the ground coffee is over extracted, some is perfectly extracted and some is under extracted.
The best way to get a grind which is uniform is size is to use what is known as a burr grinder. This is the type of coffee grinder used in coffee shops and supermarkets. It works by crushing the coffee beans between two disks called burrs. The distance between the burrs is adjustable and this allows you to select the size of the grind you want. The ground coffee that comes out of this type of coffee grinder is very uniform in size. The problem with these types of coffee grinders is that they tend to be more expensive than the lower cost blade grinders.
Blade grinders work by breaking up the coffee beans using a spinning blade (like a food processor or blender). These types of grinders are inexpensive but they produce ground coffee which is not uniform in size (some pieces are big and some are small). Also, the high speed action of a blade grinder can heat up the coffee and cause it to lose some of its aroma and flavor oils. These are less expensive but they are not perfect.
Another problem is that you cannot select the size of the ground coffee. You must judge this by eye as you grind it. If you do use a blade type grinder, it is recommended that you pulse it on for a few seconds and then let the ground coffee rest for a few seconds, then tap the grinder to redistribute the coffee and then pulse again. This increases the uniformity of the final grind and reduces the amount of heating of the ground coffee. For drip or pour-over coffee, grind the coffee beans for a total of 15-20 seconds. For French press or percolated coffee, grind the beans for 10-12 seconds
QUALITY OF WATER
Since water is the solvent used to extract the compounds from the coffee and water is 98% of the coffee you are drinking, the quality of the water used for making coffee is very important to the quality of the coffee you make.
Not all water is the same. There are many different sources of water and each source contains different chemicals which change the flavors and qualities of the water.
Distilled water is produced by boiling water and condensing the steam back to liquid. Distilled water is ultra-pure and contains no dissolved chemicals.
Tap water is what comes out of the faucet. This water contains different minerals like calcium and magnesium, depending on where the water comes from. It also contains added chemicals like fluoride (for the health of your teeth) and chlorine (for killing germs and bacteria).
There is bottled water which contains minerals similar to tap water but without the chlorine and fluoride.
And then there is treated water such as tap water you filter in your home or city water which is processed through a reverse osmosis (RO) system in a restaurant. The filter or RO system removes sediment, bacteria, chlorine and other chemicals which give the water a bad taste.
For the purpose of making coffee, distilled water is not acceptable. Some mineral content is needed in the water or else the coffee will taste flat and lacking in flavor.
Tap water is generally not the best choice because the chlorine will add undesirable flavors to the coffee. Some tap water may also contain minerals such as gypsum (calcium sulfate) which add an undesirable flavor (like sulfur – rotten eggs) to the water and to the coffee.
The best choice for water to use for making great coffee is water that tastes great to drink. The ideal type of water to use for brewing coffee contains some mineral content but does not contain any compounds which produce bad flavors (like chlorine or rotten eggs).
Good choices include bottled drinking water (spring water or purified drinking water, not distilled water) or tap water which has been filtered or conditioned using a purification system designed for drinking water.
Softened water is not good for making coffee as most of the beneficial minerals such as calcium have been replaced with sodium, which will result in a duller flavor and add to your intake of sodium which many people are trying to limit.
Most coffee shops use treated tap water. This enables them to have control of the quality and consistency of the water they use. Bottled drinking water is fine as well. Or if you live in an area where the quality of the local water supply is very good (such as ground water from deep wells or aquifers) and does not need treatment with chemicals, then feel free to try this out for brewing coffee.
The bottom line is that if the water does not taste good to drink by itself, then it will not make good coffee.
Just one thing to keep in mind with ground water (such as well water) is that it tends to contain higher levels of minerals such as calcium and magnesium which will leave deposits (scale) behind in your coffee making equipment at a faster rate than water with lower mineral content. This means that you will need to clean and descale your equipment more frequently. Soaking your equipment in a vinegar/water solution for an hour or so will generally remove the scale from the surfaces.
TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER
The temperature of the water when it comes in contact with the coffee has a big effect on the extraction. Different compounds in coffee (and there are tons of them) are soluble at different rates depending on the temperature of the water. As the water gets hotter, the rate at which compounds can dissolve out of the coffee and into the water gets faster (think about dissolving sugar in hot water vs. cold water). Also as the water gets hotter, it is easier to remove more of the water resistant (oily) chemicals from the coffee. This is why it is much faster to make coffee and tea using hot water than using cold.
The problem is that hotter is not always better. Some of the compounds taste bitter or taste “off” (i.e. taste bad, such as tasting like cardboard) and you want to limit the dissolution of these into the water but you still want to maximize the dissolution of the good chemicals (the flavors and aromas and sweetness). If the water is too hot, you will end up with coffee with a lot of extra flavors and bitterness which may cover up the good flavors and qualities. You will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
If the water is colder, the rate of dissolution will be slower. This means there will be less bitterness, but there will also be less flavor as some of the important compounds may not be dissolved into the water in sufficient quantities to give the coffee the qualities you want. Once again you will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
The trick is that you need to have water that is sufficiently hot but not too hot so that you will extract out the exact balance of compounds needed to give you the qualities of coffee you want; smooth, full of flavor and rich aromas with some sweetness and little bitterness. To achieve this when brewing hot coffee, the ideal water temperature is just slightly below boiling. This is 200-205 degrees F (93.3-96.1 degrees C).
If you are using an electric coffee maker (drip, pod or percolator), the temperature is automatically controlled for you, so you do not need to worry about this.
If you are using a manual brewing method like French press or pour-over, the best way to get the correct water temperature is to bring the water to a boil in the kettle, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 1 minute before pouring it over the coffee.
AMOUNT OF TIME THE COFFEE IS IN CONTACT WITH THE WATER
The next big factor which determines the amount of extraction of compounds from the coffee is the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee. Since each of the compounds can dissolve out of the coffee at different rates, some will be completely dissolved quickly and other will take longer.
The amount of time that the water stays in contact with the coffee will determine how much of each compound is dissolved out or extracted out into the coffee. Ideally you want the good compounds (flavors, aromas, sweetness, smoothness) to be completely dissolved out and the bad ones (sourness, bitterness, astringent quality – makes your mouth squeaky) to be left behind as much as possible.
If the coffee is in contact with the hot water for a time that is too short, not enough of the good compounds will be dissolved out and the coffee will be bland and not have the full flavor and aroma it should have. You will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
If the coffee is in contact with the water for a time that is too long, too many of the bad compounds will be dissolved out and the coffee will be too bitter and may have off flavors (stale, cardboard, etc.). Once again you will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
The ideal time for the hot water to be in contact with the coffee is 4 – 5 minutes. If you are using an electric brewing system (drip, pod or percolator) and you have the correct grind size, the brewing system will pass the water through the coffee for the correct amount of time. If you are using a manual brewing system like French press or pour-over, you will need to manually control the amount of time the water is in contact with the coffee. For French press this means setting a timer and then removing the coffee from the pot (otherwise the extraction will continue for too long). And for pour-over this means having a timer and controlling the rate at which you pour the water over the coffee.
THE RATIO OF COFFEE TO WATER (HOW MUCH OF EACH)
The amount of ground coffee compared to the amount of water used to brew coffee is critical for getting the right extraction. If the amount of ground coffee is too little for the amount of water, there will be too little of the good compounds dissolved out into the brewed coffee. The bad compounds (bitterness, off flavors and astringency – makes your mouth feel squeaky) will be more apparent in the brewed coffee. You will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
If the amount of ground coffee is too much for the amount of water, the brewed coffee will not achieve the full flavor, but the coffee may be very bitter, as the water will not be able to completely dissolve or extract out all of the good compounds from the ground coffee in the right proportion to the bad compounds. Once again you will get coffee that smells great but does not taste too good.
You need to have the right ratio of ground coffee to water in order to provide right balance of compounds extracted or dissolved out into the brewed coffee. This perfect ratio is generally 2 Tablespoons of ground coffee to 6 ounces of water. This can be varied slightly but not too much. Always read the directions on the coffee package or start with this ratio of 2 Tablespoons ground coffee to 6 ounces water when first brewing a new type of coffee and then try experimenting by changing the amounts in small quantities up and down and see what the results are.
