Why It’s Time To Stop Panicking and Relax – Social Media Isn’t Supposed To Be An Ordeal

The world is getting astonishingly quicker and smaller as the phenomenon of the Internet has changed how we do business.  Now with Social Media added to your business arsenal, you have yet another thing to do.  Be honest, sometimes you don’t have time for it or maybe sometimes you just don’t feel like it.  That’s OK.  It’s allowed honest!  And it’s completely human to want to step back once in awhile, if you feel you’ve had enough.

As you’re not Oscar Wilde, it’s hard to be eloquent all the time and it takes time and effort to dazzle on the Internet.   With the incessant demands of life at 24/7, even poor Mr. Wilde would have felt his dagger sharp repartee dull every now and then. If you don’t have teams of people to help, sometimes you need to step back and recharge your batteries.

Unless Social Media is your full time job, make sure you keep it in it’s place as a useful and versatile tool for engaging your customers.  

Be a happy persona online and not a frazzled one
Vancouver, British Columbia – May 2011

A few tips for keeping yourself dazzling:

1. Take a break from posting longer more involved articles or campaigns.  Stop saying quite so much and possibly start sending out a few photos with short captions or share some sites (real or virtual) that you just quite like.  Big plus side, it shows your audience that you are well-rounded, more human, more personable, more accessible i.e. more like them.

2.  If you’ve been online a while its OK to cheat and bring back a post or an entry from a few months ago.  Your new fans won’t have seen it and maybe your old fans need a refresher (the worse prospect is they’ll just won’t bother reading it again).

3.  Let people know you’re having a offline vacation and let people know when you’ll be back.  No six month cruises though!  People will only “watch this” space so long.  I feel it’s fine to tell your audience that you’re having a break.  Make sure you don’t go onto deep hibernation for weeks, or months because you will be forgotten.  Ensure you send out tidbits every now and then so they don’t forget who you are.

4.  Maybe you’re tired because you’re throwing yourself around a bit too much.  Did you dive into the Social Media arena without really thinking and tried giving it ALL a go?  Periodically have a rethink and overhaul your marketing and communications strategy if necessary.

You might need to scale down your online activities and concentrate on creating better quality content on fewer platforms.  Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to.  You’re not a lemming.  Mindless following is not required.  Be discerning and use the tools that work best for you.

5.  Get help.  Stop doing everything yourself, especially if you are really fed up and feel very unlikely to step up again.  Delegate the responsibilities of Social Media to someone else (within your rules of course),  spread it around a team or even outsource.

Take time out to contemplate and check out the long view
Iona Beach, Richmond, British Columbia – June 2011

So stop beating yourself up for not being “on” and “with it” all the time.  Just because the Internet is going round and round incessantly, doesn’t mean you have to try and keep up. Nor should you.  You can, and should get off the insanity making online treadmill every now and then. You need a reality break and it’s great and necessary for getting some perspective.

I hope these bits of advice are helpful and that you get the timeout you need.

Why do I do this?  Well as the inimitable Mr Wilde said:

“I always pass on good advice. 
It is the only thing to do with it. 
It is never of any use to oneself.”



Where Did The Time Go And Why You Aren’t Getting Things Done Online – How To Do Better

OK I admit it. I waste time on the Internet.  Photography and social media sites are my downfall.  According to a study by Nielson – social networks and blogs count for 23% of total time spent online – (in the US –  but it’s probably pretty much the same in most places). At least I can be comforted that I’m not alone.

Temptation at Green Gypsy Caravan
South Island, New Zealand, 2005

But it’s hard not to be diverted.  Especially when you work on your computer all day, it can be very hard not to be distracted by little, very shiny, new things.  We all know that what’s happening on any of your three Twitter/Google+/Facebook/etc accounts is so much more appealing than focusing on paid work.  And that new app/gadget/life changing device has to be scrutinized, commented on and shared immediately!

Without adding 6 hours to your day, how do you tear yourself away from all that sparkles on the Internet and devote yourself to paying work?

No painless answer.  Sorry. The brutally honest truth is that it’ll require giving stuff up and some discipline on your part.

