Meico Whitlock will unpack what digital wellness is and highlight the latest apps that can help you be more mindful and create and sustain greater well-being in your life and work in a remote first world.

Full Transcript:

Steven: All right, Meico. I’ve got 2:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started officially?

Meico: Let’s get it rocking and rolling.

Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, welcome everybody. Good afternoon if you’re on the East Coast. Good morning, I guess barely good morning, if you’re on the West Coast. And if you’re watching this recording, I hope you’re having a good day no matter when and where you are. 

We are here to talk about digital wellness, a very important topic, especially since we are all working remote and doing everything digitally. We’re going to do some nice self-care for you this afternoon. 

So thanks for being here. Hope you’re all doing okay, staying healthy, staying productive. I’m Steven, I’m over here at Boomerang, and I’ll be moderating the discussion today, as always.

And just a couple of quick housekeeping items. Just want to let you all know that we are recording the session. So, if you have to leave early or maybe you get interrupted, if you’re at home and you’ve got kids at home or something, your boss calls you, don’t worry, we will get you the recording as well as the slides later on today. I will email those to you. I promise you won’t miss a thing. Or if you want to maybe share it with a co-worker or a friend, that’d be cool too. So just be on the lookout for that from me later on today.

But most importantly, we’d love to hear from you over the next hour or so. There’s a chat box. There’s a Q&A box. You can use either of those. But we’d love to hear from you, so send in your questions and comments. There’s going to be lots of interactivity in this one, which I’m really excited about. So don’t be shy. We’d love to hear from you. 

And we’re also going to have plenty of time at the end for a Q&A. So don’t be shy. We’d love to hear from you. You can tweet us. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed as well. Send me a carrier pigeon if you’re close to Indy. We’ll get to you no matter how you want to communicate. But introduce yourself in the chat if you haven’t already. We’d love to know more about who we’re talking to.

If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, welcome. We do these webinars every Thursday afternoon. We have done over 600 sessions. I was counting them earlier. One of our favorite things we do here at Bloomerang. 

But if you’ve never heard of Bloomerang, if you’re wondering, “What the heck is that?” in addition to the webinars, we are also a provider of donor-management software. So, if you’re interested in that, just curious, maybe you’re shopping soon, check out our website. There are all kinds of videos and awesome information on there about us if you want to learn more.

But don’t do that right now because you’re all in for a real treat over the next hour so. I’ve been looking forward to this one because I need this advice as much as we want to give it to you all, as someone who spends all day on the computer. Our new friend, Meico Whitlock, is joining us from just outside of D.C. Meico, how are you doing? Are you doing okay?

Meico: I am doing great. Nice, warm, and cozy, although it’s snowing outside. So looking forward to chatting with folks. I apologize for the folks that weren’t able to get a snow day because they’re working from home.

Steven: Yeah, I didn’t get . . . my kids didn’t get it, which didn’t make any sense to me because they’re already virtual. I don’t understand that. But that’s okay. Part of the reason why we’re doing this, because we are all in need of some digital wellness.

I just want to brag on Meico real quick here. If you all don’t know him, check him out. Check out the Mindful Techie. Really awesome website. There are some great resources on there. Meico does a lot of training courses. He’s got an awesome downloadable planner that I was going to grab as soon as he starts talking here. 

We got introduced by a good mutual friend, and he does some awesome things. He’s on the board of NTEN, has worked with some serious organizations, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Greenpeace, and makes a really killer vegan chili, I’ve learned over the last couple days.

Meico: The world’s best vegan chili.

Steven: We might want to share that recipe later on. After you hear this presentation, I think you’re going to want to engage with him a little bit more. Awesome resource for mindfulness. I was looking at the website. There are great things for parents and screen time, and I’m really excited for this because I am like the poster child for needing this advice. 

But I’m going to pipe down because I’ve already taken up too much time away from you, Meico. So I’m going to stop sharing my screen and I’ll let you bring up those beautiful slides. Let’s see if we can do it here.

Meico: All right. Awesome. We’re ready to rock and roll?

Steven: Yeah, go for it, man.

Meico: Awesome. So, as we get started, I just want to take an opportunity to just acknowledge the context in which we’re operating. Steven and I alluded to the fact that we’re all working from home. And as we get started, I just wanted to acknowledge that I know that, for many of us, and for you especially if you’re on this webinar right now, you’re passionate about the work that you’re doing, you’re passionate about making a difference in the world, and you work hard. But chances are with all the things that are happening right now in the world, in your life, in your work, you’re probably exhausted and that you feel like you have too many things on your plate, that you are constantly putting out fires. Maybe it feels like there’s just never enough time and resources to get everything done. 

And I know that the pandemic has further complicated things for us. We’re spending more time than ever in front of our screens, juggling emails, the texts, the tweets, the online meetings, alongside our ever-evolving personal responsibilities at home. 

We have the recent weather events, all the things that are happening in our politics nationally and internationally, the pandemic, and just really trying to get back into the flow of things after the start of a new year. And so I wanted to just acknowledge that for many of us, many of us aren’t feeling okay. Many of us are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. And I want to give you permission to not be okay if that is the place that you are.

In times of massive change and disruption that we’re feeling, sometimes it can be easy to give into that or to be paralyzed by that. So I want us to acknowledge how we’re feeling, but I don’t want us to give up. I don’t want us to give in to that. 

Instead, what I invite you to do is to realize that your purpose hasn’t changed. The reason why you do the work that you do hasn’t changed. As a matter of fact, I believe that we are all called to use our time and our talent and resources in ways that serve others. And it’s in times like this where we’re experiencing massive change and disruption and crisis that all the work that we’re doing, all the work that you’re doing, is actually more needed than ever before.

