Making Money Online Online Business Passive Income Plan Review

Improving Time Management to Improve Passive Income

While I was figuring out my passive income goals for 2010 – I went thru the tired but true exercise:

  • What went well last year?
  • What went badly?

Oddly enough – it was quite easy for me answer both questions – I think this is an important skill that being in business for yourself develops – one thing I cerainly hadn’t expected to learn while working online was to be much more aware of my own faults and weaknesses. Anyway back to the point – what went well – I haven’t had to get a real job that’s more than good! When someone asked me the other day whether  Iwas going to get a job on my return to NZ – I looked him in the eye and said, why? I made over US$4000 last month – what would I want a job for?

What went badly – well unfortunately that was equally easy to answer  my time management sucks! This is not a new development – but now my inability to focus is costing me money not just an employer! This has to stop and like now.

So what has NOT worked for me so far as time management is concerned;

  1. Public accountability – that was one of the reasons I stated this blog so that I could report and measure progress – after all I totally get about having goals and even about setting up SMART goals No the goal setting wasn’t the problem.
  2. I decided to record all the time I spent online and look at the time wasted. I found a free online time recorder system called SlimTimer that I recommend – the only problem with it was that it couldn’t tell me to turn itself on when I conveniently “forgot” for a week or two!
  3. I tried to get my head around GTD (Get Things Done) system – but frankly it seemed like  I’d have to study for a week to even get to the start – it appeared more a way of life than a way to boost productivity – I wasn’t sure that I was ready for a way of life!

Pomodoro Technique to Rescue?

Several people of a forum a frequent mentioned they had found the Pomodoro Technique helpful – even though they usually struggled with focus – sounds like me I thought –  I will give it a shot – oh and the comprehensive e-book is free – even better!

The system was developed in Italy by a guy who is now an IT Project Manager – but at the time was a student. Its well worth reading the e-book becuase it acutally explains the science behind why it works – with references eve – a slight change of pace to a lot of what you come across these dasys. Any – in essence the Pomodoro technique is:

  • start working on your first task – work on it for 25 minutes then take an approximately 5 minute break;
  • repeat until you have down 4 1/2 hour “pomodoros” (named for the kitchen timer from Italy);
  • then take a longer 20 minute break.
  • if an urgent interruption comes along (say the sudden urge to check your email) – you right it down on an urgent list and keep working. (It will either become another real pomodoro in its own right or it will be a quick task you do in a break, or you forget about it);
  • if a really urgent thing comes along – house burns down or similar – you abandon the pomodoro and have to start again with that particular pomodoro;
  • each task should be at leas 1 pomodoro (30 minutes) long – no task should be longer than 5-7 pomodoros – either group similar tasks together or split larger tasks down to fit this criteria.

My current implemenation of it looks something like this:

  • write a list of everything you need to do (I tend to work in a “this week” or “this month” list);
  • put the top priorities on today’s todo list – with a box per a pomodoro – in black – which get ticked off as I do them. If I have underestimated the time required which – I seem to do more than I realised – I re-estimate by adding more boxes in red so I can see where I under and over estimate. If I have an interurption I use a ” ‘ ” symbol to note it.
  • At the end of the day I retrospectively fill in what I did over the day using Slimtimer and tag the activities as pomodoros – meaning I can easily see just how many hours of my so-called 10 hour days  I was actually doing focussed “pomodoros” (4 or 5 at the start!)

Initially what I found that basically focussing for 1/2 an hour isn’t that hard – in fact it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. My issue seems to be more the time wasted in between pomodoros – but I can work on that.

Pomodoro – without the Kitchen Timer

The original is with using a tomatoe shaped wind-up kitchen timer – your grandmother may use one – I personally thought that was what the micowave was for. And in the midst of packing I certainly was not going to buy a kitchen timer! Fortunatly there is a software solution for that. Initially  ithought I wanted a silent timer  – but in some way I find the annoying ticking sound actually makes me focus – not sure if that will work long term but I have it turned  for the moment.

Options for the timer abound – I ltried Pomodeiro and FocusBooster both of which are free and run on the Adobe Air (so will work across most operating systems). Neither really deals with the reporting on the amount of work done though – or not in format I liked. There are quite a number of Pomodoro apps for Macs but the only software I found came close for Windows was PomoTime – I really like this software – again free and a very cute interface unfortunately it had a couple of major flaws for my use: only 7 items on a ToDo list a day and only one ToDo list a day.

However the developer did respond to my comments so mayit will be upgraded.

UPDATE: PomoTime has now been upraded I am using it in preference to manual method I described below – up to 12 items on the daily todo list seems to make all the difference – try it you may like – and its free!

