Tuesday Tech Tip: The Real Price of an iPhone

I know that most of my readers already own iPhones (or another smartphone). This post is for you, but it is also for every person who has ever said, “iPhones are too expensive.” Really, it’s for anyone who carelessly throws around the word “expensive” without taking value-received into account.

Let’s talk about expensive for a minute. I’ve owned a couple of bad Android phones (there are good ones). I paid $80-$100. They lasted me maybe one year, although the screen cracked in my pocket on day two of owning the cheaper one. They were frustrating. I didn’t really enjoy using them so I tended to keep them in my pocket. The cost to me was more in the agony than in the price tag, but neither was pleasant.

I paid $400 for an iPhone that will last me more than two years (at this point, though, I’m definitely feeling the need to upgrade). For our purposes, we’ll ignore the resale value, which allows us to get a decent amount of money back, especially after a year (two is pushing it). I also understand that the iPhone per-month cost includes data and phone minutes which are not cheap. But I think the cost is negligible when we look at things this way…

Let’s look at just some of the things I use my iPhone for on a daily basis:

  • Sleepcycle: tracks my sleep and helps me wake up at the perfect time
  • Alarm Clock
  • Recipes (for breakfast)
  • Timer (for coffee)
  • Email
  • Scan and send documents
  • Check the Weather
  • GPS with traffic (for driving across town and dodging brutal traffic)
  • Portable Music Player (while walking the pugs)
  • Hi-Res Pocket Camera (for snapping a once-in-a-lifetime pic of Relvis avoiding a puddle, which I can then Tweet in realtime)
  • Location-based Reminders (I get reminded to send an email right when I need it: just as I walk up to my front door)
  • Motivation (see previous post all about the Lift app)
  • Watching movies on the go
  • Playing video games instead of being bored in the waiting room
  • Showing off pictures of the ocean to a friend at the bar
  • Meditation (I like the Simply Being app)
  • Yoga (there are so many apps)
  • Skyping with the nieces and nephews
  • Exercising at home (I like Workout Trainer)
  • Looking up random facts at a party to end a debate or maybe looking at pictures of cats (this is my way of covering the entirety of the internet)
  • Learning about the stars at night (using the amazing, but not free, Skyview app)
  • Calendar (My calendar is up-to-the-minute because I use Google Calendar.)
  • Oh, and occasionally I need to call someone and I use it as a phone.
What this list doesn’t address are the deeper benefits I receive. Benefits like better sleep and more exercise make me healthier. Sharing pics, Facebook and skyping with my nieces helps me stay connected to my family. These are meaningful things that technology makes even better.

This is not an exhaustive list, though it is exhausting. The simple point is that I use my iPhone from the second I wake up until my head hits the pillow. I also know when to turn it off and enjoy life gadget-free. But given that I’m getting priceless value (with almost no headache) using it at least two hours each day (that is beyond-conservative to the point of absurdity) I estimate the cost to be around 25 cents an hour (and more realistically, 5 cents or less an hour). An hour! Think how many things on that list you could knock off in an hour…

Don’t get me wrong, smartphones are a luxury. Is $400 a lot of money? Sure. But if we’re talking about the one device you use for absolutely everything every day, then, actually, hell-to-the-no. It’s a steal at twice the price.

The iPhone is easily the least expensive and best value of anything I’ve ever owned.

How is your service like the iPhone? Do you offer value that just gives and gives and gives? Is one of your benefits the fact that your service is hassle- and worry-free?

Is generosity Your Crutch?

You’re a generous person. In your wedding business, you go out of your way to help brides. I’ll bet good money that you go the extra mile for your clients. And that you’re at least a little proud of just how generous you are.

And that’s awesome. Except when it’s not.

Are you giving away discounts and extras constantly? Why? The fundamental question you need to ask is this:

Am I doing this because I want to be generous or because I am afraid? Continue reading

Tuesday Tech Tip: The (almost) Perfection of Wunderlist

wunderlist logoI’ve tried more to-do list apps than I care to admit. It’s kind of disgusting. Besides the fact that I love new technology and apps (to the point of absurdity), the main reason is that I’ve always become dissatisfied about some aspect of whichever app I’m using. Not to mention, (as the rest of you procrastinating productivity nuts know all-too-well) that it’s always better to try out a new to-do app than to actually do something on the list. Heaven forbid.

