How to Take a Break from Technology Without Moving to the Woods

The views were breathtaking.

snow covered mountains in Park City, UT

Park City, Utah

After a client conference last week, I took a day off in nearby Park City, Utah. If you’ve never been, the landscape is breathtaking, and I didn’t even have a chance to hit the slopes. If you’re not a skier, there’s plenty of other sights and sounds to entertain you.

There’s almost a magical quality to Park City, with its old-fashioned Main Street, Mom and Pop shops and mountain backdrops. As I was heading back to the airport the following morning (in a snowstorm), I realized my stress level was much lower than it had been when I arrived. Why? I tried to limit technology as much as possible for a 12-hour span.

Technology transports us to new worlds, allows us to work remotely and offers nearly unlimited learning opportunities. It’s also addictive, available 24/7 and difficult to get away from in our lives today. I’m not suggesting that you move to the woods and shun all forms of technology, but there are ways to take a break from technology and lower your stress level.

How technology gets us hooked

How to Take a Break from Technology and Reduce Your Anxiety Level

  • Switch Screens: Some days you have to be plugged in all day; there’s no way of getting around it. It helps me to switch screens, going from my laptop to mobile, when possible. Something about not standing (or sitting) in front of a computer makes me feel like I’m not as plugged in.
  • Take a Break: Most people work better in spurts, and as counterproductive as it may seem, taking short breaks can make you more productive. You may have a mountain of work to do, but taking a quick walk or heading out of the office for lunch can give you a productivity boost for the rest of the day. I try to move around in between projects to break up the work day.

Things I Carry: Pen and Paper

  • Go Old School: Can you lose technology for any part of your job (even once in awhile)? I love to write outlines and rough drafts on paper. A blank page is much more inviting to me than a flashing cursor, and the process of writing by hand is soothing to me. Pick up a physical business book or attend a conference in-person to hone your skills instead of reading an article or attending a webinar online.
  • Change Your Environment: When I worked in corporate America, I loved to go out to lunch to change the scenery. Oftentimes, I would come up with an idea or solve a problem while sitting at a local cafe or coffee shop. Changing your environment can drive creativity and refresh you, which is why coffee shops are popular alternative working locations.

How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity

  • Adjust Your Schedule: What is your typical work schedule? Do you have any flexibility? Try to group projects so that you’re able to enjoy some time off, even a few hours. Maybe you can schedule more on 3-4 days a week so that you can regroup and plan on lighter days or even take a day off. What works best for you? If you’re an early bird, work on your most important projects first before you lose momentum. More of a night owl? Save more thought-provoking work for later in the day. We all work our best differently, so try to make your schedule work for you.
  • Shut It Off: Take a vacation, even one day. It’s amazing how much more relaxed you’ll feel when you leave your phone at home or at least don’t check it every five minutes. As a small business owner, I understand how difficult it is to clock out, so to speak, but I always feel so refreshed when I do. You may not be able to take a week-long vacation to some tropical destination, but enjoying an activity you like — ice skating, shopping, getting a massage — can pull you out of the digital world back into the real world.

As amazing as technology is, it’s important to unplug regularly to recharge and enjoy the world around us. You may be surprised at your reduced stress levels and improved productivity and efficiency. So turn off your computer, put your phone down and head outside. The world awaits!

Your Turn: How Do You Unplug?

How do you take a break from technology?
What’s your favorite getaway destination?
What are your favorite activities that don’t involve technology?

p.s. It’s a coincidence that I wrote and published this post on the National Day of Unplugging. It’s not a coincidence that I wrote it in a coffee shop. 😉

An old school Gen X’er in a digital world,
Jaime

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Every Move You Make: Maintaining Privacy in a Digital World

Every Move You Make: Maintaining Privacy in a Digital World

The Man. Big Brother. The eye in the sky. Whatever you call it, it’s watching you. (Cue The Police — the band, that is.)