Pomodoro without Software

So currently my sytem looks something like this:

  1. A long todo list – about a week’s worth – on paper.
  2. Daily todo list –  using the paper system described in the original Pomodoro e-book. Different colours when I underestimate tasks – which I appear to do more often than I thought…
  3. Slimitmer – to retrospectively fill in day – using tags to count tasks with pomodores – result can t rack total hours and total hours of pomodores a week

What Pomodoro Technique Has Taught Me So Far

  • not as many internal disruptions – haven’t had to cancel a pomodoro over the first few days;
  • the ticking actually seems to work! Although wish I could disable it during the breaks;
  • I badly underestimate how long keyword research and installing sites takes.

So what do you use for time management – have you heard of the Pomodoro technique before – like it? Used another technique that you’d recommend.?

Photo Credit

Moving Overseas Passive Income Australia/NZ

Move to New Zealand – Australia Compared

Well as always its always quite amusing going home after being overseas a while. Leaving Australia after nearly three years – I am back in New Zealand.  Moving back to New Zealand after not setting foot in the country for 18 months has been interesting. Here is my entirely non-scientific first impressions of  living in New Zealand compared to living in Australia – well actually its about moving from Perth to Wellington –  as always the devil’s in the details -your mileage will vary depending on where in Australia you are familiar with and where in New Zealand you are moving to!

Wellington on a Good Day
Wellington on a Good Day

New Zealand Weather Compared to Australia’s

Eastbourne, Wellington
Eastbourne, Wellington

Crap – totally un-redemmed crap – well its probably better than the UK or Ireland – but  only the Poms would believe that New Zealand has a decent climate.  It should be a hint when the TV weather calls an expected maximum of 25C – as  “warm”!

On the plus side – there is a lot more daylight than in Australia – in Perth, thanks to not having daylight saving – it was light before 5am and dark at 7pm – in New Zealand its light before 6am and dark at about 9pm –  New Zealand has daylight saving – and I was really, really missing it in Western Australia

Wellington has stunning beautiful beaches and coastline – but unless you are insane ie. have never swum elsewhere – 14C water temperature is unacceptable. When we left Perth the water temperature was a pleasent 20C odd. More to the point unless temperature hits 30C ( global warming where are you?) – who wants to go swimming anyways?

Standard of Living in New Zealand Compared to Australia

Historic Pub, Thorndon, Wellington
Historic Pub, Thorndon, Wellington

Impossible to call IMHO – there is no one size that fits all – it depends on what is important to you and what is not. My partner is earning more money here than he was in Australia for the same job. – but if you are unskilled then the wages are definitly higher in Australia. If you are preapred to work in the remote mining areas and you have the relevant trade skills – the money is a lot better in Australia.

Food and all things electrical appear a lot cheaper here. In the last couple of days we have bought items such as a microwave, electric frypan and restocked a kitchen – prices for food are the same in NZ in $ as they are in Australia – with the curent exchange rate that makes them 25% cheaper.

Eating out in Perth is outrageously expensive – you will often pay $10 for a beer in a pub – in New Zealand a beer is NZ$6.50 in a restaraunt. We bought Western Australian wine in New Zealand supermarket for the same $ price as it is in WA – again 25% cheaper – there must be a lot higher sales tax on it in Australia. Oh yes you can buy beer and wine in the supermarket in New Zealand – and the supermarkets are open seven days usually to at least 10pm – sometimes 24 hours. In Perth there is one (!) late night shopping night a week – no big shops open on a Sunday – its a crazy system which favours some retailers and almost certainly keeps the prices high.  Why electronics are cheaper in NZ is beyond me – they have further to come (from China)- and its a smaller market –  34litre microwave cost me NZ$140 – enough said.

Anyway back to the eating out: Indian sit down meal -very nice two mains, rice, bread, 2 beers – NZ$48 – it would have been at least A$60 in Perth. I believe you can also get fish and chips for two at around N Z$10 (A$20 in Australia) – haven’t tried that yet – too much Christmas eating.

In Perth we were paying $320/week for a 2 bedroom flat 15 minutes walk from the beach and 10km from town.  In Wellington we are paying $225/week for a 1 bedroom flat 5km from town but further from the beach and poorer quality property. In Wellington I own a very nice home 5km from the CBD in one of the best suburbs – its valued at around NZ$600k – the same price (say around A$480k) in Perth would get me a new home 3 bed/2 bathroom 25km from the CBD. To buy the equivalent home in Perth – we would have to pay at  least A$800k – say around NZ$1 million.  That said a basic home in Perth is  brick, well insulated and has air-con. In New Zealand you don’t need the air-con but you definitly need heating and as the typical home is wooden and built at least 30 years ago you will probably need to bring the heaters with you. The old wooden houses make for quaint streetscapes – but they cost a fortune to maintain and are definitly not so comfortable to live in.

