The Shift: Issue #16

Work life shift

Day three of the digital diet and I’ve fallen off the bandwagon.

I had to use LinkedIn to post on a client’s page and saw I had a reply from Sarah Townsend about her new book, Survival Skills for Freelancers (treat yourself, she’s put her heart & soul into it). Then I read Eddie Shleyner’s email newsletter and saw he’s giving away a micro-course in copywriting. A compilation of tips from him and his LinkedIn followers—great idea. I had to leave a hashtag on his post to get a copy.

So, I did that quickly and logged off. It’s work stuff, I told myself. I’m not scrolling mindlessly on Instagram.

The only way to avoid using my personal accounts for clients is to set up a work email address to access Facebook and LinkedIn, which I’ll do. I used Hootsuite for a while, but it’s easy for messages to go out on the wrong account… had a few mishaps.

Thoughts so far on the digital detox: I have more time, headspace, and feel calmer. I’m not missing social media, and I’ve made more calls so actual conversations.

But I now realise the major challenge is EMAIL. I’ve been checking my emails several times a day to see what’s happening (not much since I last looked especially now, I’ve unsubscribed from mailing lists).

This displacement activity has to stop.

Just think of all the extra time I’ll have for Babbel and books.

It was Digital Detox Day on 5th September and Zoe Sugg’s campaign (#IAMWHOLE) was trending on YouTube. She’s encouraging people to quit social media (and their phones) for a day and do something to support their mental health, to raise awareness and funds for charity.

I popped into WHSmith to buy Wallpaper* and you can’t move for mindfulness mags. Breathe, Teen Breathe, Flow, Psychologies, Unplug. You can flick through magazines, but you can’t test a pen anymore—where’s the logic in that? Testing pens is a meditative, mindful task and something I’ve done since childhood. Back to school, = new pens.

So, I bought a Parker pen (security tagged, a tenner, must write nicely, surely?)

Nope. It feels scratchy and thin despite having a medium nib… very disappointing.

No leaving autographs in pink glitter pen on scrappy bits of paper, no perfume testing, & no free nibbles.

Shopping feels so soulless these days, it’s no wonder we’re not bothering with the high street.      

1/ Mara Abrams—Go with the flow—I realise my digital detox is about being in the flow and doing deeper work. How do you maintain a sense of flow that brings you joy and is it more powerful doing it as a group? Mara Abrams is a social innovator & entrepreneur, and founder of the Flow Collective, a platform for redefining entrepreneurship. She teaches innovation and incubation workshops across the world. I enjoyed her DO Lecture on flow & creativity – watch it here. (DO are Ted Talks meets Burning Man on a farm.)

2/ The Noun Project—need an icon for a project? This site aggregates symbols created by graphic designers around the world. Use it to tell visual stories, create infographics, build interactive games, or whatever you like. It’s a fantastic resource for typographic symbols and design history of the genre. The aim was to build a global visual language that everyone can understand and use. A central repository for common icons, “things such as airplanes, bicycles, and people”.

They also host iconathons with designers, content experts, and volunteers working in small groups to focus on specific issues, e.g. democracy, transport or nutrition.

3/ Content Readability Guidelines—a collaboratively developed universal content style guide, based on usability evidence, created by Content Design London. “A couple of conversations on Twitter led me to wonder if a universal style guide would be a good idea,” says founder Sarah Richards. “I see many content designers spending time talking—arguing—about points of style when often accessibility and usability show what we should do.” The aim was to create one place where the community could share knowledge and a style guide that’s accessible and evidenced.

Invaluable if you work with content & they’ve just published a book on content design.

Readability Guidelines wiki
Join the Slack channel

4/ Yuno Juno Freelancer Rates Report 2019/20—insights into day rates & project lengths among the UK’s tech and freelance community. It’s based on over 25k bookings on Yuno Juno in 2019 and Q1+2 2020. Now available as a download for the first time.

Good to see multi-skilled freelancers are more in demand than ever. The average day rate for copywriting is £372 and content strategy, £542. The most common project—32 days. They also interviewed some of their freelancers about rates, project lengths, and the future of freelancing.

Download the report here (no sign up required). Share it far & wide – keeps things transparent and useful when quoting on projects.

5/ Venice Biennale/Nomadland—it’s a miracle this went ahead given that Cannes didn’t, and most festivals have gone online. No big Hollywood films this year – this was a more traditional, low-key affair and celebration of world cinema. One to watch: Nomadland with Frances McDormand as a woman who loses her home and joins a growing movement of US nomads on the road, searching for work, meaning and a new community. It’s based on the excellent book by reporter Jessica Bruder.

“To live mobally has a lot to do with the economic disparities in our country,” says Frances. There’s no political statement - it celebrates the resilience and creativity of older Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. “We’re leading you to a community that has made some very difficult decisions, and Chloe [Zhao] is telling their story.”

The Biennale website is sprawling and it’s not just cinema – art, architecture, design, dance, music, theatre, education, & historical archives of contemporary arts.

They also hosted VR online this year. If you missed out, here’s a review of a virtual trip from a sofa in Seattle.

Venice Biennale channel
The Guardian roundup

Thanks for reading.

  • If you found this useful, forward it on to a friend.