ProductivitySelf-ImprovementTechnology

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty’—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

There is a lack of beauty in modern life.  “Form ever follows function,”  We’re told that Beauty is merely an unnecessary ornament.  Even though that ignores the full meaning of the quote.  In reality, according to the originator of the phrase, Louis Sullivan, “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law.”  So, while the appearance of a thing should never be disconnected from its purpose, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be beautiful.  That would imply that beauty itself was without purpose and, as we shall see, it is not.

Food, water, warmth, and sleep are just some of the basic necessities of life.  It’s pretty obvious that we can’t survive without them.  I’d argue the same can be said for beauty.  In some ways it’s even more necessary.  As Dostoevsky said, “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.”

Sadly, for many of us a lot of that beauty has perished from the world.  We wake up.  We drive out into the gridlock.  We sit in our cubicle next to our coworkers in their cubicles, above and below other workers in their cubicles on other floors.  All of us typing away on identical screens until we eventually go back through the gridlock and get home.  Maybe then we’ll finally have time to go to a park or play a game, or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch and watch the same show that are neighbours and their neighbours and their neighbours’ neighbours are watching.  Just another cog in an ever-expanding machine.  Where is the beautiful in our lives?  It’s been replaced by a drab monotony.

City skyline
A forest of man-made trees is a sight to behold

Now, what modern architecture does right, it does really right.  There is truly something awe-inspiring in a row of towering skyscrapers in the skyline.  The view from an airplane window as it comes in to land is breath-taking.  Cities from far away look amazing.  However, up close and personal, the drab monotony comes back.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Here‘s an article from the NYT written in 1964.  We’ve been living and working next to these ugly buildings as they slowly but surely tear down the beautiful architecture of the past replacing it with more of the same.

Suburban Housing
I live in the house with two top floor windows in the front. …No, the blue one. No, the other blue one.

Suburbia doesn’t fare much better.  Let’s be honest.  Is there anything awe-inspiring of a row of houses of near-identical design?  Not really.  The only thing that makes you and your neighbour different is that you couldn’t pick his shade of green for your house so you had to pick that yellow that you don’t really like.  The endless variations on the same theme are enough to drive me insane.  (a short trip, according to my wife.)  and good luck navigating without an address.  In some parts of Canada addresses are meaningless.  The terrain and even the houses themselves are so unique that you can navigate by landmarks.  But try doing that in the city and you’ll find the opposite is true.  Addresses are the only way to navigate in a world where every street looks just like the last.

 

High Rise
I don’t think the elevator is working. It says we’re on the 23rd floor but it looks just like the 2nd floor!

It’s even more true of a high rise with identical apartments piled one on top of each other to fit as many people as possible inside.  The only difference between the 23rd floor and the 22nd floor is that the people down below are slightly smaller on the 23rd. Don’t get me wrong, with the high populations in urban centers high rises and apartment complexes are definitely necessary.  Without cheap mass housing, there would be a lot of people without places to live.  I just think we need to remember the costs as well as the gains.  We need to remember to provide beauty for their residents.  It’s easy for the well to do to live in an ugly city.  when they need to see something beautiful they can buy a painting.  Or go hiking in the mountains.

 

At one point, this lack of beauty wasn’t an issue.  The average member of society always did one thing every week regardless of their economic status.  They always went to church on Sunday.  Regardless of who they were or how much they owned, they could see beautiful statues and domed ceilings every week.  But gradually as society has become less religious and as religious buildings have begun to match their urban surroundings more and more, this source of beauty has faded as well.

Notre Dame, Montreal interior
They don’t build ’em like they used to, do they?

This has caused detrimental effects on our mental health as studies have shown.  This is one of the reasons why urban environments are a greater mental health risk than rural ones.  Without the beauty of nature we’re left with whatever the cities can or can’t provide.  Of course, the drab monotony of the city has an effect on our workplace productivity too.

Fortunately, life finds a way.  Though many of the traditional ways we’ve expressed beauty throughout society have faded, several of them are making a resurgence and new methods are appearing too.  With smartphones we have access to all of the classic books of literature in our pockets.  With gigapixel cameras and websites like 360 cities we can tour architectural and natural marvels without the costs of travel.  As museums digitize their contents, we can see the relics of our past from across the world.  As VR technology develops and becomes more mainstream this will only expand.  As we realize the importance of our surroundings on our productivity and well-being, traditional office layouts are being redesigned into more open concepts with a focus on aesthetics again.  That’s why so many modern office buildings are doing away with the drab row of cubicles lit by fluorescent lights and replacing them with natural lighting and greenery alongside more character and personalization for employee workstations.  Beautiful web design is replacing the clunky boxes of the past as we realize that beauty helps our companies stand out of the crowd.  We’re realizing that not only does beauty have a purpose in the professional world, but that it helps make every aspect of both our professional lives and our life at home that little bit better.