Telecommunication Connections in New Zealand

Wellington Waterfront
Wellington Waterfront

Local hint – if you are talking to  teleco provider in NZ and they ask if your modem has a telepermit sticker on it – the correct answer is YES! You will need a different modem connection cable to fit the hole in the wall – and you will need to change some obscure settings – but my Australian adsl2+ modem is working just fine in inner suburban Wellington (like Australia, New Zealand rural areas don’t do broadband )  – about the same cost – and although the claimed speeds was slower – I am not noticing any difference. Still have the bullshite about needing a phone line to have the broadband – but I went with the existing provider to our current rental place – haven’t phoned around yet.

Also my existing cell phone -charged up and remembered who it was after 2 years in a box – retained the number and even the credit – amazing – in Australia you lose the number if the phone is not used for 6 months.

I believe you can retain your cell phone number between provders now and even your home phone – but too late for me – I use  a SkypeIN number now which is portable anywhere in the world.

Driving in New Zealand

Historic Houses, Tinakori Rd, Wellington
Historic Houses, Tinakori Rd, Wellington

The left hand turn rule is different – the standard urban limit is 50km/hr not 60km/hr. The open road is a maximum limit of 100km/hr  – not 110km/hr. All of these  lower limits make a lot of sense when you realise just how narrow Wellington’s roads, and how little shoulder there is – you can hardly ever pulloff the road entirely even on the motorway (that’s what we call freeways).

The drink driving limit is still a reasonable 0.08 – unlike the revenue gathering one of 0.05 in most (all?) Australian states. You don’t lose your licence for a first offence on a holiday weekend either! The driving is pretty much the same level of competance as in Perth i.e. not very. The cars are smaller – but  you’d struggle to get Holden Commodore around quite a few corners in Wellington suburbs – that’s because Wellington has hills – Perth doesn’t have very many – and they rarely build homes on the top of them. BTW if you are booking for the 2012 World Cup – check the number of steps from road to front door – I’m not kidding.

The price of petrol is about the same $1.65 in New Zealand – it was A$1.21 when we left Perth. Cars are a fraction of the cost – that’s because we don’t support a domestic car industry –  the 1996 Commodore we sold in Perth for $1800 – wouldn’t have been worth NZ$500 here – if you could give it away.

New Zealanders v. Australians

Pretty much the same – the odd term is more American in Australia. Perth was a very white city – most of the immigrants are Poms and (white) South Africans and New Zealanders. Wellington has a substantial minority of Pacific Islanders and Maoris – and a useful range of minorities who can cook (Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian to name a few).  Seriously the differences between the two countries are pretty darn trivial. On balance if I was gay or black/brown I would probably feel more accepted in  Wellington than Perth e.g.  – there was no gay dance scene in Perth -there’s a big one in Wellington.

New Zeland Economy v. Australia

At the moment I can get a better deposit rate with a bank than the mortgage rate I pay in New Zealand –  a situation I can’t recall happening- ever really. The  Australian economy took a breather last year -but is set to take off again – welll at least in Western Australia and to a lesser extent South Australia and Queensland.  Unfortunately most New Zelanders move to Sydney – don’t would be my advice – well not if you want a job anyways.

The New Zeland economy seems to be muddling along as it generally does –  its primarily service and agriculture based and that hasn’t changed – probably never will. NZ will never be the big player that Australia is set to become over the next 10 years or so – frankly it doesn’t really matter so long as New Zealanders have the right to live and work in Australia (and vivce versa) – the free flow of people between the two countries will even it all out.

Making Passive Income Online – Which is Best Australia or New Zealand?

The NZ$ is always weaker against the US$ than A$ – so my US$ (which almost all my earnings are in) – in effect I have had a 33% payrise for just moving country… Yes the NZ tax rates are slightly higher than the Australian rates (if you earn less than around $100k) – but the tax system is a dream of symplicity – I am almost looking forward to dealing with it. The sales tax issue (GST) here is simpler than in Australia too. As I still run paypal accounts in US$ the banking system here is irrelevant – but they are very comparable (in fact most of the banks are the same). I am booked in for  some major dental work which will cost me 1/2 what I was quoated in Australia 18 months ago.

