Five Reasons to Have a Home Generator

Friend Terri Nakamura and I have been talking (via tweets, mostly) about home generators and power outages lately. And she said she thought I should write about having a generator, which never occurred to me! But many people could use a home generator right now. If you’re thinking about getting one, here are some reasons you should. While I haven’t written about home generators before, I’ve written about emergencies. You might like How Natural Disasters Can Make Us More Grateful.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that you can keep your appliances going (especially if you have medical appliances such as a CPAP machine), your refrigerated items cold, and your heat on for your babies gives you peace of mind. Now a generator won’t necessarily run everything in your home, but you can get by with one. A whole-house generator will cost you a lot more, but give you even more peace of mind if outages are really bad where you are. For me, a home generator is just the right size.

Climate change is getting worse

When we first moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains, we rarely had power outages. Even though it seemed like we lived in the middle of nowhere, the power stayed on. And even though I could’ve gotten a Tesla Powerwall, I didn’t. Now of course I wish I had! Because they were around $5,000 then and now the price has tripled, if they’re available at all. And our power outages are happening all the time. To give you an idea of how often the power goes out, we sometimes don’t even bother resetting the clock on the microwave after it goes out. If we’re having a bad storm, we’re certain the power won’t stay on, and we’ll just have to reset it again. This time around, the power only went out for a few minutes, but we still didn’t reset the microwave clock.

Independence during storms

As I write these words, we just went through a pretty bad storm. Our area got about 10″ of rain. We were warned to stay off the roads, and watch for fallen trees and downed wires, which we did. With a generator, we could stay home, be able to cook and charge our devices, and stay out of the way of the emergency vehicles. Police and fire departments were out mopping up debris, downed trees, and helping people who got stuck in the storm. Even though we didn’t have to use the generator (this time), it was a godsend knowing it was there .

Five Reasons to Have a Home Generator

Losing food, even if you get reimbursed, is a hassle

You really don’t want to lose everything in your frig. Even if your local power company reimburses you, do you really want the hassle? Filling out forms, saving receipts, and waiting for reimbursements? Don’t we already do that with insurance claims? Who wants more bureaucracy? A generator costs relatively little when you measure what your time and the hassle cost you. Mine cost around $500, by the way. And also, if you don’t have food you’ll have to run to the store during a storm or emergency, which is not fun–and that’s if you can find one that’s open and has the supplies you need. During the early days of the pandemic, some of our local stores didn’t have much fresh food, and many lost their frozen food as well, since they didn’t have backup generators!

You can set up a home generator!

There’s no reason you can’t set up a generator. If I can do it, you certainly can, too! It’s really not that difficult. You may need some additional things, such as the following:

  • A heavy-duty extension cord to go from the generator to the frig;
  • A gas canister (make sure your generator uses the type of fuel you’re buying!);
  • Gasoline or some type of fuel (check which type of fuel your generator needs–I know I said it twice, but it’s critical);
  • Some fuel stabilizer so the gas doesn’t go bad when you store it. Bob Vila has a good article on gasoline and keeping it fresh.
  • A place to store your generator when not in use. You can get a shed if you don’t have an ideal spot to store your generator.Other than the above supplies, a generator is fairly simple to operate.

There are people to help you

Odds are one of your friends in your neighborhood already has a generator and can help you set it up and learn to use it. When there’s a storm, walk around your neighborhood and listen for who has one. There is also YouTube University, where you can learn more than you’ll ever want to know about this or nearly any other subject. Luckily for me, my friend Annie and her wonderful husband offered lots of help. Maybe you have an Annie in your life who could help you! Actually, she volunteered her husband and that worked out perfectly!

What Are Some Good Writing Topics for Transitions?

What Are Some Good Writing Topics for Transitions?

Right now, we’re experiencing a number of transitions. You may be facing some of these transitions, too. So here are some ideas for writing about those transition times. After all, you never know who is handling the same transition. Your words might make a difference for someone in a similar situation.