We’ve touched on the issue of privacy in a digital world before, but it’s worth revisiting as technology continues to improve. The issue comes from balancing convenience and maintaining any privacy whatsoever. Where’s the line in the (digital) sand? When will we know when it has been crossed?

“It straddles the line of creepy and cool.”  –Jeff Bakalar, CNET Senior Editor

As CBS News reported, the new Google timeline tracks — and archives — every move you make. Before you completely freak out, note that your timeline is visible only to you, and the search giant does allow you to opt out of being tracked. Of course, that may hinder any location-based services you utilize, such as Google Maps.

Understand that this isn’t a Google issue, or a Facebook issue; it’s a human issue. Do we jump all in to utilize the conveniences that technology offers? Do we maintain any privacy at all? Does it matter anymore?

Sure, you can opt out of the Internet entirely, but that’s getting harder and harder to do. According to a Pew Research study released last week, 15% of American adults don’t use the Internet at all. While that’s a substantial drop from a 2000 study (48%), it’s still shocking to most of us. How do they manage? What do they do for a living?

“In our ever-more wired world, connectivity is crucial for access to jobs, government services, health care, and information—as well as for the education and skills training of younger Americans.”  –Julia Greenberg, WIRED staff writer

So the question is where’s your line? Do you have one? Have you thought about it?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s a personal decision like what you wear or the music you listen to.

Let’s discuss; weigh in with your opinion. Where’s your line?

p.s. If you’re now humming “Every Breath You Take” by the Police, here you go. Enjoy!

An old school soul living in a digital world,
Jaime

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Tell Your Own Story Without Missing a Moment

We live in an era where people can tell their own stories like never before. You can capture key moments of your life and share them with friends and family all over the globe. Now a company is using technology to take capturing the moment to the next level.

At the big game!

Yours truly enjoying the Wagon Wheel Challenge, courtesy of PNC. Go Flashes!

Fanpics gives every fan a chance to tell their own story by turning the cameras from the competitors to the stands. Forget trying to grab a selfie with friends mid-game and missing a major moment. Now there’s an app for that. This innovative startup has you covered — from all angles.

What’s better than a selfie in the stands? A candid capture of you jumping for joy when your team hits a buzzer beater. Or being crushed in a spontaneous group hug after a late steal seals the win. Those are the moments you really want to capture — and share.

Now fans attending events at the STAPLES Center and other venues can. Fanpics has partnered with the home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers to give fans the ultimate viewing experience. Simply sign in to the app, enter your seat number, put your phone away and enjoy the game!

Capture your moment!

Photo courtesy of Fanpics

Pictures captured of your reaction to key moments will be available to you on the app within 30 seconds of when they’re taken. You’ll be able to share these memorable moments in real time or during a break in the action. Don’t worry; all pictures taken of you are private until you decide to share them.

Speaking of sharing, think about the applications for this technology! My mind jumps to companies using it to capture attendees and memorable moments at conferences and events. How could you use this technology in your industry or for your business?

The best part is that Fanpics can deliver data too. Each image is time-stamped and comes with a description of what’s happening at the moment the picture’s taken. With data being such a big deal in business, there are endless opportunities here. Perhaps you could gauge attendees’ true reaction to a speaker without the hassle of follow-up surveys. Or you could see where seating areas are needed the most for random networking moments (by noticing where people naturally stop to chat).

The implications of this technology are huge. It could give us the ability to tell our own story without missing a moment.

Fan Feedback

Would you utilize the Fanpics app at a game?

How could you use this technology in your industry or for your business?

A sports junkie and technology fan,
Jaime

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Droid Turbo: Power & Speed Wrapped in Kevlar (A Review)

I was having so much fun setting up my new phone that I’m just getting around to blogging today.

Droid Turbo

Droid Turbo by Motorola // Photo via Verizon Wireless

Verizon sent me an early upgrade offer via its Edge program, so I checked out my options. I’m an Android fan, and after some research, it came down to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Motorola Droid Turbo. I love Samsung products, and my last two smartphones have been from the popular manufacturer, but I also enjoyed the original Droid as my first smartphone.