And so I want you to be flexible and, of course, change your plans and how you get to where you’re going if you need to, but certainly inviting you to really just stay focused on the purpose, stay focused on the mission, stay focused on the reason why you were drawn to the work that you are doing to begin with.

And so, with that being said, I just want to give us all a reminder just to be patient and to be kind and gentle with ourselves, and to be patient and kind and gentle with other folks. We recognize that we’re all just doing the best that we can with what we have right where we are, and we can’t really ask anything more of ourselves or of anyone else. 

I hope that, as we really engage with this topic of digital wellness in particular, you can keep that in mind as you’re engaging with your family, your colleagues, and your friends, that these are extraordinary times. And like the Canadian government reminds us, we are not really in this moment homeschooling or working from home. We’re at home during a crisis trying to get work done, trying to homeschool our kids, trying to take care of ourselves the best we can.

So, with that being said, I want to go ahead and dive in now that we’ve done that acknowledgement and we’ve gotten it out of the way, talk a little bit about today’s training. We’re going to be focusing on talking about what digital wellness is, some things that you can do to integrate it into your life and into your work.

One of the ways that we’re going to do that is I’m going to do a really quick hit of what I think are some of the best apps and tools that we can use that are out there today to help us to maintain some sense of digital wellness in our life, digital wellbeing. And my hope is that you’ll be able to make a commitment coming out of today’s training to do at least one thing, try one app or try one strategy, that would make your life a little bit better when it comes to your digital wellness.

So a little bit more about me. Steven’s already said enough, so I’m just going to go ahead, if it’s okay with you, and just dive in here. And I want to ask you as we get started here . . . there are so many apps that are out there. I’m going to cover a number of those today and some of my favorites and some of the ones that I recommend, but I’m curious, if you can let me know in the chat, what would you say is the best app that’s out there today, or what would you describe as your favorite app right now? 

Go ahead and let me know in the chat what your favorite app is or what you think is the best app for this out there. Put that in the chat. I’m monitoring it, and we’ll take a look as those are beginning to roll in.

We see Calm, we see Clubhouse, Pinterest, I am, Microsoft To Do, Peloton, MyFitnessPal, Spotify. There are so many different apps that folks are putting in there. Keep those going. I see Clubhouse is coming up again. So it looks like we have a lot of meditation apps, a lot of music apps, a lot of fitness apps that are popping up. 

All of these are great apps that are available out there, and I would agree. I use many of these. I see Leroy saying, “The whole Apple Store.” Awesome.

Well, I want to share one of my thoughts about this, and I hope this will be helpful as you think about what an app is coming out of today’s training and how you think about digital wellness. But I actually think one of the best apps that we have is our internal apps, our ability essentially to self-regulate. 

And so a number of the apps . . . I think actually all the apps that many of you have shared in the chat, all those are great apps. And those would be apps that I would call “external apps.” Those are things that are tangible. Those are external. I want to share with you that I think actually one of the best apps that we have is our ability to self-regulate, which is free. It’s something that we have as part of our birthright. We’re born with it. And I actually want to invite you to join me as we get started in actually activating that app right now, if that’s okay with you.

And we’re going to do that by actually engaging in a short exercise called “the lion’s breath.” It’s an exercise where we’re going to, essentially, do three deep inhalations and exhalations, breathing fully and deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth. We’ll do this as our warm-up, and then we’ll get moving and rocking and rolling with the rest of today’s training, if that’s okay with you. 

So, if you’re ready to do this warm up with me, I invite you wherever you are, if you feel safe, if you’re comfortable, if you’re able to just take an upright comfortable seated position with your feet firmly planted on the ground if you’re able to. And you might choose to close your eyes, if that feels right for you. And you might choose to place your hands palm up or palm down just above the knees. 

But what’s most important is that you just assume a position that just feels right and that just feels good for you and your body in this particular moment. 

And as you assume that position, just allow the body to settle and just allow your body to just follow the sound of my voice for the next few moments, and just follow the instructions as you’re able to and as it feels right for you.

So I invite you in the next moment to just take this first breath, breathing fully and deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth. And let’s start here breathing in fully and deeply in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Allow the body to settle. 

And then let’s take our second breath when you’re ready. Fully and deeply in through the nose, and out through the mouth, allowing the body to settle once more. 

And then one final breath, if it makes sense, it feels right for you, when you’re ready. In through the nose, fully and deeply, and out through the mouth. Allow the body to settle. 

If you chose to close your eyes, I invite you to open your eyes when you’re ready. And of course, if you need to take a few more breaths on your own, I invite you to take as many breaths as you need to and to join us when you’re ready.

I share this as an example of one thing that is readily accessible and available to all of us, this particular breathing exercise. So, if you’re able-bodied, then this is a free self-regulating app that we have that’s internal to us that allows us to really calm the nervous system, calm the body, to put some space between the constant rushing from this meeting to that meeting, from this thing to that thing. It reduces stress. It’s something that is portable we can carry with us. It doesn’t cost us anything. And we have a massive evidence base that shows us that it’s truly effective and impactful and it’s almost instantaneous. 

So I invite you to take this and put this into your collection of apps as you come out of today’s training.

So, with that being said, we’re going to go ahead and get started. But I want to ask you, “Are you ready?” So, if you’re ready to get moving after we’ve done our warm-up, go ahead and give me a yes into the chat. Type “yes” into the chat if you’re ready to move forward. Awesome. All right. So I’m seeing the yeses and the yeps rolling in. Absolutely. Awesome. 

So, with that being said, let’s go ahead and do a poll. We’re going to do a poll number one. I’m curious to hear from you, since this is a training about digital wellness, how many of you would say that you know what digital wellness is? So let me know with the poll that’s popped up how many of you would say that you actually know what digital wellness is? 

I see the answers are beginning to roll in, and it looks like we have the vast majority of folks are indicating that maybe they don’t know or maybe they’re not sure. And then we have a small percentage of folks that say yes, they have some idea of what digital wellness is. 