Transition between fall and winter

It’s not quite Halloween, and the weather is warm during the day but cold at night. So why not write about how to prepare for the upcoming winter season during the quiet time when not much is happening? With climate change affecting nearly everyone, we can all learn from each other. For instance, how do we prepare for flooding if an evacuation is needed? How do you stay on a diet during a pandemic and have a good holiday season? Here’s an article you might like: 10 Social Media Transitions and How to Use them.

Fire and rainy season

Here where I am, we’ve had a horrible fire season. Much of California seems to be on fire. So one transition for us will be between the dry (fire) season and the wet (rainy) season. This upcoming week we are promised an “atmospheric river” with possibly over 5″ of rain. Yikes! Again, why not write about how to prepare for the rainy season? Are there things your readers can do now to get ready?

Time before winter holidays

We’re coming up on Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and Day. So you could write about how to prep for those. What will you say during those holidays? Time tends to speed up during November and December and now is a good time to prepare! Get those articles written, or at least started now. Don’t think you have time? Here’s an article that could help: Time Management for the Busy Professional.

Covid and post-Covid

For most of us, this is a huge transition. And the transition is happening at different speeds for different parts of the country, and the world. Here in California, the transition seems fast. People are almost acting as though there never was a pandemic. You could write about what that transition is like in your part of the country or the world. Or how you wish the transition would be, or how the transition could be eased or improved.

Personal transitions

Have you had a major transition? Maybe one of your parents passed away, or you lost a partner or beloved pet. Chances are, someone else has gone through the same transition. Your words could help soothe someone else. Or your words could help someone know what to do and how to emotionally handle such a transition. For instance, what is the mourning process like for someone who’s lost their partner? That’s a process that we rarely talk about. By the way, I highly recommend the movie Departures, about a Japanese man who is a ritual mortician. Don’t be put off by the subject matter–it’s very sweet! And that was recommended to me by a friend, Terri Nakamura!

There’s Slow Food, But What About Slow Social Media?

 

 

Do you ever feel like social media is making us all stupider? I’ve been feeling that way a lot lately. People making things up, fake science, and people quoting from junk articles they’ve seen on Facebook. Can it get any stupider? Well, yes. Yes, it can! Let’s not travel down that rabbit hole just yet, though. Let’s talk about reversing the tide a bit. Let’s talk about slow social media. By the way, I enjoyed this article about Slow Social. You might, too.

Stop the ten-second videos

One reason I don’t log into certain video-sharing apps is because it’s easy to spend 15 hours looking at 10-second videos. You know what I’m talking about, right? Besides making me stupider, there’s a certain meanness to many of the videos. As if seeing someone falling down should be funny. Or hurting an animal should be entertainment. Or what about the “pranks” where someone pretends to spend $10,000 on a buttlift, and then the poor guy’s reaction. Really? How about if we just skip it?!

Social media whiplash

Watching non-stop videos of ridiculous subjects can give us all a kind of whiplash. You might not even remember what you just watched if you watch too much. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Before you even open that app, know why you’re there and what you’re going to do. If you want to engage for ten minutes, do that. Set your timer, then get out! It’s kind of like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. You end up mindlessly buying (or watching) things you don’t want. And you might not even remember why you bought something when you get home. If this rings a bell for you, you might like: Organizing Your Social Media So You Can Have a Better Life.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Do people really fear missing something on social media? Do you? How do we get over this idea, as a culture? If you take a break from being online, you’ll see that you’ll hardly miss anything at all. Try it! Did the world end? No, it did not! The only thing that will change, probably, is your level of relaxation. So take the yoga class. Go for a walk. Or eat the ice cream. Avoid Social Media Decision Fatigue Three Quick and Easy Ways.

Can we use the slow-food movement as a model?

With the pandemic, many people began to spend more time at home, cooking more. Slow food was already gaining ground, but it became even more important as we had more time to spend baking banana bread. I like to think that we could all use a little unscheduled, boring time, if you will. Times when nothing happens. Like rest notes in music, for instance. The slow-food movement began as a protest against fast food. Could we start a protest against fast social media? And even though I’m a social media manager, how about if we have a day when we stay off social media? Who’s with me on this?

How a Good Editor Makes Your Writing Shine

If you’re a writer, blogger, or content creator then you know how much a good editor is worth. They can seemingly work magic with their red (or virtual red!) pens, sculpting and reshaping your badly-written words into something artistic. If not artistic, then at least something less bad! Here are some of the ways they can assist.