So all in all, I’m pretty hopeful for beauty.  We’ve realized that it’s necessary in the modern world, we’ve seen that without it mental health issues rise, and in response we’ve begun rebuilding society to include the beautiful once more, whether that’s through new techniques and technologies or by reinviting nature back into our cities.  We’ve realized the age-old truth that beauty should not be a privilege of the rich but a gift for the world.  For as Dostoevsky says, “Beauty will save the world.”

CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

CommunicationProductivitySelf-Improvement

Allegorical painting from the 17th century with text Nosce te ipsum

Do you ever find communicating with other people difficult? Are you ever baffled by other people’s idea of a good time? Have you ever gone a whole year thinking one thing about someone only to discover a new piece of information about their personality and have to reframe your entire past relationship with them (for better or for worse)?

deborah or robot
Which one is Deborah? Which one is the robot? We’ll never know.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but I’ve got one of the more rare personality types. I’m socially introverted and extraverted thinking, or in the language of Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ, the Mastermind. Or as some people like to call me: I’m a robot. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that these personality measurements are the be-all-end-all of defining oneself, but they can be helpful for understanding yourself and others.

For example: I was acquainted with a girl for an entire year before she discovered that I was being friendly with her and didn’t hate her. She didn’t understand my extremely dry sense of humour (we INTJs tend to have a dry dark sense of humour). Once she got that, she looked back and realised I was making jokes the entire year and it was because I liked her rather than disliked her, and wanted to be friends. (And then we became friends.)

When it comes to the workplace, knowing about my own personality is helpful. I know that I work best when I have write out a schedule for myself — it helps keep me from getting bogged down in perfectionism. I can get a little obsessive sometimes. I’m good at knowing how to solve problems, and when to stop and return to the problem at a later time. I know that I work best alone, and that when I have to be around a lot of people, I should schedule in quiet time so that I don’t get burnt out.

I can also be pretty cold, direct, and bossy so I need to remember to be more gentle with people who might take that personally (it’s not unusual to hear me to tell someone, “no, you’re doing it completely wrong. No, that’s wrong too. No! Stop now! Before you make it worse! I will show you!” Yeah, tact: not a strong point for me, room for self-improvement). I’m also good at taking criticism about my work (the previous sentence directed at me won’t bother me). If a client isn’t satisfied with something, I want to know so that I can make them happy, so I make sure to let my clients know that they can be upfront with me.

panda wearing a panda
According to Youtopia, pandas are an INFJ

On the flip side of the coin, it can be helpful to know more about the personalities of the people you work with, including clients, co-workers, and managers. Are they introverted or extroverted? What are the best ways to communicate with them? What are habits that tend to annoy (or please) their personality type? Taking the time to understand the people around you can make a big difference in getting along in the workplace (as well as home and other interpersonal relationships). Sometimes looking outward can make a big difference, especially in a small workplace.

Have you ever known someone for a long time then had to reframe everything you knew about them after learning something about their personality? Has someone ever had to do that with you? What is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What are some other types of personality assessments that you find helpful?

*Note: I’m pretty sure that the maxim “know thyself” wasn’t originally about personality, but it seems to have evolved that way. Perhaps another subject for another day!

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job application tips

So you’re looking for a new job.  Maybe you’re just entering the work force and ready to put your fresh knowledge into action. Or maybe you just need a new start or a change in careers. It can be difficult for anyone to stand out from the crowd when you send in your application. But with these 4 tips you’ll be able to spark interest with your potential employer and possibly score an interview.

Cover letters aren’t optional

cover letter

Please don’t skim over the area to add a cover letter. Although some job posting say ‘cover letter optional’ this shouldn’t be the case in applicants minds. The chances you will be rejected almost immediately are quite high if you avoid adding a cover letter. Especially if the job posting specifically asks for one. A cover letter should show your personality. It’s your opportunity to talk yourself up without shame. Employers love to see personalized applications, it keeps you fresh in their mind and most importantly stand out from other applicants. Add why you are a good fit for the position, address the employer specifically rather than “to whom it may concern.” Let your personality shine. Tell your strengths, if you are outgoing, love learning new things, have talents that have served you well or could serve you well for the job, this is your chance to include them all.

Grammar

Grammar

If you wouldn’t want grammar mistakes in your reports to clients, college assignments, or Facebook posts then don’t allow them in your cover letter or resume. Attention to detail is included in most job descriptions. Employers want to know you are taking your time and doing your best.. Your resume is a short preview of the kind of worker you are, the effort you put into your work and the value you have for making a good impression when it matters most. Always double check your resume and fix mistakes even if it’s in the final draft stages. It’s noticeable when time and effort are put into an application.

