Setting a social media intention to boost your productivity

Procrastination – we’ve all been there. If you’re anything like me, at one point or another, you’ve made excuses to avoid tackling those pesky tasks on your To-Do list. Unfortunately, this kind of chronic behaviour will inevitably push you deeper into a productivity rut that can feel impossible to climb out of. 

Image by rosario nunez from Unsplash.

It’s an inconvenient truth that your productivity will suffer due to procrastination. Life has a transactional quality – you put in what you get out. You reap what you sow.

The good news? The first step to forming good habits is being self-aware enough to recognize which behaviours are holding you back. The fact you’re reading this blog is a good indication that you’ve reached this stage – congratulations!

I’m willing to bet that most people who are aware of their bad social media habits are having trouble changing them. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a lot easier said than done… here’s part of the reason why:

The Mobile (Dis)advantage

Before the advent of mobile social media smartphone applications in the 2010s, it was easier to control our social media intake since it was limited to our desktop computers and laptops.

Nowadays we carry our smartphone devices everywhere: home, work, school, the bus, the gym, etc. With social media applications at our fingertips, it’s easy to get sideswept from an important project or personal goal when we’re constantly pinged with notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn – you name it.

When you think about it, there is nothing natural about being tethered to our devices, with our heads down and disengaged from the world. We feel extreme pressure to be online and attainable everywhere we go, because that’s the norm/

This is no accident. Social media platforms have heavily invested in establishing this learned human behaviour. The algorithms are literally designed to hook you. Not only that – content itself is strategically designed by Communications specialists (like myself) to dazzle and engage its audience.

Sometimes it can feel like you’re being pulled in many different directions, leaving you unfulfilled, frazzled and anxious. It’s hard to avoid in the 21st century unless you turn your phone on ‘Do not Disturb’ mode or lose service altogether.

Alternatively, you can set clear boundaries and stick to them.

Image by Nicholas Santoianni from Unsplash.

The Challenge

You’re probably sick of hearing the term setting your intentions from those woo-woo, new age social influencers. I’m aware of how cheesy it sounds, but trust me – it really works!

Make sure that when you use social media, you’re doing it with a set intention in mind. Like any goal, you want to make sure that it’s specific, realistic, and time bound. Here’s a few examples:

I will only use social media to wind down after work and to develop a professional network.

This intention statement is too vague. It’s very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of consuming endless low-quality stimuli while rotating through your favourite social media platforms. Set yourself up for success!

I will only use social media for thirty minutes each day to implement my business’s social media strategy and to check-in with my loved ones

This is an excellent example of an effective intention statement. Not only is it specific, realistic, and time bound – it also links to truly fulfilling aspects of your life (i.e. your professional goals and personal relationships).

Practice makes perfect – when you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling or preparing to open a new tab, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the action I’m taking right now align with my social media intention? Be mindful.Once you get your head out of the game it’s hard to get back into the growth mindset!
  • Does it really align? Or am I just making excuses for myself? A lesson I had to learn: lurking your LinkedIn feed ≠ establishing a professional network or personal brand. Tread carefully!
  • How can I modify my behaviour to better align with my intention? Instead of opening up Facebook purposelessly, how about you shoot Grandma a message? It’s been too long…

It’s not going to be easy. The hardest part about breaking bad habits is replacing them with new ones. Believe that you can pull yourself out of that creative rut and spark a state of flow… and it will happen! After all, you reap what you sow.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

Just remember: you’ll survive without that hit of dopamine from your Instagram feed!

Now I’m curious… what’s your social media intention? Let me know in the comment section below!

FacebookThe COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to hunker down whether we like it or not. It’s the perfect time harness your productivity by setting a social media intention.
Read Michaela’s guide to creating a social media intention statement here! [Embed article in post]
TwitterHas your social media use been affecting your productivity? A social media intention can help. Learn more here:

Lonelygirl15: Youtube Hoax & Pioneer of Internet Television

Have you ever heard of Lonelygirl15? Unless you were visiting Youtube in 2006, probably not.

Youtube in 2006 [Source]

A channel created just sixteen months after Youtube’s launch, Lonelygirl15 existed in a time where Youtube was in its infancy – as was the concept of vlogging. Next to its logo, the website encouraged its users to “Broadcast Yourself”, giving a platform for amateur creators to reach wider audiences.

This was Youtube long before it was acquired by Google. This was Youtube long before any video hit one million views. This was Youtube before their Partner Program was launched, paving the way for creators to make money from the content they posted.  And don’t get me started on the Generation Z takeover!

Most importantly, the community was very, very small in 2006.

It didn’t take long for word to spread about a cute, quirky, teenage girl vlogging from her bedroom – Lonelygirl15, also known as Bree. It’s so difficult to reconcile this intimate Youtube community with the overwhelmingly huge one we know today.

Thousands of Youtube influencers and gurus have made full-time careers from their content creation. There seems to be a niche for everyone – whether it be makeup, video games, reaction videos, or just people looking into a camera and speaking from their heart. For popular channels, corporate sponsorships are ubiquitous and are seen as a natural part of the business model.

