#UNPLUG

#UNPLUG Fast Company Magazine

What was the last time YOU unplugged?

Yesterday, I was sorting through quite a backlog of snail mail. Lots of junk, too many credit card offers (feh!), and a bill or two.

My favorite part of the mail is getting magazines. I don’t subscribe to many, but I love the ones I get. Inc. Magazine, Mother Earth News, Fast Company, and Our State.

It was the cover of Fast Company that grabbed my attention:

#UNPLUG: My life was crazy. So I disconnected for 25 days. You should too.

Egads! I let it sink in that I had just disconnected for 17 days. No smartphone, no email, no internet service of ANY kind. In fact, I lived without plumbing or electricity for 17 days. I’ll spare you the details on the plumbing. But if I needed a light, I either used my headlamp or the moonlight (which was full by the time we left the Canyon).

Now, to be clear, the dude who wrote this article was the Mayor of Four Square in his area. He was involved in EVERY social media outlet possible. His online presence was HUGE. You, gentle reader, may not be quite so connected. It doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t relate to his reasons for wanting to unplug:

  1. His life was indeed crazy. Crazy busy. 24/7 crazy busy.
  2. He wanted to be mentally free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves in some way in digital fashion.

Can you relate? If you think about it, I bet A LOT of the requests for your time, your money, and your energy come to you digitally. Probably mostly via email, but other ways, too.

And it is stressing you out. It’s making you distracted. And you’re suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

I see you checking email in the middle of networking meetings; as your employees are trying to talk to you; while you’re driving (or at best while stopped at red lights); in the middle of dinner wth your families; and as soon as your eyes pop open in the morning.

You are afraid. Afraid of missing out: on the big deal; with the next big potential client; with the angry client (we have to be responsive, don’t we?). And you’re afraid of just not being “in the know.”

I’ll be talking more about digital detoxing in the coming months. The saturation of digital connectedness in our lives is epidemic. And I assert it’s unhealthy if we just “let it happen.”

There are ways to regain control and sanity. As the Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan would say, “We must embrace rules, boundaries, and limitations.” It’s the only way to beat back the crazy.

Sincerely,

Angie

P.S. All this digital connectedness can also be a HUGE time-suck. There’s stuff you want to get done. It’s weighing on your mind, keeping you stuck, stressed, and churning. I’m creating a new low-impact, high-results-oriented program to get the important stuff DONE so you have the time, energy, and money to do the fun stuff (like plan a real #UNPLUGGED vacation). Details Tuesday!

Wine snob, coffee snob, what kind of snob are you?

I confess: I’m a total coffee snob.

It’s gotten so bad that I can’t even stomach gas station or diner-type coffee anymore. Mediocre. Drinkable, maybe. But completely not worth it.

Now, I go all out.

Organic, fair-trade beans. Organic half and half. I even use non-bleached filters (because bleach is bad!).

I have a small, hand-crank burr grinder. The handle is wood. The burr and top are a pounded metal. The glass container at the bottom is a small mason jar.

And I bought something called a Chemex – it’s a beautifully simple glass carafe. I carefully fold and place a non-bleached filter in the top, add those organic, fair-trade, hand-ground beans, and slowly pour in filtered, boiling water. The water gently washes over the grounds and fills the carafe.

This whole process takes at least 20 minutes each morning. And there’s no plastic to be seen (because plastic is also bad!)

The result?

A beautifully perfect cup of coffee totally worth the wait and effort. Every single time.

Except when I get impatient and forget to fold the filter carefully. Or I pour the boiling water too fast. Then the filter bottom gives up the ghost and the grounds fall into the coffee.

Doh! Coffee ruined.

The lesson here?

If I follow the system, use the process, and do it with care, I get an awesome result.

If I skip steps, hurry, and get impatient, then my coffee is ruined.