View your work from 20,000 feet

There may be some things you’re doing that you’re not aware of. Maybe you always make the same spelling errors, or use too many commas. Oh, wait! That’s me. My editor is always saying to remove commas. Not Oxford commas, of course, but some of those other ones that sneak in there. By the way, I’ve written about writing before. You might like: Content Creation: How to Make Your Writing More Fun.

Do a structural edit

If you know a really good editor, she can actually restructure your writing. For instance, create one chapter out of two, or change the order of paragraphs. Or say that what you’re really saying doesn’t match your premise. He can check the logic of your words. Wouldn’t you like someone like that to look over your work? I know I would!

Use a style guide

If you’re adhering to a style guide (hello, Chicago Manual of Style!), your editor can see that you’re following those rules. Do you like the Oxford Comma? Or are you one of those renegades who doesn’t bother, doesn’t care, or doesn’t even notice (do you see what I did there?)?

Check your grammar

Are you using active voice in most of your sentences? An editor can double-check and fix your writing if you’re not. In some types of writing, you may not want to use active voice, but that’s a whole other story. Technical writers, for example, use passive voice quite often. I dislike most automated apps for checking grammar, since they tend to simplify my writing style. Although writing for 12-year-olds is what a lot of people do, it doesn’t work for me.

Do some unfun jobs

Are you mixing up your bullet styles? Your editor will probably notice and fix that! Do your captions match your graphics? Again, that’s something an editor can check for you. Sometimes your editor has the completely unfun job of telling you your manuscript is trash and you should start over. Would you like that job? NO!

Ensure your formating is consistent

Does your formating change every other paragraph? An editor will mark that up and either you or she can fix it. That’s also an unfun job, but one every editor has probably had to do at some point in their career.

Be nice to your editor

Some of you may have the mistaken belief that editors are mean people, gleefully sitting around with their red pens poised to find mistakes. They are kind people, and they make your writing better! So bring them cookies if they’re nearby. Or send them something in the mail–cash is good, but even a cup of coffee would probably be appreciated. Editors are the unsung heroes of the world of writing.

 

How Do People Find and Consume Your Blog Content?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about blogging. I’ve been blogging for a long time now (nine years? ten years? who knows!), with no thought of stopping. But maybe I’ll write in a different way. Have you considered changing the way you blog? Stick around while I explore this topic.

Why do people read blog posts?

There are many reasons, but here are a few:

  • To learn about something they know little about
  • To amuse themselves
  • To connect with you and others in an online community

I really liked this article: Do People Still Read Blogs? And you might, too.

How do people find you and your blog?

Of course, there’s the usual Google search. But there’s also email marketing and social media. People may find an enticing headline and jump over from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Possibly a friend may tell them about your blog. If you know how people find you (via your Google analytics), you may want to give them even more reasons to find you. If you have analytics of some sort, then you can see how people are finding you.

Blogging on other platforms

There are different ways to blog besides the cost of getting your own website. For instance, Terri Nakamura blogs on Instagram. She has a much different approach, and I highly recommend her new book, Blogging on Instagram, available on Amazon for a song. If you’d like to connect with others, you’d like this book. Others may want to syndicate their blog posts with an organization such as Business to Community. I did that for a long time and really enjoyed it.

Video blogging

Is video blogging a thing? Yes, it is! Friend Mitch Mitchell talks about quite a lot of different topics on his vlogs. And no, he’s not Jimi Hendrick’s former drummer. If you prefer talking to writing, or in addition to writing, you might enjoy making videos and telling your story that way. You may want to have more than one channel, especially if you have different businesses, or divide your personal and business vlogs.

Blogging as a creative exercise

Some people write because they love to write, and others write because they want more followers or better SEO. Whatever the reason, you may be rethinking your need to express yourself in a standard blog. Journaling may not hold the same interest for you that it once did.

Other types of blogs

Some people create blogs for travel or photography and use hardly any words. That might be a good way to document your life. Other people use all words and barely any images. I’m of the belief that you need both words and images to tell a story or create a blog. There are personal blogs, business blogs, and affiliate blogs, where you make a little money by recommending a product.