1.  Ditch the myth of multitasking (I am absolutely not a believer, you just set yourself up to fail).  No you can’t do more than one thing at the same time successfully.   If necessary write a to do list and cross things off.  Make a point of completing tasks before delving into something else.

2.  Focus on the small goals that support your big goals.  Get rid of the distractions that aren’t motivating you or helping you achieve your end goal.  Are you using all those gadgets and online tools properly?  Do they duplicate activities or make you pointlessly update more services?

 3.  Assess your use of Social Media.  Are you really getting something out of it?  Does it have a significant place in your overall marketing scheme and are you using it effectively?  Be honest about this (and it’s hard).  Often it’s more fun to chat and share than get any actual work done.  Make sure your Social Media activities are (yep that dreaded but appropriate phrase) “fit for purpose”.

 4.  Be disciplined about your time.  If you have to – draw up a chart, make a schedule, create a timetable and stick to it.  Get a real clock and don’t rely on the tiny clock on your computer.  Make sure you have a big visual so you are aware that those 5 minutes do go sailing by.  

Tempus Fugit
Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France – 2007

5.  Stop playing games! Solitaire, Farmville, World of Warcraft, whatever.  Those little treats you let yourself have as a break. Only after hours!  Yep, you have to be a grown-up now (but only to a point!)

6.  Chatting.  Yep, stop talking so much.  You have to be friendly and personable even online but be aware how long those conversations are going on for and be clear as to what is your agenda.  Are you bored, flirting or is it really work?

All these tactics will require you to be conscientious and truthful about your working habits.  The good news is, when you resolve to take back control of your time you will (oddly but ultimately) have more to spend it how you like.

So more time for wielding a big sword on WoW!

Or just kicking back on a beach 🙂
Rabbit Island, South Island, New Zealand – 2005 

10 Weird Things You’ll Miss If You Stay Home

If you never want to leave home, skip this post. 
If you want to stay in and not miss any episodes of X-Nauseating, skip this post.
If you think a trip to the shops is excitement enough, skip this post.

But if you want to know what’s out there, here’s a personally obtained sample 🙂
Incredible towel art in Cuba
Such extravagance
I could do an entire posting of just these!! 
The only trouble is you have still have to make the bed
Do the Italian’s know he’s missing?
Surfer’s Paradise, Australia
So wildly out of place
Stunning covered tropical garden complete with turtles
Where else do you go after drinks and before dinner in Spain’s capital?

Of course I got my letter
This is the only photo I’m allowed to show Muggles
Just in case you lose your train of thought, you can find it here
The Green Gypsy Caravan
South Island, New Zealand
Highly specialized staff  required
Are you supposed to tip extra?
In Andalusia you can witness the impossible!
Granada, Spain, it’s not just the Alhambra that’s unique!
Friendly family holidays in New Zealand for all sorts of families
South Island, New Zealand
Cow in denim
Lubeck, Germany
Me hanging out with the locals
Brisbane, Australia
Hope you enjoyed these photos.  I definitely enjoyed getting them

2822 Miles by Bus – Toronto, Ontario to Nanaimo, British Columbia or Bust!

This summer, in a mad moment I decided to see Canada by bus.  Well half of Canada.

Overall (as there were a few glitches) it was a great experience and an amazing opportunity to see this beautiful country.

Bring sandwiches!

Where it all started – Toronto
The first loyal steed! Greyhound – Toronto to Winnipeg
Why Sudbury isn’t well known for fresh air
Highway 17 – One of a 1000 lakes!
Highway 17 – A few of a million trees!
Highway 17 – Canadian Shield country
Somewhere in Northern Ontario
Cheeky Monkey – One of my traveling companions
Lots and lots of trains – heaven for trainspotters!
Sunrise in Saskatchewan
Little house on the prairie
Big sky country!
Security line up in Calgary
The view of TranCanada from the back of the bus
Rocky Mountains, Alberta
Big ooooh and ahhhs people 🙂
Really, really early into Vancouver
And so worth getting up for!

Off the bus and onto the ferry

Finally at my parents, north of Nanaimo
Happy and tired so not at my most glamorous
Off for a long shower!!