Follow Instructions

Following instructions

Nothing is more frustrating for hiring managers when instructions are added to a job posting and they simply aren’t followed. If it asks for a short description of why you think you are a good fit for the job, add it. Say a cover letter is requested, please include a cover letter. Or maybe instead of clicking ‘apply now’ you need to send it straight to an email. If you really want the job it will make a world of difference to your employer if you can follow their instructions.

Be a Human

Be human

Well of course you’re human. Sometimes we get so caught up in making lists of things we are good at or the experience we have, we forget to be personal. If your resume is boring you, it’s probably 10 times more boring for your employer. Okay maybe not 10 times, but it will be a lot less interesting for the person reading it than it is for you. A well formatted resume is a way of adding personality rather than a blank page with a bunch of lists. It’s okay to use a template, but be sure to customize it to be your own. Don’t worry about making a lengthy resume with every single skill you obtain, but customize for the position you want. A quick tip, add where you can find examples of your work . If you’re a photographer, include your social media accounts, so they can get to know your style and you better.

It can be tough to stand out during the application process but these few things will go a long way with employers. Don’t let to the process discourage you, and definitely don’t take job rejection personally. Apply to each job seeing it as a fresh start and a new opportunity for your career.

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being productive while working from home

It’s becoming more popular for people to work from home instead, or in addition to the office. But with this freedom, comes some hurdles you may have crossed a few times or will come across as you work from the comfort of your home. It can be easy to over work, or under work when the you bring the office into your home. You don’t have distractions from coworkers stopping by your desk or clients dropping in unexpectedly, but you do have other things that can easily pull you away from your tasks. Here we’ll give you some tips that have worked for highly productive people who work from their kitchen, living room or home office.

Start Early

Alarm clock

The early bird gets the worm, and this also applies in your own home. Wake up, make a coffee and get right down to business. I find the sooner I get started in my work the less distracting other things are throughout the day. The longer you make the transition from your bed to your computer the longer it will take for your morning sluggishness to fade. Waking up early is key to being successful throughout the day and staying on track with your list of things to do.

Recreate Your Office Routine

Work from home

Without a commute to work, you have more time to get a few quick jobs done before you start work. The best thing to do to keep you on track is to create as much of an office space as possible. Work at a desk or your kitchen table instead of the couch. There you won’t have the temptation to turn on the TV. Listen to music while you work, if that’s what you do at the office. If it’s more distracting to work in complete silence turn on a TV in another room or the radio. If you like to sip on coffee or tea at work, do the same at home. I drink a lot of water at work so when I work from home I do the same, but I stay to drinking from a water bottle instead of a glass. This prevents you from leaving your computer so often and getting distracted by something else around your house.

Stay Connected

Stay connected

Keep close contact with your office, so if your coworkers need something from you they can easily reach you. The best way is to use a messaging program like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp for the office. At Panda Rose the office is connected to Microsoft Teams so when one person works remotely you can easily contact them. It’s a great way to keep updated on whats going on in the office and still feel like a part of the team.

Keep a Schedule

Schedule

Either electronically or on paper. Keep track of your to-do list for the day. This will help you keep track of how productive you are. Actually, the busier you are the more productive you are. Once you are going it’s easy to keep going. And when you rest it’s easy to keep resting. Try to keep the downtime to a minimum and take on more tasks during the day even if they are small. It also helps make the day go by faster!

Set a Quitting Time

Quitting time

Working from home also means you can easily over work. It’s just as important to set a time that you log off as it is to take breaks from work during the day. To be the most productive during the day, take a break from screens and papers. Go for a walk, interact with other people instead of simply watching a few minutes of your favorite show. Setting a time to quit for the day ensures you are rested up for the next day. Try shutting off your computer, and closing your daily planner. Otherwise you will end up starting a task when you should be resting. Rest is just as important as work.

Enjoy Working From Home

Enjoy working from home

At the end of the day, enjoy having the freedom to work from your home. You get to drink your own coffee from your favorite mug, and wear slippers all day. You can come across just as many distractions in an office as you can at home. Learning to manage the distractions at home can be more difficult but once you get into a routine it will be just like working at the office, but better!

EducationMarketingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Client Relationships

Have you ever bought from a business knowing full well that you could go somewhere else and get a better price? Some people have, but why?

Maybe it’s that they’re closer to your business, or the quality of the product, but the main reason people keep coming back is because of the relationship you have with the staff, manager, or owner. Sometimes companies buy from other companies because there’s a history between them. Maybe it’s a personal friend you want to support. But most likely, it’s because they have great customer service. Client relationships are valuable for your business and your customers. In fact, avoiding taking an interest in your clients or taking too much interest can hurt your business as much as a poor product.