We can go ahead and end this poll and share the results with folks so you can see that. It looks like about 24% of us, roughly, for those that have had the opportunity to complete the poll, are saying, “Yes, I have an understanding of what digital wellness is.” And about 76% are saying, “No.”

So let’s talk about what this actually means, and I’ll share with you what I think about when I think about digital wellness and the work that I do with organizations and folks like you. 

I think of digital wellness as an ongoing . . . it’s an active process where we’re using technology in ways that foster a healthy, fulfilling, and balanced life, that we’re using technology in ways in which it is being intentional. So technology is not a bad thing or a good thing. It’s all about how we’re using that.

So, with that being said, what I want to do for this next section is I really want to run through some of my favorite apps that I’m going to recommend for different categories, for different aspects of your life and work. If you want to chime in, in the chat, and put in your own recommendations for the category, then feel free to do that. We can all learn from one another. 

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m just sharing with you some of the top ones that I think are really important and that I recommend right now.

So let’s start with the first category. The first category is mindfulness. If you have a mindfulness app that you would like to recommend, you want to put it into the chat, now would be the time to do that. So, as you’re doing that, I’m going to tell you my top recommendations for this category. 

If you’re familiar with mindfulness apps and meditation apps, if you’re familiar with Calm, if you’re familiar with maybe Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, I want to share a few that are probably going under the radar that you might want to be aware of.

The first one is called MyLife, and it’s an app for both Android and Apple. It’s an app that is, I think, really suitable for folks that are beginners or maybe folks that are skeptics when it comes to meditation and mindfulness, but you want to try it but you need something that’s a bit more directive and guided. This is a really awesome experience for beginners. 

Very intentional. Has meditations, mindful walks, and videos. These are really tailored to how you feel, so the app asks you how you’re feeling and then it makes recommendations for mindfulness-based activities based on how you’re actually feeling. So this is one of the reasons that I would recommend MyLife, which is probably an app that you haven’t heard of, although you have some of the more popular ones like Calm and Headspace that are out that you probably have heard of.

Another one here that is probably newer to some of you is UCLA Mindful. Again, available for both Apple and for Android. This is an app that is research-based and it has basic meditation guidance in both English and Spanish. And it’s been built with the focus specifically to include folks that might be suffering from chronic conditions or chronic health conditions, and has a lot of really helpful explanatory videos. 

So, if you’re looking for something a bit deeper than just sort of diving in, you want to understand perhaps the history and the context of mindfulness, this can be something that you can include as part of your collection of apps.

The first app is MyLife. This next one is UCLA Mindful. And then Insight Timer. I see lots of folks have mentioned that already in the chat. This is one of my favorites. This is one app that I actually use for the most part almost daily for my own meditation practice. I love the bell and the timer. I love that it actually tracks my meditations. I can see how many days in a row I’ve actually been meditating. I can see how long. It gives me all those stats. 

And one of the other things too, if you’re looking for more than just a timer, Insight Timer is also a community, so they offer classes, be it yoga or meditation on specific topics. And you also get to be a part of a community at the same time. Also available for Apple and Android.

I know that there are folks that are asking about the different apps that I’m going through. I’m going to move through these really quickly, but one thing I want to note is that the slides and the recording will be available, so don’t feel like you you’re going to miss anything if you’re not able to get it on the first round.

All right. So we’ve done mindfulness. Next category is gratitude and appreciation. If you have an app that you want to recommend for gratitude and appreciation, this would be an opportunity for you to drop that into the chat when you’re ready. I’m going to share a few that I would recommend. 

The first one is called Grateful. And you can think of Grateful as simply . . . it’s a gratitude-journal app that includes prompts to help you to really reflect on what it is that you’re grateful for. It’s science-based, it’s evidence-based, and it’s based on scientific studies that really examine the impact of taking on an attitude of gratitude and the impact that that has on your wellbeing. 

So, if you are the kind of person that wants to develop a gratitude practice, you want to explore this, but you need a little bit of help in terms of having prompts or having things in one place, perhaps this app might be a place for you to start.

Another app here, which is more of a plugin actually for Slack . . . so, if your team uses Slack for internal messaging, internal communication, or if you’re using it for some other purpose, there’s a plug-in called HeyTaco! that integrates with Slack. 

And one of the things that can be really useful, especially since many of us are working remotely now, is you can automate the process of shouting out people, celebrating people, perhaps celebrating their birthdays, and other types of fun things. And it really just helps, particularly in an all-virtual environment, to make people feel like they’re valued, make people feel like they’re appreciated.

It’s just a way for you to express your gratitude and to have a little bit of assistance with actually doing it in a structured way if you want to be able to do this for your team or for your organization. 

So those will be the two apps that I’d recommend for gratitude and appreciation.

Next category is happiness. So, if you have an app that is focused on happiness and you want to add that to the chat, now would be the time to do that. I saw that someone mentioned earlier Ten Percent Happier. That would be certainly an app that might fall into this category. But I’m going to share a few more that you might want to consider.

The first is called SuperBetter. And SuperBetter is an app that is for Android and Apple. One of the cool things about this app is that it actually gamifies the process of being a happier person. So it uses evidence-based activities that it recommends to you, and engaging in those evidence-based activity actually supports you in being a happier and a healthier person. 

And so, if you’re looking for a place to start with activities to engage in, things that you can do without having to think too much about it, this can be a place to start. And it makes it really fun. You get points, and it’s like playing a video game almost. They have studies to show that there has been a correlation between people using the app and playing the games and they’re increasing the overall sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Happify is something that’s very similar. Also available for Apple and Android. This really focuses on evidence-based activities and games that can help to reduce stress and to help you deal with negative thinking, negative thoughts. 

