Yikes.

On a typical day in your life, how much time do you spend staring at a digital screen?

If you add everything up—scrolling on social media, answering emails, Zoom meetings, browsing the Internet, shopping online, texting, reading on your tablet, watching Netflix and YouTube, using GPS to navigate around town, and/or playing video games—how much time is it, per day?

What’s the grand total?

According to the Nielsen Company audience report, the grand total is a little over 10 hours per day. That’s the average for most Americans these days.

10 hours per day is 3,650 hours per year.

Assuming you start using tech devices around age 20, and stop around age 75, that’s 200,750 hours over the course of your lifetime.

200,750 hours converts into 23 years.

Yikes.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of spending 23 years of my life staring at a digital screen just feels…not okay.

In my “hut” (heart + gut) that number doesn’t feel acceptable.

That’s not what I was born to do. Frankly, I don’t think any human being is meant to live this way.

So, what now? Well, we have options. We can take charge of the situation. We can set new policies. We can get creative. We can make different choices. Just because “most people” spend 10 hours a day glued to a screen doesn’t mean you must, too.

You want to make some changes?

A few good places to start:

– Create new household policies. For instance, no phones inside the bedroom. Or, make Sunday a tech-free day.

– Decide to work differently. More efficiently. For instance, dive into your inbox. Set a timer for 45 mins. Answer emails as quickly as possible. Then decide, “That’s enough for today,” and get outta there. No need to putter around for 5 more hours.

– Set firm limits with social media. Create a plan that aligns with your values. This might mean posting one gorgeous pic on Instagram daily to promote your business, then logging out. It might mean creating a private profile for family and friends only. It might mean not using social media at all. You can become a social media “dropout” like myself, and I assure you, the world will keep turning. :)

– If you run a business, or freelance, create a marketing plan that feels healthy and balanced—one that doesn’t require you to be online 10 hours a day. You don’t have to do that.

– At least once a week, take a walk and leave your phone at home. You don’t need it. Admire the world. Gaze at the sky. Look up, not down.

– Reconnect with off-line activities that bring you joy. Write a card and mail it to your auntie. Practice the ukulele. Perfect the art of snuggling. Play fetch with your dog. Hold your kids tightly. To the best of your abilities, live like it’s your final 24 hours.

I love technology. I’m grateful for the Internet.

But (in my opinion) 23 years is way too much time.

Technology should make our lives better, not worse.

It’s important to be intentional and purposeful, or it can rapidly become a never-ending time suck. Decades. Gone.

This is your one, precious life.

Make sure you’re using tech, and it’s not using you.

-Alex

PS. Want more clients, more money, less time online, and a calmer, gentler way of “doing marketing”? Registration for The Marketing Without Social Media Program closes on July 5, a few days from now. Kick-off meeting is July 6. Join soon.

In this program, you learn how to promote your work, strengthen relationships, and get plenty of sales using no-social-media options—including personal emails, creative newsletters, snail mail, and unexpected acts of generosity.

You’ll leave this program with more clients, a calmer brain, a new attitude about marketing, and a healthier relationship with technology overall. Less scrolling. More joy.

See you inside!


[Fundraiser] How to Inspire People to Listen, Care, and Act.

When tragic things happen, it’s so easy for people to become numb, hopeless, overwhelmed, and tune out.

So, how can you use your words–emails, social media posts, conversations–to inspire people to act?

What are some ways to do this?

Attend this fundraiser / donation-based writing class: How to Inspire People to Listen, Care, Take Action, and Change the World..

Learn how to become a more powerful communicator, and how to move people from apathy into action.

You’ll walk away from this class with clear ideas that you can put into your writing and conversations immediately.

This class is a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter, the Minnesota Freedom Fund, and other organizations dedicated to ending violence and racism, and to those promoting equality, justice, and safety for minority communities. 100% goes to these organizations.


The opposite.

There’s an ancient Yoga sutra that goes: “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of.”

Opposite thoughts and actions, too.

This practice is called Pratipaksha bhavanam.

Cultivate the opposite.

Good advice for so many situations in life. (Especially right now.)

When everyone around you is panicking about money and hoarding resources, cultivate the opposite. Be exceptionally generous.

When everyone on your workplace team is spinning with anxiety, cultivate the opposite. Be the strong, steady rock.

When everyone online is screaming for attention, a noisy cluster of never-ending pixels, cultivate the opposite. Be the quiet leader. Speak with discernment. Say more with fewer words.

When the world feels topsy turvy, upside down, and so uncertain, cultivate the opposite. Build certainty. Make a checklist. Fill it with tiny goals that you can definitely achieve: drink water, have coffee, gaze at the sky, answer 3 emails, listen to an uplifting song.

When something isn’t working out and you feel so discouraged, cultivate the opposite. Ask yourself, “How can I make this feel amazing?” How could you make this situation feel like a big “win”—even if everybody cancels, even if nobody shows up for your party, even if you make zero dollars, even if things do not match your original vision? How could it feel beautiful, even then?

When your lower back is aching, cultivate the opposite. Literally. Move in the opposite direction. Forward fold. Soften your knees. Gently reach down for your toes. Immediate relief.

When my friend Theresa gets a 1-star Amazon review for one of her books, she immediately writes a 5-star review for somebody else. By doing this, she neutralizes the negative energy and feels different immediately. My friend Melissa does the same thing.

Flip it around. Dark into light. Loss into gain. Cultivate the opposite quality, then beam it towards yourself and others like The Care Bear Stare.

The opposite is good medicine.

