Is it time for a breather?

A snorkeler who has come up for air.

Do you know that feeling when you’ve been working hard and you “come up for air”?

Suddenly, you realize you’re hungry. Ravenous, in fact. And you have to use the bathroom—urgently.

You’ve been so wrapped up in your work—you were in a state of flow—that you weren’t paying attention to your body.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Being in the zone feels great and is often very productive. But it is possible to go too far.

When you come up for air, if you…

  • feel your heart pounding
  • notice that your neck and shoulders are stiff
  • can hear yourself panting
  • find yourself to be clumsier than usual

… then you’ve gone too far. These are stress symptoms.

Having an elevated heart and being out of breath are great when you’ve been playing sports—it means you’ve pushed yourself to be fitter. But they are signs of trouble when in fact you’ve been at work, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t move around at work. In fact, moving around lowers stress and increases your creativity. Rather, it is the pounding heart you get after sitting still and stressing yourself out that’s so toxic.

Consistently stressing your body and your mind while you’re at work will wreak havoc in the long run. That’s why it’s good to ask yourself, every now and then: do I need a breather?

Yours,

— Peter

Why you should be selfish at work

A woman floating in water, on her back, with her eyes closed.

The prevailing narrative holds that you should be willing to sacrifice things for your work.

Working late shows dedication to the firm. Responding promptly, even when you’re not at the office, demonstrates that you care. If your boss asks you to take on more work, the “best” employees will say yes.

For an extreme example of how this can go wrong, read or watch The Circle by Dave Eggers.

To some degree it is true that you have to make trade-offs to do good work. But you can sacrifice too much and hurt everyone in the process.

Who benefits when you only sleep five or six hours a night? Despite what many believe, if you were to measure your productivity objectively, you would get more good work done if you got eight hours of sleep.

And who benefits when you consistently work 60-hour weeks? If you worked 60 hours one week, you might be able to get some more stuff done. Maybe you could even do that for two or three weeks. But do it for a year, and you might burn out and not be able to work at all. Who benefits from that?

You will do better work when you get enough sleep, when you take plenty of breaks, and when you regularly get away from your work completely. In other words, when you are “selfish”—at least under that prevailing narrative.

In reality, there is no choice between taking care of yourself and being dedicated to your work. In fact, taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your work, too.

So be selfish at work. It will benefit everyone.

Yours,

— Peter

What to ask in a job interview

People sitting around an office table.

When we look for a new (knowledge worker) job, it’s natural to look for certain characteristics.

We’d like the pay to be good and we’d like the people we’d be working with to be nice. We’d like to get plenty of vacation days and we’d like to have some “opportunities for career advancement”. 

These things are important—absolutely. But I think there are underrated characteristics of jobs that we should pay more attention to:

  • What is the company culture with respect to work hours? (Are people rewarded for output or for hours worked? Are we expected to be available for work at all times?)
  • Are meetings run efficiently? (Or do people waste time attending meetings that run too long or in which half the attendees don’t need to be there?)
  • Is the physical environment conducive to doing work? (Is there some space for privacy and to reflect? Is the office “open” and will people continually interrupt us when we’re trying to focus?)
  • Do people complete their work on time without undue stress? (Or is everybody always busy, rushing, and out of time?)

You rarely see companies talk about these things on job postings, but they have a huge effect on what work will be like day-to-day. So let’s ask companies about these things when we apply for jobs.

Yours,

— Peter

P.S. I can’t stand the phrase “looking for a job”. It sounds like you’re begging companies to “give you” work. Anyone have a better suggestion?

What’s your mission? (Here’s mine)

A person, holding a globe, in front of a field.

Maybe there is something that fires you up. A topic that, when the conversation turns to it, really gets you going.

Is there something like that for you?

For me, it’s how to do good work in a healthy way. If this subject comes up, I can’t stop myself from sharing my thoughts and my experience.

If you have something like this too, can you be quite precise about what it is? It’s handy to be able to identify and articulate what you really care about. It adds to your identity and it gives you something to talk about when you meet people.

It helps to formulate what you care about in terms of a mission statement. Think big. This isn’t easy to do, but it helps people understand you better. Here’s my best shot at what I care about:

My mission is to make it possible for anyone to make a living doing something they care about—without burning out.