It’s more focused on, similar to SuperBetter, effective evidence-based strategies, a really big focus on just improving overall mental health. 

When we talk about happiness in this context, we’re talking about improving your mental health. And so Happify is designed specifically with evidence-based strategies and activities that help you to do exactly that.

And then Shine. Shine is an app that is focused specifically on self-care. Again, similar to the previous apps like Happify and SuperBetter, really designed to help you to reduce your stress, reduce your anxiety. 

But the cool thing about this is that you’re actually part of a community. You have accountability buddies that you can work with as you set your goals for actually creating your self-care plan and following through in your self-care plan. And being a part of a community of like-minded folks, people that are on a similar journey, this could be another application to take a look at if you’re looking for that type of support.

All right. So far, so good. Give me a “yes” into the chat if this is making sense, if this is flowing, if people are loving it. So far, so good. And if not, if you have a question or comment, let me know that as well, and then we’ll take an opportunity to pause and see if we can address what those are. 

All right. So it looks like folks are good. Excellent. So we’re going to keep it moving.

The next category is connectivity and relationship. So, if you have a recommendation that you want to add here for connectivity and relationships, this is an opportunity for you to share that. 

And remember that if you are feeling overwhelmed by the volume of apps, not to worry. Again, you’re going to have the recording. You’re going to have the slides. 

And the recommendation I have toward the end in terms of a call to action is for you to just pick one. Just to pick one thing or to pick one strategy to start with. So don’t think you have to do all of them. Just pick one to start with, and that’s perfectly okay. All right?

The other thing someone is asking is, “Are these free?” Many of these are free or low-cost, meaning they have a freemium model, but you can then pay a few dollars extra to get all of the bells and whistles. So, for the most part, I have selected apps that fall into that category. Either they’re free or they’re part of the freemium model.

All right. So connectivity and relationships. This is a new one that I started using that I absolutely loved. Now, I don’t know how many introverts you have out there where sometimes it can feel like an extra heavy lift to respond to text messages or phone calls with friends and family constantly checking in on you, especially during the pandemic. 

And so this particular app, I love it for that reason. It’s called U; Good? And it’s an opportunity for you to just use a one-tap response to check in on people that are really important to you and to indicate how you’re doing. So you can say, “I’m good,” “I’m so-so,” or, “I’m not good.” And if you’re not good, you can indicate, “Call me,” “Text me,” whatever it is that you might need. 

But for folks that don’t feel like having to give a long explanation about how they’re doing and to give a status report, this is a really great app where you can just say, “Hey, I’m good,” or, “No, I’m not good,” and people sort of understand how to direct their energy to be able to support you in the way that works best. 

I found this to be super helpful as an introvert, just to be able to say, “Hey, how are you doing?” And I’ve also found it to be really helpful in a really quick way to get a sense of the pulse of my core group of folks, to just check and say, “Hey, it’s snowing. How are you doing? Give me a status update. Are you good? Are you not good? Do you need help with anything?” Really simple, really easy, really quick to do. Absolutely love it.

Another app that falls into this category is the 5 Love Languages app. Now, many of you might be familiar with the book that this is based on, the framework that was popularized by Gary Chapman. And many of us understand this in the context of romantic relationships. This app, although you can use it for romantic relationships, can also apply to all sorts of relationships. 

And the idea being that if you’re looking for additional support, responding to people in a way that they like to receive love. This app allows you to indicate what those love languages are. And then it prompts you periodically to do things that actually are showing or expressing love and appreciation in a way that the other person is appreciating. 

So, if someone has a love language of words of affirmation and that’s not something that really comes readily to you, the app might prompt you to write a note or to send a postcard to someone so that they’re receiving love in the way that makes the most sense for them. 

So I love the 5 Love Languages app for that reason. Again, you can use it in the romantic context, but you can also use it for all sorts of relationships, be it platonic or even professional relationships.

Donut Bot. So Donut Bot is another Slack plug-in that randomly matches you to people in your organization. So for folks that particularly if you work in a large organization or you’re just really missing that in-person interaction and it’s kind of hard to meet up with people or to do the one-on-ones outside of just your work responsibilities, one of the cool things about Donut Bot is it randomly pairs you with people in your organization so that you can have virtual coffee, you can have virtual tea, and you don’t have to put a lot of effort into thinking about how you actually make that happen. The plug-in automatically does that for you. 

So, if you’re looking for a way to automate that process for your organization to help people feel like they’re not so isolated or disconnected, and you’re using Slack, this could be an awesome plug-in for you to consider for your team or for your organization.

Now, I know that we have lots of folks that are fundraisers that are on the call. And so I wanted to share something that you can do to really sustain those relationships that you have with your colleagues, but also with the folks that are important donors for your organization. They’re Vidyard and Bonjoro. They’re two different apps that do similar things in terms of really allowing you to record and to send really quick personalized videos.

And so one of the ways that you might use this is to actually . . . instead of just sending a text thank-you email, you actually might have the CEO or the person who’s in charge of fundraising or maybe a volunteer record a personalized video that says, “Hey, Steven. Just want to thank you for your donation to Meals on Wheels. It’s going to make a tremendous impact on the work that we’re doing. We really appreciate you.” 

And you’d be surprised at how much that adds a personal touch and it really helps people to see that they’re appreciated, and with the benefit of using one of these tools, that actually can be pretty efficient and streamlined for you to do that.

Loom is another tool that you can use to do this as well. Loom can also be used to do really quick screen captures and screen recordings. So, if you are in a situation where you’re going back and forth trying to support someone, and let’s say you’re doing tech support and you’re trying to figure out what issue someone is having, and they’re not able to adequately describe that in the email, then you can use this to actually have them record their video. They can send it to you, you can watch it, and then you can send them a video back that actually walks them through how to solve whatever the issue is. It’s a screen capture with your voice, your video, and you’re walking them through it. 