That wasn’t the case in 2006. As one of those early Youtubers, I can attest that people flocked to Youtube to escape the packaged content and advertising found in the mainstream media. There was real value and trust invested in the organic content that people watched on the website.

The Lonelygirl15 concept (LG15) – or hoax, as many would call it – was engineered by Miles Beckett and Mesh Flinders to take advantage of this unique environment. LG15 pioneered many norms of contemporary Youtube. It’s a story worth exploring that no one seems to know about… here’s what happened:

A Girl and a Camera

On May 24th, 2006 the Lonelygirl15 channel posted its first video – which didn’t include Bree. In order to seem authentic, the first few videos uploaded were reaction videos to popular Youtube videos at the time.

Eventually, Bree made her first on-camera appearance a few weeks later. Her early videos were light-hearted, and users were drawn to her quirky and relatable sense of humour. Bree gradually began providing more details about her personal life beyond her purple monkey puppet named P. Monkey.

She introduced her viewers to her best friend Daniel, who was often seen aloof in the background lying on her bed reading magazines. Also, Bree slowly started to open up about conflict with her parents, specifically regarding her freedom and friendship with Daniel. Seems like a normal subject for a sheltered teenage girl to get upset about, right?

Bree started to hint at her family’s religion as the source of her arguments with her parents. Her friend Daniel also started creating content on a separate channel, talking about his frustrations regarding the situation

As viewers learned more about Bree’s personal life, they felt increasingly attached and concerned for her. However, some people began to suspect that the melodrama was too good to be true… the community began to speculate whether Lonelygirl15 could all be a ruse.

If so, why?

The Hoax and its Backlash

Every detail from Bree’s videos began to be inspected under a microscope: the items in her bedroom, the video editing, and the fact she never addressed any of the intrigue directly. Beckett and Flinders knew that it was only a matter of time before the truth came out.

Eventually, sleuths from the community and real journalists pulled the pieces together after actress, Jessica Lee Rose’s Myspace page was located. Bree, Daniel, P. Monkey, and everything discussed in the Lonelygirl15 videos turned out to be a lie. All the silliness, all the teenage angst, all of the community engagement – fake.

Screenshot from ‘First Blog / Dorkiness Prevails

Many in the community were unhappy about being duped. Traditional media reported on this with great interest, seeing it as a brilliant and groundbreaking form of new media. Although the media coverage gave the Youtube channel a larger audience, many felt jaded and taken advantage of.

The LG15 Universe: The Truth will Set You Free

Although there was powerful backlash from the community for coming clean, the truth allowed Beckett and Flinders to expand their storyline and the overall LG15 universe.

Bree’s storyline could now become more far-fetched – she documented how she was selected for “The Ceremony”, a mysterious ritual that’s part of her family’s religion. Eventually it’s revealed that she has “Trait Positive” blood, which when infused to another person gives that person everlasting life and “The Ceremony” was the religious rite of draining her blood, thus killing Bree.

Bree eventually has to go on the run from her religion, and the show took a new, action-packed direction, integrating new characters and plotlines. This new direction led to canon spin-offs, including a UK-based series called KateModern and an Alternate Reality Game called OpAphid.

There continued to be strong community engagement, as evidenced by the LGWiki that was created to solve mysteries in the LG15 Universe and point out Easter Eggs as videos were released. KateModern took this to a whole other level, with London fans interacting with the characters in real-time to solve a mystery!

Vlogging as we Know it

The notoriety that the LG15 Universe gained attracted corporate sponsorships and product placements by prominent brands (such as: Icebreakers Sour Gum, Toyota, Neutrogena, Skittles, Bebo, etc.) in their videos.

Screenshot from ‘Truckstop Reunion

This was revolutionary, as product placement in Youtube videos was virtually unheard of, and the Youtube Partner Program had not yet been launched. This was one of the first ways that creators were able to make money off of Youtube.

Through their creative ingenuity, Beckett and Flinders were able to pave the way for today’s Youtube creators that thrive on Youtube using the very techniques they pioneered. Nowadays, the community doesn’t see fictional content or corporate sponsorship as taboo or groundbreaking – it’s the norm.

When I think of the early days of Youtube, I think of Lonelygirl15 and the intrigue she inspired. It’s been truly fascinating to witness the evolution of the website and watch it become a beast of its own.

My question to you is: how long have you been watching Youtube, and what changes have you seen noticed over the years?

Facebook postIt all turned out to be a hoax. But people kept watching.

Read Michaela’s blog on how early Youtube channel Lonelygirl15 paved the way for contemporary content creation on the platform.
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TweetDo you remember Lonelygirl15? Find out about the hoax that pioneered Youtube vlogging as we know it:

Five Action Items to prepare for our first COVID winter

Hello everyone!

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall, meaning that the days will be getting increasingly cold and dark.

I’ve decided to compile a short list of things you can do to get ahead and prepare for wintertime in a pandemic… Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay
Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay.

