The Technology Tether In A Virtual World

Over the last quarter century, no industry has seen more dramatic change-and has had a bigger impact on consumers and businesses-than technology!Define technology… We used to describe technology as… “the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts,engineering, applied science, and pure science.”Now… it’s defined as… “the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization.”Do you find yourself constantly checking email, text messages or social media? Is your smartphone or tablet the first thing you reach for in the morning, or the last thing you put down at night? If this sounds like you, then you are tethered to technology and probably missing out on what is actually going on around you.Below are some tips on how to disconnect – so you can connect with your family, friends and with your kids from Working Mother Magazine.

Customize your notifications. Give important contacts (your husband, boss, nanny, etc.) their own ringtones and text tones. Only respond to key contacts when you’re trying to have uninterrupted time with your kids, family or friends. Everyone else can wait.

Create tech-free zones. Make a pact that you’ll stay off your phone during key “connect times”. Those should include meal times, when you’re in the car with your husband, wife or kids, and an hour or so before your child’s bedtime. Kids feel more valued when you actually look at them and listen to them without any distractions.

Set specific “check in” times. If you have to be on call for work issues at night or on weekends, let co-workers know you’ll check for messages once an hour, or at specified times. That way, there’s no need to glance constantly at your phone. Tell your family or friends about your check-in policy so they know ahead of time what to expect.

Remind yourself that you’re setting an example. If you create some tech boundaries for yourself, your child is more likely to follow your family’s rules with his or her electronics.
There are always exceptions to technology rules, but do yourself a favor and disconnect every once in a while. Time goes by so fast, and you don’t want to miss out on amazing things that are going on around you in the physical world.As we enter the era of even more ubiquitous computing, with sensors on our bodies, in our homes and offices and all over our cities. What ways do you untether yourself from technology? We would love for you to comment on this post with your ideas.

Why Freelance Writers Are Lacking When It Comes to Technology

. . . And What They Can Do to Get Caught UpI’m constantly amazed at the lack of technology know-how among freelance writers – and I wholeheartedly include myself in this category. So, why do freelance writers lag in this area?Following are my theories, and how to go about changing this:1) We are word people: NOT code people.When writers get an idea, they want to write about it. We don’t want to learn how to optimize it for better search engine placement, how to add pictures to it to generate more interest, or how to make (more) money from it by doing “x.”Anything that requires more than logging on and starting to write just takes too much time – time that writers would rather spend writing. And, although this is said tongue-in-cheek, I’m dead serious.Writers, especially those who make a living from their craft, are often on deadline. By the time you grasp an idea, research it, write it, edit it and fact-check it, that leaves very little time for “figuring things out.”2) Technology Moves Too Fast: It seems like every time I catch on to one fad, another one has already sprung. Take blogging. I’ve been blogging since February of 2005. But, blogging has been around since the mid-1990s, almost a decade by the time I got around to it.Now that I’ve got that down pat, social networking is all the rage (eg, MySpace, FaceBook, Digging, etc.).And, let’s not forget all of the technology around blogs, eg, Technorati (a blog tracking site); RSS feeds (technology that lets you distribute and promote your content); Pinging (basically a notification system that lets readers know your blog has been updated), etc.There is so much more software, tutorials, affiliate programs, e-books and websites on the subject, that it can be overwhelming.Tips for Staying on Top of Technology & Making it Pay (Literally!) for Youa) Be Judicious: Don’t feel the need to jump on every new trend or piece of software that comes along. There are two advantages to this:i) it gets out of the beta stage: Most new software has to go through beta (a testing phase) before all the kinks are worked out. This can be a few months or a few years. Let the kinks get worked out on someone else’s dime and time.This leads to my next point:ii) you can get a feel for how to make it work for you: usually, once a software or idea has been in use for a while, there is tons of feedback. Use this to your advantage.Take the time to research as much about the software/idea/program as you can before you implement it in your freelance writing business. After reading the feedback, you might discover that what you had in mind won’t work. Or, that this program is not something you want to implement after all.My mother used to say, “The only thing wasted by waiting is time … and if it’s right today, it will be right tomorrow.” So, don’t worry about not being the first, ahead of the competition, or a market leader.While being among the first can certainly pay off in the right situation, it’s how you use a software/idea/program, not when you decide to use it.b) Time: As in, carve out time. One of the reasons I think freelancers don’t stay on top of technology as much as they should is that it takes time to learn the ins and out of a new program, piece of software, etc.Usually though, it’s not nearly as much as we think.So, if you decide to set up a MySpace page for example, carve out a day or two to devote to getting it up. Instead of scheduling it in with a ton of other duties on a given day, do just that one thing.Setting aside a dedicated amount of time to accomplish “x” is always better than promising to get to it “sometime this week.”Technology is something that all freelance writers must stay abreast of to be successful. And, as I just learned when I was forced to update my blog to the new system used by blogger.com, my blog’s host, if you don’t do it willingly, sooner or later you will be forced to.