Learn your customers

Client Relationships

Getting to know your customers helps you get to know more about their business, why they buy your product, and their buying habits. This helps you anticipate their needs and fulfill them. But on a deeper level, learn the person. Learn their interests, if they have a family, and how they got into the business in the first place. This helps you leave a lasting impact on them. I’ll give you a story of how asking about people and their lives leaves people feeling valued and wanting to come back.

I used to always go into the bank to do all my business, walk up and talk to a teller instead of stop at a machine and tap a screen. The one particular teller began to recognize me every time I came in. She recognized my mom and sister and took an interest in their lives as well as my own. This lady would ask about trips we were taking, offered places my (fresh out of high school) sister could stay as she traveled abroad. This teller became the person we all looked forward to talking with when we went in to do business. Before leaving she would always ask us to say hi to the rest of the family and knew us by name.

She started with small personal conversations, asking about our family, what we do for a job and how we like doing it etc. I’m not necessarily saying offer your home to anyone who walks into your shop or even at all, but you may share similar interests that you never knew about. You my gain a golfing buddy or a fellow sports fan of your favorite team. Building trust with customers is so important, you can easily ask questions about their life, go beyond the small talk, and bringing up the weather. That’s how you become familiar with clients but never create a relationship. 

Client loyalty

Shaking hands

These two seem to go hand in hand. If you invest time into the clients that walk through the door they will keep coming back. In a marketplace where your customer competition is high it’s vital to rise above the rest and show amazing customer service. Don’t promise too high and deliver low.

Recognize the people who buy from you, and remember things about them. If a person buys three cans of paint and is telling you about a project they are working on. Remember it and ask them how it turned out the next time you see them. As easy as it is to walk to the ATM machine, I preferred to go to a teller because of the positive experience I had. If you give this to your customers they will chose to buy from your flower shop instead of buying at a Walmart, or stop at your coffee shop instead of Starbucks.

Angry customers tell their friends

Angry Customer

People don’t generally say anything if they are satisfied. That’s because they aren’t blown away if their expectations are met. But if they are mistreated, the word will likely spread fast. If someone has a bad experience they will tell friends and family. They don’t want others wasting time and money if they are getting mistreated or their needs won’t be met.

 

Client relationships are extremely important when running a business. Building trust and community with your customers will keep people coming back and make it easier to get new work.

 

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Social media engagement

Instagram is a visual platform, its important to catch a persons eye and quickly. Having a cohesive feed and a impressive bio is great, but you may need more than just that to make people stick around. So here’s some tips on how to get more engagement on your account.

Post consistently

Schedule

Its difficult for your followers to appreciate your content if they never see it. Make a schedule of when you are going to post, and plan your content. Include captions as well as the time, because posting at the right times is a game changer for your engagement. You can use apps like Buffer to schedule your content, this includes your image, caption, time and location. Posting regularly increases the legitimacy of your account. Many times users will bounce if the last post you shared was December 2017.

Respond to all comments

Comments

Yes, even (especially) the negative ones. Instagram has added a nice feature that you can now like comments, this is the least you can do to show appreciation for a comment. Try to make time to authentically respond to comments it makes your followers feel heard, and valued. Think how you feel when you comment on an account you admire or inspires you and they comment back. It’s a good feeling, you feel like you were important enough for them to read and respond to your comment no matter how busy they may be. Give that love back to your fans! In order to increase your engagement you need to be social too, leave comments on accounts other than your own.

Always use images

Pictures

This applies to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as Instagram won’t let you post without a photo. Tweets with images get 150% more engagement than those without. Images capture more attention than just text or a link. Don’t just add any picture, post ones that are relevant to increase your engagement.

Ask questions

Questions

Include questions in your captions, it’s a fun way to encourage your followers to leave a comment. Ask fun and simple questions, for example ask about which they prefer, Apple or Android, if they are early risers or like to sleep in. These questions are super easy to ask, people can answer without really having to think about the answer. Where as a question that requires a long thought out detailed response, or that is too complicated to answer in just a short comment may not be the ones you want to start with. If your audience is really good with engaging, you can occasionally ask more detailed questions!

Use Emojis

Emoji

Using emojis on your social media accounts will result in higher engagement, but don’t use just any random emojis. Using certain ones will also increase your engagement. The smiley face can boost interaction by 25% whereas the grimacing emoji can boost it by 138%. Using emojis you will see an increase in your likes, comments and shares. This trick is really simple to experiment with and doesn’t require much extra work.

