Going Indie – Four Ways to Win More Work

Let’s assume you’ve done everything right from the last post. You’ve structured your agreement to specify exactly what done means and you’ve finished that work. What next? Do you want to collect your check and send the client on their way? Heck no!

Quite often you will be constructing specific agreements with a specific scope of work associated. In this case, you need to be looking out for opportunities to spin up a second or successive contract after demonstrating your capabilities by successfully completing a project on time.

I think of it like a that old game: Barrel of Monkeys. You need to carefully and strategically link one scope of work to a future need just like you pick up a stranded monkey extending a chain of plastic primates.

Every fixed-fee scope of work always has more work at the tail-end. Whether it’s out-of-scope bug-fixes, feature-tweaks or new-features, there’s always something to put into a maintenance agreement. Be prepared to handle transitional work and think about how you want to structure an agreement to handle it.

The Best Place to Find More Work is With Your Current Clients

Any seasoned sales-person will tell you the same thing: the best place to find more work is from your existing clients and software is no different.

Keep your clients happy and you will guarantee your own success in your new career as an independent technology consultant. Whether it’s more work with an existing client or a new project from a referral, I like to keep four things in mind when it comes to client management:

 

Happy Clients Lead to More Work

Any seasoned sales-person will tell you the same thing: the best place to find more work is from your existing clients and software is no different.

Keep your clients happy and you will guarantee your own success in your new career as an independent technology consultant. Whether it’s more work with an existing client or a new project from a referral, I like to keep 4 things in mind whenever I interact with clients:

1. Be Nice

If you’re a child of the 80s like me, you might appreciate (or perhaps scoff at) this Patrick Swayze reference. In Roadhouse, his character, Dalton, is hired as a new cooler, tasked with turning a brutal and profit-less bar into the hottest club in town. He has three rules for his new bouncers to follow, expressed in a memorable two-minute monologue that is one parts zen and three parts cool Patrick Swayze. My favorite rule:

“Be nice.” Always. Being a likable person is, by far, the most important aspect to any client-vendor relationship. If they don’t enjoy speaking to you, there’s a good chance they won’t be clients for very long.

Tough circumstances where your client is being unreasonable are opportunities for you to stake your claim. It’s like Lincoln said (yes, Lincoln and Swayze side-by-side):

nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Prove yourself by staying calm and thinking clearly in a tough situation, and be rewarded with more trust, license and authority. I like this being nice thing.

Dalton goes on to say “I want you to remember that it’s a job, it’s nothing personal.” As soon as you start taking things personally, you get defensive, your tone changes and everything falls apart. So stay cool, don’t take things personally and be nice.

2. Identify the Real Decision Maker

Part of your job as a consultant is to hear the signal through the noise. With any project, there’s bound to be a decent amount of noise coming from different roles in the company, obfuscating their real needs.

Part of this is finding the real stakeholder: the person who everyone reports to, the person who can green light or shoot down everyone’s hard work. The more you can get this person involved in the day-to-day the easier it will be to achieve excellent results that make everyone smile.

3. Solve Real Needs

Just because you’ve found the real decision maker, it doesn’t mean you need to pander to their every request. Identify the high-level goals and push aside the asks that don’t cultivate big and measurable results.

Identifying the best solution is not always easy, however. And once you have one, it can be even harder to convince decision makers to change their mind. In my experience, the best way to do it is effective but often thankless, and that’s okay: It has to be their idea.

Sure you can create a rich Keynote™ presentation with your breakdown of the current problem, their proposed solution and your solution, but then you’re basically going head-to-head with your client. You never want to tell a client their idea is bad if you can help it.

Instead, get yourself involved in a brainstorm, white-boarding session or any open discussion where you can dive into the problem with less friction. Here you can plant a seed for your idea and let the client cultivate it into a full blown strategy with your aide.

4. Be an Active Listener

This sounds trivial and debatably falls under #1 above. Even when your client is emailing you requests that are trivial or even distracting, try your best to always address them.

I make a point of responding to each and every request I get, even if it requires a seemingly tedious response. It’s always better to educate your client and to be transparent about your thinking, then to let a question go unanswered. If you ignore it now, they might forget about it in the short-term, but you can bet it will come up again if you don’t address it.

Suggested Read:

Harry Beckwith may be a traditional business consultant, but his content is just as applicable to the business of an indie technology consultant or freelancer. Check out What Clients Love for more tips on keeping your clients coming back for more.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. If you enjoyed this post, you can follow me on twitter: @frivolousjosh

Going Indie – What it Means to Be Done

This is the third post in a multi-part series on becoming an independent software consultant. The essence of the series is to share my experiences, accomplishments and shortcomings in the process of building my own software business.