Life 101 – Why It’s OK For Good Plans To Fail

One thing I can say for sure, is that this year has not been dull. For a variety of very good reasons, after 15 years abroad, I moved back  to Canada. Hurrah for dual citizenship! However, after a few months the wisdom of the move is precariously in question. (Update – I moved back to the UK in October, no regrets :-))

I haven’t made any definite decisions about the future (I know which way I am leaning heavily towards) but I have made one decision:  I won’t  beat myself up about the possibility of having made a mistake!

What I’ve learned by making good plans that worked, or went awry or by following bad plans that worked, or went awry, is that sh*t happens.  You can dwell incessantly on what you could have, should would, have done and then one day you’ll have to move on and get over it! 

Yes but no guarantees on the answer!
Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC – 2011

So before jumping head long into my next cunning plan, here’s what I’ve learned from my life so far and most recently this experience:

1.  You definitely learn new things about yourself. What you will and won’t put up with becomes much more clear as does what you can and cannot do.  You also realise  you can be pretty ruthless if you have to be.  Good news is you are also incredibly kind and generous.  Overall you reach a nice balance by becoming much more understanding of other human’s foibles.

2.  You find out who your friends really are.  Those fair weather people who just want things from you (time, money, validation etc), well they just disappear because you are not longer so freely available.  Your real friends take that phone call at 1 in the morning because you just need to talk (and you screwed up the time difference).

3.  New uses/ways are learned for old things.  When packing up two suitcases and two boxes for a big move you need to make sure it’s really worth hauling across the globe. Yes my complete collection of House on DVD is worth it!

Sometimes the mad plan works out  spectacularly 🙂
Long Mynd, Shropshire, UK – 2009

4.  Confidence and independence increases.  It’s OK to say you’re new and that things are confusing but you have to rely on those gut feelings and ensure you aren’t taken advantage of.  eg. I have learned (once again) house-sharing is not for me.  I will never again be seduced by a big window and a fancy desk.

5.  At parties you’ll be a stellar guest with the been there done that stories. Tread carefully as here, you could easily become a bore if you over do it.  Oh, you definitely add to your repertoire of insightful, funny, tragic stories. Have I ever told you the one about…..?

6.  You can share wisdom as in be a good example and not a horrible warning.  Don’t become the poster child for  “how not to experience life”, become a connoisseur and revel in the good bits version.  However no candy coating here.  If something went horribly wrong and there is a point to the story then share but don’t dwell.  Victimhood not welcome!

7.  When you realise the error of your ways, you enable yourself to make better future choices. Because after a few “mistakes” everyone learns to avoid a few real clangers!

8.  What’s really important to you is clarified.  Sometimes you have to do it the hard way to find out what you really care about and what really matters to you.  And it’s not stuff and things.

9.  Mistakes make life a lot more interesting.  I have friends who’ve had the same job for 20 something years.  They’re still waiting to go to Rome, take a boat out to Milford Sound and drive across the Rockies.  Sometimes I’m jealous but then I remember I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.  Yep also had the indecent proposal in Vancouver, the bear in my campsite in Ontario and the car break down in the Australian bush. Life’s rich tapestry.

Lake Louise, Alberta
July 2005

10. Pride – you know you’ve tried.  No one can ever say you didn’t give it your all.  There is no shame in changing your mind but it would be a shame if you have no mind to change.

And sometimes a “mistake”, isn’t a mistake.  It’s just called having a life.

I’ll let you know what happens



Why You Should Really Go To New Zealand – Sheep, Shoes and Compostable Loos

Sorry folks.  Giving Social Media “how tos” a rest.  I’m just not in the “zone”.

Beside doing “information” as a profession and as a hobby, I’ve also been know to travel.  
You’ve seen all the gorgeous beaches, the lovely sunsets, the fantastic surf and plethora of vineyards that New Zealand has to offer.   But have you seen the REAL New Zealand?

This is a handpicked selection of my photos on why you should go (as if you even need convincing!). 

Because you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a 15 foot kiwi.

