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One Week Without the Internet

One Week Without the Internet

Last week I went on a cruise with my wife and family to the Bahamas. After a crazy busy set of weeks at the office, the break was much needed and the time in the sun was VERY much appreciated. As a result of being out in the ocean and in another country (and not buying an international plan for my phone), I went without Internet for a week. It was a decision to truly and honestly unplug from the world. With last week being the week that March Madness kicked off, it was an especially tough sacrifice to not keep up with my bracket in real time...nor be able to live stream one of the only times UK and my alma mater Western Kentucky playing in the first round. Nothing but the ocean, family and copious amounts of food.

So what was the end result? Here's what happened while not being online for a week:

  • Over 500 emails on my work account hit my inbox
  • 200 personal emails in my inbox
  • Numerous tweets, pin comments and followers
  • Missed pretty much anything that happened at #SXSW
  • Missed the UK vs WKU NCAA tourney game (felt worth mentioning a second time)
  • The latest app obsession, eloquently chronicled by @juliacantor here in this post
  • Also, with my home internet crashing for two nights, missing being able to read Pulse, write blogs or pin more content or watch Netflix at night.
It's easy to focus on what we miss when we can't get online. What happened when we weren't looking. Which viral meme garnered a few cheap laughs. However, without the Internet for a week, here's what I did experience:
  • Read most of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  • Talked to many people - face to face
  • Spent time with my wife without the aid of one of us looking at a screen
  • Didn't read 700 emails
  • Got to lay in a hammock in the sun and just think. Not do, just think and let my mind wander
  • Had great conversations with my parents and grabbed pizza with my dad at 2am to just chat about life without worrying about what was going on in the interwebs
  • Recharged. Not just physically but mentally as well
This isn't a post to bash the internet. I love what I do online every day and am lucky to be able to get paid to do what I love. However, there is benefit to getting offline once in a while. There's more going on in the world that can't be found on your screen. I enjoyed my week away from technology but I'm okay with being plugged back in. I just may prioritize my time online a little differently.
If you spent one less hour a day online, whether it be not answering emails or avoiding Pinterest for a little while - what would you do with that hour? Would you want to give that hour back?

In A Slump? Change Up Your Scenery

In A Slump? Change Up Your Scenery

A couple of weeks ago I felt like I was hitting a bit of a mental wall. As tasks hit me and ideas needed to come out of my brain and onto paper or outloud in a meeting, it seemed like I was firing blanks. Nothing clicked. Was there anything wrong? Not necessarily. It's one of those things that I believe happens to all of us at some point or another. Even when I ran cross country and track, I would have several week stretches where I just couldn't seem to get a good workout or race under my belt. We all hit slumps in some form or fashion. How can these slumps be overcome? Changing up your scenery for starters.

For me, it looked like a few different things. The first step I took was just working at a different location than what I was used to for a day. I took a rainy Sunday afternoon that I would typically spend at our dining table at home working on my computer to a Starbucks around the corner. Just the different environment, background noise and people working around me that I had never seen before helped me mentally get back into a different zone. One of the benefits of where I work is the work flexibility. If I need to really get work done and want to take it off-location, I have that freedom. I found out that Sunday that I was able to get a LOT done in a shorter amount of time than it would've taken me earlier in the week. Just the brief change-up in my physical surroundings helped climb a mental wall.

I also changed up what I worked on during my office time. Sure, I still had my same clients and deliverables that had to get in. However, I added time to my schedule to attend brainstorms and planning sessions for clients that I had never worked on...and may never personally touch again. Just getting out and using my brain in a different way than the normal day-to-day. I think Einstein once said that a person doesn't so much need rest as they do variety.

Lessons from Running

I ran into the same sort of thing when I was running full time in school. There would be several week stretches where I would just be in a rut. Workouts just wouldn't click. Race performances were flat-lining or even declining. One of my best fixes usually happened on just a couple of runs. Instead of doing the normal loops, I would change up the scenery. Go run a trail I never had. Not take a watch but just run for fun. Being mentally bogged down with sub-par races almost made me forget that I loved running. Those fun runs where I just went out and ran reminded me how fun the sport could be.

Just like running in a new place or brainstorming ideas for a new client project, sometimes you need those little moments to remind yourself how much you love what you do. Once you have those subtle reminders of why you do what you do, overcoming those slumps becomes much easier.

How do you get out of ruts?


The Week Pinterest Grew Chest Hair

The Week Pinterest Grew Chest Hair

Screen Shot 2011-10-10 at 9.58.14 PM

Last week I started toying around with Pinterest by trying to bring a Y-Chromosone to the site. It's weird how a site started by males turned into a feeding frenzy for the other gender. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just thought that there was a place for men on the site. However, what I learned was that most men had not pursued time on Pinterest since most of their streams saw an overwhelming majority of crafts, kittens and cupcakes.

It's why I made The Board of Man. An experiment with no strategy that seems to be working.

The State of The Board of Man

After only a week of starting The Board of Man on Pinterest, we've seen over 200 followers. It's not a huge following but definitely nothing to sneeze at after such a short time. The board has evolved over time, starting with very much over-the-top man pins of sharks and lasers to posts about how to be a man and even pictures of contributors' grandfathers and great uncles. It's been a great movement and has definitely added a little more character to the board.

The Board of Man has been a great place for males to get their feet wet with Pinterest. In addition, it's been a way for people to connect with each other that wouldn't normally. I've seen people re-pin and like each other's content that I am almost 100% certain didn't know each other before the Board of Man. The small community being built around the board has probably been the most exciting part.

The Board of Man: Next Steps

I have added several contributors to the Board of Man but have to draw the line at some point. So what if you want to contribute?

Like Instagram or Tumblr, Pinterest is a good place to search via hashtags. If you want to contribute to the movement, feel free to tag any pins on your boards with #boardofman. Movements only work if they expand beyond the bubble. All the guys on Pinterest should continue to make their own boards and share their own interests, mainly looking to the Board of Man for inspiration and one other place to contribute their own pins.

I will monitor the #boardofman hasthag and always re-pin what I find great to add to the physical board. I encourage any existing contributor to do the same.

Have you started following the Board of Man? What do you think Pinterest's future looks like?

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When the Well Runs Dry

So what do you do when the mental well runs dry? Anybody who works in creative experiences this here and there right? Personally, I like to post up new content up on here on a somewhat regular basis. At the office, I've been trying to create a huge backlog of blog posts to keep things going for Hinda's blog after I leave town next week. It's probably hands down the most writing I've done at once in a long time. So when I get a chance to post on my own blog...I'm stuck.

Grasping at inspiration today, I ran across an article from one of my favorite authors Donald Miller describing ten tips for better creativity. One of the main tips is to not talk about what you're working on in an effort to avoid giving yourself a false sense of productivity. This entire post sorta breaks that rule huh?

However, the best piece of advice I got about having infinite blog post ideas comes from @hanelly today over on Social Media Explorer. He talks about how it's easy to get caught up in reading every blog post, tweet and webinar out there that we lose our ability to create original content. All of our inspiration is just another contribution to the echo chamber.

His advice for infinite blog post ideas? Just get to work. Some of the best posts come from experience digging into projects, facing challenges and writing stories on how you overcame those issues. Our unique experiences with what we work on provides some of the best original content.

Judging from this, I reckon the best thing to do is to dig in and get back to work. If @hanelly is right (which I am certain he is), more inspiration will come from having an industrious day.

How do you all deal with creative ruts? Where do you find inspiration?

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