One of the most nerve-wracking tasks a new independent contract must do is get a new statement of work (SOW) signed. No one wants a sales lead that doesn’t close when they’ve just ventured out on their own, and this often leads young consultants to create half-baked contracts (if they write a contract at all).

Perhaps it comes from a position of fear, which is very common for the new freelancer: I have to get this agreement signed as quickly as possible before they change their mind. If not, it comes from sheer ignorance or lack of experience. With a little forethought you can save yourself the experience of losing a client due to a faulty contract.

 

What Holds a Project Together?

If getting an SOW signed and executed is the left-hand bookend holding up a lofty workload, what is holding up the other end? More to the point: how do you know when you’re done with the work and does the client see it the same way?

Any indie consultant who’s rushed to get a contract signed can tell you what happens when you don’t think ahead.

Let’s make up a random, completely hypothetical, consultant and call him Josh S., no no, J. Stephenson. Eventually this fearless contractor gets to what he perceives as the end of the contract, he’s put in a lot of hours, probably more than he originally thought were needed. He had to make a number of concessions along the way, but he thinks he’s done and he’s ready to ship.

Only, the client is requesting a few more tweaks and bug-fixes. What is our fearless contractor do?

Q. When is a bug not a bug?

A. When you and the client disagree about whether it’s in-scope, that’s when.

All software has bugs, it doesn’t matter how production-ready it is. Production deployments in that sense are basically concessions about what is considered good enough, which brings us back to the agreement. Do you want to be on the hook for a bug free product forever? How do you decide what constitutes an in-scope bug versus an out-of-scope bug?

Questions like that are what lead people not to even take on fixed-fee software 1. That’s understandable, but there are some really big upsides to fixed-fee software:

  1. You ship often. Fixed fee projects can be great because they hit the AppStore or the public web. Nothing feels better than shipping real software. Time and materials contracts 2 can drag on for a long time without ever shipping.
  2. More opportunity. If you rule out all fixed-fee projects you might be leaving money on the table.

There are two ways to solve this problem. You can handle it with long, detailed specifications. Then, if it’s not in the specifications it’s not supported. This might sound like a good idea, but it really pits you and your client against each other. You don’t want to punish your client for not specifying something that he or she thought was obvious.

The second way is with strict scheduling. Add a schedule to your agreement that clearly delineates the phases of the project:

  • When will development be completed?
  • When will Quality Assurance start?
  • How much time does the client have to identify and prioritize bugs, issues and requests?
  • What is the time-frame for handling the above?
  • What happens if any party is late with any of the above?

Essentially what works well in smaller projects is to have ample time to address bugs. If you take pride in what you do, you don’t want a poor, buggy product shipped any more than your client does. The critical item then becomes what happens if the client isn’t responsive enough to provide issues to you in a way that gives you time to resolve them.

Make sure these items are clearly documented in your emails and agreements. Meet in-person or over the phone and walk your client through it so there’s no confusion about what the completed project will look like.  Plan on reminding your client leading up to the feedback period, that they will have a limited window available, after which you will need to bill for items as out-of-scope. Better yet, use a project management tool that will send email reminders in advance of feedback delivery dates.

When it comes time to send the final invoice, you’ll be confident that the client is happy and ready to pay.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series. If you enjoyed this post, you can follow me on twitter: @frivolousjosh

  1. Fixed-fee Software is any software project with a specific scope of work associated with a specific fee. Neither changes during the course of work without a change order.
  2. The opposite of a fixed-fee project. No specific scope is agreed to and work is billed hourly, weekly or monthly.

Explosiveness: 4-day cycle, day 3

I’ve been on a 4-day cycle for a few months now. The focus of it is making me a faster sprinter. (We all gotta have a goal, right?)

The days are:

  • Day 1: Strength (Bilateral squats and deadlifts)
  • Day 2: Unilateral Strength (this means working each arm/leg individually rather than together).
  • Day 3: Explosiveness
  • Day 4: Speed, Sprinting or sled pushing type exercises

I like this cycle a lot. It’s significantly different than an old-school 3-day (legs, back, chest) split. You work legs pretty much every day but in significantly different ways. The upper body is secondary but not at all neglected. This is another reason I like this cycle: dudes often pay more attention to their upper bodies than their lower.