QUICK CHECKLIST – DO’S AND DON’TS OF MAKING GREAT COFFEE
Do Make Sure You:
Don’t Make These Common Mistakes:
That’s it! If you follow these logical steps you too can brew incredibly rich flavorful coffee without spending a lot of money on fancy equipment or taking lots of time experimenting with different recipes.
More information at: https://www.ibrewthebestcoffee.com/
© 2022 Diogenes Publishing LLC
While other diet plans and weight loss eating plans have experienced ups and downs in popularity over the years, the Mediterranean diet has consistently been ranked in the top tier since it became publicized in the 1990’s. For the last 5 years, the Mediterranean diet has been named the best eating plan by US News & World Report.
What makes the Mediterranean diet more long-lasting in its popularity and its results is that it is not a “diet” as people have come to think of diets where you need to strictly avoid many of the foods you enjoy and you feel deprived, and as a result look to move onto another perceived less restrictive diet. The Mediterranean diet is more of a style of eating coupled with a healthy life style that real people have followed for centuries with positive results. People who live in Mediterranean regions of the world follow this style of eating because that is their lifestyle. They are lucky to have access to many sources of fresh unprocessed food, including many flavorful and nutritious vegetables and fruits and they truly enjoy what they eat. They do not see themselves as being on a “diet”. And if you enjoy what you are doing, it becomes effortless and you will continue to do it and enjoy it.
The benefits of the Mediterranean diet include better health as defined by Everyday Health. This includes having a more healthy body weight, without having to eat “diet products” like artificial sweeteners or synthetic fats. It also means you do not have to eliminate vital food groups from what you eat, like carbohydrates (carbs) or natural sweeteners and fats. Beyond maintaining a healthy weight, the Mediterranean diet ensures you are getting balanced nutrition from the variety of foods you are eating, rather than having to take processed supplements and synthetic vitamins. It is the combination of the nutrients in the proper balance which is thought to provide one of the key health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
The foods and meals considered to be under the umbrella of the “Mediterranean Diet” include many common, normal good-tasting choices such as olive oil, fresh fish, lean meat, bread, fresh vegetables and fruits and even some wine and don’t forget dessert! You do not need to eat any weird or nasty stuff to consume healthier food under the Mediterranean diet. Thy key is to switch to healthier alternatives, such as healthier carbohydrates, fays, sweeteners, rather than avoiding them altogether. This is what makes the Mediterranean Diet so attractive and long-lasting. You do not need in the Mediterranean region to follow the Mediterranean Diet, you can do this too!
For more quick and easy tips on how to adopt a healthier eating style without feeling deprived, check out Mediterranean Diet Cheat Sheets
Harvard School of Public Health, Diet Review: Mediterranean Diet
Everyday Health, 8 Scientific Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
Scripps Wellness & Prevention, Mediterranean Diet Is Best Diet – Once Again
REMOTE WORK IN THE NEW NORMAL – THAT TRAIN HAS ALREADY LEFT THE STATION, THERE IS NO TURNING BACK NOW
If you ever wanted to find an opportunity to work remotely, there is no time like right now to explore your options both outside your current organization and also for where you are at now. In the past working remotely was viewed as less productive and not for those who were serious about whir jobs and careers. Since most employers in the past were not very flexible in providing opportunities for folks to try out remote work and demonstrate that this does work well, there was no real evidence to point to for justifying remote work as legitimate value-added service to the organization. And for many of us, we might not have been sure this would work since were never given the opportunity to work remotely. But all that changed since the global pandemic. For many of us, we now have over one year plus of real-world experience to justify our performance working remotely and provide hard data to show the many benefits of working remotely, either part time in a hybrid mode or full time.
And it turns out that there are just many benefits to the employers as there are to employees for working remotely. Specifically, these relate to the bottom-line profits, which is welcome news for those who wish to justify continuing to work remotely. This really ids a win:win situation and now we can prove it.
