Tag Archives: Technology

Digital Detoxing

It’s been a little more than a week since I’ve been back from vacation. I was fortunate enough to go to Mexico with my childhood besties. I intentionally didn’t set up my cell service because I knew I needed a break.

Thankfully, nothing burned down and no one died while I was gone. I had anxious moments where I thought something terrible happened and no one told me. Clearly, my family knows me better and would have texted one of my friends.  

I feel like everywhere you turn today, there’s research that shows the importance of shutting down. It’s one of those things you don’t realize you need until you do it. Now I want to integrate it into my everyday. Here are the four big takeaways from my digital detox. 

  1. Better connections: My friends and I were together most of the time and no one really used their phones. This meant we talked a lot, about different topics we don’t always get to at brunch when we’re home. It was nice to connect with them on another level. I also know I’m a big talker so I had to read my friends and know when enough word vomit was enough.
  2. Mind, body, soul is real: If one of these areas is out of whack, then they’re all out of whack. When we got there, I had a really bad headache and couldn’t even appreciate that I was on a gorgeous beach in the middle of Mexico. Physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health are all important and connected. It was a good reminder to pay attention to each. 
  3. Be a kid again: Thankfully my friends can be silly and fun without any prompting.cliff jumping We laughed more times than I could count! We also went down water slides and jumped off fake cliff (picture to the right proves it). It doesn’t matter how old you are, go outside and play every now and again. It feels SO good! 
  4. Non-attachment: I don’t need to be glued to my phone. The social media world kept spinning without me. Not every last thing I do needs to be on social media. Logically in my brain, I know this. But it was so freeing to not be conditioned by email or texts or other notifications. I’m *trying* to bottle up this digital freedom feeling and remind myself to not be so connected all the time. 

Have you quit the technology for a period of time? Helpful? Horrible? Please share! 

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Is Being Busy a Badge of Honor?

It has been two months and a day since my last blog post. This fact saddens me but the reality is I haven’t had time to fit writing into my schedule lately. Depressing to a degree, but the truth nonetheless.

Over the last two months, I’ve been to five different states, worked three different events and have had to make the choice on what the priority was that minute, hour, day and week. Some might call this busy and I did too, until I read a powerful article from the Harvard Business Review, sent to me by an esteemed colleague. The two-page article, “Why we Humblebrag About Being Busy,” should resonate with anyone who’s ever said “Oh I’m so busy,” in response to the simple question “how are you?”

busyThere’s so much to obsessed over in this article. You can bet that mine is highlighted, underlined and has been read approximately four times. In short, an epidemic is occurring where people are so proud of being busy that their lives are becoming a giant rat race of more. The more bubble, as author Greg McKeown suggests is enabled by “smart phones, social media, and extreme consumerism. The result is not just information overload, but opinion overload.” That thought, opinion overload, struck me as the greatest factor aiding the growth of everyone’s more bubble.

The opinion overload epidemic has been aided by advancing technology that allows us instantly post on a zillion different forums how late we’re working or actual photos of the work we have left to do. Twenty years ago, people didn’t feel the need to share about their overtime because there wasn’t technology for them to make this private information public. Now, it’s a constant competition of who is the busiest and when translated that means the most successful, happy, satisfied or important.

McKeown suggests four helpful tips to become more of an Essentialist or the type of person who actually read books instead of strolling through Facebook before bed. I’d like to add two more suggestions on how to become an essentialist:

1) Stop playing the comparison game. It does not matter what someone else is doing at work, at home, for their community or on the moon. This is your life, your journey to forge and I bet you are doing just fine.

2) Believe in balance. Some days, I have time to write  a blog post and exercise, but not all will be like that. Some days work wins and others my family come first. Priorities are allowed to shift as often as you need them to.

I am no where near being an essentialist but this article has inspired me to try harder. Being busy aka not sleeping, missing family time and being generally unhappy is not the badge of honor I want to wear any more. Join me in the essentialist movement and please share your tips below!

I’d like to add two more: work smarter, not harder and stop playing the comparison game. Most supervisors are not going to hover over your desk as you work. They trust you to get the work done in the most efficient, best way possible. Maybe that means you work 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Or maybe you go to yoga on your lunch break. Figure out how to be more efficient and make that your routine. Working more hours does not always make you more productive.

