Get That Remote Job e-book, upcoming changes (still free)

I’m currently working on the second version of the Get That Remote Job e-book. Wanted to give you a heads up on what to expect:

Copy-pasting

I built the first e-book using a design tool because I wanted it to look good. While it ended up looking the way I liked it, the problem was that you can’t copy and paste the content. It was a text on an image.

Good design is definitely eye candy. But the basic feature of copying text was taken away, and I didn’t like that. The new version will be typed using reedsy.com, which I used for my other ebook makeitlegal.ma. The design is basic, but at least you can copy content.

A suit of complementary emails

The good thing about an e-book is the fact that you can study/execute it, whenever you want. The bad thing is no one is watching, and you may just… skip? The majority of us needs a little push from time to time.

I’m trying to change the model of the e-book from: “Here you go, here is the e-book, go and learn”, to: “Here is the e-book, try what’s here. I’ll keep checking on you for the next few weeks”.

That’s why the new version of the e-book will have some complementary emails to guide/remind you on what needs to be done.

Moving the e-book to Gumroad

This one is simple. I’m already using Gumroad for my other e-books and paying for it, so it makes sense for me to gather everything at the same place. This will make it easier for me to announce updates, schedule new emails, etc.


I’m currently working on completing the emails sequence, and building a new landing page for the ebook.

You can still get it from Gumroad if you want! I’ll let you know when the new version is available.

The beauty of cheap products

No one likes cheap products. We all want high-quality ones, and we want to feel the joy of owning them. But there is something about those cheap products that I personally find interesting… I just don’t worry about them..

Let me explain.

A few months ago, I bought a cheap Bluetooth bracelet. Heart and sleep monitoring, steps calculator, etc… The basic features you’ll get from a 30$ bracelet.

Since the day I bought it, I do everything with it. Taking a shower, swimming… you name it. In my head, the worst-case scenario is I’ll get a new one if it stopped working for some reason.

On the other hand, let’s imagine I got an expansive smartwatch. It will have more features for sure, but will I use it in the same way? Probably not. Even if it’s water-resistant, I’ll probably take it off before swimming for example. It costs a fortune, so I can’t just replace it whenever I want.

Buying an expensive product is surely more enjoyable. We all want quality products, and everyone deserves the best. But, is it always a good idea?

If buying an expensive product makes you a hostage of it, constantly worrying it will break, cutting from your time to take care of it, adapting your life to it… Was it really a good idea to get it in the first place?

A simple idea to reduce procrastination

Like every human being, I used to procrastinate a lot. Dishes? Nah. Cleaning something? Nah. Folding clothes? Nah… I knew it’s wrong, but I couldn’t help it. My body was against me.

That was a few years ago, but it’s still happening sometimes. Less often than before for sure, but it happens. We are not ideal humans after all.

So how I reduced the daily procrastination to a few times only? A simple phrase: Every day is a new day.

When I let a day’s unfinished work roll over to the next day, I was feeling both days were the same. I feel there is continuity, just like part 1 and part 2.

Starting your day with yesterday’s dishes, cleaning… is starting your day on the wrong foot. I wanted every day to be new: starting fresh. My day will be independent of the other days, I could design it the way I want, and it starts in the morning and finishes at night. Simple.

My body started co-operating. Because in my mind, I wasn’t doing the dishes because they shouldn’t be around. I was doing it because I was excited tomorrow will be a new day and I don’t want the dishes to ruin it.

I felt the incentives were more present and pushed me to complete things. They switched from a moral thing (dishes shouldn’t be around) to a tangible thing: they can ruin your day tomorrow.

Now after I wrote this, I remembered I have some clothing to fold. Tomorrow is a new day.

Adopting the PARA system

It’s been a while since I’ve been active online. The last few weeks were hectic as too many things were going on at the same time. The majority on a personal level.

My to-do list was full. I felt I was doing a million tasks a day. And I felt unproductive. My head was working all the time thinking about all the things I need to do.