Like most business professionals today, I’m on the go — working client conferences, running errands around town and managing my small business around the clock. Two things about the Droid Turbo stood out: power and speed.

Power

I need power, and this is one area where Motorola dwarfs Samsung. The Droid Turbo offers up to 48 hours of mixed use and 675 hours on standby in one charge. I’m heading to a client’s conference this week, so the term heavy usage applies. I’ll be thrilled to get one full day out of the battery (although I will have my mobile charger on standby). If this impressive power display isn’t enough, you can also pick up a Turbo Charger, which gives you 8 hours of battery life in only 15 minutes.

Speed

Speed kills, or in this case, makes you look like a rockstar. The Droid Turbo’s 2.7 GHz quad-core processor lets you jump back and forth between a multitude of apps with no lag. So now I really can be in 3 places at the same time, app-wise, and that’s huge for me (because cloning isn’t an option). I can engage with fans via Hootsuite and communicate with clients via email while keeping an eye on my banking.

"Let's go Droid Turbo!"

See what the Droid Turbo can do. // photo via Verizon Wireless

After my two main needs were met, I was thrilled with a few additional features. The Ballistic Nylon models are wrapped in Metallized Glass Fiber reinforced with DuPont™ Kevlar® fiber, making the phone easy to grip while adding strength and durability. It’s like having bodyguards for your smartphone. The added protection won’t weigh you down; the Droid Turbo only comes in one ounce heavier than the S6. I like the weight in my hand.

The 21 MP rear-facing camera and Ultra HD video is perfect for capturing the action at events and snapping professional pictures that are ready for any social platform. Scratch-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 guards the 5.2-inch display while a nanocoating helps to keep your phone dry when you’re caught in a downpour (or accidentally knock over your coffee). Motorola is so confident in its chemically-protected screen that the manufacturer will replace it once in the first two years if it’s damaged.

“Let’s go Droid Turbo, text Richard Branson and remind me to save the world tomorrow.”

Finally, I’m looking forward to this phone becoming the assistant I need. I’ve never really gotten into voice commands before, but this setup seems intuitive. I love how the screen comes to life when the phone senses you, and notifications peek through on the Active Display without interrupting your concentration.

There are cons of course, which there are with any phone (or gadget). The battery’s not removable, and the 32 GB memory isn’t expandable. I use cloud storage when I can, so I’m hoping it won’t be an issue. I did hear from a Twitter user who was concerned that Verizon has forgotten Motorola in the wake of Samsung’s popularity and hasn’t upgraded the operating system yet. While that does concern me, I’m happy with Android 4.4 Kitkat® for now.

I just got the phone today, so I’m sure I’ll come across other pros and cons when I head to a client’s conference this week. After 4 action-packed days of covering events, capturing memorable moments and creating a conversation, a follow-up review with more real world experience will be forthcoming.

Let’s Talk Tech, Mobile Style

What phone do you have?

What are your favorite features of the phone?

Are you an Apple or Android fan?

Do you primarily access social media platforms via mobile or desktop/laptop?

Your lovable gadget geek,
Jaime

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There’s Only One You, So Shouldn’t You Be Your Own Password?

Are you ready for your close-up? Hoyos Labs thinks you should be, and they may just change the face of the Internet.

Use your face as your password!

What if your face was the only password you’d ever need?

Introducing 1U™, an app that gives you access to all of your favorite sites with one glance. No more frustrating password rules. No more anxious moments as you desperately try to remember the password you need right now. All the security you need (Face/Off references aside.)

Does this technology sound interesting to you? At its launch, you’ll be able to download it free for a 30-day trial (unlimited websites, devices and computers), with 1-year ($49.99) and 2-year ($79.99) packages available. Will you be checking it out?

I’m going to give it a spin. The peace of mind and freed up brain space (from not having to remember all of those ridiculous passwords) alone may be worth it.