Benefits to the Employer
So here are some data points which provide justification of the benefits to employers and organizations for supporting remote work:
For employees working remotely, here are some of the key benefits:
In the past, remote work was seen as play-working, hanging out at home all day in pajamas and having a vacation while getting paid. Remote workers were generally viewed as less productive and less serious about their jobs than workers who came in to the office. A lot of that perception has changed since the great pandemic-induced remote working experiment of 2020, however there are still some lingering doubts and hesitations to address an overcome to change this mindset. Here are some common perceived obstacles to working remotely.
How many times have you struggled with trying to come up with a good idea? An idea for a business, for the perfect gift for someone, what to make for dinner, or what craft projects will keep the kids entertained. It often feels like the more effort and focus on coming up with the idea, the more out of reach it becomes. “Wracking your brain” is what my grade school teacher used to call this process, and it never really yielded great results then or now.
Information overload from reading through ad-laden internet posts does not usually provide ideas which inspire any confidence, as the resulting answers are random and impersonal, or may simply reflect the opinions of a few superusers of the site.
A new startup has taken ideation to the tech-age by utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyze prompted information supplied by the requester to generate ideas specifically tailored to each request, thereby instilling a level of confidence not possible with random searches. Artificial intelligence has been on the horizon for many years but is now reaching a level of maturity making it a valuable and legitimate tool to solve real world issues and support human decision-making endeavors.
Give it a try for FREE at https://thought-ideas.com/home
Find the perfect gift idea, what to make for dinner, what books are recommended for you to read, business ideas and now You Tube Video ideas.
Feedback is always appreciated as the site is being perfected.
In these days of remote working and online interactions it is more important than ever to keep your mind active and engaged in something which will drive you forward. Many studies have confirmed that as we get older, it is vital to exercise our minds as well as our bodies in order to sustain our health and well-being. Continuous learning is the ley to maintain an active positive mind and continual growth of skills and confidence, even as we reach what most consider to be the tail end of our careers. The truth is that it’s not too late and yes you can teach an old dog new tricks. Keeping you mind challenged by learning something new has many immediate benefits, including: reduced stress, a more positive outlook, more confidence, a sharper mind, and even better performance at your job or possibly a new job or career altogether.
Now is an ideal time to explore the many options of online learning and developing new skills for the new economy or just for your personal satisfaction. Isn’t there something you always wanted to learn but never had the opportunity or the time? With the shift to virtual learning and remote work, there are many more options available to you that you never had before. You now have a world where you have some extra time by not commuting and you have more courses and certification programs online that ever before.
For me what I always wished learned when I was younger is coding and programming. This is a very dynamic filed which is constantly evolving and impacts all areas of our current society and economy. I always wanted to learn how things work and become a contributor to developing better technologies, not just a user of technology. I ended up in an engineering field and while this has bene good over the years, I will have a keen interest in learning the new and latest technology skills. This stuff makes me feel like a kid again and it also helps me contribute valuable ideas in my current engineering role. Lately I have stumbled upon a series of online programs designed to be engaging, fun, challenging and efficient in developing new coding and programming skills. All at a reasonable cost, and some it free! https://stude.co/1031503/coding-and-programming (disclosure: affiliate link). And now that I have just a bit more time…I am taking the plunge. There are so may compelling reasons to keep on learning and developing your mind and skills. You never know where this will take you.
Until next time...
There are many options for side income streams that can supplement your current income or provide a platform for a part-time side business that you cold eventually grow into a full-time venture (i.e. quit your day job). You must have seen many ads and webinars for “Affiliate Marketing”, “Taking Surveys”, “Franchising”, “Freelancing”, “Day Trading”, and the list goes on… All of these have the potential to make you some money but they do require an investment and commitment of time and/or money. If you are currently holding a fulltime job, and need it to pay for things like housing, health insurance, college, groceries, utilities etc., you likely do not have much of either of these to spare on a business venture that might or might not work. So what do you do?
First, you must decide on your life’s priorities. For me, yes I could spend all my non-working hours working on a side business, and I started out this way years ago, but soon realized that this would lead to giving up on things that were more important to me, like getting married and stating a family.