I wanted to write down all the open “projects” I was working on. I needed to know what are the open tabs in my life/mind as I figured out this will help me get a bigger picture of what was happening and help me prioritize. That’s when I remembered the PARA system. I knew about the PARA system a long time ago but I didn’t feel the urge to test it at that time. This time, I needed a new system…

PARA is a system for organizing digital information and increasing productivity. There are 4 basic pillars in this system. The first two are areas and projects.

Areas are long-term activities where you need to keep a standard over time. Examples include Health, Business, Finances… You don’t want to be healthy for a few months only. It’s a long-term standard. The same goes for finances, business…

Projects are a series of tasks, linked to a specific goal with a deadline. Examples include “Working on X proposal”, “Write a blog post”… Each project needs to have a deadline, otherwise, it’s not a project.

In addition to the areas and projects, there are two other pillars: resources and archives.

Resources are topics or themes of ongoing interest. They can be linked to an area or a project, depending on the resource. Examples include Project Management, Music, Coffee…

Archives, as the name suggests, hosts the completed projects, areas, or resources.


If you want to fully use the PARA system, you need to have the same areas/projects organization in all your tools. Mainly your note-taking app (Notion in my case), and your to-do list (TickTick in my case). But that wasn’t possible at first, I just had too many things going on. So I started with Notion using this video.

Shortly after listing all my areas of interest and all my current projects, I had a clear idea of what was going on in my head. Just the fact of writing things down helped me visualize things clearly. I was taking on so many things… So I started prioritizing.

The best thing about Notion is you can create multiple views of the same data. So I created a board where I can see the projects in progress and another one where I can see the projects on hold (waiting for a response) and projects I want to start in the future.

I used those boards to help me navigate the projects I was working on and I still use them to this day for both personal and professional projects.


Overall, the system helped me navigate that hectic period. I used it to understand why my mind was working all the time and why I was feeling exhausted.

After that period, I managed to organize my to-do app TickTick with the same system. A folder for each area, and a list of tasks for each project.

If you have a system that’s already working for you, that’s awesome! If not, I encourage you to test the PARA method.

Moving to TickTick from Todoist

This is a little overdue as I moved to TickTick a while ago, but figured out I can give a quick summary. You can follow me on Twitter for these “hot” updates.

I explained why I switched to TickTick in that Twitter thread, but let me give you a quick summary:

  1. Todoist didn’t have a task description. TickTick has one
  2. TickTick has a native calendar view. With Todoist you need to connect it to Google Calendar
  3. TickTick Summary makes it easy to see what you achieved in a particular day. I use this feature daily for my standup thread in work. Basically copy pasting the summary works fine.
  4. TickTick has Habits. Which is different from a task. If you’ve done it, then that’s good. If not, it doesn’t roll to the next day.
  5. TickTick has a Pomodoro built in. Which is nice 🤤

These are the main reasons why I switched, and I’m still liking it so far.

Some updates for today:

  • Joined: 28/04/2021
  • Score: 2886, Level 5 (More productive than 55% of users)
  • Tasks completed: 430
  • Pomodoros: 52 (21h24m focus time)
  • Habits tracked: 4 (1 archived)

Until next time, keep crushing it!

Inactivity is not the goal. Doing what excites you is.

As I’ve been reading my notes from the 4 hour workweek book, I found this interesting note: Inactivity is not the goal. Doing what excites you is. This reminded me of the multiple conversations I had with people wanting to start their own business to “be able to work whenever they want”.

My next question is always: what will you do with the free time? Do you have something planned? I rarely get an answer for this. Or some generic answers like: “I want to travel”, “I want to pursue painting full-time”…

Sure, we all want to travel and pursue our hobbies full-time, but what’s the goal here? How can you track your progress in life? Waking up every day somewhere isn’t an answer. There is more to that.

I believe having a lot of free, unstructured time, is bad. We should all spend time thinking about this question: If money wasn’t a problem, how will you spend your days?