Do you have a favorite kind of blog or blog post?

Do tell!

See What Happens When You Turn Your Best Blog Posts into a Book, Part Three

Have you ever considered writing a book? Recently, I’ve been writing about how to get started turning your blog posts into a book. This is the third in the series.

Here are the previous parts:

What do you do next?

If you get stuck at any point, realize that you’re going to need someone to edit your book and someone to create artwork for your book. You could ask among your friends or you could also check Fiverr. Fiverr is an awesome place, with lots of experts. I think Fiverr’s reputation has grown by leaps and bounds, so check it out! I’ve used Fiverr to help with formatting and to find someone to create infographics for my second book. You might find it helpful, too.

Get more than one edit

My recommendation for anyone writing anything is to have more than one edit. You may want to have two, or possibly three edits. That gives you time to let your writing stew a bit. Then you can incorporate your editor’s comments, and rewrite some more. That time on the back burner really helps–so long as you don’t completely forget that your draft exists, that is. You can use Fiverr to find editors, too, if you don’t know one personally.

Choose an artist, editor, formatter whose work speaks to you

When I was trying to find someone to create infographics for my book, I worked with three different artists. Eventually, I settled on one person to help. That person not only had an eye for infographics, he was someone I could easily communicate with. He got back to me quickly and understood what I said, although his first language wasn’t English.

Find someone generous and be generous in return

While searching for someone to format my drafts, I wanted someone who didn’t charge extra for little things. And I gave her a generous tip. I recommend doing the same. Not only does this create good will in the present moment, but when it comes time to use that person’s services again, they will remember you with fondness!

Keep writing

You may have several pages of writing at the point. Keep writing, even if some of it is garbage (and it will be!). You can rewrite, delete, and expand your writing. But if you don’t continue to write, you’ll never reach your end goal–a finished book! Another trick is to talk while you write. That is, read your words out loud. You’ll most likely find some things missing and your writing will be more conversational that way.

Enlist friends

You may know others in your community who are trying to write. It’s more fun when you’re writing with others! If there is no community, why not create your own? Meetup has many different groups, and you might find one that’s perfect for you. You might also host a virtual writing day or join NaNoWriMo and write 50,000 words in one month. Although that’s a lot of words, having others writing with you–even virtually–can help a lot.

 

 

 

Want More Followers? News Flash: Don’t Make it All about You!

The number one thing I first tell people about to embark on a social media journey is to consider their audience. Your audience, like you, is a multi-faceted bunch. They don’t have merely one interest. They have multiple interests, hobbies, and they’re complex creatures. So wouldn’t it make sense that you should listen to all the things they have to say and post about some of their other interests?

You’re not the center of the universe

If you’re a man posting on social media, listen to what your women friends have to say. If you’re a woman, listen to what your men friends are saying. If you’re older, listen to the whippersnappers. And so on! (Joking about the whippersnappers, by the way.) You get the general idea. You’ve got to be somewhat flexible. And listen. A lot. If you don’t know how to find who your audience is, you might like this article: Who Are You Writing For? Target Audience and Social Media.

Why it’s easier when you’re not the center of the universe

Have you ever tried to have a conversation when the other person doesn’t say a word? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Since you’re not talking, I’ll answer that question for you. YES, IT’S EXHAUSTING. It’s so much easier when there’s a back-and-forth volley in the conversation. Teachers who don’t have conversations must have a difficult time since it’s like a one-way valve when they’re lecturing. A conversation is so much more satisfying. And if you don’t know how to have a conversation, Indeed has this nifty guide: 13 Ways to Start a Conversation. (I like the one about showing genuine interest.)

Speak in your audience’s voice

Now, this might be a little trickier, but if you can incorporate some of your audience’s language, that could really engage your audience more. See what they say, how they say it, and what specific words they use to describe things. Maybe they also use a lot of emojis. Don’t completely mirror their voice, but incorporate some elements into your voice. Here’s an article you might like about your audience and their voice: Audience: Use Its Language. Yes, it was written back in the day, but still relevant (if I do say so myself!).