Get more followers

Followers

The more followers you have the more engagement you will most likely get from them. All things leading up will help you get more followers but an account with 100 followers compared to an account with 10,000 will get more interactions. Social media can be a numbers game but the quality of your content is the most important aspect of your posts.

 

Social media platforms are incredibly useful tools to help increase visibility for your business. It can although be challenging to get yourself noticed, these tips will help you become more legitimate on social media platforms so that your audience will begin to be more social.

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

Learning

Leah Learns has been in the works for a while now. What started as an office joke has grown into a fun opportunity. We finally released a new video on YouTube last week you don’t want to miss it. It’s comical, entertaining and educational all in one!

Leah is our SM (Social Media) specialist at Panda Rose, we have started a YouTube channel challenging her each week to learn something new. We have plenty of talent within our team, and community. She will be learning skills we never knew she needed to learn.

Origami

Our First Video

Last week a video was made teaching her how to open bottles without a bottle opener. It is both practical and fun! One method was placing the bottle in the heel of a shoe and forcefully banging it against a hard surface. The momentum pushes the cork out of the bottle and the shoe prevents the glass from breaking. After many swings it was surprisingly successful! The other, more risky, method was sabering. This includes a bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) and a knife, or in our case a bayonet.  This idea here is to follow the seam of the bottle (which is the weak point of the bottle) and carry the knife in one quick swift movement up the seam and against the top of the bottle. This force will literally slice off the top of the bottle and cork. The other way to open a bottle which unexpectedly had it own difficulties was to simply twist off the cap. The trick here is to twist left, not right.

What’s Next?

In the future we will be teaching Leah a variety of skills. It’s exciting to get to know the small businesses around the community through learning small aspects of their work. You can look forward to a new video every week. Simply Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out and comment on the videos ideas you have for our next Leah Learns!

youtube image

We want to hear from you! Leave a comment with an idea for a new video!

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screen time

Social media nowadays is more than just a social network. It is used as a tool for businesses and a way to communicate with others. Although sometimes, we can get too caught up in the scrolling world that we don’t realize how it could be affecting our well being, relationships and even work.

As a digital marketing specialist I work with various social media platforms every day. It’s my job to scroll, to build community and relationships with people. Social media is a business tool so deleting it just isn’t an option… or is it?

The answer is yes. Yes, you can delete social media and you know why? Because it’s good for you.

community

 

The average person will spend nearly two hours a day on social media.

Want to to see if you fit the average? Take a look at your Screen Time feature (if you have an iPhone.) The results will likely surprise you. You can see which categories you spend the most time on. Entertainment, productivity, social networking etc. You can also see how many notifications you get a day and how many times you pick up your device. As someone who works on social media for work, my times may be a bit above average but I want to give you a look at what my statistics look like.

Average Screen time per day: 4 hours 33 minutes

Social networking (you will be knocked off your feet here) 24 *hours* 20 minutes! (Time for a social media detox!)

Pickups: 92 per day

Notifications: 59 per day

This is a lot of phone time! Most of it is social networking.

So here’s why it’s so important to take some time away from social media, even if you use it as a business tool. And some tips to get around the business aspect of it to put your mind at ease when you step away.

 

1. Social media tends to make you focus on others more than yourself

You mindlessly scroll, coming across a picture of how your co-worker bought a new car, or that your friends went out and had sushi on Saturday night. Are these things you really need to know about? No, not really. It’s entertaining, for sure. But this tends to just make you more concerned with what others are doing with their lives, rather than what you are doing with yours. Weekends spent working towards your personal, or business goals may not be glamorous or Instagram worthy. But it’s good for you. Taking the time away from social media means that you have to go out of your way to find out about other peoples lives. Its not just information accessibly to you. So if you need to know what others are doing you will have to be intentional.

private

2. Too public

Privacy has gone out the window, that is usually when it comes to social media. Of course as a business, keeping people in the loop about new offers or features you offer is key to your account and potential leads. But are you being too public with your personal account? Or finding it draining when others are too public with their lives? This could be a sign that you need to take a step away from the screen. Realigning what is appropriate to post on social media platforms and what is private to you or your family sometimes comes from taking a step away and realizing that you can still have a good time, without having to post about it or update your Facebook status.