 Intriguing folk art of very large bugs
Punakaiki, South Island

 The fantastic compostable loos at the 
unforgettable Mussel Inn
and something to read while passing the “time”
Onekaka, Golden Bay, South Island
 Always caring, helpful advice
Somewhere west of Riverton, South Island
 The Men’s showers.
For the Girls, Xena is on the other side
Porpoise Bay campsite, South Island
 Waiting for the Post
Dairy farm on the North Island
Traffic jam
East Cape, North Island
Because there aren’t enough sheep 
already, some life like replicants
Havelock, North Island
As promised a very large Kiwi
Somewhere around Wainui Bay, South Island
 Shoes, just shoes
Dunno, was a bit lost – South Island
Beach sculpture 
New Zealand Day celebrations
Fox River, South Island
The most southern point of New Zealand
Just to prove I WAS there
Insightful Social Media revelations back next week.

It’s Different in Canada….How they Celebrate the Festive Season – Part 2

Last week I entranced you with my holiday photos from Vancouver.  This week you can shiver at the cold in the Rocky Mountains, British Columbia and Alberta.

Going over Revelstoke Pass on the way to Alberta
Hardy Canadian and Canadian icon
Less Hardy Canadians indulge indoors 
Tim Hortons a great Canadian tradition
Highway sign – Back on the road
Another hardy Canadian
Taken just outside my brother’s condo
New Year’s Eve in Canmore, Alberta
But we went to Party on the Pond anyway!
Canmore, Alberta
Me getting ready to go out
Even the family dog has to wear booties!

The Internet and How I’m Going to Wean Myself Off It

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last few months on the Internet.  Probably (not probably, very actually) too much time.  Strolling, trolling, sifting, sorting and a whole lot of meandering has been taking place.

Rain – Shropshire, UK – 2010

These wanderings haven’t been completely aimless as there is a point.  As a reformed librarian (read that as Information Goddess) I’m extremely interested in: 1. what sort of information other people are interested in and why, and 2. how to use the Internet and its tools (eg social media, the Cloud, online resources etc) more effectively.  So, see it’s work! Indeed my curiosity and, therefore my business, depends on my ability to sift through the “stuff” to find out what people need to know (very different from want, that’s a another chapter).

And there is A LOT of stuff in the ether.  There’s a lot of clever, gorgeous, mind-blowing stuff, quite a bit of mundane yet useful stuff, and vast waste lands of “OMG why did they bother???!!!” stuff.

Mad Eye – Manchester, UK – 2009

Sadly percentage wise, 86.4% (how to lie with statistics – that’s a fictitious stat, but I’m sure the number is high), of the visible Net is “OMG What were they thinking!”.  Like with driving, you feel there should be a test to pass before people are allowed to upload to the Internet.  Really, there are some treasures out there (and some that should be buried!)

I expect we are supposed to be egalitarian about the Internet, so anyone can come to play.  But I, for one, don’t have to pay attention.

Mad Eye 2 – Manchester, UK – 2009

Which comes nicely to the point of this blog (yes I have very long introductions).  The Internet is wonderful and exciting but also not.  I think its a brilliant platform for many people, organisations and assorted humanity but for many more it’s just another empty space to fill up.  Like a loft.

I’ll continue to spend too much time on the Internet, but feel (for me anyway) that I need to get away from the “empty space” sometimes, and even the mind-blowing stuff en masse, can lose their WOW factor due to over indulgence.   

The WOW Factor – Powys, UK – 2009

I’m going to spend more quality time with some of my favourite carbon based life forms (e.g. family, friend, colleagues, friends’ pets).  Or, get this, a book!

I’m going to instigate digital free days.  As I’m self employed this has to be feasible so it’s not a total ban.     

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK – 2009

My new rules for DF day:

At least one day a week, I pledge;
– not to use the Internet,
– to keep the computers turned off and not to sneaking off to a friend’s to use their’s
– my antique mobile phone will still be checked for messages but not on all day

– no Twitter (not even scheduled messages)
– no blogging here or on Tumblr (but I can make handwritten notes :-))
– radio is OK, CD collection is better, no TV

*Caveat – If someone else has an emergency that I have to deal with, then all rules can be broken.

Wish me luck.



Wild – Long Mynd, Shropshire, UK – 2009