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One Hundred Percent

Attriniti | Blog | 365 Challenge Day 2

In Your True Home, Hanh defines mindfulness as the energy that helps us to be there 100%. It is the energy of your true presence. In an age of distractions, multitasking, and information delivered in the small bites, how do we stay present? What is it like to give of ourselves 100% in any situation? Does it really make that much of a difference?

Let me start by saying that I know it is possible. It is not easy but it is possible. Most importantly, I know that it is an incredible gift to give yourself and your clients. Yes, it makes a huge difference in how you relate to your clients and the results you are able to deliver to your clients. How then do we begin to shift back into being 100% in the present?

  • Know that it is possible, and I would even assert that it is our natural state of being.
  • Stop comparing yourself with other people-living or dead, friends, family members, colleagues, celebrities. Just stop.
  • Eliminate your to-do list. Identify 3 Important Tasks to Complete at the start of each day or even better as the end to each day in planning for the next day. Priority each item as 1, 2, or 3. Then do each item one at a time until completion or at least as complete as it can be done in that moment.

Bonus Tip

Give yourself an hour to each task. Set a timer for 50 minutes, turn off email, the phone, etc and go for it. The last 10 minutes of the hour can be used to bring your hour of power to a close and to do a quick victory lap. Celebrate! You are on your way to being a present human being.

Do you have tips for staying present? Or a success story? If this all seems impossible or you are not convinced it will positively impact your business then let’s talk over a Strategy Session. I am ready to give you 100% of my attention.


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


Welcome 2017

Attriniti | Blog | 365 Challenge Day 1

Each year, I take some time in December and January to reflect on the year passed and think about an intention for the coming year. My intention for 2017 is clarity.

2016 was a tremendous year for my business because every single client I worked with was terrific. I was inspired by my great clients to do some of my best work, seek out new vendors and materials, and give fully of my time and talents. It is with gratitude that I begin 2017 and in that spirit, I have been writing each morning.

I write down 3 things I am grateful for, 3 things I would like to practice for the day, and a reflection on one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s lessons from Your True Home. The days I have postponed my new daily writing practice are the days that have not been so great. So, I invite you to join me this year to reflect each day with an eye on attracting really great clients and growing sustainable businesses.

Day One

Hanh reflects that you can find your true home in the full relaxation of your mind and body in the present moment.

Staying present in our businesses almost seems like a counterproductive directive for landscape designers. So much of what we do is thinking about the future-designing spaces to be enjoyed for years to come, creating installation timelines, placing orders for plans that exists partly in our head and partly on paper. Not to mention thinking about where our next clients are going to come from!

What I do know from direct experience is that my business grew in wonderful ways the more I stayed present. How? I started to pay attention to the types of clients and projects that I really enjoyed. Over time I created a profile of my ideal client/project. Then I was vigilant about only accepting jobs from clients who met my criteria.

Great clients are the foundation to your businesses’ success and growth. Do you know who your great clients are? Sign up for a Strategy Session and let’s take 45 minutes together to talk about your ideal clients and how to get more of them.


Thich Nhat Hanh. Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ed. Melvin McLeod. Boston: Shambhala, 2011. Print.


Plant the Seeds for a Fruitful 2017

attriniti-blog-121516-strategysession

Calling Landscape Designers!

December is the perfect time to reflect on your business. What was 2016 like? How would
you like 2017 to be different? Do you believe that 2017 can be different and better? I know it can!
Join me on December 27th for a 2017 Business Growth Strategy Session. Take 45 minutes to
reflect on 2016 and set the stage for a more successful new year.

attriniti-blog-121516-strategysession2

Sign up today as availability is limited. Click here to schedule now!


Is your car a mess? Why am I asking?

 

For many of us in the landscape industry, our vehicles are our mobile offices. Clutter in your office, mobile or stationary, wastes time and money not to mention does not look good to your clients.

Messy Car

Here are a few suggestions on how to neatly and efficiently create your mobile office. These suggestions work for your desk and office too:

#1) Figure out what it is that you need to have with you on a daily basis. For example: business cards, paint samples, a tape measure, an iPad, your intake forms, client files/drawings etc.