Oh the comparison trap, how it ruins lives! Please do not scroll through Facebook or any other social media site and compare yourself to your co-workers, neighbors, relatives, friends, etc. It unhealthy and unproductive to make comparisons when no two lives operate in the same way. We each need to live our own life, on our terms. Sure, it’s fine to want more but not at the expense of your health, family, sanity or anything other life necessity.

My Favorite Things: iPhone 5 Addition

About a month ago, I finally traded in my outdated Blackberry for a shiny iPhone 5. I was overly excited and couldn’t wait to download a bunch of apps. My friends and family provided several recommendations but I wanted to experience my new toy all on my own.

After playing around and trying out lots of apps, my top three are listed below:

Feedly: Jessica Lawlor and Gini Dietrich both sparked my interest in Feedly when Google Reader disappeared. So when I got my new phone, this was one of the first apps I downloaded. Feedly allows you to subscribe to different blogs and lists out each day’s posts. My inbox is now less cluttered without subscription emails and I can quickly scroll through posts on my favorite blogs. It’s easy to save posts or click to the website for more information.

iphone52. SoundCloud: Music lovers everywhere must download this app! You can find pretty much any song and more importantly any remix on SoundCloud. You follow other users who fall into your stream that updates regularly. Once you like a song, it becomes part of your profile, creating the ultimate playlist. Only downfall is it sucks up a lot of your battery so make sure you’re fully charged before using it.

Snapchat: I know there has been controversy over Snapchat, but I’ve fallen in love with this app. With friends and family sprinkled all over the east coast, Snapchat lets us connect in a fun, exciting way. The time limit to view a picture makes it feel like a game. I can check my friend’s new outfit or see my little cousin’s new puppy. While the picture does go away, people have been known to screen shot pictures and save them. If someone sends an inappropriate picture, it can be saved, causing all sorts of issues. But that’s not the app’s fault. Just don’t send anything inappropriate.

These apps have made both my professional and personal life easier and more fun. I’m so glad I finally became a member of Team iPhone! What are your favorite apps? Any opinions on the ones listed above?

Dude, Where’s My Boss?!

When I started my job almost four months ago, I had no idea what to expect or who I’d be reporting to. Quickly I realized the person I’d be working most with (aka my boss) was located in Chicago. So this is fun, I thought. How exactly is going to work?

Coming straight from college, I’ve always interacted in person with my supervisor(s). We would communicate through email, occasionally over the phone and absolutely meet in person at least once a week. So not having my boss in the office was definitely something I wasn’t used to. But, working virtually is a way of life for most people here and in larger companies across the nation.

telecommuting-pro-and-conMost people at my company are telecommuters, which means they work from their home office most of the time. Some people split time between their home and work offices while others come into NYC everyday. It is more of a personal preference and thankfully, my company is flexible in letting employees work from home. Not having my direct supervisor in the office has been an adjustment for me but here’s why it works.

  • Technology: Conference calls and live meetings are an integral part of life here. We have the ability to conference several people into a call at once. Live meeting allows people to share their computer screen’s in order to explain a document to their audience. This visual aid makes training new employees so much easier. We rely heavily on these tools and others to help us feel like we’re all in the same room.
  • Understanding: Most of my team is in Chicago, which is an hour behind me here in Manhattan. We all are conscious of the time difference when scheduling meetings and are very understanding of each other’s schedules. Some of us get to work earlier while others stay later. Being aware of everyone’s schedules and best times of productivity is a key factor is our team’s efficiency.
  • Trust: My boss does not need to see me to know I am doing my work. Similarly, her boss doesn’t need to see her to know she’s working..super hard I might add. Of course, there will be some situations when employees must come into the office. But, on the whole, there is a level of trust between supervisors and their team. Because of this, there is more flexibility in where people work from.

Last week, Spin Sucks published an article about working from home versus working at the office. The article cited pros and cons to each, but studies found it came down to the ability to focus. Whether my boss is sitting behind me or sitting in Chicago, I have to keep myself motivated and focused on the task at hand. Limiting distractions is the biggest factor into staying focused. For more tips, check out the Spin Sucks article here.

I have learned that having a virtual team and office can be just as rewarding and productive as having your team right in front of you. It’s been a great way to improve my communication skills as well. Do you work virtually? Is it a challenge? Let me know!

ny-to-chi

Commuter Diaries Part 2

In my first post about commuting, I shared my best practices for traveling through the city without killing anyone or yourself. Now it’s time to talk travel!