The downside is that medical insurance is not transportable – invariably if  you move countries a lot you will lose your medical insurance – I  refused to pay A$400/month in Australia (because we hadn’t been insured since we  were 30 in Australia) – the NZ insurance you could only put on hold fora year.

Making Money Online Online Business Passive Income Plan Review

Passive Income Goals 2010

I’ve been doing some planning – well its better than doing some work right? Although you many of you, like me, will have sat through the annual corporate planning wank – “failing to plan is a plan to fail” – in the business of making passive income online planning is a often just another way to procrastinate for many people.  After all  planning the next big thing is much more fun that getting a few more backlinks!

Passive Income Planning
Passive Income Planning

Working in IT put me off planning for a quite a long time.   I never had a plan to succeed when I starting trying to earn an online income – I didn’t have a plan at all. Which wasn’t a bad thing  – lets put it this way if you are 16 and have just decided to go to medical school – should you have a plan of which speciality you want to end up in and what income you want to be making by the time you are 30? To be honest you shouldn’t – you have no idea what life is like, haven’t met your life partner yet or had kids or not, you  don’t know any thing about medicine – you have no background knowledge to make a reasonable plan.  Ten years later you may have the basic knowledge (preference for medical speciality, costs involved and lifestyle of that particular speciality, know how much money you need to earn, have a partner or not etc) to make some sort of reasonable plan. If you don’t understand how to make money blogging or how to make money “placing google ads” (both search terms this site has been found for in the last month – I suggest you forget the big picture and go read How to Make Money with HubPages

Last week though – while I was surfing rather than working – I came across a planning post which actually sounded like it might be useful – it was over at The Art of Unconformity- Unconventional Business Goals. To be honest Chris’s business model is nothing like mine – I don’t want a book contact nor do I want to be recognised public speaker and coach. Nor do I want to go to every country in the world – for the sake of crossing it off the list!  Those are all his goals. What I like about him though is that he’s an excellent writer, and a lot more transparent about his business model than most.  His planning model made a lot of sense to me.  I took a couple of days and really thought about my goals for 2010. Now  I am still a reluctant goal setter and I certainly am not doing it for any thing else in my life apart from my business (finding nice beaches with warm water – seems to happen anyway doesn’t need a written plan!). But for my business I came up with three key goals:

Passive Income Goals 2010

  • Make a consistent  profit of US$5000/month of which at least 60% ($3000) should be from residual income websites e.g. affiliates, eBay, Amazon and Adsense
  • Develop website trading business to improve diversification of income sources
  • Develop my own products to improve diversification of income sources

I am sure someone will point out that US$5,000 is not very much – what about planning for the future blah,blah. Well I already did that – my  partner and I have property and and the (rare) winning stock picks so essentially all I am looking at doing is replacing an income not building a nest egg. I am not supporting any kids either – I’ve heard those are expansive! We own our own home. We don’t need flash cars or new clothes – though our dancing and travel habits don’t come cheap! Oh and the goal is in US$ because that is what you get paid in on the Internet – the exchange rate I can’t control – the fact that A$ has appreciated 30% against the US$ in the last year hurts – but there is  nothing I can do about it. You goals have to be within your control – I’d love to plan to win the New Zealand Ballroom Champs next year too – unfortunately that’s not in my control either (too old, too fat, not enough talent etc).

For me the most useful part of the planning exercise was what is not on the list – I spent all day thinking about and researching the market for starting a local SEO business for New Zealand small businesses – in fact if you want to go for that niche knock yourself out – you will have to educate your clients but there is hardly any competition targeting the SME sized market and at the newspapers and Yellow Page advertising rates leaves plenty of room for a profitable service which will save your clients money.   Why am I telling you this? Because I am not going to do it. The more I thought about what I value  about earning income online:

  • keep my own hours, control my  own time;
  • answerable to know one except the Google Gods;
  • dress optional

Would have been severely impacted by working for clients! The more I looked at the streams of income I did have – and matched them against my income goals – made me realise that I was nearly there – in the last five months I’ve averaged $1300/month from passive income sources. In November my actual income (including freelancing and it probably won’t hit that level for a few more months) was over US$4500 – an all time record for me and pretty much what I would make in a professional job in New Zealand. I didn’t need the distraction of starting another business, certainly not one that impacted on mycore values of being answerable to no one!

Its obvious writing it down now – but I have been thinking about the SEO thing off and on now for a year   – now I have come to a decision about it and can move on.

So – I do actually think that if you are just starting off online you don’t need a detailed business plan. )Pan to spend little to no money on gurus and a lot of time on educating yourself. Find one approach which sounds liek it might work for you – and then take action, rinse and repeat.