#2) Divide your daily stuff (Yes, that is the technical term.) between client information and tools.

#3) Dedicate a container to the tools preferably something with a lid that latches to help keep things from spilling out.

#4) Select a briefcase or portable file box for your client care items. You may wish to have both depending on how many projects you are currently working on. The file box could stay in the car and the briefcase could accompany you onto the site.

Can these 4 steps make a difference? Yes!

  • Less time looking for things that may or may not be in the car.
  • Less likelihood of forgetting something for a job site or for a client.
  • Being cool, calm, and collected translates into confidence with your clients and other landscape professionals.
  • Increases your ability to focus on the important things in your day when you are not rummaging around to find a client sample.

Read more about clutter and its negative affects on your business here: http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/16652/reduce-office-clutter-to-increase-productivity,-efficiency-profitability


Small change, big results!

Here is my current favorite before and after project. The client has a fire pit that was once a jacuzzi. The goal was to find or make a cover that would keep out the leaves and yard debris, be easy to remove and store, and look good.

After researching furniture covers and other off the shelf covers, we realized that it would need to be a custom cover due to the irregular size.

This beautiful Sunbrella fabric is fun, durable, and picks up the trim color of the house. The cover is light enough for one person to take off and put back on. The upholsterer created a welt along the top to keep it in place.

Once the client and I selected the fabric, the cover took about 2 weeks to make which included creating a template with the exact measurements.

Success!


Confidence-THE Secret Ingredient

How to be Parisian,

Wherever you Are

Love, Style, and Bad Habits

My new favorite business book.

My new favorite business book.

I will admit that I first bought this book by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, and Sophie Mas because I wanted to embrace my bad habits instead of always working to better myself. And the first few pages I read in the bookstore appealed to my inner rebel. Later while soaking in the tub with my hot chocolate candle lit and Beck’s Morning Phase playing, I read how to mother like a Parisian, wear 4 inch heels all the time, and just say no to plastic surgery. Not only was it funny and cleverly written, it was brilliant. It champions individuality, confidence in oneself, and a compassionate acceptance of our ‘good’ and ‘bad’ traits.

‘Take the time to take time because nobody else will do it for you.

And don’t forget to daydream in the bath, just like when you were little.’

Great advice for life, for how to approach your work and your play time.

 


Tips for Digital Interviews

Tips for digital interviews

Digital interviews are becoming increasingly common and many times will be the first chance you have to make a first impression. Whether you are interviewing for a position, a potential client or new account, or a colleague, you want to make certain that you are putting your best self out there.

Lighting

Good lighting is probably the #1 trick to better quality video. You want lots of light, and you want lots of light shining onto your face – coming from behind the camera and not from behind you.

  • Natural light is the best: Sit by a window, facing the window, so that the light illuminates your face. Don’t sit with your back to a window, you will become a silhouette.
  • Indoor lights: If you are indoors and have a floor or desk lamp, place it behind the camera shining on your face; if you just have overhead lights, turn on all the lights you can.
  • If you have multiple lights: Place one light on the left (at 45 degrees) and one light on the right (at 45 degrees) so that they illuminate both sides of your face.
  • More light = better video quality. Low light = grainy video.

Hardware

Speed Speed Speed. You want the fastest and most consistent internet connection you can get.

  • Whenever you can, connect to the internet with an Ethernet cable – this is much faster and more consistent than a WiFi connection.
  • If you can’t use an Ethernet cable, get as close to your WiFi as possible… the more bars you have for your WiFi signal, the better the quality of video you will get.
  • If you have a MiFi or smartphone with a Personal Hotspot, run an internet connection speed test to see if your mobile hotspot connection is faster than the connection supporting the closest WiFi
  • http://www.speedtest.net/

CPU & Memory

Video calls require a lot of CPU cycles and memory. A key tip is to shut down as many of your open applications as you can to free up CPU and memory for Skype.

