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Second Glance

With all of the distractions that we face every single moment of these overly informed, visually over-saturated, social media/Internet-driven modern day lives, it’s hard to stay focused.

When it comes to creation of any kind– whether it’s art/writing/design/fashion/music…  I think a good rule of thumb is to attempt to make it worth the second read, a second glance, a second visit, a second listen– worth a second second in a world in which time is everything.

Personally, this theory translates to my everyday life decisions. Don’t do anything that’s just not worth your precious seconds. Here’s to staying true to yourself, and to having integrity in everything you do.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” -Cecil Beaton

Image via: Tang Yau Hoong

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Storyteller and Virgo

LA-based social media marketer and brand journalist Mani O’Brien spends her downtime raising a small human and ranting on this blog. Here you’ll find frequent cursing, a self-indulgent analysis of her 30-something existence as a wife, mother, Millennial, digital marketer and astrology-obsessed feminist.

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Second Glance

With all of the distractions that we face every single moment of these overly informed, visually over-saturated, social media/Internet-driven modern day lives, it’s hard to stay focused.

When it comes to creation of any kind– whether it’s art/writing/design/fashion/music…  I think a good rule of thumb is to attempt to make it worth the second read, a second glance, a second visit, a second listen– worth a second second in a world in which time is everything.

Personally, this theory translates to my everyday life decisions. Don’t do anything that’s just not worth your precious seconds. Here’s to staying true to yourself, and to having integrity in everything you do.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” -Cecil Beaton

Image via: Tang Yau Hoong

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Another Year, Another Fucking Blog

I’ll admit that I’m a failed blogger. And yet I can’t help to do it, so here we are. I don’t know how in my 33 years of living (especially during the 17 of which was under the roof of my late-poet-father) I’ve never heard this quote by William Faulkner until recently – “If a story is in you it has to come out.”

The phrase sums up the reason I’m here, typing this. Writing literally haunts me. Call it compulsive or whatever. I’ve journaled consistently since I was eight years old and writing to me is the equivalent to my coffee or alcohol consumption. I suppose I could live without writing, but it would take a convulsive detoxing process. Just kidding about the alcohol thing (I think). The point is, I can’t help but write. It’s a bit of a curse, really.

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10 Phrases to Replace Saying “Sorry”

It’s time to eliminate “sorry” from your repertoire. Lena Dunham touched on an all-too-familiar feeling in a recent essay Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction on a topic that so many of us can relate to.

 

“Apologizing is a modern plague and I’d be willing to bet (though I have zero scientific research to back this up) that many women utter ‘I’m sorry’ more on a given day than ‘Thank You’ and ‘You’re Welcome’ combined,” she says.

In fact, there have been studies on this very topic, according to Psychology Today. A recent set of studies conducted by Karina Schumann and Michael Ross found that female participants apologized more in their daily lives than male participants.

“Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offenses. There was no gender difference in the proportion of offenses that prompted apologies. This finding suggests that men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior.”

A classic example I see in the workplace is when during a discussion, someone misinterprets what’s being said. Often women will address miscommunications of this nature with “sorry, let me clarify,” when a simple “actually, let me clarify” would do. What’s up with that, ladies? Why do we feel the urge to apologize for our very existence? Let’s stop this madness and assert ourselves, please.

Women reported offering more apologies than men, but they also reported committing more offenses.

Muse writer Angeline Evans chimed in on the topic on why such behavior is problematic especially in the workplace.

“Picking and choosing what missteps are worthy of an apology demonstrates your grasp (or lack) of professional judgment,” she says. “If you offer the same effusive apology for not bringing a notepad to a meeting as you do for missing an important deadline, you’re essentially putting the two gaffes on the same level, though they’re not even close.”

 

I like to stay solution-oriented which is why I appreciated The Everygirl’s Lyndsay Rush’s suggestions in her piece Stop Apologizing: We’re Ending the Harmful Habit who shared these steps to begin weening yourself away from apology addiction:

4 Steps for Eliminating “Sorry”

1. Spend a day keeping track of your sorries. (Or, just take mental notes over time)

2. Ask yourself what you really want to express.

3. Know when a real apology is warranted.

To this list, I’d like to add my own step…

4. Use these alternative phrases 

It’s nice to have an arsenal of word tracks to choose from to eliminate such a long-standing habit. I’m convinced you can get rid of “sorry” altogether, no matter the circumstance.

For me, I’ve found that the best everyday replacement to “sorry” is simply “thank you.” For example, when I know someone has been waiting a long time for an email response from me, instead of beginning a reply email with “Sorry it took me so long to get back to you,” I’ll start by saying “Thank you for your patience.”

“Picking and choosing what missteps are worthy of an apology demonstrates your grasp (or lack) of professional judgment.” –Angeline Evans

I’ve actually been working on this habit for years, due in part to my little brother’s advice who advised me long ago to simply use the phrase “I apologize” in situations that truly warrant it. These are a few of my preferred go-tos in such cases:

Below is a complete list of alternative phrases to use inclusive of those pictured in this post. I know I promised only 10 but, congrats! You get a bonus list of 10 additional ideas for alternative phrases to replace “sorry” below. Did I miss any? What tips have you used to avoid saying “sorry” when it’s unnecessary? Let me know in the comments or better yet, tweet me. For the record, I catch myself saying “sorry” constantly. It’s a work in progress.