As you can see, I might be able to sharpen the formulation. 😉But you get the point, no?

What do you care about? If you could make something big happen, especially for others, what would it be?

Please share your thing, even if it’s vague.

Yours,

— Peter

Drip vs. Seva (f.k.a. ConvertKit): a comparison and review

How do you choose a tool?

I like tools that are simple. Having more features available to you isn’t better if you don’t use them and they only get in the way.

I also like tools that are built by people who care. When the people making the tool care, you can trust them to improve the tool over time.

So that’s how I evaluate tools. And that’s how I evaluated two popular email service providers: Drip and Seva (formerly known as ConvertKit).

How do they stack up?

TL; DR:

  • Drip is geared towards e-commerce; Seva markets to “creators”.
  • Drip is more powerful (e.g. it has A/B testing and better reporting).
  • Seva is easier to use and has built-in landing pages.
  • The price difference is negligible.

What Drip is better at

Drip focuses on e-commerce. It is designed primarily for people who sell lots of products online. If that’s what you do, you’ll likely prefer Drip.

Drip’s reporting features are detailed and comprehensive. You can analyze your emails and your audience’s responses as much as you like. Seva has reporting features too, but they’re not as detailed.

If you have a sizable email list, you can get to know your audience better and make more sales using A/B testing (a.k.a. split testing). This technique has you sending different emails to different parts of your audience. The software will then tell you which version of your emails resonated more with your audience, such as which version was opened more often, which version generated more sales, etc.

Drip has extensive A/B testing features. You can A/B test individual emails (“broadcasts”) or emails that are part of an automated sequence. Seva, on the other hand, will only let you A/B test broadcast emails—not emails that are triggered and sent automatically. So if you plan to do substantial A/B testing, go with Drip.

What Seva (ConvertKit) is better at

Like I said, I prefer simple tools.

Seva (f.k.a. ConvertKit) was created for professional bloggers and now markets itself as being for “creators”. And you can tell, because Seva is simple. It is easier to use than Drip.

I prefer the experience of editing emails in Seva. Seva’s editor has everything you need and the interface does a good job of minimizing the clicks you need to get around the app. In Drip, I often feel like I need five clicks to do anything.

What else do I like about Seva?

If you run a blog, you might want to email your blog posts to your subscribers. A handy way to do that is using a feature known as RSS-to-email. Both Seva and Drip let you automatically send posts that appear in an RSS feed to your subscribers, but Seva makes it way easier to do this. In Drip, you have to chat with customer support just to enable this functionality.

Seva also has more integrations than Drip, although both apps do fine in the integrations department. If you need your email service provider to connect with another tool, chances are you’ll be fine with either Seva or Drip. Both apps also work with Zapier, so you can connect them with other tools indirectly.

Speaking of integrations, Seva has built-in landing pages. If you’re selling a product online, you probably want to create a landing page for it. This is free and easy to do in Seva. Drip integrates well with LeadPages—because Drip is now owned by LeadPages—but the landing page functionality is separate and expensive.

Finally, the people behind Seva (formerly ConvertKit) are awesome. Nathan Barry and his team care about their product and their customers.

What they’re equally good at

Email is such an integral part of building an audience online that you shouldn’t be shy about spending money on a good email service provider. Still, you don’t want to over-pay. Fortunately, Drip and Seva cost about the same. The key difference is that you can use Drip for free as long as you have 100 subscribers or fewer. Seva has a 14-day free trial, but after the trial you’ll have to pay, regardless of how many subscribers you have.

Both apps also come with good support. The support teams are friendly and responsive. Enough said.

What about setting up your email opt-in forms? This is easy to do in both Seva and in Drip. They each have an official WordPress plugin, for example.

Summary

You can’t go wrong with either Drip or Seva.

They are similar enough that you can easily try both of them for a while and simply pick the one that feels most intuitive to you.

If you’d rather choose now, then:

Choose Seva (ConvertKit) if:

  • You value simplicity.
  • You like using software built by people who care.
  • You are an online creator.

Choose Drip if:

  • You want to use A/B testing.
  • You like to have detailed reports available to you.
  • You run an e-commerce business.

I hope this was useful. Good luck deciding and let me know if you need help.

Yours,

— Peter Akkies