3. Distorted version of reality

I can tell you that many accounts you follow on Instagram or Facebook are not all they say they are. Not that they are lying to you with their words, but sometimes it can be hard to differentiate whats real and whats not in an image. You see it in magazines, on billboards, TV ads and so many more places, especially on your own device. With the apps available to literally anyone, you can’t trust what is real or not. I can make the trees in the fall look more radiant than they actually are, my skin more glowing, even make water move in a still image. False images are thrown to you left and right and sometimes it’s exhausting. Even if you don’t realize it.

photoshop

4. Live in the moment

Ever been to a wedding and can’t actually see the beautiful bride because of all the phones popping up all over the place? Cellphones have actually changed how professional photographers do their job. Some couples have asked that people put their phones in a basket because the photographer won’t be able to get beautiful pictures without arms stretched all over the isle trying to get pictures or live videos for the world to see. We have sometimes forgotten how to truly live in the moment. Taking a social media detox will make events or scenery more fulfilling for you. Try going outdoors for a hike and just breathe in the fresh air, take in the moment.

Resist the temptation to pull out your phone to document the event or share it with your friends. Do it for you.

you are here

5. Free up your time

Now that your phone doesn’t have 410 notifications (okay maybe that an exaggeration) a day from Facebook or Twitter what do you do with all your free time? You can read a book, try yoga, go for a long walk with your dog… the possibilities are endless. You may even notice your energy go up, with removing yourself from comparison and false reality.

 

Quick tips to take a break from social media if you need it for work:

  • Get a scheduling app. Apps like Buffer or Tailwind can schedule your content for you if you need to be on top of posting for your business. Put in a bit extra time to retrieve content and caption your posts. Schedule them for times that suit your audience, simple as that!
  • Only delete your personal account to cut down on time you spend endlessly scrolling on the platform. Restrict your time limits to only work hours or only to answer messages or comments. (check in once a day for only a few minutes and avoid going into the feed. Only check notifications or places that actually need your attention.)
  • Hire someone to manage your social media accounts for you, so your account is still active even if you aren’t. This will make it easier if you want to make it a routine to get unconnected with the digital world more often.

social media

Taking a digital detox (more specifically social media) has multiple benefits to your personal well being.  The world will not end if you don’t upload a picture of your food. Allow yourself to step away from time to time. It’s becoming more and more important as social media grows to set boundaries with what’s private and what’s public. Start with one day, then a weekend, and adjust accordingly. Some can go a month, while for others, a day is just as refreshing.

 

If you are looking for someone to manage social media for your business, send us an email or call us at 780-652-1190

Mobile AppsSelf-ImprovementSocial Media

fireworks

fireworks

The year 2017 is coming to a close and we can see 2018 on the horizon. This transition is nothing new, it happens annually. We know the drill.

Memes will bash 2017 for a while, saying how we will never miss it. Eventually we will give 2018 a hard time and start looking forward to 2019.

Why is that?

What does a 12 month cycle really have to do with starting fresh? The biggest world wide change we experience is a digit moving up in marking what year it is.

To reward, to “start new”, to celebrate. It’s our nature. No matter if it makes perfect sense to celebrate the start of 12 new months, it is celebrated and with that celebration, traditionally comes resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are the promises we make to ourselves yearly or the promises we are supposed to make in order to better our lives, to become better.

These promises may look something like: “I will work out for half an hour everyday”, “I will take time every morning to meditate”, “I will write for a minimum of 10 minutes everyday”, “I will only eat carbs on weekends”.

breakfast cereal granola with berries

These are all great plans. I wish I could say that I do all of these things and do them without fault. But that is not the case.

Now I know there are some amazing people out there who do stick with these promises made to better themselves. You are amazing. Keep on keeping on.

As for the rest of us who have a harder time keeping these promises, we have some thinking to do.

First, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that humans are imperfect. In fact, we are very far from perfect. This means that the promises we make also have the tendency to be broken.

Personally, I hate that feeling. Not following through with the things I said I would do.

Instead of setting myself up for a whole year of failure, due to an unkept resolution I have given myself a different mindset:

Do your moment’s best.

This means that if the best you can do at this moment is to skip dessert, do that. If the best you can do at this moment is to workout while you watch Netflix, do it. If the best you can do right now is to be gracious to the driver ahead of you who seems to be lost, be that.

woman driving a car

Maybe you are reading this thinking “Well that sounds simple enough” and you aren’t wrong, these are simple tasks, but they aren’t easy. The concept of always doing your best is very straightforward but are you able to will yourself to do better always?


There is something missing from this system. Did you catch it? There is no reward. No consistent or visible reward system anyways.

Reward systems are the way we were trained as children. It’s how we get through hours of studying or changing our diets. We want results and reasons to do what we are doing.

With a public New Year’s resolution, you can post your progress on social media. You can receive praise and encouragement. With the goal of doing your best always, it is difficult for others to give you recognition.

Are you ok with that?

woman taking a photo with an iphone

There are still good reasons to always do your best.

It will improve that moment for you and possibly others unknowingly involved. You will also be teaching yourself greater habits.