And the world needs plenty of medicine right now.


Checklists for challenging times.

In these challenging times, it’s so important to breathe, stay calm, and focus on the things you can control–rather than obsessing about the things you cannot.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try making a checklist.

Checklists are like an extra storage tank for your weary, over-stuffed brain.

Research confirms that making a checklist can help you feel calmer and more focused, and can shift your body on a physiological level. When you check off a completed item, this creates that oh-so-satisfying burst of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps you feel more positive, think clearly, and solve problems creatively.

Personally, I know that making a checklist helps me feel more steady, strong, and grounded during turbulent times. Checklists are good medicine.

A few checklist ideas and downloadable templates for you. (All of these templates are free. Enjoy.)

– Working from home? Here’s a checklist with suggestions on how to set yourself up for a calm, focused, and successful workday.

– Got a bunch of unexpected free time? Maybe a project got cancelled, your shop is temporarily closed, or a trip has been postponed. Instead of panicking, try to use your time purposefully. Here’s a checklist of different ways to use your free time productively–and strengthen your business or career.

– Feeling stuck? A checklist to help you finish a project you’ve started.

– Need to find more clients and line up some work? A checklist full of marketing ideas, including lots of ideas that don’t involve social media. Because social media is optional, not mandatory.

– Tired of endlessly scrolling on your phone? A checklist to help you reduce screen-time, create a healthier relationship with your devices, and create more quiet and space in your day.

– Want a fresh approach for planning your day? Here’s my personal method for creating a Daily Checklist, which I do every single night before bed. (I make tomorrow’s checklist *today* and print it out in advance.)

– Lots more checklist templates here: including a Self-Care Checklist, Workout Checklist, and others.

– You might suspect I have a mild obsession with checklists. You might be right. I wrote an entire book about checklists. The book is available online. You can also find The Checklist Book at your local bookstore, or ask your public library to order it for you.

– Also, while it’s not specifically checklist-related, you might enjoy this too: One Letter Today. A short e-book about the power of sending a handwritten letter, filled with all kinds of letter-writing ideas. Perfect for these stressful times when people yearn to slow down and connect from the heart. Sending–and receiving–snail mail always feels so good.

Stay safe and healthy.

Take good care of yourself.

Make a list. Check things off. One tiny step at a time.

-Alex


Feeling stressed? Do a tiny project.

In a world that often feels frightening, depressing, and baffling, completing a tiny project is one way to feel a little more powerful.

What is a tiny project?

It’s a very small project that feels beautiful, meaningful, and inspiring to you. Something you can realistically complete in about 25 minutes or less.

Why bother doing this?

Because tiny projects make a big difference. Your tiny project (poster, card, class, gift, audio message, whatever you decide to create) could significantly change someone’s day. Maybe one person. Maybe ten people. One thousand. Or more. There’s no telling how many people will be impacted by your contribution. Tiny things are a big deal.

Want to make a tiny project…but not sure what to do?

Here are 15 tiny project ideas:

– Write a beautiful “thank you” letter to someone who has touched your life.

– Record a short audio message for a friend who’s going through a hard time. Let them know that they’re loved, that you’re here to listen, and that they’re not alone.

– Make a homemade poster with an inspiring message that the world needs to hear. Put it somewhere in your city: bulletin board, pinned to a telephone pole, bus stop, etc. Remember that it doesn’t have to look “perfect” or “fancy.” Simple handwriting on a blank piece of plain paper is great.

– Make a special music playlist on Spotify or wherever you listen to music. Share it with friends, colleagues, clients, anyone in your community.

– Draw a picture of your best friend, take a photo of it, and text it to them. (If you’re “terrible” at drawing? Perfect. That means the picture will be extra hilarious and wonderful.)

– Doodle, draw, or paint a very small piece of art. Write an encouraging note on the back. Hide it somewhere so that one day, eventually, a stranger might find it.

– Make a helpful checklist and share it with people who might find it useful. “Boost your immune system” checklist. “How to successfully work from home” checklist. “Fun activities to do indoors” checklist. “Steps to launch a business” checklist. “Get ready for college” checklist. Any topic you want.

– Write a glowing 5-star review about a book, product, or business that you really love. (The author or artist will appreciate it so much!)

– Write a short statement about “my biggest lesson from 2020, so far” and post it online, share it with your family, or both.

– Write a list of what you’d want to do if you had 24 hours to live.

– Ask an elder (parent, grandparent, auntie, etc.) to describe their childhood home. Where was it? What did it look like? Feel like? Record their response on your phone and save the audio.

– Write a “You’re totally awesome” note to someone who always makes your day a little better–a bus driver, teacher, barista, assistant, intern, whoever you want.

– Write a letter to an elected representative (mayor of your town, senator, etc.) to say “thanks for the great work” and/or encourage them to make a particular change that you’d like to see.

– Make a very fancy cheese and fruit platter and deliver it to a friend. If you can’t visit in person, see if you can mail them a gift, or get something delivered.

– Write a fan letter to someone you really admire–a famous person, or a totally-not-famous person–with no strings attached, and no expectation of getting a reply. Purely just to say, “Your work has touched my life.”

– Plan a wonderful party (letter-writing party, vision board party, book club meeting, taco night, whatever you want) and write a beautiful invitation. Send it to your friends. (You can meet with people virtually/online if you need to. Try Zoom, Skype, or Facetime.)

– Or, come up with another tiny project that sounds fun to you.

Complete a tiny project.

Lift your own mood while uplifting others, too.

Your efforts matter so much.


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