If however you have been in this game for a year or more – I do think you might want to take a look at Chris’s approach to planning and try out his spreadsheet  – you may be surprised at the results –  I was!

And I like the idea of  doing an annual plan for your passive income business in December not January – why?

  • December is often an outlier income-wise for many  people – looking at Dec to Nov figures rather than Jan-Dec figures will minimise the feel good/deep despair effect those Dec figures will have on you;
  • December is often a disrupted month workwise (even if you aren’t moving countries!) –  go with the flow and do a plan instead of trying to stick with the routine;
  • SEO : in January everone else will be googling “passive income goals for 2010” – or so I hope!

Check out my attempt at improving my time management to actually realise my passive income goals for 2010


Global Warming is Just Like the Y2K Bug!

The whole Copenhagen/ Climate Change is tediously boringly dominating the Australian news at the moment. Its right up there with the irritating Christmas carols in the malls. So you have to love the people who combined the two annoying things to come up with a rather good youtube video:

What gets me – is that we have all (most of us anyway) – have been there before – remember the y2k bug – the issue with the year “clicking over to “00” running computer programs first written in the 1960’s and therefore bring Western civilisation to its knees: nuclear power plants would melt down, electricity girds would fail, planes would crash mid-air as air traffic control systems failed. Most businesses in western countries spent billions of dollars on consultants and billions more on fixing the so-called problems. It was indeed an excellent time to be a computer consultant! Consumers hoarded water and vital supplies – y2k kits were popular Christmas presents for 2000 – perhaps they can be recycled for the forthcoming 2012 disaster?

The trouble was that it all sounded plausible to the non-computer programmer i.e. most politicians, journalists and CEO’s so they reacted to it.

Not every country bought into the y2k hysteria. Italy – said decided to pick up the pieces afterwards – they figured it would be cheaper. Guess what they had to fix – next to nothing! Notice how the lights kept working, the water kept flowing and the planes didn’t fall out of the sky?

I was looking forward to seeing the aftermath in the media – the examination of why so many peole were conned fo so much money – never happened though – never saw a sensible piece of discussion about why y2k didn’t happen.

And now its 2009 and global warming is a crises – sea levels are rising, ice caps are melting and its all the fault of  anthropogenic (man made) effects.  Don’t get me wrong – I do think the climate is changing –  if the climate stopped changing we would be serious trouble – Mars has a stable climate – no oceans = stable climate . Earth doesn’t – only 10,000 years ago Europe was covered in glaciers. Only 300 years ago the Thames routinely froze. Many people who were children in the 1930s in New Zealand remember long hot summers – they told me on rainy days in the 1970s when it was too cold to go to the beach. To this day I am unlikely to swim in Wellington again 🙁

Thw whole golval warming debate is a worse beat up than the y2k debacle – that at least had a a fixed end date! This could go on for years.  Its also complex and even climate scientists don’t understand how the atmosphere works in detail – look at how rubbish we are at predicitng weather! The climate is dynamic and changes – sure man effects the climate – the introduction of camels, horses, and other cloven hoofed animals to Australia – a country who had no animal with hard feet before the Europeans- has done irreparable damage to the country – just ask the people who were living there at the time! The  animals destroyed the top soil – the vegetation was destroyed and replaced – now there are bad dust stroms – cuased by man – certainly – caused by climate change – doubtful!

Is there drought in Australia? In the Murray Darling maybe  – in the north  where the fertile land is and the arms aren’t – no. Anyway you can’t tell unless you have at least a few hundred years of good quality data – wherei n the world has that? Nowhere.

Murray River @ Swan Hill, Victoria
Murray River in drought at Swan Hill, Victoria

Is sea level rising – maybe in Tuvalau and the Maldives  (or is the land sinking? the effect is the same for the local population but cap and trade regimes wouldn’t help them)- there is no record of it doing so in Australia. The beach I knew intimately as a child  in the 1970’s looks the same today.  On the other hand the whole shoreline changed dramatically in about a minute in 1841 – earthquakes have a much greater effect on coast lines than sea level. Venice has been sinking for  500 years – nothing to do with cows farting in the US – more to do with too many heavy buildings on poorly compacted footings and made worse by the amount of boat traffic in the lagoon.

So yes sorry – just felt liek a rant about how humans seem to require an inpending disaster to keep them interested in life! The world was going to end  on 31/12/999 – it didn’t – then on 31/12/1999 – it didn’t. Climate change doesn’t have an end date but according to Mayans 22/12/2012 – the end of time! So hows your business planning going for  the next few years!