Why software engineers fail at building online businesses

I enjoy being a software developer. I can open my laptop, write some lines of code, and turn my ideas into reality. I feel that I can do anything I want, without much involvement from outsiders.

That’s why I’ve been trying to build online businesses, just like a big chunk of software engineers. I built countless apps/projects hoping I can profit from them, or maybe, turn them into a cash cow.

None of them worked as you have guessed. So even if I can turn ideas into reality, there was something missing from the equation. Maybe it was marketing? Sales? Or maybe the idea itself isn’t good?

I believe marketing and sales can help you if you have some traction first. Want to move from 100 customers to 1000? Definitely marketing. If you struggle to get your first 10 customers, I don’t think marketing or sales will help. So I decided to give my ideas a second thought.

This is when I tried something new. I changed how I select ideas to work on, and how I treat my software engineering knowledge. Both these changes helped me launch a product that made money before even launching. After launch, it made more than all my past projects, combined.

Here’s the full story on what I changed:

The problem with us, software engineers, is the process we use to come up with online businesses is fundamentally wrong. From the beginning, we are starting with the wrong approach. Let me explain.

This is how software engineers approach starting an online business:

  1. I build software at my current company full time
  2. Oh wow, people are paying for this software
  3. What! I can build it on my own and sell it directly to customers
  4. Let’s do that. I’ll build an app for something

This is how I used to come up with ideas to work on, and it didn’t work ALL THE TIME. The problem with this logic is the idea of building something comes first. Then trying to find customers (what they call “market-fit” nowadays), comes afterward.

You probably heard multiple times that this is wrong, and that, you should start first with the customer. So I’ll just save you from hearing it another time. But there is something else I wanted to add.

A few months ago, I made a promise that I’ll not start a project before learning more about customers. It wasn’t easy as we do this more as a hobby than a full-time job. So I was in a continuous struggle until I controlled my impulses.

I stopped myself from starting apps multiple times. I noted them in a note and moved to something else. I stopped myself from touching code until it was really necessary for a project… And I started thinking like an entrepreneur instead.

This is how entrepreneurs think:

  1. Looks like people are having a problem with this. Is this a problem worth solving for money? I should probably learn more about it.
  2. After learning, I see that people are already paying for this… Interesting
  3. I’m a software engineer, can I use my knowledge here to help me make a better solution for customers? If no, how can I make a better solution then?
  4. Okay, let’s help those people.

Being a software engineer is only an advantage in your entrepreneur journey. Even if you’re a software engineer, you may end up not using your knowledge for a specific project, and you should be okay with that.

If you see that people in your area are struggling to find a company to clean their windows, that’s a business idea. Will you use your software engineering skills in this? Probably not. Or at least, not the way you hope. But is this still a business? Yes, there is a need, and people are ready to pay for it.

Here’s my example, or how I used this process to make money before even launching:

Before starting the work on the Make it Legal ebook, I started writing on remote.ma, a blog for people working remotely from Morocco. One of the topics I wrote about is the legal stuff when working remotely. Things like creating your company, taxation, and stuff like that.

Those articles ended up being the most visited ones in the blog. A lot of the readers started reaching out to ask for details… This is when the idea of “Is this a problem worth solving?” started to pop up.

I continued listening to my visitors and I started taking notes of the questions I heard multiple times. People were already paying for accountants or are ready to pay to learn more about this. And what makes it harder for them, is there is no online information to help.

At that time, I knew I could sell an ebook about this. I created a landing page, shared it on my blog, and started getting pre-orders. I started writing it a month after announcing it with a few pre-orders already in.

Part of the questions I got is about the calculation. It’s hard for people to keep track of percentages, the different taxes, what comes first, and all those crazy tax details. I wanted something where you can put some inputs (salary, expenses…) and get the taxes and everything sorted out for you. So I started thinking about possible solutions.

I asked the question: “I’m a software engineer, can I use my knowledge here to help me make a better solution?”. Well, I could build an app for it, that’s what software engineers do, right?