In the past, I’ve touted the awesome robustness that is Remember The Milk. It remains the ultimate to-do app. I found that it was simply overkill for me and I didn’t like that they charged forty-some-odd dollars just to use it on my iPhone. I don’t mind the price tag, I’ve paid it in the past, but the pay-for-mobile just rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway, today we’re talking about the super-simple, very-free alternative, Wunderlist. I follow a very loose version of GTD, and I find that Wunderlist adapts beautifully. It should also be said that what Wunderlist lacks in robust features and options, it makes up for in eye candy.

Here’s how I use it:

  • Any to-do that requires more than one step is a project (see GTD link above). In Wunderlist, I just add a new list, name it, and I’m on my merry way.
  • Getting Things Done is all about the Next Action. I use the “star” feature in Wunderlist to keep track of what’s next for each project.
  • For a weekly review, I update all of my projects and star the tasks I can take immediate action on.
  • During my work day, I just take a peek at Wunderlist online or on my mac, my iPad or iPhone (it’s free for all devices, ridiculous PC and Android users included. *friendly smirk*)
  • I immediately look at the “starred” tab and can see all Next Actions (And which list/project they belong to! Hallelujah.)
  • Then it’s just a matter of knocking out as many top priority to-dos as possible in the time I have.

Do you use a to-do list app, prefer pen and paper or just guess all day? How could Wunderlist simplify and organize your life?

Are Your Friends Dream-Killers?

Bad Luck Brian Meme“You are the average of the five people you hang around the most.” Ever heard that? I think it’s a little scary. I have definitely seen this play out in my own life: from my sense of humor to my accent to how much I work out. I influence my friends (and my wife and my pugs) and they all influence me. When it comes to your dream and taking your business where you want it to go, are your friends an asset or a liability?

Here’s how you find out (without asking them). Just think about sharing what you really want with them (even if it means moving away from them or doing something they might not totally agree with). How do you think they will respond? Are they behind you 100%? Do they want you to be really happy even if your dream seems silly to them? Do they shit on your dreams? If you’re not sure, tell them and find out.

If your friends won’t support you when it comes to having the life you want, they aren’t your friends.

Do you need to make any changes to your close friend-lineup? This is as much about ditching the dead weight as it is about building a support team for yourself. My clients often find that as their perspective changes, some friends naturally drift away and new, more supportive friends come into their life. It’s a bold, life-changing move. Are you game?

Tuesday Tech Tip: Turn it Off

if you can read this somebody stole my iphoneDo you have a hard time disconnecting from technology? Do you find yourself getting distracted by incoming emails, texts and calls? Most of us do.

Technology isn’t bad. The internet isn’t the devil. Like every human invention, it serves a purpose and it can be used for good or evil (and usually both). When people say that TV is all bad or complain about teenagers glued to their cell phones, I gently remind them that technology doesn’t have to own us. We can control it. But we have to choose to.

Technology is overrunning our lives and, for the most part, we have no idea what to do. Don’t just lay there. It’s time to fight back.

Here are three simple ways to take back your life from the grips of technology overload:

  1. Turn off your phone. No one needs to have their cell phone on 24/7. Except maybe doctors (and none read this blog). If you own a wedding business, turn off the damn phone, at least when you sleep.
  2. Put it on airplane mode. In an era of constant distractions, we must create our own sanctuaries if we are to have any hope of being productive. If you need to be creative for an hour, put your phone on airplane mode (if you can’t turn it off) and set an alarm to remind you to turn it back on to check messages.
  3. Turn off notifications. On my iphone, the only notifications I want are text messages and voicemail. If I don’t want those, I put the thing on airplane mode. You do NOT need to know every time an email comes in (read why in this post).

These three minor adjustments can mean the difference between feeling overwhelmed and feeling like you are in control. Build a little peace into your life and it will spread. Which one of these is hardest for YOU to do? How could you benefit from doing it anyway?

Be like the Roomba®

For those who missed it, the Roomba® is a semi-magical device that automatically vacuums the floors in your house. It works by sensing walls and changing directions. It’s also known as a popular ride for cats.

For today’s productivity tip, I think we can learn a lot about emotion-proof decision making from the Roomba®. So often, when something doesn’t go our way, we get really upset. We run into the figurative wall and then we bang our heads against it. We pout, we point fingers, we blame ourselves. We sit there, angry and frustrated, with our heads leaning against the wall.

