Embrace the pace – sometimes you have to slow down

embrace the pace maradiva resort and spa mauritius

Embrace the pace: Maradiva resort – Mauritius


Most people I speak to say that the  average person’s pace is frenetic. Everyone is consumed with time, how to control it, how to have enough of it and how to make the most of it.

We multi-task as though it were going out of fashion, barely taking the time to take the kids to play at the park without our smartphones firmly attached to our wrist.

We document our kids’ every action at the park on Instagram but forget to actually be present to enjoy the moment. Yes your honour, I am guilty of just that.

Time has become a precious and scarce commodity, one we try to harness. We usually tend to equate time with productivity and money, especially if you sell time for a living.

I find it sad that we forget to set aside time for ourselves to just be and importantly, to spend with those that we love.

But the truth is that we need time to make money. We need time to create. We need time to build. We need time to love, play, dream and plan.

It is therefore inevitable that we are so preoccupied wasting our time worrying about not having enough time that we don’t know where to start.

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” —Dr. Seuss

Social networking without purpose?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big proponent of social media. I see its value, but more and more I do believe that it should be used with purpose.

A while ago I went on a digital diet. Unfollowing, unsubscribing, unliking and deleting some old posts.

Some argued that I may have messed up my “Klout-score” in the process. But it was not and still is not about the numbers of followers or likes or comments. Honestly, who really cares?

I simply realigned my interests to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships for the particular season I  found myself in. Seriously, it was not you, it was me.

I found that in doing so my usage patterns changed. I’m less attached to Twitter, unless I’m looking for news. Sharing linkbait on Facebook has decreased drastically – and I would suggest you block those sites too – it opens up your timeline tremendously. And I’m much more selective of who I connect with on LinkedIn.

Foursquare used to be fun and a way to document my travels, but it has become a pain to use. The move of splitting the app between Foursquare proper and Swarm is somewhat cumbersome and confusing. The jury is out but I wonder if Foursquare will follow in the same footsteps of Gowalla (but then Facebook had something to do with that).

Yes, I do still post pictures of what I had for dinner, but usually it accompanies a link to the recipe on our food blog, so you can make it too.

While our interconnected world has so  many benefits it also distorts that importance to being on call 24/7/365.

This is where we can lose sight of what we need to be most engaged with— ourselves, our work and the people in our lives who are important to us.

What I noticed the most after the digital diet was how much more time I had available, how much more opportunity I had to actually think, be creative and work on what I wanted.

I would suggest revisiting the diet every so often. We’re only human and tend to fall back in the same spiral if we don’t discipline ourselves to stay on point.

Looking at my feeds, it is time to get selective again. 

Thank the Greeks

The Greeks have two words for time: chronos and kairos.

Chronos is the time our society is obsessed with— the quantity of time, what is happening next, how soon and how we control it.

Kairos, on the other hand, is defined as the right moment and how best we use it to accomplish something, it is indicative of the quality of that time.

Ever notice what happens when you start an exciting project or hobby? Somehow, no matter how “busy” your schedule, you miraculously find the energy and time to spend on that project or to engage in that activity. We make time for what we want to.

Make it fun

My two kids are particularly vocal in their display of resistance when it comes to being asked to do something they don’t like or not that interested in.

Like picking up the toys strewn around the house or getting into a bath when they’re hell bent on eeking out a few more minutes of play time.

Trying to be stern and strict does not always work – it’s backfired too many times for it to be a sound strategy. It often creates even more unhappiness and can quickly spiral out of control.

My wife mentioned to me that I have an uncanny ability to approach these situations in a fun way. Often clown-like and nonsensical, making up songs on the spot or setting fun challenges that seem more like play – the kids tend to forget their pouting and jump right in, getting the task done with an infectious laughter and a bathroom floor soaked with water.

Ted Cunningham says in his book, Fun Loving You!:

We need to laugh in the midst of the grind. The grind may be one reason why the average child laughs some four hundred times per day compared to the average adult laughing only fifteen times a day. If we let it, the grind can rob us of our sense of humor.

While my colleagues may think I’m somewhat crazy, translating that fun element into the workplace has often diffused many a potential heated moment. There’s always a funny YouTube clip on hand, ready to get us smiling again.

As Milton Berle said, laughter is an instant vacation.

Take time out

One of the most important things you can do is take time out. Time for yourself to regroup, refresh, renew. As I write this I’m lying beside a pool overlooking the Indian ocean in Mauritius, sharing a meal with the local wildlife.

Embrace the pace: Share a meal

Embrace the pace: Share a meal

I had just short of 12 hours of uninterrupted motionless sleep (according to my Samsung Gear – about that later) and a hearty but healthy breakfast. The reviving heat of the sun, the white noise created by the crashing waves in the background and the leaves of the palm trees swaying in the wind is pure bliss. I feel like a new person.

Tomorrow I will be on point, ready for the week and supporting our firm to  unlock their potential for growth and mine as well.

So, embrace the pace. Especially if it means slowing down to switch off all  distractions and be present to enjoy the people and things around you.

Now if only I could have my family with me to experience and share all this, this picture would be complete.

“Time is on my side” — The Rolling Stones

Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate

The Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate has been raging since the early “Voortrekkers” left the Cape to settle in the city of gold.

The current debacle debate in South Africa between Jo-burgers and Capetonians just stepped up a notch.

The view from Johannesburg

It all started with this post from Jade Mitchell: Go F**k yourself Cape Town

Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate

The view from Cape Town

The follow-up from Cape Town by Jeremy Coutts: A Capetonian’s response to being told to go fuck himself.