Today (explosiveness) calls for snatch grip high pulls which I did following my warmup, box jumps and some other exercises. I had a lot of energy so I decided to alter the format a bit, throwing in an NFL speed-oriented exercise.

4 round AMRAP

(Some people might call this a “Fight Gone Bad” style workout and it certainly is).

1 min: Box Jumps

1 min: burpee pull-ups

1 min: jump rope

1 min: Single-leg Squat to knee drive. No, this is not a pistol. It’s function is to glue the various components of a sprint together, from the hands, through the hips, to the feet. Check out Demaryius Thomas, doing it like a pro in the video above.

The worst part about a workout like this for me is the recovery. If  I miss that 30 minute post-workout window, I’ll feel like a flat tire all day. My personal preference for a post-workout recovery meal follows the principles of the Paleo Diet for Athletes:

  • 20 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 40 grams protein from protein powder (sometimes I use Organic whey, sometimes a vegan one)
  • couple dashes of salt
  • 1 banana
  • Personally, I rarely workout long enough to benefit from adding dextrose.

photo

If you liked this workout, follow me on twitter: @frivolousjosh

Thanks for reading.

Going Indie – How to Handle More Work, Better

This is the second post in a multi-part series on becoming an independent software consultant. The focus of the series is to share my experiences, accomplishments and shortcomings in the process of building my own software business.

You may not be surprised to read that this post is all about delegating. Most engineers and aspiring business owners know they need help. They feel the pain of not having enough hours in the day and often feel trapped by obligations that prevent them from finding help and transferring knowledge.

I continue to make this mistake myself even as I delegate regularly to many engineers and designers. I consider it a failure of the imagination more than a failure of planning. The more hands-on work I do, the less I consider the big picture–why I started the company in the first place.

For all small-business owners who struggle with delegating, I highly recommend the book, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. The myth at the heart of this short read is that which builds up the entrepreneur as a distinct type of person with the special gift of spinning straw into gold. In exposing this myth, Gerber challenges you as an entrepreneur to build your business with multiple departments in mind, from day one.

While you are still your company’s only employee, you should run it like you are the CEO managing multiple distinct operational units beneath you. For a software engineer, this means at the very least you should have three departments:

  1. Sales
  2. Engineering
  3. Project Management

You can probably skirt by in the early stages without much Marketing or Quality Assurance, but you should think about them as opportunities for improving and expanding your business.

Document What You’re Doing

As soon as you recognize that as a freelancer you are already fulfilling these three roles, you can start thinking strategically about each of them. Take the time to define these roles and create written documentation, play-books if you will, that outline your vision for how those roles should handle their respective responsibilities.

You’re doing this for two reasons:

Firstly, the short-term benefit is making you better at what you do. For things you are comfortable with, like engineering, it will help you identify what’s working well and what’s not. From there you can solidify the former and challenge assumptions for the latter. You can test and re-test new methods until you fine tune every aspect. For things you aren’t comfortable with, like sales and marketing, it will prevent you from ignoring them. You have to face them head-on and start experimenting to find out what works for you and what doesn’t.

Secondly, when you’re faced with too much work and too little time, you won’t have to make the same mistake others are making. You won’t have to worry about losing time getting a new employee or subcontractor up to speed. You can just share your playbook and get back to more pressing matters.

Delegate What You Know

Everything can be delegated, but not everything should. You’re going to gravitate toward handling things you’re familiar with and getting others to handle things you’re not comfortable with. If you’re an engineer, you’re instinct will lead you to continue programming to the fault of ignoring other areas–areas that will grow your business. You have to fight that urge.

Delegate what you know first. If you’re an experienced programmer this should be relatively easy. Write a style guide that covers everything from library management to functional testing. I recommend avoiding petty topics like cuddled “elses.” Programmers rarely adhere to these items and having newline syntax consistency has absolutely no real bearing on whether your company is delivering quality products. It does not prevent new developers from grokking existing code. It’s much more critical that you have a solid testing harness than to worry about syntactical idiosyncrasies.

Make sure your subcontractors read and understand your style guide. Ask them if they disagree with anything. If they disagree, listen to their opinions. Give them a voice to help define the process. The more you value their opinions–even as subcontractors–the more likely they are to work with you again. As you work with the same contractors time and again, you’ll notice that communication overhead drops and quality increases. That’s more time for you to focus on improving your business (or maybe just duck out for a movie in the middle of the day). 