So how can we learn from the Roomba®?

The Roomba® doesn’t get upset when it runs into a wall. It is programmed to sense the wall and simply change direction. What would happen if you lived your life like that? Instead of feeling sorry for yourself or beating yourself up, what if you simply kept moving (in a slightly different direction)?

The only way to take emotions out of the equation is to give up some of the ego. When we have expectations (and base our future happiness on them) we set ourselves up to be disappointed. And when things don’t go as planned, we think it’s because we are flawed and we take it personally. But the wall doesn’t have to be proof that we suck. The wall can simply be a sign that it’s time to change course, even if just by a few degrees.

The Roomba® doesn’t take the wall personally, it just changes direction and keeps living it’s purpose, which, as far as I can tell, is to be an excellent cat ride and a mediocre vacuum.

Should I Hire Someone or Not? A Guide for Small Business Owners

So many business owners want to know when the time is right to hire someone. Entrepreneurs hate giving up control of their business. By the time they’re actually considering getting help, they’re usually buried so deep, the thought of finding, hiring and training someone is totally overwhelming. Here’s a quick guide for you to decide if hiring should be your next step. As a bonus, I’ve included the most common fears wedding pros share (and how to challenge those fears) when it comes to the “should I hire someone” debate.

Well, is it time to hire someone?

Tuesday Tech Tip: Treat Email like Mail Not Texting

Instant Gratification: By turning off instant-notification of new email messages, you put yourself back in control of your workday (and your email).

Full Post: 

Ivan Pavlov discovered classical conditioning when he realized that his dog salivated when he would walk into the room (with or without food). The concept was simple, you bring the dog some food on a regular basis and before you know it, the dog has an automatic response.

You are not a dog. And yet when your phone chimes each time you get a new email you (just like the dog), begin to salivate (figuratively, hopefully). You read it and (more often than not) start to respond right then and there. Do you keep your email open all day? Most people do. We have to stay in touch, right?  Continue reading

Tuesday Tech Tip: Write on PDFs for Free

Today’s tip is a quickie. PDFescape allows you to edit PDFs quickly and easily for free and without signing up. What it lacks in looks (and maybe ease-of-use), it makes up for in simplicity. For those of us who don’t have, use or understand fancy design programs, it’s an earth-killing hassle to have to print off every PDF that comes our way just to fill in a couple of blanks and a signature.

Here’s the play-by-play:

  1. Upload the PDF to www.PDFescape.com
  2. Add your text and images (I like to drop in a .jpg of my signature to skip printing).
  3. Click one button to download the new version to your computer.
  4. Email the form.

Presto! It’s just that easy. And it beats the heck out of getting a PDF emailed to you, downloading the attachment, printing it out, signing it, scanning it and emailing back, then recycling (or heaven forbid, throwing way) a single sheet of paper that was useful for the thirty seconds you needed it.

Save the earth, save your sanity.


Tuesday Tech Tip: Awesomify Your Calls with Google Voice in 2013

Instant Gratification: Google Voice allows you to make free phone calls and text messages, forward calls to your cell, screen calls from your mom, read your voice mails, block your ex-girlfriend, and sync your contacts.

Go directly to Google Voice.

It used to be that anyone who had your number could ring your phone. And that was really cool. Until you had an ex-boyfriend. Until you appreciated your sleep at 3am. Until you started getting spammy sales calls from the same number twelve times a day. Then there was Grand Central. And it was awesome. So Google bought it and called it Google Voice.

While it’s not feasible or smart for everyone to switch over to Google Voice, I want to tell you why I use it (exclusively) to run my business. And you can still find some cool uses for it.

Here are my favorite uses for Google Voice:

Free phone calls, forwarding and texting. Google Voice gives you a free number (if you live in the US) with your choice of area code and it even lets you make free calls and texts from your computer. Since I live in Gmail, I love that I can make calls right from my inbox. Living temporarily in Canada, I use the free Talkatone iPhone app so I can even make and take calls on my out-of-country phone. They have an Android app, too. Free texting from the computer is awesome- I get text messages in my email inbox and I can reply just like a normal email. Call forwarding allows me to forward calls to my cell phone or another number forever, or just while I’m at the cabin for the weekend. Continue reading