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It’s getting to be quite the regular occurrence for me when I’m travelling. Every time I return home after some far flung adventure, I start to daydream about the benefits of spending less time online and more time, you know, actually out living my life. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine, spending so much time with friends or all the new experiences, but I always land at Heathrow with a surge of ambition to spend more time away from the artificial glare of my computer screen.

Never has this been so prevalent than during my latest trip to The States, which I returned home from yesterday. Ironic really, as I was there to teach a workshop on how to be successful online. Despite that fact Gala, Shauna & I spent a disproportionate amount of time discussing the benefits of cutting our time glued to a screen. On one day we even spent an afternoon with an ex-fashion blogger who had recently decided to curb her online addiction. She had pretty much decided to quit blogging and most social media completely and so obviously she had a lot to say on the subject. While her reasons for wanting to completely unplug were very different to what mine might be, chatting through the idea with her did make me strongly evaluate just how much time I spend on my computer, how often I check my phone and why I can’t seem to stop the aimless – and constant - browsing for distractions.

But I’m not delusional. I’m certainly not going to do a complete 180, shut down my blog, stop replying to my emails and take a look into converting to Amishism. It’s very easy when you’re away from the humdrum of the everyday to come over all idealistic and to make grand plans for change. Yet real life isn’t anything like a holiday. You get home and the old routine kicks back in with frightening ease – emails, deadlines, quick turnarounds on new projects – it’s all too easy to forget how great it felt to not be chained to a desk and to ignore everything that you’ve promised yourself.

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One of the things the girls and I chatted through at length was that if we were really honest with ourselves how much of our ‘busy online time’ was really spent being productive – writing, emailing, designing etc etc, and how much of it is just our old friend procrastination. We all know how much of a time suck Pinterest can be, how draining keeping up with Twitter can feel or how fast Facebook seems to move on if we don’t check in daily. But if we objectively look at what we are actually doing on our computers every day, I wonder if we’d be shocked at how much of it is just frivoling?

I’m not going to kid myself (or you!) by pretending that I’m making a pact to cut my online time in half, or to only spend 4 hours a day on my computer, but I am making a promise to myself to make my time plugged in more consistently productive. My afternoon slump of pinning, tweeting nonsense and watching a shameful number of reruns of The Hills needs to stop. Of course Reading is hardly an entertainment mecca - if we had the sunshine, beaches and pseudo-celebrity spotting of Los Angeles I’m sure I could find plenty of offline activities to entertain me. But my promise to myself is this: if I start to slip towards the procrastination-side I’m going to get the hell offline for a while and do something less wasteful.

How do you feel about the amount of time you spend online or in front of a screen? Do you ever think you’d like to cut down too?

Networking Like a Pro

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Another one of those topics that I seem to get asked about over and over is networking. “How do I get my name out there?”, “How do I network without coming across as a a weirdo?” and “How do I get people to know I exist?!” With the majority of us doing a most of our business online these days, thinking about networking and meeting people ‘in real life’ can be a scary and intimidating thing. But (and this is a big but!) I honestly believe that getting my backside off my computer, out of the safe confines of my house and going to meet people in real life was the number one thing which truly got my name out there.

The reasons for this are three-fold…

1. People are more likely to remember you if they’ve met you and put a face to the name.
2. People are more likely to recommend you to others if spoken to you in real life and realise that you’re not a complete psycho.
3. People are often just as shy as you are, and by being nice to them in real life, will make them feel better about themselves and therefore good about you.

But just how does one go about it? We all know (even the most extroverted people like yours truly) how intimidating walking into a room full of people can be… and a room full of people that all seem to already know each other is a million times worse!

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Fake the funk

We all know the phrase ‘fake it before you make it’ and in no other situation is this more true. Secret: I bet 90% the people in the room you’re trying to ‘network with’ are just as nervous as you are!

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

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“It’s not you, it’s me…”
“Let’s just be friends…”
“I’m just not ready for a relationship right now…”

Whichever way you sugar coat it, break ups are a hard. And although the demise of a romantic relationship is emotionally gut-wrenching and awful, the breakdown of a professional relationship can be just as catastrophic for our hearts.

We’re complex creatures us humans, and whether you’ve worked together on a project or you’re just business acquaintances, if the relationship starts to sour it can be a tough situation to navigate. Differences of opinion and varying priorities – even how you view the relationship – can taint how you interact with people. The shock realisation that a person you considered to be a good friend as well as a work colleague actually now seems to just out for themselves or their business and profits can be a bitter pill to swallow.

I’m not going to lie, this happened to me not so long ago. Someone I considered to be more than just a business acquaintance (i.e. I figured we were pretty good friends actually) stabbed me in the back. I’m sure they had their reasons (in fact I know they did because I spoke to them about it) but it still hurt. Badly.

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Remembering Why…

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Why did you start your business? What was it that made you want to leave the security of a regular paycheck, employee benefits and never having to calculate your own tax?

For me it happened by accident. I started this blog to document my wedding planning. I always loved to write and wistfully pondered a vague notion of one day finding a topic that I was passionate enough about to properly pursue… and them baaamb! I felt in love with weddings, but more so with wanting to inspire other brides to do things their own way.

As time went on I found that I also loved writing about the process of running my own business. As someone with no formal business training or qualifications (I didn’t even do business studies at school), who is brought out in a cold sweat by the thought of accounts, taxes and budgets, I’m certainly not the most obvious candidate to have branched out in this direction! But I love it, and in many ways the community I’ve become a part of because of this area of my blog is even more satisfying than the wedding one. Of course I adore every single one of my bride-to-be readers, but usually (there are a few exceptions!) as soon as their weddings are over they’re off and Rock n Roll Bride becomes a distant memory. Those of you that read these business rambles are the ones in it for the long haul. You’re the ones I like to think of as my long lost friends and my blogging comrades, and for each of you I am immensely grateful.

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Your Brand Is Not What You Say It Is…

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Your brand is not what you say it is, it is what other people say about their experience of you. You are not good at something because you tell people you are, your strengths are defined by what other people decide about you on their own. Your weaknesses are not your internal soul-crushing insecurities, they only become a problem when they are visible to the outside world.

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The Blogcademy: Live in your Living Room…

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The Blogcademy online Q&A session is starting at 1pm PST / 4pm EST / 8pm GMT today. Sign up below for the bargain price of $7 to watch and participate in the action. If you can’t tune in live, don’t worry, your ticket will give you access to a recording of the action forever. Signing up is easy – just press the orange button!

However I do have to warn you, I only got into Portland late last night so I’m pretty darn jet-lagged… it may not be a pretty sight but maybe seeing that is worth the $7 in itself!? Thank God I have Gala & Shauna to keep me awake and excited. See you there my pretties, and don’t forget – this is your chance to grill us and to ask us all those difficult questions! Either pipe up during the livestream or tweet them to us in advance.

EDIT: The livestream has now taken place but you can still sign up and watch a recording of our shenanigans below!