Which is sort of the point of this. Seeking to do your best will become habitual. If that is a good enough of a reward system for you, I hope you do get started right away! If you need more convincing, continue reading.

Doing your moment’s best means that you try your best as you are working at the office, being kind to the waitress at lunch, driving carefully, focusing on your child as they tell you about their math teacher and relaxing at the end of a long day. The purposeful decision to do your best effects so many people!

Concerning long term thinking, I believe that doing your moment’s best means allowing opportunities to come as they are and to give each situation that comes, (you guessed it) your very ✨best.✨

Do you think I’ve repeated myself enough times? 😅

I know that many of you are already doing your best in all that life throws at you. Thank you for that. I encourage you to encourage the people in your life. If not verbally, then through your actions and attitude, as we all know those speak louder than words ever could.

hand holding mini globe

So go, be the change even if it isn’t obvious or notable, do your moment’s best.

Tess Houcher

 

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Self-ImprovementSocial Media

iphone at sunset

Here I am with a new perspective on social media . . .

I think social media can be great!

Now I can just picture you all rolling your eyes thinking about how wishy washy I am. But hear me out.

First off, I think it is good to let yourself change your opinion, go back and then change again. Otherwise you can never learn.

To those of you who read my first two personal social media blogs you would know that I took a break from social media for a week. If you missed out you can find the first one here and the second one here.

iphone at sunset

Otherwise here is a quick recap:

I went a week off of social media when a friend inspired me to do so. The break was challenging at first but in the end was very refreshing and eye opening. The week off also allowed me to decide that I could keep Snapchat on my phone 24/7. More of my thoughts on Snapchat can be found here.

After the week was up I decided I would keep up with the new standards I was creating for myself by keeping Instagram and Facebook off of my phone unless I wanted to post something. I soon ended up just keeping the apps deleted on weekdays and getting them back for the weekends.

I did this in attempts to train my brain not to crave the platforms.

It has now been about two months since my week off, this is my status update:

After a gradual process I am back on Instagram and Facebook but I am here to explain myself.

Yes I did start with just going on my social media on the weekends but that routine started falling off the rails slightly about a week ago. I got so used to not having Facebook around that I forgot to get it for the weekend! I was pretty proud of that actually, but then I got it the Sunday afternoon and it has stayed on my phone since then. Oops. And the weekend before that I ended up leaving Instagram on my phone and again it’s been there ever since.

On that note, I have learned how to work around having social media on my phone.

megaphone

Turn off social notifications.

It is easy to forget about the social apps when they are not constantly beeping and buzzing, begging for you to check the obviously urgent activity on your Facebook page.

I suggest you try turning off the notifications for your social apps as well. This way you can still have the apps on your phone and you can open them whenever, but you are in control of why and when you open the apps. Opposed to being controlled by your device.

It may take some time to break the habit of checking your phone constantly for no real reason. I know that I am still in the process of breaking it myself.

facebook thumb down

Facebook is pushy, but are we surprised?

I also learned that Facebook will send you emails about the activity on your feed and page when you are not active on the app for a certain amount of time. I find these reminders most annoying. But I am not at all surprised by the pushiness. I am slowly getting through all the different “types” of emails that they send me to unsubscribe from each sort of notification, though they do make the process difficult to fully complete.

Both Instagram and Facebook also like to remind me to turn on my notifications every single time I open either app. There is a paragraph at the top of my feed screen when I open the apps telling me how important it is that I “stay connected”. I do not appreciate the obnoxious reminders. Why do they need all the power? It’s creepy.

Can’t get a break

I am still very aware of how often people are on their phones. But I know I turn to my phone in awkward situations also. Which is sad. It makes me wish I lived in an era where people had to talk and they had to push themselves through awkward situations. Even when there is no awkward situation we still turn to our phones! It’s ridiculous.

It’s a good thing the hit TV show Friends was made before smartphones, otherwise the show would have been very different. Ross would have posted on Facebook about his new international girlfriend before showing up at the airport with her surprising Rachel. They would never worry about reaching one another before they left Central Perk because they could could just text. And Joey could just become a YouTube star to fix all of his fame issues.

friends

Anyways, I think people should just know not to go on their phones when they are with friends. We all need to be present.

All this to say,

I still don’t think that social media is all bad. Notice I started this blog post by saying that social media can be great. But it can be used poorly, making its influence bad.

I have said this before but I don’t mind mentioning it again; social media is a great way to connect with friends and family. No matter where they are or what you are doing, you can reach each other. It’s a small world after all. 😏

Another reason I gave myself permission to keep social media is because I am leaving the country soon. I am privileged to have the ability to keep in touch with the loved ones I leave behind. I even went as far as creating a travel account on Instagram.