20 Phrases to Replace Saying “Sorry”

  1. It’s unfortunate that…
  2. Unfortunately…
  3. It’s too bad that…
  4. I’d like to apologize…
  5. Excuse me…
  6. Pardon me…
  7. How sad for you…
  8. I sympathize with your frustration…
  9. What a shame that…
  10. Forgive my oversight…
  11. I regret that…
  12. This situation fills me with regret…
  13. Yes, absolutely…
  14. I must admit that…
  15. It was not my intent…
  16. Actually, no…
  17. Thank you for your patience…
  18. How sad for you that (this) happened…
  19. I am unhappy about the inconvenience you’ve been caused
  20. This situation has filled me with regret…

5 Apps to Stay Organized in a Crazy, Over-Informed World

I’ll admit, I have a problem. A problem with absorbing and digesting information from the Internet. You’re here, too, huh? Welcome. Pull up a chair– I’m listening. I’m not here to judge you. Let’s all admit the truth of our Internet behavior, shall we? While we all publicly pretend like it’s shameful to waste time spiraling down the rabbit hole that is your social media news feed, you know as well as I do that we privately relish in doing so.

Trust me, I’m no stranger to discussing the tragic downfall of our narcissistic, over-indulgent, socially inept, headline-skimming civilization as shaped by our passive surrender to our technology (Text Neck is an epidemic, people). But, I’m a storyteller and as such, I love reading stories. And never in the history of mankind have we been able to share and absorb stories in the way we do now. My job in digital marketing doesn’t help the obsession, either. It’s my duty to be up-to-date on the currently trending videos and Bey gossip, along with current world affairs #amIright? I often get lost in the soft glow of my screens, exploring the depths of Buzzfeed News articles, perusing the archives of typography blogs, and binge-listening to NPR podcasts. It’s glorious and I love it. There, I said it. I fucking love the Internet, okay?

Can we all just admit how great it is to be able to read and devour so much great information on a daily basis? Great. Now that we’ve cleared that up… let me help you make your Internet consumption more organized.

The digital revolution has allowed us to consume information in such abundance that it’s overwhelming. To stay organized and relatively sane, I’d like to share my top five favorite tools to keep your digital life in order. Note that I am not being paid to endorse any of these companies and I do not take responsibility for feeding your Internet addiction.

While we all publicly pretend like it’s shameful to waste time spiraling down the rabbit hole that is your social media news feeds, you know as well as I do that we privately relish in doing so.

“It’s my duty as a marketer and Millennial to be up-to-date on the currently trending videos and Bey gossip, along with current world affairs #amIright?”

5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Pocket

1) Pocket

Use for: super easy bookmarking
URL: getpocket.com

When I first became a blogger, I found it challenging to deal with the pre-built Bookmarks options available in your browser, which is essential for keeping track of ideas and websites that I admire. It’s sort of sad that I can’t quite configure my browser settings to truly understand how they function properly– but really, who does? I blame it on the Dark Ages of the Internet– the dial-up modem era– during which time I can only assume that I tried to use Bookmarking for the first time, only to be met with confusion. Enter Pocket.

Pocket is an app and a website that offers the most seamless way I’ve found to Bookmark my favorite articles. It’s also synced with Twitter, Feedly and a few other tools that I use on the daily. Basically you copy/paste URLs of articles that you want to save and reference again later. You can categorize your articles and archive old articles you’ve already read. The articles are also readable without Internet access via the app, which is perfect for my commute on the train. I also installed it as a Google Chrome extension which makes it super easy to save when perusing on my computer. Below is a snapshot of my actual Pocket dashboard. I’m sure there might be a better way to organize the articles within the app, but I’m too lazy to dedicate that much time to my bookmarking game.

 

5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Pocket
5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Feedly

2) Feedly

Use for: subscribing to your favorite websites
URL: feedly.com

It seems like such a short time ago that Google decided to retire its RSS feed function. This was a proper first-world tragedy to me at the time as I had painstakingly curated numerous feeds of posts being published by my fave websites altogether in one place. But, then came Feedly. While Pocket is for saving only content worth remembering, Feedly is for skimming the headlines of new content being published on your favorite websites across the Internet. The dashboard is beautifully designed and easy to use. You can categorize your website feeds and adjust how you browse headlines (below is an example of the “magazine” view). By organizing all your feeds into one place, you can skim all your content all at once sans advertising, and Bookmark your favorites via Pocket. Here’s a look at my dashboard:

 

5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Feedly
5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Dropbox

3) Dropbox

Use for: saving and sharing files
URL: dropbox.com

Isn’t it funny how long we’ve been able to send files via email? Right now we live in a time where Internet users can be divided in two camps: those who are still struggling to figure out what the paperclip-shaped attachment icon in their Hotmail dashboard is for, and those who have moved on to more seamless cloud-sharing applications.