So the second step is to define just how much time you have available for a side business, and when you actually write it all down, it is more than you might think. You need to think of time outside the box of large dedicated hours and hours. For busy working adults, this time is more spread out; think about how I am writing this post now while waiting for the dentist. If someone asked me “you should think about starting a blog”, I would probably reply “I don’t have the time needed for that”. But somehow I do. Last weekend I reworked the website while waiting for 6 hours at DMV to get my license renewed. I have also gotten up just 20 minutes early to follow up on orders of my online products and hired writers to help with book manuscripts. Maybe free time is available during the commercials, or skipping a TV show now and then, it’s different for everyone but its within your control to identify and focus on the time you do have.
The third step is to define how much money you are willing to invest. If you are going for a franchise, you might need $200,000+. If you need specialized training or a certification you might need $5,000+. If you are starting a freelance writing business or blog you might need $50. It’s all up to you, but be clear up front so you don’t end up pouring more and more money into one idea when it might be better to reevaluate and change direction. For me, the time limitation dictated the money limitation. There was no way I would invest over $5000 in a business that I could only afford to spend a few hours a month on. I would surely end up losing this investment.
Last, you need to define a business that you will enjoy doing or one that gives you a purpose, something that drives you forward. If you start a side business that is pure drudgery, you will reach a point where it’s just not worth it to continue, even if you are making some money it will just not be worth the pain to push harder to grow it. More likely you will drop it or let is tail off.
So given all those considerations what types of side business will work? It will be different for each person and situation, but for me it became clear that producing a product which I had control over and selling it on an established marketplace was the right place to start. My product of choice was information products, namely eBooks, Print Books, Manuals and Business Templates. I took a few online courses to learn about this business and then hit the ground running. I create these products myself and I sell them on the following marketplaces, check these out:
Until next time.
All the best,
We are starting a forum for folks thinking about or running a side business. Check out our LinkedIn survey here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6729871963050921984
There are endless programs and courses out there which claim to make you tons of money. You’ve seen headlines like this right? “In fact, I earned over $20k in royalties in a single day”, “…pushing a button, and watching earnings simply pour into your account…”, or “no experience, no selling, no website, no investment needed…”.
I have tried some of these myself (more than I care to admit) and while they do contain some valuable insights, none have lived up to the claims presented in the marketing ads. Has that discouraged me from continuing down the path of part-time entrepreneurship? Not at all. In fact what I have learned from this journey is that the reasons for having a side business are more than just making tons of money, and the reasons that most of these programs fall short is that they do not address the key requirements needed to be successful, and these are different for each of us and every situation is different, so there is no “one size fits all” program that works for anyone. But that should not stop nor discourage you from exploring and burning desire you have to make a side business work, which you just can’t shake. There are many good reasons for having a side business, besides getting rich, which are of different relative importance for each of us. Here are a few:
More to come on this topic – until next time.
All the best,
Interest in baking is seeing a resurgence not seen since 100 years ago, when modern style cookbooks, specialized kitchen utensils and quality ingredients become widely available to many home bakers
Baking requires complete focus and concentration and this can pull the mind away from stressful and/or depressive thoughts. These are the experiences missing from the fast-paced reactionistic expectations of modern existence and precisely the type of experience people are longing for when they talk about slowing down and de-stressing.
We have come full circle. Now that we have all the modern conveniences and packaged process food available to us, we have come to more fully appreciate the art and craft of baking bread and cakes ourselves and the mindfulness experience and satisfaction it brings, even in uncertain times.
100 years ago, there were many uncertainties being faced, including World War I, food rationing and the flu pandemic of 1918. Baking was an essential part of providing food for families and also a means of finding some escape from the daily stresses and comfort in a familiar and predictable experience. Baking today still provides the satisfaction and provokes healthy mindfulness that is very much needed now as it was then. Many of the favorite recipes we still enjoy today were first introduced to home bakers over 100 years ago. Over 200 recipes are included here.
Here are some old favorites that are still enjoyed today -
Very palatable rolls can be made from a similar mixture of boiled potatoes and flour by adding fat and sugar. The following proportions will yield about 1 dozen small rolls:
Boil, peel, and mash the potatoes as directed for bread making.