  • Close applications that frequently check for updates, such as instant messaging (e.g. Sametime), email, social dashboards.
  • Close your web browser, if you can.
  • Close any graphics, photo, or video applications, if you can.
  • If you know how, purge your memory to refresh your system and free up unused RAM.
  • If you are using a smartphone or tablet (with Skype app), shut down other open apps to reduce the multitasking demands on your device.

Audio

A key to good video, is good audio. Webcam and video camera microphones tend to pick up ambient noise – the sounds of your environment.

  • Move to a quiet location: Sit where there are no barking dogs, car traffic, passing trains, construction sounds, cube mates talking, etc.
  • Headphones/Mic: If you have to do a video call in a setting that has some background noise, use a headphone/mic  (e.g. the white iPhone ear buds w/mic) or Bluetooth wireless mic. A mic on your body, will capture more of you talking and less of the surrounding noise.
  • If you don’t have a headset that works with your laptop, see bonus tip below on using smartphone or tablet.

Background

Be mindful of your background. The background creates a sense of environment, of context.

  • Make sure it’s appropriate and ‘professional’.
  • Clean up or move clutter or distracting objects if needed.
  • Adjust the camera angle to move something unwanted out of frame.
  • Try to sit where the background has a relatively even color or brightness.
  • Few things are more distracting from the real subject (you) than clutter in the background. Avoid things like bookshelves or walls with paintings or posters. Instead, use a clean, bright wall or other non distracting background, such as a sheet hung over that distracting bookshelf.

 

Put the Camera at Eye Level

  • If you are using a laptop or tablet, you’ve probably got the device on a table or desk, looking up at you. If you are using a webcam, it is probably on top of your monitor, looking down at you. Neither setup provides a flattering angle: Nobody wants to see the contents of your nose or the bald spot on top of your head. Instead, move the camera so it is at eye level. That’s a much more flattering angle, and creates a more personal feel.

Add More Light

  • Most webcams are very small and don’t capture much light. You can easily improve the quality of the video by adding more light. You can get small LED video lights for under $30 and mount them on inexpensive tripods for about $5 apiece. Or you can simply use a couple of desk lights, but make sure they have the same type of bulb to avoid an off-putting color clash — say, bluish light from one and yellowish light from another. Put your lights a couple of feet on either side of the monitor or tablet, slightly angled so they aren’t directly in your line of sight, and you’ll look much better. If you can’t make that happen, try sitting by a window to use the natural light.

 

Use a Headset, not Speakers

  • The image is only half of the story: Audio is the other half. The microphone built into your tablet, laptop or USB webcam is probably pretty bad, especially when it gets drowned out by the speakers next to it that you are using to listen to the other person. Instead, use a USB headset with a microphone to get better sound from both ends of the conversation. You can buy a USB headset, such as the Plantronics 478, for about $40.

 

  • If you don’t have a headset, try using the wired headset from your cellphone, as a surprising number of tablets and laptops (but not desktops) are compatible with them. If you have only headphones without a mic, you can still use them, after running the cable discretely around your back. Speak as loudly and clearly as possible into the microphone on the device you are using to make the call. At least that way you aren’t getting noise from the speakers in the mic.

Test It First

  • Before you make an important call, do a trial run with a friend on Skype to make sure that everything is working properly. You can test your audio yourself by calling a service named Skype Test Call, which records and plays back your audio. Skype does not offer a similar service for video, unfortunately, but it is worth calling a friend just to make sure everything looks good.

BONUS Tips:

If you want a complete list of the best cameras for digital video calls, how to dress for an interview, tips for appearance, warnings on what not to do or wear, and more contact Attrinti today!


How to Create a Digital Portfolio

A picture is worth a thousand words…so true, especially when you want to share your body of work on your website, social media sites, and/or social network sites.

If you have hard copies of photos or negatives then the best way to convert your photo’s hard copy to a digital copy is scanning. You could also get the negatives converted into digital format for you at a photo studio which offers the service. Alternatively, there’s a scanner available that converts film negatives and prints to digital format but it’s pricey (about $100) so only consider it if you have a ton of negatives and prints lying around that would cost about the same to convert at a shop.

