My favorite mindfulness app is Pocket (or: how to stay focused AND always have excellent reading material on your person)

Insight Timer is my first recommendation when people ask me about meditation or mindfulness apps, but it’s not actually the one I use most frequently. When it comes to actively strengthening the muscles of focus and attention, Pocket — yes, the app that lets you save articles and videos from the web to check out later — is my favorite.

Pocket App

What is mindfulness? Valerie (Vimalasara) Mason-John writes:

Mindfulness is becoming aware of the distractions in our daily lives, in our minds and hearts.

When we become aware of our distractions we are empowered to make a choice. We can either indulge in our distractions or come back to the task that we were initially focused on.

Developing mindfulness in our daily lives allows us to function at our full potential.

Meditation is the most widely-recognized tool for cultivating mindfulness. I’ve been meditating more-and-less regularly since 2009, and this practice has definitely helped me become more aware of my well-worn thought patterns, knee-jerk reactions, and compulsive behaviors… ever-so-gradually opening up more choice in terms of how I respond to the the things that life brings my way.

Surprisingly, using the Pocket app has also significantly deepened my awareness of the things that distract me, and given me a greater ability to focus… and not only while I’m browsing the internet.

I realize this sounds absurd, so before I continue, consider the following scenarios: Continue reading “My favorite mindfulness app is Pocket (or: how to stay focused AND always have excellent reading material on your person)”

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Sick of waiting to get paid? Invoice payment terms can help you get paid faster

There are few things more frustrating than having completed a client’s job, only to find yourself doing even MORE work to get them to pay you!

I recently made this video with the Xero Video Team to explain how you can use invoice payment terms to help you get paid faster.

When should you hire an accountant?

When I was running my publishing company, I used my (sadly, rather inept) accountant exactly five times: once to set me up on my accounting software — a disaster through-and-through — and once a year for the four years to do our taxes.

If I had known then what I know now (businesses that use accountants regularly grow their profits 23% faster!), I would have made an effort to find an accountant that was a much better fit, and I would have consulted them far more frequently.

Here’s a video I made recently for Xero that goes over the critical times when it’s a good idea to hire an accountant.

Cloud accounting: good for business

I hope I don’t need to explain why it’s important to do your business accounting. (How the heck can you make strategic business decisions without knowing what’s going on under the hood?!)

But if you’ve never tried using cloud accounting software, aka accounting software that lives online vs on your computer, you’re in for a treat. I recently made the video above describing all the ways that cloud accounting makes your business life That Much Easier. Check it out if you need more inspiration to make the switch!

Yes, a specific cloud accounting software company pays my bills. Yes, they charge a subscription fee. Yes, I 100% believe it’s worth it (and I wouldn’t be working there if I didn’t believe in what the company is doing). Yes, there are alternatives, both paid and free, but buyer beware; sign up for the free trials, kick the tires, talk to your biz friends and advisors to find out which software they use and what they think of it. But by all means, free yourself (and your business financials) from your desktop!

Death and Taxes

Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life

You’ve probably seen at least one version of this advice floating around the internet:

3hobbies

“Three Hobbies” has always bothered me, for two reasons.

The first is that for those of us running our own businesses, the distinction between a hobby and a business is super important. If you want to write off your business expenses on your tax return, for instance, you’d better make sure the tax authorities don’t deem your business a hobby! (I’m not going to cover this in any more detail here, but do check out the link above for more details on the critical difference between a hobby and a business.)

The second issue is that “Three Hobbies” is INCOMPLETE, almost to the point of irresponsibility, when it comes to business owners. We know how common burnout, anxiety, and depression are among entrepreneurs. While running businesses, we might also be exercising and creating obsessively… all while totally disconnected from other human beings, or a sense of connection to what is driving all this activity in the first place.

And so I’m trying on a slightly different system for cultivating — as in, actually practicing — a balanced life. Continue reading “Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life”

#DeleteFacebook: How to permanently delete your Facebook account (while saving as much of it as you can for posterity)

I spent an absurd amount of time over the 4-day Easter weekend bumbling my way through the process of permanently deleting my Facebook account while saving as much of it as I could for posterity. This second part was important to me, and it’s really not as straightforward as it could be – as far as I can tell there are 6 things you need to do BEFORE requesting that Facebook permanently delete your account to ensure that your data is as protected as it can be, and to make sure you still have access to as much as you can reasonably collect from Facebook before saying goodbye.

I consulted a bunch of different How To articles and videos, went down several dead ends, screwed up (and had to cancel/restart the deletion process) multiple times, etc etc just to get to a place where I genuinely believe I did as much as I was willing to do without running some random script.

To add to the body of knowledge around this topic I decided to write up everything I’ve figured out so far. I sincerely hope this will save you some time and stress! I may be geeky but I’m no Facebook expert, so please please please let me know if I’ve misunderstood or misrepresented anything so I can update this article accordingly.

Good luck! This was a pain in the ass, but if I could do it, so you can you 🙂

Permanently delete my account.png

Step 1: Download a copy of your Facebook data (and be amazed / disappointed with what you get)

You can read Facebook’s own instructions on how to do this here (Settings > Download a copy of your Facebook data). I’m suggesting you do this before Steps 2 and 3 so that you’ll have a record of all the Apps etc that used to be connected in case this list becomes useful at some point in the future…

So you have an idea what to expect when you download a copy of your Facebook data, here are some of the things that I noticed: Continue reading “#DeleteFacebook: How to permanently delete your Facebook account (while saving as much of it as you can for posterity)”