It seems to me that Dropbox has almost become a universally adopted tool, but maybe that’s might only be true for the design community. There are a lot of other great file-sharing tools out there (Google Drive and Box, for example… the latter of which is not a nickname for Dropbox as I originally thought), but there are a few features that Dropbox offers that has the one-up on some of the others, for my use anyway.  Dropbox is for uploading, organizing, transferring and sharing files like photos, videos, documents and more. I pay for the upgraded version because I tend to work with a lot of high res images and video so it only makes sense. The key to maximizing your Dropbox usage is to make sure to download the app in addition to using the browser login. Working in social media means that I have to snap and share a ton of photos and videos constantly. Using the Dropbox app is helpful for uploading photos en masse to folders that my staff also has access to. I think that Box and Google Drive offer the same options, but I find that the average use has an easier time navigating, if not stumbling, around Dropbox to successfully download files that you’re trying to share with them. Less questions for me, which make it worth recommending. Even if you’re not in digital marketing, I find Dropbox a much easier way to share files vs. the dreaded email attachment.

Here’s a look at the Drobpox online dashboard… pulled from Dropbox’s website [and without their permission… I hope they don’t mind seeing as how I’m totally endorsing them].

5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Evernote

4) Evernote

Use for: saving notes, voice memos and more
URL: evernote.com

I can’t get enough of this app. Evernote is the best place to organize all of your notes and ideas, especially if you compulsively write at the volume that I do. They recently announced a partnership with Google Drive, and has offered the ability to collaborate for a while now. All notes can be tagged and organized into folders, and the app syncs to your online dashboard. You can also add reminders and tasks within your notes directly, upload images, sketch and allegedly, you can also transcribe voice memos… although I haven’t yet tried this feature. I find this better than the default “Notes” iPhone app that we all tend to use, primarily because it’s super easy to pull up your notes online or on your computer if you download the app to your desktop, too.

5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Evernote
5 Digital Tools to Stay Organized: Asana

5) Asana

Use for: project planning
URL: asana.com

One day I’ll write my manifesto all about the evils of email communication and the inefficiencies that our inboxes have brought upon our work lives. While I’m not trying to damper this oh-so-helpful blog post with a rant, suffice to say, I loathe my inbox. Enter the game-changer that is Asana.

This app can be used in so many ways and honestly I’m still sorting out how to use all of its features. In short, you can create projects with categorized tasks, assignees and deadlines and within each task. You  can upload attachments, create sub-tasks, and write public comments to communicate with your team members about the specific task at hand. Asana syncs up with Dropbox and Google Drive and offers a number of other add-ons. You can drag and drop tasks across your calendar and also view the entire team calendar (if you want to grant that level of access). For someone who manages multiple projects that involve between three to six people, this has seriously been a godsend to my work life… although you could use it for personal projects as well. I can’’t recommend this product enough.

What did I miss?

I’d love to know what apps have made your digital life easier and more organized! If you liked this article, please leave a comment below and share it with your friends.

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Digital Storyteller

Mani O’Brien lives in Los Angeles and is the founder of The Stellar Blog. She believes in good old-fashioned quality when it comes to producing content.

TheSkimm A.K.A Your Daily Dose of World News in Five Minutes or Less

Morning routine: Alarm goes off, you press ‘snooze’ three times, disentangle yourself from the web of blankets, sheets, and (sometimes) your child’s arms, legs and hair wrapped around you (bunny trail: does your 7-year-old still manage to crawl into your bed at night?), and then roll over to check (in no particular order):

-Facebook
-Twitter
-Instagram
-Snapchat
-Texts

Before you know it, you are racing the clock to get yourself together (did I put mascara on both eyes, or just my right?), get your child fed, dressed (matching socks? NOPE!) and packed to school/daycare in order to make it to work on time.

Between work, children, family, life and social media it’s likely (like us) you don’t make time to peruse the web to stay up-to-date on the news, politics, or what’s happening in the world. Perhaps like us (until recently) your daily dose of current events have been limited to small snippets of your mouthy politically-minded Facebook friends when they decide to rant and rave on your News Feed…or the occasional trending Buzzfeed quiz.

Current events?

Ain't nobody got time for that

Well, as the first recommendation for Life Hack Mondays, take this advice:

STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND SUBSCRIBE to theSkimm.

Self-described:

“theSkimm is the daily e-mail newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day. We do the reading for you – across subject lines and party lines – and break it down with fresh editorial content.”

Our take:

TheSkimm is an easy, entertaining and best of all QUICK read that catches you up to speed on the biggest headlines around the world. Hyperlinks infused throughout give the option for more detailed insight for the stories that pique our interest, and witty headlines make for a captivating experience.

We also love the platform and origination: “two ‘twentysomething’ gals with a passion for writing, embarking on a new path to engage readers in journalism through a medium that fits our generation’s lifestyle.” YOU GO, GIRLS.

It’s easy to fit this reading in– after the snooze button, but prior to Instagram. And trust us– it’s proven helpful to know what’s going on in the world prior to that 9 a.m. conference call, where you can be the ‘informed’ party in that awkward pre-call small talk.

Check it out. And note that this is not a sponsored post by TheSkimm. Although that would be awesome.

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