The initial press has been solid, including an article in the New York Times. Will 1U™ be the next big thing or just another passing fad?

p.s. Want to know more? Check out this 1U™ fact sheet. Then chime in with your thoughts below.

p.p.s. A member of 1U’s p.r. team alerted me to this app’s upcoming launch, but this is not a sponsored post. I’m simply intrigued by the technology, and thought you may be too.

p.p.p.s I’m still amazed by LeVar Burton’s visor in Star Trek. Does anyone else think it was really a banana comb painted metallic?

Always a tech geek,
Jaime

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50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2014 Edition

It’s become an annual tradition at the CCC blog to list 50 unique “things” that I’m currently grateful for. It makes me think and reminds me how blessed I am. The first 50 Things I’m Grateful For post published in May 2012, a month after the blog started, and was an immediate hit. The follow-up post, 50 (More) Things I’m Grateful For, debuted in July of last year. Combined, the posts have generated over 80 responses and interactions. I would love for you to join in the fun and add your list to the comments or on your own blog.

Here we go, 2014 edition:

1) Working, reading or relaxing on the hammock in my back yard
2) My reusable cup from Starbucks (and the espresso that goes in it)
3) Cool clients
4) New opportunities
5) How everything tends to work out in the long run
6) A beautiful summer day
7) My parents
8) Technology that allows me to work virtually anywhere
9) Netflix — so I can watch my favorite 80s shows!
10) Boots and flip flops

11) Muscle cars (late 60s/early 70s are the best)
12) Learning how to rig, fix and “make things work”
13) The number 13, which has always been a favorite of mine (along with black cats)
14) Catching a ball game at the park on a summer day (and keeping score)
15) Four Days in October (the best ESPN 30 for 30 ever)
16) The American Red Cross for saving lives and giving people hope
17) My strong platelet count, which allows me to help others
18) Clean drinking water (which so many people around the world need)
19)  Animal prints
20) Trails to run on

21) New Balance for making running shoes that fit my w  i  d  e  feet
22) Nail polish in every color
23) Those moments that become memories
24) A sense of humor
25) Tree houses
26) City water & sewer (greatest advancement in my lifetime!)
27) Sports… to watch, root for, analyze and discuss
28) The opportunity to help others
29) The dog I’m finally going to adopt
30) My business

31) Listening to the waterfall in my back yard
32) Planting flowers and landscaping
33) Creating (projects, art, campaigns, marketing collateral, stories, etc.)
34) Firefighters, EMS personnel and first responders
35) Different perspectives, opinions and points of view
36) Our local homeless shelter (and so much more)
37) Planes — for opening up a whole, new world to us (especially the one that will take me to Italy one day)
38) The ability to think
39) Swings at the local park
40) Vegetarian enfrijoladas

Enfrijoladas with egg, avocado and onion from Chef Jaime at la casa de Shine. #vegetarian #foodie

A post shared by Jaime Shine (@jaimeshine) on

41) A tasty mojito on a patio
42) A good book that teaches, inspires or draws you into another world
43) Felt tip pens and notebooks
44) Dry erase boards and sticky notes
45) My Citizen Eco-Drive watch that keeps me on time (well, as much as it can)
46) Random acts of kindness
47) Fresh fruits and vegetables
48) My blender that whips up some delicious green smoothies
49) Gorgeous sunsets
50) My climbing ability (necessary when you’re ‘fun-sized’)

There’s my 50. What are yours? Chime in below or share your list on your blog. With all of the negativity in the world, let’s talk about what we’re grateful for!