So those are the two that I would recommend, the two sets of apps I would recommend in terms of that type of video component, in terms of maintaining your connections. So Vidyard and Bonjoro was the first set, and then Loom is the one that I just mentioned for this particular case study.

All right. So technology distraction. This is the category, technology distraction. If you have an app that you want to recommend for technology distraction, for managing technology distraction, for minimizing it, now will be the opportunity to put those into the chat. 

And as we do that, I actually want to see where we are in terms of our uses. So we’re going to do a poll, poll number two, where I want to just really quickly assess how has the amount of time you’ve spent online changed during COVID-19. So has it increased? Has it stayed the same? Has it decreased? This is an opportunity for us to do that. 

All right. So we have the poll that is out. Again, we’re just taking an opportunity to just check in with folks to see how has your time online changed. Has it increased? Has it decreased in the time of COVID? 

And it looks like for the vast majority of folks . . . so far, as the results are coming in, it looks like folks are saying that it has actually increased. Some folks are saying that it has stayed the same. And then it looks like for a very small percentage . . . actually it looks like one person has indicated that it has actually decreased. I want to talk to this person who says that their time online has decreased, and perhaps many of you do too.

All right. So let’s go ahead and close out the poll. I’ll share the results with you. It looks like we have about 85% of you have said that your time online has actually increased during COVID. About 14% says, “Stayed the same,” and about 1% says that it’s actually decreased. So that is extraordinary and probably not a big surprise to many of us that are out there.

So we’re going to go ahead and get moving. With that being said, I want to share a few of my thoughts about apps that can help you with this particular issue around technology distraction. I’ve seen that some of you have already added some really good recommendations into the chat. So let’s see how well these align.

The first one is Forest App. So I’ve seen this one actually in the chat, and I actually think this is one of my favorites. If you like the idea of gamifying your technology usage, this can be an app that is for you. It is available on Android and Apple, also as a Chrome extension. 

It essentially allows you to set goals around your tech usage and being focused on getting work done. And if you adhere to your goal, then you are able to plant a virtual tree that grows. And if you don’t adhere to that goal, then your tree dies. 

But the cool thing about that is that if you actually adhere to your goal, the organization that actually makes the app partners with a real-life organization to actually plant trees in real life. 

So, if you care about the environment, you want us to have more trees and more clean air and you want to make it a bit of a fun process, it can be a really easy way for you to do that while also increasing your digital wellness.

Another one that I absolutely love, an oldie but a goodie and has actually been improved over time . . . I think it was initially only for Facebook. It’s called News Feed Eradicator and it’s an extension for Chrome that replaces your news feed with an inspiring quote. So there are default quotes that are included into this, and you can also add your own quotes. 

And the cool thing about this is that if you’ve ever had the experience of logging into Facebook, or logging into LinkedIn, and you logged in for a specific purpose, to respond to a message or to look at what’s happening in a particular group and you end up being distracted by the panda videos . . . or maybe you all have seen the rescues of these sea turtles in Texas. You look up like an hour later and you’re like, “Okay, why am I here? What am I doing?” 

So News Feed Eradicator allows you to actually minimize the likelihood of that happening by actually replacing your newsfeed with a quote so that when you log in, you’re not distracted by the newsfeed and you can remember why you were there and you can focus on the task at hand. 

So it’s my understanding that this plug-in has now expanded beyond just Facebook. You can use it for Twitter, for YouTube, LinkedIn, Reddit, and so on. So I use it specifically for Facebook, but if you want to try it out for some of these other options that are available, try it out and let me know how it works out for you. But I absolutely love this one.

And then Stay Focused is another one that I absolutely love. It’s a browser extension that allows you to really budget the amount of time that you’re spending on distracting websites. 

So remember what I said earlier, which is that technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing, right? So spending time on Facebook isn’t a bad thing. Spending time scrolling through news sites isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But if you’re aware that you tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time on those sites and it gets in the way of you getting work done, one of the things you can do, which is what I do, is you just set a budget for how much time you’re going to allow yourself within a 24-hour period to spend on those sites. 

And then what this plugin does is that once your budget expires, you get a pop-up, the website disappears, and it asks you, “Shouldn’t you be working?” And then your time budget resets every 24 hours. So a really simple plug-in. I really love it. You can plug in your distracting websites, and it’s awesome. It’s amazing.

And xTab. So xTab is the last recommendation I have here for technology distraction. This is a free Chrome extension and it really helps you to reduce clutter and distractions by limiting the number of tabs that you have open at any given time. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have the tendency to like open up a gajillion of tabs and I think, “Oh, I’m going to read this later,” or, “I’m going to go look at this later.” It’s like, “Well, are you actually going to do that? Do you actually have the time to do that? Is that actually aligned with what it is you’re trying to do right now? Would that actually make you productive today or is it just something where you’re going to be going down a rabbit hole?” 

And so xTab allows you to set a limit so that you can only open up, let’s say, 10 tabs or 20 tabs at one time. And it really causes you to be conscious and more intentional about how many tabs you have open. And do you actually really need that many tabs open? 

If you are also OCD or you have an issue with digital clutter, this can also be a good tool to help you to really get those things under control.

So let me know. Give me an okay or yes in the chat. So far, so good? We’re going to move into this next category, but I want to just make sure folks are still following along. We’re good. All right. Awesome. 

Again, if you have questions, comments, go ahead and put those in the chat. But it looks like folks are following along, and this is great. Excellent. 

So the category is schedule and task productivity. If you have a recommendation for an app that you want to put into this category, go ahead and put those into the chat. And I’m sure that the folks that are on the call, on the webinar, would appreciate you for that.

So this first one is something that I also saw previously in the chat. It’s called Focusmate. And it’s essentially a platform that facilitates virtual co-working so that you have human accountability. 

