As you may recall, my focus word for 2016 is “connect”. Though we’re only a month in, I continue to be thrilled with my choice. I’m sure it is because I’m hyper-aware of it, but it seems like articles about being more connected to others are everywhere, as are invitations from friends to get together and reminders of how important other people are.
I haven’t decided whether I’ll be doing monthly updates on my goal “progress”, but I wanted to wrap up January with a look into how I’m making connecting part of my routine. Here’s the thing about choosing a word for the year: it creates an intention, but it doesn’t necessarily cause action. Something like “lose weight” or “stop smoking” is still vague, but it’s definitely clear what you have to do. I’ve realized that unless I make specific plans to do something with my yearly words, they’re just nice ideas.
I’ve been working hard to make sure that I really do connect. Spending too much time staring at my computer has been something that’s kept me from connecting with people as much as I should have in the past, but now I’m trying to harness technology to help me make connections. I’m using a lot of the tools I’ve used for other purposes, as well as some new ones, to help me make connecting a reality in 2016.
5 Online Tools for Connecting in Real Life
I created my “connect” graphic in Canva for my blog post announcing my word choice for the year. In addition, I also printed out two copies. One sits on my desk at home, one sits on my desk at work. Having these visual reminders (that I don’t even need to turn my computer on to see!) puts my goal for the year right in front of me.
Remembering to Connect: Todoist
Last year, I had “strengthen” as a recurring daily item on Todoist (my task management program of choice), though I didn’t do something to strengthen every day. This year I’ve kept that daily reminder, but I’ve also created some more tasks that help me remember to connect. I have a weekly reminders on Sundays to check my calendar and send out birthday and anniversary cards for any upcoming in the next week. I also scheduled a few articles that I found inspiring (like this one and this one) for weeks and months in the future, to bring me back to my January intentions.
How do I know when all my friends birthdays are? In addition to having recurring birthday events for those closest to me, I added the birthdays of all my Facebook friends – along with my upcoming Facebook events – to my Google Calendar. This can be done by going to Events in Facebook and scrolling to the bottom of the right sidebar. There, you’ll see this text:
Copy the link from Upcoming Events or Birthdays by right clicking (or control-clicking, if you’re on a Mac). Go to your Google Calendar and click on the drop down arrow next to Other Calendars. Select “Add by URL”, paste the link you copied and click “Add Calendar”. All your upcoming events and birthdays will automatically be added and updated in your Google Calendar.
My last two tools are about managing my time appropriately. I’ve been using a modified version of the Pomodoro Technique, which has helped me get more done. When I accomplish all my tasks with time to spare, I’m afforded time to write letters, hang out with my husband, make phone calls or do other things to help me connect. There are lots of fancy timers out there, but I just use a simple app for my Android phone.
I am kind of obsessed with this browser extension. It tells you how long you’ve spent on various websites or categories of websites, in addition to showing you a running total of the number of minutes you’ve spent on each site on top of the extension icon on Chrome. I’ve set kind of arbitrary time limits for my biggest time suck sites (Facebook, email), because I know I’m not usually accomplishing anything there. Seeing the amount of time wasted forces me to reflect – is it better to spent 45 minutes on Facebook or 45 minutes getting coffee with a friend? Or, in another case, I spent 20 minutes on Twitter today. Did I have a decent conversation with my husband? These are the types of questions I want to be asking myself as I work towards connecting better in 2016.