The feel of fresh cut grass between your toes... #WHPappreciateEarth #countrygirl #nature #spring #barefoot

A post shared by Jaime Shine (@jaimeshine) on

Usually barefoot, always thinking and forever grateful,
Jaime

Connect with CCC; we’d be grateful!
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Email Overload: 4 Ways to Win the Fight

Email. It’s revolutionized the way we communicate, but it can absolutely take over your life and disrupt the best laid plans. Haven’t we all been here before?

boy covering ears

More email?! Make it stop!
“Ruído Noise” by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

When I left corporate America to start my own company, I made a major change with email. First, I got down to Inbox Zero, which was downright exhausting, and then I vowed never to get buried again. How? A Swiss Army knife, some duct tape and a paperclip.

OK, not really. Here’s how:

  1. I subscribed to Unroll.me, an email solution that combines all of your favorite subscriptions into one email. Read what you want, when you want, and don’t be overrun with all of those necessary subscriptions to online trade journals, news sites and your favorite retailers. (OK, the last one may not be ‘necessary’…)
  2. I unsubscribed en masse (which is much easier with services like Unroll.me). It’s amazing what had ended up in my inbox over a period of time. If I didn’t receive value from a newsletter subscription or brand’s emails, I cut the cord. So many companies blast you with the same specials and information you can receive via social media or other channels.
  3. Speaking of other channels, I found alternatives, such as RSS feeds, social media networks and mobile. I love subscribing to blogs via the WordPress Reader as it’s easier for me to manage. I can follow my favorite brands and companies on social media for exclusive offers, the latest specials and hot, new products and services. I receive coupons and discounts via mobile, where companies aren’t as likely to bombard you (yet).
  4. I stopped sitting in email. When I’m working, I don’t even have my email program open, let alone receive those distracting notifications that flash onto your screen (and into your peripheral vision). My clients can all contact me in a variety of ways (and do), including phone, Facebook messenger, text, Twitter DM and the like. I monitor the push notifications on my phone to stay on top of what’s happening instead of spending massive amounts of time in my inbox. Basically, I don’t use email as IM (instant messenger) and don’t expect others to either.
Alder Pond at Gorge Metro Park

This is how you’ll feel when you get your email under control.
“Peace & Serenity” // author’s personal collection


What about you? How have you battled email overload? Do you agree with my tips? 

Share YOUR tips and experience to help us all maximize the effectiveness of email and communicate more clearly!

p.s. I’m always checking out what’s popular, so I can write about what you want to hear. Here’s the most popular posts on the CCC blog during 2013:

p.s.s. On Thursday, we’re starting a special series on SEO (search engine optimization) by a guest host. Don’t miss it!

Communicating clearly since ’12,
Jaime

It’s on like Donkey Kong. Let’s connect! 
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Social Media Savvy: It’s Still All About the Brand

One of the more popular posts I wrote last year was about social media branding and its importance to your brand’s reputation, especially if you’re in the marketing, social media, technology or related fields. After reading Dustin W. Stout’s excellent post on the subject, I realized an update was in order. The major social networks were busy editing, tweaking and re-branding in 2013.

Why does it even matter?

  • Your reputation — If your social media branding is out of date, what else is?
  • Respect — You’ve carefully cultivated your brand and want people to use it as intended. Extend that courtesy to others, including social media networks.
  • Brand police — The networks may not notice that you’re using their out-of-date branding unless you’re Coca-Cola or Apple. But remember, you are renting space on their platforms so it’s not a good idea.
spotlight shining on the major social media network logos

Your brand conveys who you are and what you’re about. Make sure to always comply with other company’s brand guidelines.

Facebook rolled out a new like button this year, but the social media giant’s main logo has remained pretty consistent. The company uses a white ‘f’ in a blue square and does not allow use of the full Facebook logo.

Google may be a brand master, but it’s social network Google+ is still figuring out which way it wants to go in that department. This platform has changed its branding every year of its short existence, and has currently settled on a centered ‘g+’ on a red background.

Twitter‘s flying high from its splashy IPO earlier this year (which has since come back to Earth), so its fresh branding with its legendary bird angled up makes sense. Stay away from the old ‘t’ or full Twitter logos, or the dreaded Fail Whale may appear.