The unfortunate reality is that Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has declared that the City is officially in its second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, to be coinciding with our annual flu season.

Winter is tough enough as it is without the uncertainty of COVID-19. Other than following the OPH guidelines, the pandemic may feel out of our control, but there are actions we can take now to be better prepared for when the cold weather and flu season arrives.

Here it is: five things you can do for your Future Self (the one that want to stay hunkered down at home, under the covers, binging Netflix in December). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be watching Season 4 of The Crown than worrying about any of these things

1. Stock up on the items you’ll need and want when you’re sick.

Think about the last time you were sick – I mean really, REALLY sick. If you’re anything like me, the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself of bed, pull on layers of clothing, and head outside to pick up more cough syrup at the pharmacy. If you’re symptomatic of COVID-19, you might not even be allowed to leave your house until you receive a negative test result!

That’s why this is the perfect time to go through your medicine cabinet, pantry, and freezer to take inventory of what supplies you have and don’t have. Here are some handy things to have in stock:

  • Face masks, disinfectant wipes and/or spray, hand sanitizer, hand soap (these are critical if you live with other people!)
  • Over-the-counter medicines and supplements
  • Tissues, vapour rub, tea, sports drink powder, etc.
  • Easy-to-prepare, warm food (Such as: frozen or canned soup, chili, stew, etc.)
Image by Mojca J from Pixabay
Image by Mojca J from Pixabay.

2. Sort out any outstanding medical issues.

Unfortunately, our health care system is stressed under the best of circumstances. A second wave of COVID-19 will inevitably take up more of these critical resources. These healthcare environments may become more risky to visit if case numbers continue to rise. So, what can you do about it now?

First and foremost: get the seasonal flu shot once it becomes available. This could prevent you from getting the influenza virus, which can weaken your immune system and put you at a much greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Also, address any health issues that you have been putting off – routine or otherwise. Whether it’s getting a cavity filled, starting physiotherapy, or that ingrown toenail – the sooner you get it sorted, the more healthcare resources will be freed up down-the-line to focus on our response to the pandemic.

Image by oswaldoruiz from Pixabay
Image by oswaldoruiz from Pixabay.

3. Splurge on a few items that will make day-to-day life more comfortable.

What are some items that you don’t have now, that you wish you had in the dead of winter? It might be worth spending some $$$ on items you’ll use frequently in order to improve your quality of life over the next few months.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)/Vitamin D lamp
  • Heated seats for your car
  • Fuzzy blankets
  • Fleece pyjamas
  • High-quality socks
  • Anything that will keep you warm and cozy!

4. Set up social expectations with friends in advance.

At the time of publishing, an individual’s social bubble can have up to ten people in it. However, this can change very quickly if the situation in Ottawa gets worse.

It would be a good time to begin ascertaining your friends’ risk factors and level of comfort with regards to socialization. Every person has a different situation to be considered (some may be immunocompromised, or are a front-line worker, or have children in school, etc.).

Of course, the most important rule is to follow public health guidelines when meeting in-person. That being said, we are social beings and should seek safe opportunities to connect with others. If it is safe, are your friends interested in outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing, skating, or going for walks?

You should also plan to meet virtually, via video conferencing, whenever possible. I know that videoconferencing has lost its lustre over the past few months, but you can try and spice things up by playing games of trivia, charades, or using applications like Houseparty and Netflix Party to keep things interesting!

Image by Lynette Coulston from Pixabay
Image by Lynette Coulston from Pixabay.

5. Plan for a hobby that will fill up your free time.

It’s not a bad idea have a hobby – regardless of the season or, you know, a global pandemic. However, these particular circumstances draw attention to activities that you’d feel comfortable doing by yourself, or with members of your household.

Even if you abhor the cold, you may wish to experiment with outdoor activities, such as snowshoeing or skating, just to get out of the house. Don’t fret – if the frigid weather just isn’t for you, there are lots of different indoor activities you can try, like cooking, painting, learning a new language, etc.

Once you decide what hobby you’d like to explore, ask yourself these questions:

  • What supplies will I need?
  • Are there any preliminary skills I should refine in advance?
  • Are there any networks or relationships you should cultivate now that could be helpful later?
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

Well, there it is – my five tips to prepare for wintertime in a pandemic. Like it or not, we don’t know how things shape up over the next few months. I think it’s important to remember that no matter how much we plan in advance, our ability to adapt will be the key to making it through this bizarre chapter of our lives.

It’s not going to be easy, but at least we know that we’re all in this together!

Are there any other things you’re doing to prepare for wintertime? Leave a comment below – I’d love to expand upon this list with your suggestions!

Facebook post:Happy first day of autumn! The days are getting shorter and the air more brisk meaning that winter is just around the corner. It’s sure to be a bizarre one!

Are your curious of what steps you can take now to prepare for wintertime in a pandemic? Check out Michaela’s five tips to prepare for the months ahead.

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Twitter post:Curious of what steps you can take now to prepare for wintertime in a pandemic? Check out these 5 tips to prepare for the months ahead: [ link] #HelloAutumn