Read the next post in this series: Going Indie – What it Means to Be Done or follow me on twitter: @frivolousjosh

Going Indie – On Becoming an Independent Software Consultant

Recently, iOS extraordinaire and all around great guy, Brandon Treb, and I were brainstorming a book documenting our own endeavors into independent software consulting, when we decided that a series of blog posts would do just fine.

We both spent years programming for others and eventually developed the itch to handle all the elements of software services. In doing so we’ve developed a number of practices and methods that work well for us in all topics from marketing and sales to recruiting and workflow. We recognize that different things work for different people so decided that writing complimentary posts on the same topics would do our readers the most good.

Before we get into the details you might like to know more about the history of our work experience as that clearly has a lot to do with our success as independent consultants. I can only speak for myself but I’ll link you to Brandon’s post below.

There are plenty more successful software consultants than me. Tons. This is not meant to be a dialogue about becoming a millionaire consultant. No, if you want that, read Alan Weiss or Harry Beckwith. These posts are for people who love software, want to tailor it to their clients better and want to gain a significant amount of personal freedom in the process.

Some Background

My career did not include much schooling but it did include a lot of learning on the job. From age 16 I was working with cars in an auto-mechanic shop in Albuquerque, NM and at 18 I was working for an independent Internet Service Provider. I never was satisfied with the shoes I was asked to fill, always trying to make them larger. At the car shop I was hired to assist the mechanics and pump full-service gas, check oil and shut the place down at the end of the day. I was lucky when a customer wabbled their car in for a tire repair or when I got to do an oil change on a slow Saturday afternoon.

At the ISP I was constantly looking over the shoulders of the sysadmins learning the ins and outs of FreeBSD servers and Cisco routers. I learned C previous to the job from Kernighan and Richie’s famous book simply title “C” but the time came that I wanted to develop websites, dynamic ones that I could change with content and not code. I had taken HTML and CSS as far as I could and JavaScript was still a bad word so I needed something in between HTML and C.

At the time, the web world was just emerging from the world of perl scripts and cgi-bins into the up-and-coming stage of PHP. I learned the ins and outs of PHP and MySQL and learned to love building experiences on the open web.

Eventually I decided I wanted to get out of New Mexico and go coastal. I started browsing craigslist for web developer jobs in Los Angeles and eventually found one for a Ruby developer. I managed to learn enough Ruby to fake my way into it, as most engineers have done at one time or another. I spent half a year in LA building an online portal for an urban magazine when I started to smell the scent of bad management and impending layoffs. Just two months before the company laid off three quarters of the staff I was referred to a growing ruby consultancy in Santa Barbara. This would become one of the most formative jobs of my career.

The founder and I had similar personalities and as a young bachelor I wasn’t opposed to him throwing me into awkward situations far out of my league and doing my best not to embarrass myself and the company. During those years I found myself in cities across the states, Canada and western Europe working with startups and large enterprises like Disney, FunnyOrDie, ESPN and the Tribune. At the time I thought the majority of what I was learning was about programming, but really what the job was teaching me was understanding product needs and fulfilling them by building solid teams with good practices.

The second most formative job in my career came after I had already transitioned to a full time iOS developer. Ruby had lost it’s glam and everybody wanted to push the limits of the new iPhone. I was recruited by a classy recruiter (there are tons of recruiters out there and only a handful of classy ones) to join the “digital agency of the decade” in NYC. Living in NYC had long been a dream of mine, and literally being invited to live and work there was an easy choice.

Working for an advertising agency is very different than a tech consultancy. Most of the work in the ad world is led by strategists and creatives, where engineers often do not have a fun time. While it’s easy to be frustrated by this, and believe me I was, I did my best to work my way out of it. I made opportunities whenever I could to get my face in front of the company so I wouldn’t be stuck as a code-jockey.

The ad world was a great compliment to my experience in the tech-scene. Planning products based on industry trends, brand ambitions and designer day-dreams can challenge the assumptions you make as a developer and require you to look at problems differently. Even at the worst ad agencies, when developers and designers find a way to collaborate they are able to build amazing things.

Identifying Opportunity and Value

I had other jobs in this time frame. I had project based jobs for other ad-agencies. I had jobs for startups that failed miserably. I had technical instructor jobs and sysadmin jobs for universities. I even had jobs that weren’t even software related. If I had told you the whole story front-to-back it would have appeared as a jumbled mess leaving you wondering “WTH do I have to learn from this guy?” Like many things in business it’s about finding the signal through the noise. If you’ve been in the industry for a few years and had different positions with different challenges, you will find that you have a wealth of experience to draw upon when you start asking yourself questions about what you really want your career to look like.