Instagram is a new addition to this year’s post as the visual social platform has exploded over the past two years. The company has added video to its repertoire, been purchased by Facebook and moved to the web — a major reason to grab a badge and promote your account.

                 Facebook logo     Google+ logo     Twitter logo     Instagram logo     Pinterest logo     LinkedIn logo     YouTube logo

The current branding for the major social platforms is shown above. (Keep in mind that some offer additional options, depending on use.) For your convenience, I’ve linked each logo to the current branding guidelines for that social network.

Questions? Comments? We’d love to hear from you about social media brand compliance.

Is using current social media branding on your website, blog and other marketing materials important to you?

Is it as important if you’re not in a related industry?

Is there another social media network or platform you’re interested in?

Need to update your social media branding? As a special treat, Dustin has shared a downloadable file at the end of his aforementioned insightful post.

Well blog readers, it’s  been an eventful year. Thank you for reading along, joining the discussions and sharing our content to your connections. We really appreciate it, and wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!

Spotlight photo courtesy of Virgin Mobile’s Wallpaper Swag Gallery // Social media icons were added

Stay safe and enjoy ringing in the New Year!

Jaime

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50 (More) Things I’m Grateful For…

It’s been too long. I’ve had it in my mind to write this post since I published my first 50 Things I’m Grateful For… post last year. I kept finding cool things to blog about, and before I knew it, more than a year had passed. So here goes…

I’m grateful for (take 2)…

The sun sets on Lock 3

     

I love classic cars 

Wilson -- my idea generator

water view

Alright, so there’s my second list of 50 things I’m grateful for. (If you want to browse the first list, here you go.)

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear about what you’re grateful for! No matter how tough life gets, we can all be grateful for something. Share your list (however big or small) in the comments below, hit me up on a social network or tag me in your blog post.  Cheers!

Grateful & blessed,
Jaime

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Facebook Graph Search: A Case Study

Yesterday Facebook removed me from the waiting list and added Graph Search to my profile. I attended the press conference launch (via live blogging) and have certainly heard the hype, so I was anxious to try this new tool.

Recently, I’ve become interested in oils in order to make more natural versions of beauty and cleaning supplies. I began typing in oils, and results began filling in below the search box. I love the auto complete feature as it lets you modify your search term in real time to receive better results.

Facebook Graph Search

Initial results included a blog, book, website and holistic beauty supply store in MN. The only initial search result that didn’t apply was Oils Moto Club, which was labeled Automobile and Parts so I knew it wasn’t worth clicking on (if the name didn’t give it away to begin with).

Upon pulling up the Herbs & Oils World Facebook page, I had multiple options to locate more information on it.

Facebook Graph Search

I discovered that I had one friend who liked the page and pulled up several non-friends who did as well. I noticed that some were in my area although I’m not sure what criteria are given the most weight here.

The point is that you can easily gather personal feedback on your search results, which differentiates Facebook Graph from web search engines.

Naturally, privacy concerns arise. Do you want the world to be able to find you in Graph Search? Or even be able to see that you like or engage with specific pages? Facebook has made great strides in simplifying its privacy settings, but some still find them cumbersome and/or confusing. If you’re not sure, check out Graph Search Privacy to better understand what people can find out about you with this new tool.

Feedback

I’m excited about the possibilities of Facebook Graph Search for everyday living as well as for my company. There appear to be some intriguing possibilities for landing new clients, locating new resources and connecting with like-minded individuals.

As always, privacy is a concern, so you need to review your settings. Take a few minutes to understand what others can see when they search for you on Graph Search (and online in general).

This shouldn’t stop you from jumping in and utilizing this new tool though. One of the biggest benefits of technology is connecting people and resources, and I see Facebook Graph Search moving this cause forward.

What about you? Have you used Graph Search yet? What are your thoughts and/or experiences?

Are you confused? Drop me a line and I’d be happy to help you out. Below I’ve listed some additional resources on the subject as well.

Happy searching!
Jaime

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