Add to this the salt, the yeast rubbed smooth and mixed with the water, or other liquid, and lastly 2 tablespoons flour. Set this mixture to rise at about 86 °F and allow it to rise until a touch will cause it to fall. Add to this sponge the butter, the sugar, and the remainder of the flour, and, if necessary, enough more flour to make a very stiff dough.
Knead thoroughly until a smooth dough has been formed which is no longer sticky. Set back to rise again, and when the dough has trebled (tripled) in volume knead lightly, form into small balls, and place, not too close together, in greased pans. Let rise until double in volume and bake 20 minutes in a moderately hot oven (about 400° F).
(type of sourdough, handy when yeast is in short supply)
This bread, which is commonly called by the misleading name of “salt-rising bread," has been known in one form or another for generations. It has been a particular favorite when and where it was difficult to get satisfactory yeast.
Scald the milk. Allow it to cool until it is lukewarm; then add the salt, sugar, and corn meal. Place in a fruit can or a heavy crock or pitcher and surround by water at about 120° F. Water at this temperature is the hottest in which the hand can be held without inconvenience, and can be secured by mixing nearly equal parts of boiling water and tap water (unless the tap water is unusually warm). Allow the mixture to stand for 6 or 7 hours, or until it shows signs of fermentation. If it has fermented sufficiently, the gas can be heard as it escapes.
This leaven contains enough liquid for one loaf. If more loaves are needed, add 1 cupful of water, 1 teaspoonful of salt, 1 tablespoonful of sugar, and 1 table-spoonful of butter for each additional loaf. Make a soft sponge by adding a cupful of flour for each loaf to be made. Beat thoroughly and put the sponge again at the temperature of about 120° F.
When it is very light, add more flour gradually until the dough is so stifle that it can be kneaded without sticking to the hands or to the board. Knead 10 or 15 minutes, put at once into the pans, allow to rise until about two and one-half times its original bulk, and bake. Self -rising bread is never so light as the bread raised with yeast. A loaf made with one cupful of liquid therefore will come not quite up to the top of a pan of standard size.
Face it, It’s a real challenge to get into a new routine, especially when you are thrown into one suddenly with little time to prepare. For most of us, even though working from home seems like it should be less stressful, it can feel more stressful as needs and expectations of work and home life come together and constantly compete for our attention and focus.
Hey, you’re not alone at all. The fact is, most people need structure in order to feel secure and enable them to effectively focus and perform consistently. Not having a familiar structure, like going into work every day at the office, can feel like not having a sturdy floor to stand on. And this then shifts focus from fully performing tasks to trying to maintain balance and not fall down. The result can be that less gets done and what does get done may not be done as well.
Even though working from home affords significantly more time saved by not commuting to and from the office, the results may not meet expectations and can lead to more stress. What is needed here is structure and realistic expectations. But unlike structure solely defined by outside organizations, structure for working at home also needs some self defined structure. Hey is what we call freedom, but like any other new experience it takes some time to become skilled at it.
So what are some common elements of structure needed to work remotely? Here are the most important:
You deserve to feel good about yourself and how well you have managed all the changes and uncertainties and unfamiliar routines. You are on top of things and you will succeed!!