For me it came at the ad agency. Being an engineer in the city, in the age of social and mobile is a weird experience. People like me were in such high demand that recruiters stopped calling us on our cells and home phones, and started calling us on our desk phones at work! I’m amazed at the brass but it’s true. Not only that, but my friends working in all different industries wanted time to talk about startup ideas and projects to see if I had advice. If you’re a technologist then you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re not paying attention it’s easy to let these conversations end with just simple advice; to provide direct answer to questions. When you realize that what they need more than anything isn’t answers, it’s competency and ownership, then you are able to change the nature of these conversations. They aren’t about advice anymore, they’re about work.

Then it’s just a matter of bridging the gap and that’s exactly what these posts are about.

If you’ve had that moment and you want to know how to move beyond the tech-buddy, read the next post in this series:

Going Indie – How to Handle More Work, Better

Read brandon’s post here and follow me on twitter if you wish.

What I Learned from Barefoot Running

A friend and colleague of mine, Robert, reached out to me recently to ask for tips about barefoot running. He’s trying to increase his passion for running and thinks that going back to basics will help him stop fighting with his form and I think this makes a lot of sense. If you’re going to do it, do it old school.

There’s a lot of good content out there for barefoot running including but not limited to the godfather, Barefoot Ken Bob. While I stopped running barefoot not long after I started due to a tendency to re-injure a tendon in my foot, I learned a lot from the experiment that I still use to this day. Here is the advice I gave Robert.

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 11.58.45 AMI don’t run for distance much these days because I’m working on increasing the strength and power in my legs and long distance running is known to drastically undermine leg strength. When I do run these days it tends to be sets of 100 meter sprints or 25 second sprints and I’ll use a minimal shoe like New Balance Minimus. Sprinting, in fact, is a good way to inform your barefoot running because there’s no way you can sprint landing on your heels unless you really want to hurt yourself. So simply slowing down your sprinting stride can really help improve your proper distance running form.

There are a few specific things I learned from barefoot running that I still remember and use when I do go out for a 5k:

  • “Sit back” into the run, not dramatically but try to drive more from your glutes and hamstrings. The angle of your upper body will likely continue to lean forward a few degrees simply to keep moving forward.
  • You hear the mid-foot strike a lot which is key, but I found that when I got used to running barefoot I was landing first with the outside/middle part of my foot. I think this is key based on the anatomy of the foot and the leg. If you look at a footprint in the sand it’s clear that the outside middle bears more weight than the inside arch and trying to land on the inside/middle or center/middle of the foot could inwardly rotate your knee and that is very bad.
  • “Scan the horizon” is one of my favorite cues. This is a difficult one for people to do as our gaze tends to wander downward but if you do this one right, a lot of other cues fall into place naturally.
  • “Shoulders low and loose” is also helpful especially for men who tend to have our shoulders in our ears.

My last piece of advice to barefoot runners is to get a good foot soak: your feet will need it.

 

My Favorite Posture Improving Exercises

Having good posture is a kiss from the gods. There’s nothing more satisfying than moving properly due to proper alignment and posture.

As a software engineer, however, I feel like I’m in a constant battle to keep my work from destroying my posture. I spend a decent amount of time in the gym and I’ve discovered a few exercises that have a profound affect on my posture. While ones that target the lumbar area directly are great, paying specific attention to the glutes, hamstrings, upper back and shoulders really solidifies that “(wo)man of steel” posture.

Let me be clear. These are not physical therapy exercises and are not meant for bird-chest, butt-out posture errors. Additionally I recognize that most of these exercises are probably intimidating to most. I encourage you to get past that if you’re not familiar with them and find a trainer or coach who can help you learn one of them to start. The difference it will make on your posture and fitness will be well worth it.

These first two are more advanced but they are my favorite so I’m listing them first. They may be intimidating but these two exercises alone can turn a broken corpse into an Olympic track runner (well, almost).

Snatch grip deadlifts.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87hjft6OBiU]

If you need to find your snatch grip, watch this video. Deadlifts are good for posture, but personally I find Snatch grip deadlifts to be more so. After I finish a few sets of these I feel like a god picked me up and stretched me out head to toe.

Front Squats

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoikaYjLRNk]

Front squats are superior to back squats when we’re talking about posture because they encourage thoracic extension. That’s your ability to extend your spine in the rib cage area, which is critical to good posture.