If you want to make absolutely sure that you never lose any of your photographs, then use as many different systems as you can handle. This can include both internal and external hard drives, optical discs (CD-Rom, DVD, Blu-ray), Flash memory sticks or thumbdrives, and online storage. Ideally, at least one of these backups should be stored in a separate location, and online storage does that. Having “off-site storage” (cloud) protects your photos from fire, flood, and theft. Each type of storage has its own advantages, so you will need to work out a strategy that suits the size of your picture library and the rate at which it’s growing.

Start by organizing your photos into directories, if you have not already done so. Try not to keep more than 250 photos in a single folder, and subdivide large sets into separate folders. This makes it easier to back them up to CD-Roms or memory sticks.

Discs are well established as a backup medium, because they are cheap and don’t take up much room. However, a single CD-Rom will only hold about 700MB of photos; thus the larger the collection, the more discs you’ll need. Optical discs are therefore more suitable Photographs-007for making quick backups or for sharing recent photos.

USB memory sticks or thumb drives are also an option for some people. The 16GB versions are popular now, but 32GB USB Flash drives are widely available, and several companies have launched 64GB models. A 16GB stick would enable temporary backups (instead of using CD-Roms), and you could use it for transferring photos between your laptop and desktop PCs. That’s what I do.

Today, an external hard drive (EHD) is the quickest and most convenient way to backup your photos. A small, portable 500GB drive or larger 1TB drive would easily store all of your precious photos.

An alternative is to upload your photos to a site that enables you to display and share them, check privacy policies for complete disclosure. Examples include Yahoo’s Flickr, Google’s Picasa and Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Name Size Cost Notes
Flickr 200 photos free Unlimited for $25/year Upgrade to a Pro account with unlimited storage
Picasa 1GB of free storage for photos bigger than 800 x 800 pixels. Google Drive Pricing:100GB- $1.99 per month1TB- $9.99 per month You can connect to your Picasa account to your Google Plus account to get a free limit of 15GB
Windows Live OneDrive 25GB of free storage Unlimited: $6.99 per month Best for Windows users.

A Flickr Pro account could therefore be your best bet, as long as you keep an eye on the privacy settings.

Some sites are designed to enable people to share photos, and they don’t provide a back up. If you upload photos to Facebook, for example, it reduces them to a width of 720 pixels for display purposes, which is OK for viewing on a computer screen. However, the originals, which might have been 4,288 pixels wide, have been dumped. The best you can hope for from Facebook is a version 2048 pixels wide, offered for download.

Online storage is attractive because most hard drives will eventually fail, while CDs and DVDs can be scratched through mishandling and ruined if they are not stored correctly in a cool dark place. However, you can also lose access to photos stored online. Online storage companies have been known to lose data, and many will either be taken over or go bust.

All in all, it’s a good idea to have at least three copies of everything, and for one of those copies to be “off site”, either online or at a relative’s house. You could store your photos on your desktop PC’s hard drive and an external hard drive, then use optical discs, thumb drives or online storage to provide a backup of your backup. Unfortunately, having a single copy of each photo on an external hard drive (prone to failure), optical disc (easily scratched), USB stick (easily lost) or online service is not really enough.

Digital backups are awesome, but computers tend to fail, they can be stolen, or they can even get lost! Here are some of the best ways to backup your digital photos.

Buy an external hard drive! They are extremely user friendly. Plug it into your computer and copy your folders full of photos onto it. You can store anything on a hard drive, not just photos. Also, you can take your files with you without lugging around your entire computer. The only downside to an external hard drive is cost. It will cost you around $50-$200 depending on storage size and quality, but when compared to the priceless memories saved in your pictures it really isn’t that much.

The best way (outside of removable storage devices) is actually printing your photographs onto paper! This might not be a solution for every single one of your photos, but it’s a nice way to keep copies of some of your faves. Services like Piccolo will print up your 20 best photos every month and mail them directly to you.