One of the things that we know from the science of productivity is that when we have clear goals and when we have actual accountability, we’re actually 100% to 200% more likely to actually follow through on what it is that we say we want to do. 

Focusmate is a platform that facilitates this with 50-minute video sessions. You log in, you set your time, and you’re automatically paired up with someone for 50 minutes. At the start of your session, you introduce yourself, you say what you’re working on, and then you get to work. 

And the idea is that by setting an appointment with someone that you’re going to be accountable for and having someone you’re working with silently in that space, you’re going to be more likely to actually get the work done. 

So you can use a platform like this. You can also do this just on Zoom with your colleagues or with a friend. It doesn’t have to be through Focusmate. But the idea of virtual co-working can actually be really helpful.

And you can also integrate this into your meetings. So how many times have you shown up to a meeting and, for whatever reason, people are overwhelmed and they haven’t had time to do the pre-reading or the pre-prep? Well, what if you built in 15 to 20 minutes on the front end of the meeting and just allow people to silently review the notes or look at the reading, or whatever it is, together? And then after that 15 or 20 minutes is up, then you will move about actually making a decision about whatever it is that you met for. 

So those are some creative ways that you can be more productive, get things done, stay connected, all of those wonderful things.

Another one here is Calendly. So I am a big fan of minimizing the back and forth when it comes to scheduling meetings, especially scheduling one-on-one meetings. And so I’m a big fan of also setting your “office hours” or your hours of availability for meeting with folks on your team or meeting with clients and colleagues. 

Calendly is one of my favorite tools for doing this. It allows you to share a link for your availability, for people to book a time, and it’s really to minimize that back and forth with actually scheduling a meeting. 

And this is one of those tools that is . . . there’s a free version but there’s also a freemium version with other bells and whistles. But it really just minimizes the back and forth. You can get back that hour or that 45 minutes collectively that you spent going back and forth trying to get a time scheduled for a meeting.

And then IdoneThis. So being able to track what you’re doing and how you’re doing is increasingly more important now, especially since we’re working remotely. Many of us are working remotely. We can’t see each other. And one of the questions we have is, “Okay. Well, what are we getting done? What are we accomplishing as a team?” And so using a tool like IdoneThis allows you to actually have a digital dashboard, if you will, to help you to just monitor your big goals and to check off what you’re doing. You can actually see it. 

And there’s actually science behind this. So it’s based on the psychology of small wins. We know that the small wins, the medium wins, the big wins, all of those things matter in terms of us being motivated to continue to do the work, particularly when it’s tedious. So IdoneThis is one app that I recommend as well for this category.

All right. So last category that we have is email tamers. So, if you have an email app that you want to recommend, this is the category that we’re focused on right now, you can go ahead and put those in the chat. I’m going to share with you two of these, and then we’re going to wrap up with some strategies and some Q&A.

So the first one is Unroll.me. If you find that you have been a bit overzealous in subscribing to every newsletter that has ever been created out there and you’re getting so many emails that you’re spending so much time sorting through and you’re trying to figure out what to do, how do you unsubscribe from them, well, Unroll.me is a service that’s free that allows you to mass unsubscribe from all of those emails.

So you can see at a glance, essentially in one place, all the newsletters that you’re subscribed to, all the lists that you’re on, and you can essentially go through and unsubscribe from the ones that you don’t want to be subscribed to. It’s super helpful, right? 

The one thing I will say is that, by default, one of the ways that they make this free is that they sell your anonymized data about your inbox to third parties. So, if you’re going to use this service, I recommend that you opt out of that in your settings. If you decide to use this service, just go ahead and opt out of that if that’s something that is a concern for you.

And then the last thing I’m going to recommend here, I saw someone just mention it in the chat, is Boomerang plug-in for both Gmail and Outlook that allows you to schedule email to be sent later and also to set reminders for following up on email messages. A lot of these features are now being built into Outlook and to Gmail, but nonetheless, I still love Boomerang. So, if you’re looking for a place to start or to experiment with sort of the sending of emails or the setting reminders to follow up, Boomerang can be a good place for you to start.

So now that we’ve done that, I just want to share that all of this, when we talk about digital wellness, as I mentioned at the top of the training, isn’t about bashing technology. It’s about recognizing that technology can be a tool to help us to have a better digital wellbeing but also to actually make us more productive at work and at home, but we have to be intentional about how we’re using it. 

And so I want to share really briefly a framework for that and some strategies, and we’ll be able to take some questions. So, if you have questions, go ahead and start to queue those up in the Q&A box and we’ll make sure that we can address as many of those as we possibly can.

At the end of the day, if you want to be productive, you have to actually know where you’re going. And so you want to be able to set your intention for your day and for your week. Setting your intention is sort of like setting the destination for your GPS. For many of us, we can feel like we’re moving on autopilot and that we’re busy and that we’re exhausted and that we’re checking things off, but are we actually moving in the right direction? So you want to make sure that you’re setting your intention. 

You want to make space for your priorities, and some of the tools that we talked about today actually help you to make space to do exactly that. 

Blocking distractions. Some of the tools we talked about are specific for that. 

Once you’ve set your intention, once you have made space for your priorities that are actually aligned with your intention, and you’re actually making a concerted effort to block out the distractions so that you can focus on those priorities, then you’re setting yourself up to actually do good work and to live your life and to be impactful. At the end of the day, we actually want to have a life of meaning, and that’s really what this is all about.

So here are some concrete strategies that I recommend as a place to start if you’re looking for how to actually make this more practical. 

The first is to reclaim your commute time. For many of us, we have repurposed what was our commute time to actually do more work and to take on more personal responsibility. I’m going to encourage you to take back that time, if that’s something that you’ve done, and to create a start and stop ritual for your day. 

