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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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)”

4 questions that will lead you to work you’ll love (or: How I ended up at Xero)

Don’t want to read my whole TL;DR story? No worries, here are my four critical questions I recommend to anyone looking for work you’ll love:

  1. What’s the ultimate impact you want to have?
  2. What industry do you want to be a part of?
  3. What type of work you want to do?
  4. What kind of people you want to work with, in what kind of environment?

Read on if you want to hear how I worked through these before landing my job at Xero. Better yet, get your own dream job (or freelance work that you’ll love) by answering these questions for yourself!

***

After happily working for myself for over four years, some nagging voices started bugging me. “You’re not using all your gifts,” they said. And, “where is your team? Why do you insist on working alone?” And there was a lot of, “there’s something much bigger waiting for you, but you have to look for it.”

I knew I was ready for something different. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted a full-time job where someone else would be responsible for hustling my paycheck, and I could focus on doing My Work. But other voices tried to justify the status quo: “The way things are now, you can go hiking or surfing whenever you want!” Or, “what about your weird sleeping patterns? You’ll never be able to work regular hours.” Or the worst, “do you really want to commute over an hour a day EACH WAY from gorgeous Bolinas to an office in San Francisco?!” Continue reading “4 questions that will lead you to work you’ll love (or: How I ended up at Xero)”

The Women’s March, Sheryl Sandberg’s silence, and Leaning the F*** Away

Someone at work recently posted the article Lean Out: the deafening post-November silence of Sheryl Sandberg on our internal social network, posing the question, “Do you do what you think is right, or do you do what is right by your company?”

Here are some excerpts of the article to get you up to speed, or scroll down to jump ahead to my response (hint: it’s about privilege).

Sandberg must be well positioned to be a leader in this precise moment of feminist consciousness, right?

Uh, wrong.

Since November, I’ve heard one phrase uttered over and over by senior women in the Valley: “Why isn’t Sheryl saying anything about this?” To be specific, it started right around November 9, when Hillary Clinton conceded the Presidency to Donald Trump.

sherylsandbergShe defended Peter Thiel staying on Facebook’s board. She defended her boss’s dismissal of the idea that fake news impacted the election. She– not Zuckerberg– went to that meeting and sat behind the Trump water. And most surprising of all: Sheryl Sandberg had absolutely nothing public to say about last weekend’s women’s march, the largest feminist event in our lifetimes. The largest American protest. The time we actually saw footage on every major network and newspaper of what she has been saying for years women need to do: Linking arms and standing together.

and Continue reading “The Women’s March, Sheryl Sandberg’s silence, and Leaning the F*** Away”

Designing a career: an adventure with Mair Dundon

(c) Mair Dundon http://www.quietaction.com

Creating a work life that makes sense and pays well is a task that most of us spend a majority of our lives focused on… Instead of having a single path, we design a WorkLife that can change and grow right along with us – a constantly renewing resource that is fueled by our life experience and the insights we’ve taken the time to gather and share. I picture us as a community of practice – supporting each other in designing our WorkLife with focus and creativity.

Being particularly susceptible to such things (and in a moment of having forgotten my New Year’s resolution, Do Less), I signed up to do this “Career Hackathon” workshop with my friend Brenda. Which meant that I spent the entirety of a gorgeous afternoon yesterday in a windowless, brightly-lit room, a design firm’s office on Market between Powell and Montgomery Stations.

Five of us made a valiant effort to keep up with our facilitator Mair’s instructions, frantically filling out a series of worksheets, marking them up, talking to one another, and doing it all over again. I was the only one in the room without a UX/UI design background, and I enjoyed going with the flow and imagining that the words “agile” and “lean” (as in “lean business,” not “lean in”) and “iterate” and “builds (as a plural noun)” were part of my everyday parlance. I was expecting this; I had signed up for a Career Hackathon, after all!

Even if you DO know what those words mean, here’s my translation of the workshop title: How To Design Your Perfect Career by Forcing Yourself to Consider All the Possibilities That Normally Freak You Out and Learning That Most of Your Assumptions are Untrue Once You Actually Start Talking To People Around You… While Also Getting Called Out On Your Shit And Frequently Being Told You’re Awesome By Very Interesting People Who Are Also Awesome. Continue reading “Designing a career: an adventure with Mair Dundon”