On the other hand, my entrepreneur mind advised me to go with an Excel sheet. It has a lower barrier to entry and customers don’t need one extra app. Is building an app here will make a better solution? No. Is it a superior user experience? No. Does an Excel sheet provide the value I’m expecting? Yes. Is it better than the competition? Yes.

So I ended up not using my software engineer advantage in this project. And even without that, I still have an online business. And better, it took me less time to finish than building an app, while providing the same output.

“My software engineer mind would tell me to write an app for it. My entrepreneur mind advised me to go with an Excel file.”

At the end of my story, if you want to build an online business as a software engineer, here are two things to take with you from this post:

  1. Stop thinking like a software engineer, then an entrepreneur. Start thinking like an entrepreneur, then a software engineer
  2. Accept the fact that you may not use your software engineering skills in your online business

The ability to make software and sell it online doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. It’s just an advantage.

Articles I read at least once a month

In my post about recurring Todoist tasks, I shared that I have a list of articles I read at least once every month. Well, here they are:

The ladders of wealth creation – Nathan Barry

This is my all time favorite article about wealth creation. I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about wealth. Really good stuff!

How to make a product that sells itself – Jordan O’Connor

This is a good article about pricing and how to easily sell a product. You can summarize this article in one sentence: “Save several hours of time everyday, for $1 a day”.

50 ideas that changed my life – David Perell

A lot of good ideas in this article. My favorites are: Inversion (1), Competition is for losers (9), Table Selection (21), Hickam’s Dictum (30), Personal Monopoly (38), Via Negativa (46).

Launching an online product – David Perell

Summary is: Give a ton of free stuff away to build trust. Then charge for something afterwards.

From one company to a portfolio of companies – Andrew Wilkinson

A good story about scaling businesses (going from one business to a portfolio of companies)

How to start a business or a product from scratch – Tim Ferriss

I like this video given it introduces a lot of good concepts, like creating a category, clear objectives, scratch your own itch…

Some of David Perell Tweets around consistency

B+ content and A+ consistency is the winning formula for email newsletters. – – Most of the value comes from consistency, not content.

Create consistently. Essays, podcasts, drawings, videos, music. You pick. Your work will become a magnet for people from every corner of the planet. People who like your work will reach to you and create opportunities you never expected.

My recurring Todoist tasks

I bet you already know that I use Todoist for everything, it’s my personal assistant. If not, give it a try! I hope you’ll like it as I do.

One of the best usages of Todoist is recurring tasks. I use daily, weekly, monthly, and sometimes yearly recurring tasks to stay up-to-date with what’s happening.

Today, I wanted to share with you my list of recurring tasks. I tried to keep tasks not divulging personal information, but there are other tasks related to health/doctor appointments etc…

Personal tasks

  • Call home – every day
  • Zakatyearly

Home tasks

  • Laundry day – weekly
  • Fridge check – weekly

Company management

  • Pay IR – monthly
  • Pay CNSS – monthly
  • Check letters – monthly
  • Pay TVA – quarterly

Retrospective

  • Weekly retrospective and planning next week – weekly
  • Daily manifestodaily

Workouts

  • Full body workout – weekly on Mon and Thu
  • Abs & flexibility workout – weekly on Wed

Motivation

A list of articles I read once in a month. Will be part of a separate post.

Co-working in Casablanca

Since I started working remotely, I didn’t consider joining a co-working space. In fact, I was always thinking of co-working spaces as a noisy place where I can’t get things done.

With COVID-19, I spent so much time at home and felt I lost that human touch and connection with people. So, I decided to give it a try at the beginning of this year.

4 months in, I think this was a good decision! I enjoyed joining the Commons co-working space and got to know awesome folks working on different exciting projects.

Such connections and discussions made me a better individual and more optimistic about the future and opportunities in Morocco. I prefer to hang out with people thinking they can make it in Morocco, than people cursing it day and night.

Spread the good vibes. Spread entrepreneurship.