I am fortunate enough to travel for my job. In just three short months, I’ve gone to Florida, California and Chicago. When I’m not flying around the country, there are times when I have to ride the bus or train into Manhattan. Along the way, I’ve found little pieces of technology that have become extremely helpful.

nj transitText Message Schedules: NJ Transit has signs at each of their bus stops with a number to text to receive real-time updates about the bus assigned to that stop. Some mornings when I get to my stop, I text the number to see how far my bus is from picking me up. This service is also available for NJ Transit trains. Costumers can text in their route and will receive a menu of options. For example, if you text New Brunswick to NY Penn Station, you will receive different options for that route. You can text back a certain letter that corresponds with the option you want. You can include a time in the message as well.

Mobile Boarding: So maybe I have been living under a rock because I didn’t fully understand mobile boarding passes. Most airlines offer an app for smartphones so you can access flight information and your boarding pass. Now my Blackberry isn’t very app friendly, but I can still pull up my boarding pass in a browser and have the attendant scan it. The mobile boarding pass comes with a QR code to scan and contains all of your flight information. It makes life so mush easier and eliminates something else you have to remember to carry around while traveling.

boarding-pass

Another tool I find super helpful when commuting is the different types of passes offered by NJ Transit. Both the train and the bus offer 10-trip passes that can be used at any point within 20 days of its purchase. These are even better than monthly and weekly passes since you can use them at any point. For me, there are some days I go in with my mom and some days when I commute alone. So the 10-day allows me flexibility in choosing what days I can use them. It also ends up being more affordable to buy 10-trip passes then a round-trip ticket every few days. Definitely look into your ticket and pass options when using public transportation to commute.

How has technology played a role in your commute? Share your thoughts!

Family Fridays: Going The Distance

friends1My friends play a huge role in my life. They are my sounding board for big and small decisions, my shoulders to lean on when life becomes unbearable and my personal entourage when dancing appears to be the only solution. Over the years, they have become my family and for that, I will be forever grateful.

I am a firm believer that any relationship shouldn’t be difficult. It should not cause you stress or panicfriends5 when making plans. Once you all are together, conversation should flow naturally and everyone should feel comfortable. This is how I’ve always felt about relationships, especially friendships. In my mind, friends are there to relieve stress, not create it. However, within the last few months, everything has changed.

friends3Graduating college and moving back to New Jersey has singlehandedly changed most of my college friendships. I went from seeing these girls most everyday, having to walk only a few blocks to find them. Now, my best college friends are in Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and California, among other places. They are no longer a quick walk away and I can’t just run down the stairs for a hug when necessary. That being said, my hometown friends are just minutes around the corner so presumably, it would be easier to see them. Well, one has moved closer to her job and another is in graduate school. Our schedules just don’t coincide the way they did during careless summer breaks. So what are we supposed to do now?!

friends2We go the distance. We make sacrifices for the people we care about. Thank goodness for FaceTime, Gmail chats and GroupMe conversations. Ifriends7 don’t know how people survived in separate parts of the country without technology. I think all of us have received a wake-up call, realizing making our friendships last will take a little more effort than in the past. This has caused some additional stress in that finding the time to check in, visit and coordinate schedules isn’t easy. As I searched Amtrak and Megabus yesterday for reasonable and timely trips to D.C., I could have easily pulled my hair out. Instead, I thought about why I was going to D.C. and how many times Niki (and Mike) trekked to Philadelphia or New Jersey to see me. It made the process worth it.

friends6My friends and I have struggled with the changes growing up has brought us. We each now have different responsibilities that consume a good majority of our time. Despite jobs, graduate school, wedding planning and volunteer work, we have managed to keep our friendships going. Calls, text messages, tweets, emails and gchats have all contributed to our success. Technology has played a huge part in keeping us in touch and I am very thankful for its evolution.

Most importantly, nothing has truly changed. Being together still brings its share of laughable moments and thought-provoking conversations.friends4 No matter how long we’ve been apart, things seem to fall right back into place like we’ve never left one another’s side. I am blessed with the greatest friends in the world and know our friendships will continue well into the future, thanks to our ability to go the distance.

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