So, for me, that includes prayer, meditation, physical fitness before I start my day, writing in my journal. And at the end of my day, I close my laptop and then I close my door, and that signals the end of my workday. 

So think about what’s going to be your start-stop ritual for yourself, be it walking the dog, having coffee, having tea, exercising, whatever that might be, and put it on your calendar. Make a commitment to yourself to actually do that.

The second is you actually want to plan your day. Many of us jump into our day first thing in the morning. We check our email, we’re looking at news, and we’re looking at social media. But we don’t really have a clear idea of what’s really important. We’re just reacting to what’s being thrown at us. And one of the reasons we’re doing it is because we haven’t taken the time to plan our day and to plan our week. 

Now, I have a plan that I’ve developed to help with this process, so you can use a tool like this or some other tool. I’m also a big proponent of actually doing this by hand, although you can use other tools. I use a to-do list tracker, for example, as a complimentary tool, but my primary tool is pen and paper. But whatever tool you use, find something that works for you in terms of actually planning your day and planning your week.

Practice social distancing from your technology. And this includes charging your technology outside of your bedroom, having a bedtime for your devices as a family outside of your bedroom so that you are able to get a quality night’s sleep and you’re not distracted by your devices first thing in the morning. You’re actually able to wake up and have a bit more spaciousness and able to start your day with a little less stress and anxiety as you move throughout your days and your weeks.

And then the final strategy I’m going to recommend here is to establish what I call your rules of engagement, particularly since we’re working remotely. One of the challenges that we have right now is that many of us feel guilty for getting up and going to walk the dog, or going to the grocery store in the middle of the day, or changing your kids diaper, or whatever it might be. 

And one of the ways that we can address that is by actually just having a set of expectations and a clear conversation with our loved ones, with our friends, and with our colleagues that really just sort of spells out, “When are you going to be available for work? “When is it the best to reach you if something is urgent versus non-urgent? Which tools should we be using? Should we be using email? Should we be using Slack? What are our expectations around response times?” 

Having a discussion about these things, spelling these things out, really makes a big difference in terms of lowering your anxiety level and lowering the anxiety level of the people in your life and in your work.

So, as we begin to wrap up, I want to just encourage you to think about what’s one new app you will give a try, what’s one new strategy you will try. And you can go ahead and let me know in the chat. So let me know in the chat what’s one new app you want to try or one new strategy that you will try. Go ahead and put that in the chat as we’re wrapping up so we can hold you accountable for that. 

And as we’re doing that, I want to share a few ways that you can stay connected.

The first is I know that we’re still at the top of the year, and so if you’re looking for support with getting your plan together, I put together a free workbook to help you do that. You can get that at mindfultechie.com/lifeplanning. 

And as part of this, there is a work-life balance, tech-life balance assessment that you can take. You’ll get a score and that score will give you an indication of what next steps you need to take as you’re planning the rest of your year to have a better work-life and a better tech-life balance.

The other thing I want to share with you is that when you sign up to get this life-planning guide, you’re going to be one of the first people notified when I launch my wellness app directory later this spring. 

So I have essentially been working to pull together what I think are the best apps to support our productivity, mindfulness, wellness, all of those things. And once it’s complete, if you’re on the email list, when you download the life-planning guide, you’re going to be among the first to actually get access to that directory. It’ll be absolutely free, but if you want to be notified about it when it becomes available, go ahead and get the life-planning guidebook. You’ll be on the email list and you’ll be notified once it’s available.

So, with that being said, I want to just put my contact information on the screen and turn it over to Steven to see if we have any questions from folks.

Steven: Meico, man, my phone is white hot from downloading all these apps. I think it’s probably going to explode, which may be counter-intuitive. But dang, this was awesome. I hadn’t heard of any of those apps, except maybe Calm, which occurred to me I have not used since the pandemic began. I used to use it all the time because I used to travel a lot prior to March. But I need to get back on that, so thank you. This was awesome. I hope it was as helpful for everyone else as it was for me personally, as someone who spends too much time on the computer. 

Meico and I were talking before, but we love doing webinars that are a little bit different from the typical fundraising advice you can get out there, which is all good, but I really hope folks got some value out of this, because we want to help. We want to help the whole person, not just the fundraising element.

So, yeah, we’ve got time for questions. We’ve got probably four or five minutes for questions. 

Anonymous one here that I was interested in your take, Meico. “Is there a particular timeframe per day, per week, that you recommend people unplug?” Is there some formula or percentage or ratio that you recommend people kind of undertake? An hour a day, or 10% of your day? What do you think there?

Meico: First of all, I don’t think there’s a right percentage. It’s going to be variable depending on the person. As a starting place, I share this mantra called “eat, poop, and sleep.” 

Steven: Love it.

Meico: So, when you’re eating, when you’re pooping, and when you’re sleeping, I think those are at least three opportunities that we can have to be disconnected from our devices. 

And if you want to build on to that, before bed and in the morning as you’re starting your day. So, if you think about maybe a half hour to an hour before bedtime, you’re shutting off your devices. Maybe your first half hour, your first hour of the day is without your devices, and you combine it with the “eat, poop, and sleep,” that’s a good place to start in terms of finding that balance.

Steven: I love that. Yeah, my wife and I have a rule no cell phones in the bedroom. It’s not allowed, so that helps with the sleeping. It’s easy to wake up and grab it.

Meico: Yeah. And that’s a great strategy if you find that you’re waking up and grabbing your device first thing in the morning, yeah.

Steven: Leave it in the car.

Meico, as I was learning more about you in the past weeks, there are a lot of awesome resources on your website for parents specifically. And a few people in the chat have asked about, “A lot of us have kids that are also stuck at home. We’re working. We’re trying to manage maybe homeschooling or virtual learning.” I don’t know about you folks, but I have a 9-year-old that . . . more screen time than he has ever gotten in the past year. 