Johannesburg vs Cape Town debate

The view from a small town

The classic tongue in cheek retort from a small town from StephanieBe: Go fuck yourself Cape Town & Johannesburg.

image

I’ve also seen a number of facebook and twitter status messages with more  examples of hostility, humour, level headedness and just plain crazy reasons why their city should be considered the best.

While there will never be an end to the debate on a city by city level, I think we all need to agree that South Africa is the best place to live.

Create a RSS feed from any Twitter feed

As of June 11, 2013, Twitter has officially shut down v1 of their API. This means tons of plugins and other services such as IFTTT can no longer connect to the Twitter API like they used to. In addition, Twitter has officially decided on JSON as their response format.

This has been seriously frustrating for me. While twitter lists can theoretically help, it still doesn’t solve the problem. Finally there’s a solution. Enter Tweet-2-RSS.

This service allows you to convert any API call to an RSS+XML format, which you can then use in your favorite RSS reader.

Now on the topic of RSS readers, of course we’re all aware that Google killed off its own RSS reader. So hopefully you’ve migrated all your feeds over to Feedly or even old faithful Outlook.

Extreme information diet

Stop following me freaks

I’ve been on an extreme information diet lately. I need my space. I need less crap in my timeline. It is not you, it is me. I’m trying to keep my timeline clean.

Surprisingly I’m longing for phone calls and chats around the braai, speaking to people in person, not via another sms, email, tweet or any of the other thousands of social platforms. Don’t get me wrong. These things do have their place, but at the moment I’ve been less and less interested in the drivel that is popping up on my devices. I don’t care (props to Don)

I’m turning the tables on social media. If I want the content, I’ll go find it, I don’t need it to find me.

Let me briefly pick on twitter for a while. When last did you check your follower stream? Not those you are following, but more the people, bots, companies, fake followers plugged into your profile. Nice to have thousands of followers, but you have little to no connection with any of them.

How do you get rid of unwanted followers? It is not like Facebook where there is mutual consent to the “friendship”. I protected my account for a couple of weeks. The spammers, bots and techie-pastor-dads-from-Texas stopped knocking. As extreme as this was, it did provide a few days of sanity, but it brought about a whole set of other issues. Legitimate friends & connections couldn’t interact as much as before.

You could block everyone, it breaks both follows and prevents the other person from following you. However this also prevents you from viewing them/or them viewing you on a needs basis. The trick is thus to block and then unblock. Unblocking doesn’t restore the follows and there you have it, a cleaned up follower list.

Check who you are blocking over at Blocked by me. Simply sign in with Twitter (you don’t have to enter your password, it doesn’t store your details or, better yet, send out an annoying tweet to your followers). Click on the ‘show my blocked users’ button and you’re instantly presented with a list of everybody you’ve ever blocked and an easy way to unblock as well.

I culled 404 from my followers list. Hardly an exorbitant number, but quite an apt number of followers not found on my profile.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Foursquare and many others received the same treatment. I’ve been closing profiles (e.g. Google+) that just don’t make sense to me right now. I’m consolidating.

Here’s an idea, pick up the phone, call me, let’s have coffee, a drink, let’s chat face to face. We should all get out more.

Responsive design

Visitors who stumbled upon this site in the past may have noticed a design change. Responsive design is all the rage at the moment.

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach to web design in which a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). via

Kayla Knight wrote an excellent article on the practicalities of responsive web design.

While I could waffle on for ages about the technicalities, the good and the bad of responsive design, you better see it for yourself. One sterling example of this is the Milwaukee Police News site.

Milwaukee police news

Yes, you heard right, a police department’s news page. It has bucket loads of features including a response design (view the site on a PC, mobile and tablet for comparisons), vertical parallax, clean layouts, subtle animations, helpful news and an experience you want to keep engaging with. As one person quipped, the only problem with the site – even the most wanted list looks like a bunch of models.

The guys from WooThemes have also been churning out quality themes for a while now and I must admit I’ve always been a fan. For the past 3 years I have been using the Irresistible theme, which has served me very well, par for a minor hiccup back in 2011.

There are already no less than 21 responsive themes available from WooThemes. Mark Forrester and the team continue to impress and Mark’s personal site – a cool responsive design – got me thinking of a reboot of my own site.

Mark Forrester

I wanted to do away with the need for multiple plugins to cater for the various ways one could access my site. As for me, my main method of access is via the iPad, occasional mobile blogging via my iPhone and serious tinkering via laptop, it made sense to opt for a theme that subscribes to responsive layout principals.

While I would have liked to go the route of Mark and buy a WooTheme, times are a bit tough, so I had to fortunately/unfortunately (depending on your perspective) opt for one of the free versions. Free is not necessarily bad, the WordPress Responsive theme has been downloaded close to a quarter of a million times already.

Responsive WordPress theme

Responsive Theme is a flexible foundation with fluid grid system that adapts your website to mobile devices and the desktop or any other viewing environment. Theme features 9 Page Templates, 11 Widget Areas, 6 Template Layouts, 4 Menu Positions and more. Powerful but simple Theme Options for full CMS control with easy Logo Upload, Social Networking and Webmaster Tools etc. Responsive is WooCommerce Compatible, Multilingual Ready (WPML), Retina-Ready and currently translated into 28 languages. Cross-Browser compatible.

I’m currently tinkering with this theme, so you may see a few things changing over the next while. Let me know what you think of responsive design, this site and anything else you can think of. Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

While you’re at it, drop me a line to let me know on what type of device you’re reading this.