I guess this is just another reason to find a balance in the things like social media. I will use it to be connected and post beautiful pictures but I will not let the apps take control again. Maybe I’ll take another week long break from the apps again, just for fun.

Tess Houcher

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Mobile AppsProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial Media

Moment app screenshot

A tracking app you need

I spend an average of about 2 hours on my phone. Some days I spend as little as an hour and one day I almost spent 4 hours on my phone. I know this because of the iOS tracking app called Moment.

Moment app screenshot

I learned about this app as I was looking through a blog on medium which was one of the many on the topic of managing your phone, not letting your phone manage you. (Sadly I cannot find the blog I originally discovered the app from as this was a many weeks ago now.)

Once set up on your phone, Moment can tell you how long you have spent on your phone after having the app for a full day. Take a screenshot of the battery usage page in your settings and the app will be able to calculate how long you spent on each opened app. Your apps will be listed most to least used.

Moment requires that your location sharing is always on and you must leave the app on in the background of your phone at all times. These two conditions are easy to follow and the results you get are worth the small obligations on your end.

Like I said earlier, on average I spend about 2 hours and 20 minutes on my phone. It was reconfirmed by that app that my most used app is messages which was no surprise to me. The app tells me that I spend about 15–30 minutes on the messages. With Pinterest in a close second place as it has become my favourite pastime app now that I only have Facebook and Instagram on my phone during the weekends. The rest of the apps I use for about 3–12 minutes each.

traditional alarm clock

As I am typing this out now I have already spent 34 minutes on my phone today. I started my day at 7:40 am and it is now 10:47 am. Today I have spent time on my phone texting my family members to get this app. I spent some time reading on my phone during breakfast. I also have been on my phone to adjust the music I listen to as I work.

When I look back on the day I spent almost 4 hours on my phone, I am taken aback. But I looked into the details and apparently 21 of those minutes were spent on the home screen of my phone, meaning I probably didn’t know my phone was on. So that was sort of a relief.

4 hours is a long time. So much could be accomplished in that time. I could start and finish a big DIY project, go places and be productive! Instead all I have to show for that time is a guilting 4 hours on my phone.

red traffic lightI say guilting because the app changes the colour of each logged day. If you spend less than 2 hours on your phone the colour is green. If you spend between 2 and 3 hours on your phone, the colour is yellow. If you spend over 3 hours on your phone then the colour for that logged day is an alerting red.

I also had my social media apps on my phone that 4 hour day so that helps explain why I went so far over my average. Tsk tsk.

doughnut with bites out of it being held by woman with painted nailsMy weekends with my social media apps are kind of like a dieter’s cheat day but for my social media. I do not ever allow the app to send me notifications during this time though. This way I can still forget about the apps. I do this to train myself not to crave the platforms and all the sugary, fattening content. This system is working for me.

As I have now had Moment for almost a month, it has given me predictions such as the possibility that I could end up using my phone for 5 years of my life at my current rate. And that on average I get about 9 hours of sleep. This is based on when I last am on my phone to when I open it again in the morning. I love how informative the app is.


Like I told you before, as I was creating this blog post, I was texting different family members to ask them to get this app. It has now been a few weeks since then and some now they have well over 7 days of data that they have shared with us.

41 year old female

Average daily time on phone: Around 4 hours.
Most used apps: Facebook, Safari, Pinterest

42 year old male

Average daily time on phone: 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Most used apps: Facebook, Candy Crush, Safari

71 year old male

Average daily time on phone: Just over 3 hours.
Most used apps: Messenger, Safari, Life 360 (a family location tracking app.)

18 year old male

Average daily time on phone: 2 hours and 50 minutes.
Most used apps: Facebook, Instagram, Safari

13 year old female

Average daily time on phone: 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Most used apps: Pinterest and Messages

13 year old female

Average daily time on phone: 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Most used apps: Messages, Instagram, Pinterest

17 year old female

Average daily time on phone: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Most used apps: Snapchat, Messages, Instagram

As you can see, the most popular apps are all about communication, Facebook and Messages are being used the most.

open Macbook Pro with smartphone, plant, and cup of coffeeI would also like to note that the 41 year olds and up claim that they are on their phone more on the days that they are working. Meaning their phones are used for their work.

I explained to them that this experiment was just to see what the averages were, not to guilt people into using their phones less.

A couple people who I made get the app for this blog ended up making deliberate choices to shorten the amount of time they spend on their phones. Others embraced their hours spent on their phones. (One of them liked to brag about having the “high score”…😏) But most just became self aware. Which was the point.

I encourage you to try the Moment app. Not to guilt you into changing your routine or anything, but to become aware.

Tess Houcher

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