Any tips? Are there things that maybe parents and kids can do together, or is there a way for them to participate? I know not everyone is a parent, so I apologize for that, but it just occurred to me, and a couple other people were asking. Any tips there?

Meico: And for caregivers. Absolutely. So there are two things. One is I think you can use maybe the rules of engagement, for example, that I talked about to have a discussion with your kid about what your values are as a family, and to talk about what type of screen time actually aligns with those values. I think that’s one place to start. And involve your kid in the process of co-creating that.

The second thing, I would say is to give yourself and give your kids some grace, recognizing that our children are experiencing a lot of change and disruption too. And so we want to recognize and acknowledge that. 

I would be focused less on the increase in screen time and be focused more on the quality of that screen time. So I think it’s okay to acknowledge that, as we’re trying to adjust to whatever this new normal is, screen time may have increased. That might not necessarily be a bad thing. Again, you want to put some parameters in, like best time for your device is not first thing in the morning, perhaps not in the bedroom. 

But using the first part of my answer, the discussion about your values and the screen time that aligns with those values, to have a discussion about the quality of your screen time and maybe have less arguments about how much screen time you have, if that makes any sense.

Steven: Yeah, I love that. And I love “the quality over the quantity.” That makes a lot of sense too. 

What about us as managers? I manage a couple people. Maybe some of the other people listening have a team of people that looks up to them. What can they do to be maybe mindful? Is it a matter of not sending emails after hours? I mean, I’m hugely guilty of that and I try to tell people I don’t expect a response, but maybe I should stop. Is it that simple? What are some other things that you think maybe managers can do to lower that anxiety?

Meico: I think you’re spot-on. So managers have a lot of leeway in terms of setting the tone for the team. And I think you can use the rules of engagement to actually have a discussion about when you expect people to be available and which tools you’re going to use to communicate when something is urgent versus non-urgent. 

What is actually urgent versus non-urgent? Let people know they have permission to go walk their dog during the day and not feel like they’re letting a team down if they’re not able to respond to a Slack message within five minutes, or whatever it is. 

So I think having those open discussions and figuring out what people need and making adjustments to that.

And then to your point specifically about sending the emails, I recommend that if you are the kind of person like me where you’re sometimes working outside of traditional business hours, consider leaving it in draft mode or just pre-scheduling it to go out the next day during a typical business hour. 

What happens is you send the email and you say, “Oh, I don’t need a response,” but you’re not taking into account the fact that there is a relationship dynamic where even though you’re saying that you don’t need a response, it’s like, “Oh, well, I don’t want my boss to think I’m a slacker. So, if I see this, I have to respond.” And if they don’t respond, then there’s like this anxiety in the background about, “Well, I’ve got to respond to this thing first thing in the morning.” 

So you can just lower everyone’s stress level by just keeping it in the draft mode, not sending it, or just scheduling it to go out the next day, especially if it’s not urgent.

Steven: Yeah. All right. I’ll do this scheduling. You all can hold me accountable, I’m pledging now in this recorded public setting to stop doing that. 

What about the other side of the coin? If you are being managed and you want to set boundaries, is there a way to communicate that to your boss in a way that is productive and may not cause anxiety for them?

Meico: Yeah. So, if you’re on this webinar, you can say, “Hey, I was on this webinar. I heard about these rules of engagement. I’m curious if we could have a discussion about what that would look like for our team.” And you could actually walk through the questions and have it be a collaborative process. 

So it’s not like you’re dictating to your boss, “I’m only going to do this between these hours.” But you’re just saying, “Hey, I just want to get a sense of where your head is. What’s the reasonable response time for an email or a Slack message?” or whatever it is, and, “Do you expect me to be available on weekends? Let’s have a discussion about what that actually looks like.”

Steven: That’s why we record these, because you can send it to your boss and be like, “Hey, we should do this.” I love it. Yeah, tell him to come talk to me or Meico. We’ll set him straight. 

This was awesome. It’s 3:00. I want to be respectful of time, keeping on the themes. Any last thoughts, Meico? Where can people get a hold of you and learn more?

Meico: Yeah. So my information . . . mindfultechie.com is my website. People can find me on Instagram and on LinkedIn. If you get the planner, mindfultechie.com/lifeplanning, it’s a digital planning workbook. You’re going to be on the email list. You’ll be able to stay in contact and learn about all the new things, including the app directory that I mentioned.

Steven: Yeah, we’ll connect you with him. And I think you’ll want to check out some of those courses if this was any indication of the quality there. And I’m sure it is. So this was awesome. I’m so glad we got introduced, Meico, and glad we made it happen. Thanks for doing this.

Meico: Absolutely. I appreciate the invitation, and I thank everyone for just being so warm and welcoming.

Steven: Yeah, thanks to all of you for taking an hour. We’ve got a great session coming up in exactly one week, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, our buddy Christal Cherry. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been kind of doing a little bit of a self-care theme this month. And she’s got a really great session on how to sort of align your personal values with the work you do at your nonprofit, or perhaps finding somewhere that aligns a little bit better. 

So, if maybe you’re feeling that friction, join us. That’s going to be a really cool session. Christal is a good buddy of ours. Really awesome, dynamic presenter. And that one will be a lot of fun. 

So, if you’re free, join us. If you’re not, we will be recording it as always, and we’ll get that to you even if you don’t attend. You can register for that. We’ll still get you your recording.

Speaking of, we will be sending out this recording, the slides, and you’ll definitely be able to connect with Meico later on. 

So we’ll call it a day there. Look for all that good stuff from me. Hopefully, we will see you on our session next week. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Stay safe, stay warm, stay healthy out there. We need you all and all the great work you do. So please take care of yourselves, and we will talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.
Kristen Hay