It’s interesting, despite all the early challenges with setting up and figuring out how to use teleconferencing tools, online meetings have quickly evolved into very efficient results oriented events which produce more value per hour than the old fashioned low tech face to face meetings. Yes, there will always be challenges with network interruptions and computers that are slow and bugs in software, but overall the results after just one month focused solely on virtual meetings shows that we have advanced to being much more productive. Based on what criteria? Here are some key observations, you be the judge:
The Virtual Engineer - What I Learned (by Necessity) In the Last 4 Weeks And How I’ve Become More Efficient
Plunging into the deep end of remote work has been an extreme paradigm shifting experience. Being an engineer supporting manufacturing operations, working from home in my circles has always been viewed as play-working and has been strongly discouraged as a lazy person’s way to get out of really putting in the effort to be productive. Now in 2020, given no other choice these same organizations have suddenly fully embraced remote work as a lifeline to keep things running while the world gets itself back together. As someone who has long sought an at least partial remote opportunity, this experience is not just that the glass is half full but it is overflowing. This is a chance to challenge the creative skills to prove this works and, even to my surprise, after one month I have found that this has worked out even better than I anticipated. In addition there are many new skills that I have learned and/or sharpened which can be very useful well into the future. These include everything from learning new software to new ways to stay motivated and new ways to be organized. All of these have actually improved my productivity as I have noticed as I am checking off completion of key project deliverables which I could never seem to get to while in the office. Out of every challenge comes a valuable learning opportunity, and here are some of the most valuable I have learned:
Conferencing Software That I Can Now Use Proficiently:
No more “Hey I think you are on mute”, or “The lighting is bad”, or “I can’t see your screen”.
Cloud Based Systems That I Now Use Without Redoing Any Documents Or Asking for Help:
I can now also seamlessly work between different computers and phones without losing anything!
Really Useful Productivity Tools I Have Recently Discovered:
Soft Skills I Have Significantly Sharpened Recently:
Here are some of the real benefits to organizations (not just employees) that real companies are currently looking at:
In the midst of all the uncertainty, fear and confusion going on right now in the world, it is important to hold onto the things that are within your control and and focus on what you can do right now to lift yourself up and look forward to a brighter and better future.
You’ve always wanted to be able to work from home or work remotely right? But most organizations have been very resistant to allowing remote work because remote workers are viewed as less productive or lazy or just taking a vacation and pretending to work (translation “If we can't see you and look over your shoulder, we don’t trust you to be responsible”).
But now all the rules have suddenly changed. No, this isn’t the way that I or anyone would have ever wanted it to be, but since we are forced to be in this situation anyway, why not use this opportunity (if we can call it that) to prove that working remotely from home really does work and it works very well.
Now that many of us are participating in this mandatory study of the effects for working remotely, the data is showing that people are actually more productive and effective in producing more work and engaging in more working hours during the day versus commuting into the office or work location each day. In fact, recent data shows people are 55-70% more productive in terms of work output per day now that they are working remotely. The apparent reasons for this are many, including the following:
Now is the time to keep this momentum moving forward. We have all the tools we need to be able to connect and collaborate remotely and we can make this work, now and into the future as needed. This time and situation will pass but let’s hold onto all the valuable lessons learned.Bottom line is that this is really working and now there is real data to back this up. And answer all the doubters out there. Working from home is real work and gets real results, sop let’s not go back to looking down upon those who desire to work remotely, they are very valuable contributors and need to be supported.
Look for more articles on how to maximize efficiency working remotely, what tools work well for remote work and more to come...
In the ever-rapidly evolving world of online ework, technology has emerged to answer one of the age-old concerns about letting people work remotely “Are they really working?” Software is now available to track remote workers’ time and productivity. In addition, this software can also provide productivity benefits to organizations including automation of: time sheets, project milestone tracking, invoices, and performance against objectives. This data can be used to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of remote work and efficiently manage remote teams, making employees more accountable and freeing supervisors from micromanaging. For organizations still wading into the waters of ework, this software can provide the data needed to move towards a more efficient future with confidence.
An excellent application for ework tracking is Time Doctor.
This application is simple to use and easily lets managers track:
Years ago when I got involved in what was then called “Business Assurance Planning”, the top threats to sustain business operations were fire, power outage, and natural disasters like floods, bad weather, earthquake. All of the contingency planning centered around finding another location work out of and making sure IT systems were backed up with copies stored off site. Then Y2K brought awareness of the vulnerabilities of all the IT systems we rely upon, even in the absence of a natural disaster, and we started to think about how we would operate if our IT systems stopped functioning.
An effective Business Continuity Plan (BCP) typically includes IT disaster recovery plus contingency/backup plans for critical business operations. Most BCPs focus on restoring key business functions in terms of relocating facilities, machinery, people or equipment so that the operations necessary to keep the business alive can be carried on even if the business is hit with a flood, fire, blizzard, etc.