All Levels

Farmer Carries

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0i6N7Ozi7c]

My favorite thing about these is the light-as-a-feather feeling you get right after dropping the weights. Use as much weight as you can and walk as far as you can. Use your deadlift form when picking up and setting down.

Wide Grip Rows

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84YWsyauAPU]

This is a general back exercise. It targets your erectors which must hold you in proper form during the motion and your deltoids, rhomboids and shoulders during the motion.

Face Pulls

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQS-tXL1CLg]

Isolating the shoulder part of the Wide Grip Rows, these face pulls are great for targeting oft-ignored areas: rear deltoids and rhomboids directly. If you have tightness through your back you’ll probably end up arching your lumbar area when you contract (as the guy in the video does). This is not ideal but it will happen. Work to keep your lumbar strong yet relaxed while pulling from your shoulders.

A note about good form

All of these exercises need to be done with the most perfect form you can muster. Achieving and respecting that proper form is exactly what yields better posture. For the advanced movements you really want to start with low weights, get some feedback on your form and give yourself time to learn and groove1 the motor pattern.

Please comment if you try any of these exercises. I’d love to hear if they work for you the way they work for me.

  1. “Grooving” is the term for instilling muscle memory

Zen and the Art of Mopping

I used to be a professional mopper. Shocking but true. Before I spent my working hours programming software and running a business, I earned a living working with an eccentric woman who ran her own cleaning business. Initially most of the work came from residential clients which was tedious to say the least.

Eventually as the business grew to a modest degree she was getting work from local businesses and movie sets. These spaces had much different needs than the homes and their layouts were enormous. Sweeping and Mopping was half the entire project in some of these spaces. That’s when I started taking over the floors.

We would go in, I’d move everything out of the way and sweep the entire area with an industrial push-broom. I remember becoming quite particular about which brooms I would use. My favorite were the 24″ wooden Libman Professionals. They were stiff, strong and wide. I could sweep 4000 sq. ft. in 30 minutes when I was on it. All it required at the time was a Red Bull or two and some hip-hop playing on my cheap MP3 player.

After sweeping I’d move on to mopping. I’d use an industrial mop bucket, the kind with a strong wringer, and a second bucket for clean solvent.

There were a few things about this job I really loved. For starters it’s meditative. It doesn’t require much brain-power, just a lot of repetition which gave me lots of time to lose myself in the work. Secondly, the work stayed at work. I was on-site until my job was done and then I went home to forget about it.  Lastly, it is intensely satisfying to turn a dirty floor into something that sparkles. That’s something you just can’t achieve regularly with a desk job.

While it might seem odd to wax poetic about something as mundane as sweeping and mopping, I discovered there are a few things that drastically change the quality of the outcome and the enjoyment of the work itself. I’ve carried these same principles over into my current work. It prevents me from building a thousand dollar solution when a ten dollar one will do just fine.

How to mop and work smarter

Don’t contaminate your dirty water. You want to use two buckets if you can: one for your clean solution and one for wringing and rinsing. If you don’t have access to a second mop bucket use a faucet or hose to rinse out the grime. Never dunk your mop in a bucket of cleanser without rinsing it first. By rinsing the mop of all dirty water and grime before soaking with cleanser you avoid smearing germs and muck around on the floor. This is also environmentally friendly because the faster you contaminate your water, the sooner you have to change it, increasing the total amount of cleansers you use.

There’s something to be said for starting each day, each new portion of work with a clean slate. Each day I do my best to wring myself of all negative thoughts or memories about the days before. Even yesterday’s accomplishments won’t serve me today. I need to achieve new ones.

Start from the corners and work back toward your water supply. This way you’ll avoid ever stepping on your wet, clean floor. You want to let it dry before stepping on it again or your dirty feet will leave marks.

Identify the extremities of your work. In software, this means front-loading complex problems that need time for resolve. Always tackle the hardest problems first.

Stroke in straight lines, not circles and use your legs. Circular strokes are more difficult, take longer and leave the most noticeable watermarks and residue. Use a wide stance with a 1/4 squat. Stroke parallel to your stance, not perpendicular. This allows you to get a much longer stroke and it’s significantly less difficult. Mop in rows, again from the outside-in. Alternate your stance between rows to keep your body balanced and avoiding fatigue.

Questioning the how of work is just as critical as the what. If you don’t challenge assumptions and evaluate your methods, you may inadvertently be giving yourself un-necessary work and added stress.

Lastly, you have to be in good health to do your work well and you want your body to stay balanced. Anything you do with one side of your body should be done the next time with the other. Not only will it keep your body balanced, but your brain.