The same can true for everything in your business:

  • Forgetting to send hand-written thank you notes every single week
  • Ignoring your billing and invoicing
  • Letting “stuff” pile up
  • Not following up when you said you would
  • Treating clients and customers like interruptions and problems rather than the gift that they are
  • Giving referrals with no expectation – just for the pleasure of being a resource
  • Continually being curious about how you add value to your clients and customers each and every day
  • Investing in your own education and learning – to be a better partner, boss, co-worker, and networker

My new book reveals many of these crucial system details and includes downloadable worksheets. The whole point of focusing on the systems is how improving yourself and the experience your clients have with you makes your business much more successful (and profitable).

Just like taking care in making my morning coffee – the details matter (and the extra time and care are worth it).

Sincerely,

Angie

P.S. No Kindle? No problem. Amazon provides a free download of an electronic reader that allows you to download and read any Kindle book right on your computer. Sweet!

 

The Art of Testing Assumptions

I got quite a few lively responses from Tuesday’s newsletter. And most of them were about the P.S. I shared.

If you didn’t read it before, here it is:

P.P.S. Recently, one of my newer readers wrote and said she didn’t like how much I “sell” in this newsletter. She wanted tips and ideas to make her business and life more organized but felt uncomfortable with my constant pitching of services. I hope that you find my writing to be very thought-provoking on how to make your business and life better and more organized each and every time you hear from me. I want to work with you – and I’m going to ask for your business in nearly every email I write. If you’re not interested in working with me at all ever and/or you’re not getting value from my notes, then please feel free to use the unsubscribe button at the bottom of this email.

Apparently, I struck a nerve. I received tons of, “I love your email messages – keep doing what you’re doing!”

I also received a variety of responses agreeing with the importance of the “taking time off” portion of my note.

And there’s a few lessons here.

1. Perhaps at some point, you decided marketing and sales were dirty words. That you weren’t going to do it, at least not in any blatant, obvious, “but wait – there’s more!” kind of way. Yet, you totally accept that *I* do – and twice a week or more at that.

2. And perhaps at some point, you decided you “couldn’t” do anything about your schedule. That there was “no way” you could take an afternoon off on a Tuesday after a big presentation or that you could actually check out for a week or two or three in order to recharge your soul and your brain. And yet, you totally accept my opinion that it’s a good idea. And you support me in MY taking 3 weeks off to raft the Grand Cayon next month.

Let’s face it: I’ve been a tiny bit of rebel my whole life. Not only am I left-handed, I’ve also moved about 25 times. From California (where I was born), to the Philippines, Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. Yep, I was a Navy Brat, dragged hither and yon every few years

As a kid, I had to learn to adapt. I had to figure stuff out FAST. And most times, I was not soaked in cultural “norms”, the expected ways of doing things, or the status quo of living in the same place for years.

And it pains my mother to no end that I do things my own way.

So what’s the point I’m trying get at here?

I think it’s that I want YOU to take a hard look at everything you think you’re “supposed” to do. And I want you to take a good hard look at things you think you “could never” do.

I have a feeling you might be wrong on both counts. You’re just afraid of what *might* happen if you do.

So often when I work with clients, I ask questions. I test assumptions. And I stomp all over those “expected ways of doing things.”

Let’s be real: if you own your own business, you ARE in charge of your time, your stuff, your life, your energy.

And if you think you’re not…well, it’s high time to remove THAT particular blindfold.

I think I’ll print a bunch of T-shirts that say, “The hell I can’t – just watch me!”

I’ll hand ‘em out to anyone who works with me and masters the art of testing assumptions. Of ignorning the norm and the status quo. And especially for when you do the work and ask the questions to create a life and business and schedule you LOVE.

If you want help with this, I’m a master at seeing exactly where you’re stuck, afraid, or stewing.

Sincerely,

Angie

P.S. And just to be clear – “The hell I can’t – just watch me!” is TOTALLY different from, “Hey ya’ll, watch this!”

P.P.S. I’ve just accepted my last client before I leave for the Canyon. My schedule and my brain are full. I *might* accept ONE more Fast Action VIP Day client, but only if you ask super nice. Maybe.

P.P.P.S. My second book for Amazon’s Kindle just went to my editor. My goal is for it to “be alive” by May 15th. I’ll share more details soon!

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