How to Shop for an Ergonomic Task Chair

How to Shop for an Ergonomic Task Chair

Turn your long hours in front of your desk into a pleasure, not a pain. We know that it is easy enough to become distracted by emails, texts, the sounds coming from the next office or next door. What we don’t want is to be distracted by our desk chair. What makes for a comfortable seat? Without putting you to sleep!

Consider these simple tips when buying body-conscious seating:

Look for five key adjustments. Some chairs have more; some have less. These five should accommodate 95% of the population: seat height, seat depth, backrest and lumbar support height, and armrest height.

It is crucial to think about seat pan depth – especially if you are short. Look for at least two inches of clearance behind the back of knee when you are sitting in the chair.

Choose a seat with either an adjustable backrest height or lumbar support so the chair’s curve fits into the curve of a back like two pieces of a puzzle.

Clarity chair by BMW Group DesignWorksUSA with All-Steel, from $750. This streamlined version of the classic task chair features a mesh seat and a back that allow a range of poses without manual adjustment. www.allsteeloffice.com

Collection Ciel chair by Noé Duchaufour Lawrance for Tabisso, from $1500. The French designer’s ideal work chair warms up the category with a walnut veneer shell, Gabriel upholstery, and leg options including casters (as shown) or wooden legs. www.tabisso.com
Gesture chair by James Ludwig for Steelcase, $979. A seat made from steel, nylon, polypropylene, and aluminum was designed to accommodate nine new postures identified in a company study on how people work today. www.store.steelcase.com

Mirra 2 Chair by Studio 7.5 for Herman Miller, from $649. A leaner, lighter office chair from one of the stalwarts of American workplace design includes a butterfly-shaped back that allows for dynamic, flexible support. www.store.hermanmiller.com


Diffrient Smart chair by Niels Diffrient for Humanscale, from $1,310. The designer’s ergonomic legacy lives on with a chair that features a tri-panel mesh back and the company’s patented mechanism-free recline. www.humanscale.com


I would love to know if anyone out there has tried any of these? My current task chair is the Eames Aluminum Group Management.

 

Share your favorite task chair on the Best Task Chairs Pinterest Board or on Facebook.

Happy Sitting!

Kristan

www.attriniti.com

Resources: Dwell Magazine, www.dwell.com, Humanscale, Sacha Burn, www.humanscale.com


Paperwork-The necessary evil?!

Climbing a Pile of Files

Do you feel like Paperwork is:

overwhelming

never-ending

a waste of time

a mindless task

an evil necessity of being human in the 21st century.

 

What if Paperwork could be:

a simple and easy task to be enjoyed with a cup of tea and music?

a scheduled part of your week?

a satisfying endeavor because you have a great system in place that allows you to find WHAT you need WHEN you need it?

Living in the 21st century means you deal with paperwork and a lot of it. Paperwork in and of itself is not evil. However it is an unwieldy monster when we do not have a system for handling it (whether we are talking about digital paperwork or actual hard copies).

As an entrepreneur you have more paperwork than the average person and if you are working from home then you have more paperwork around than most people.

What to do?

For starters, keep your personal and professional files separate.

Next what are your big categories? Income, expenses, clients, reference materials…

Then make file folders within your big categories.

For example:

In my expense section of my business filing cabinet are the file folders for Automotive Expenses, Office Supplies, Dues and Subscriptions, etc.

In my personal files I have a large category called Medical then each family member has their own file folder within the Medical category.

My 2 biggest pieces of advice to set yourself free from the paperwork monster are:

#1) Start today. Don’t worry about going back through all past files. Start with fresh files today then over time you can go back and sift through the old files-or not.

#2) Schedule a time each week to address your paperwork. What can be thrown out or shredded immediately, what needs your attention, and then what is ready to file. Paperwork does not demand our most creative brain especially once we have a system! So, schedule it for your afternoon slump with music on and a cup of tea. Or a piece of chocolate! Then set the timer for 45 minutes and just do it.

I end up talking a lot about paperwork with my clients because it can be such a beast and such a time suck. How many times have you wasted time because you couldn’t find that file or receipt?

Please post your questions and comments. If you would like assistance in creating a system for your paperwork then contact me. Paperwork does not have to be a monster.