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason

Someone said that once, and I’ve always remembered it. More listening and less talking is a good idea. After all, as my friend Amy Donohue is fond of saying it’s called SOCIAL media, so keep it social. By the way, Amy just wrote a terrific book–Social Media Stole My Kidney, which you can find on Amazon (highly recommended).

Share, be generous, and collaborate

When you share what others are saying and doing first, they’re much more likely to want to share what you have to say, too. So be generous, collaborate, tag others, and again–it’s not all about you! People are much, much, MUCH more likely to follow you if you make it about them first.

 

See What Happens When You Turn Your Best Blog Posts into a Book, Part Two

Maybe you’ve already read my previous article, about turning your best blog posts into a book. If not, you can find it here: See What Happens When You Turn Your Best Blog Posts into a Book. Anyway, if you’re still reading, here are some more ideas for the next phase of turning your blog posts into a book.

Get more juicy ideas about each chapter

Last week, you might have already finished the ten chapter titles, then written two sentences. Since we’ve already used the example of an organizing book, let’s keep that example. So for each of the ten chapters, write two or three more sentences about each chapter. You’ll find that some of the chapter headings are simple to expand. Others will give you problems. You may find that you could even divide some of the original chapters in half and create new chapters that way. Still unconvinced of the merits of writing a book? Here is what happens when you write a book. One thing that happens is you’ll meet other authors.

What do you want to learn?

Maybe you feel that you’re not smart enough or you don’t know enough. But, chances are, you know a lot more than you think you know. Still, there may be areas in your knowledge that you’d like to expand. So for instance, thinking about our imaginary book, what is it about organizing that you’d like to know more about? For me, it would be organizing photos and digital organizing. Maybe you could start by writing about physical photos first, then move onto digital photos.  Maybe whichever you feel more compelled to write about.

Where can you learn more?

Of course, there’s always Google for a way to find out more. You could also ask your photographer friends which websites are the best for learning about how to organize photos. I’d say start by tossing any photos that are out of focus, don’t have anyone you know in them, or are simply not interesting. Other good places to learn about organizing photos could be on Pinterest or YouTube. I really like this article from NPR If You’ve Always Wanted to Write a Book, here’s how, especially the ideas on how to banish your inner editor.

Pull from your own knowledge

If you have photos, you will have organized them to some extent, probably. So how did you do that? If you haven’t done that before, think of a friend or colleague who has done this. This goes for any chapter of your book. Talk to someone who’s done what you’re going to write about. You might even want to quote them.

Talk to a professional

Did you know there are professional organizers that specialize in organizing photos? You might want to look at some of their websites for some ideas. For instance, my friend Glenda Evans is a Certified Photo Organizer. Find someone who does what you’re writing about and ask to interview them. You might be surprised at what you find out.

See What Happens When You Turn Your Best Blog Posts into a Book

It’s possible that you’ve been blogging and blogging, without knowing why. Maybe writing is fun for you. Maybe you’re pouring your heart out and treat your blog like a journal. Or perhaps you enjoy the silence. In any case, you could decide to have a bigger purpose for your blogging and turn your best blog posts into a book.

That’s right–a book!

In case you didn’t know, writing and publishing a book is now easier than ever. You can turn to YouTube University (I made that up, so don’t go looking for it, literal friends) and find out a lot about how easy it is. But I’ll give you an outline you can use right here, to give you a headstart. If you’d like to read a good book about blogging, might I suggest friend Randy Clark’s book How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever?

Here’s an example

Before I was a social media marketer, I helped people organize their lives and their spaces. This was before Marie Kondo came along, by the way. Anyway, let’s use organizing as an example. Could you write ten blog posts about organizing? Of course you could! I mean, if I could, then you could, too! And people love to hear about how to organize their lives.

Ten blog posts = ten chapters

Here are ten possible chapters for our imaginary organizing book:

  1. Entryway
  2. Bathroom
  3. Bedroom
  4. Kitchen
  5. Garage
  6. Living room
  7. Deck/patio
  8. Paperwork
  9. Photos
  10. Digital organizing.

You could add an intro and a follow-up chapter, too. And maybe talk about psychological barriers to organizing, or whatever your heart desires.

Beef up the titles

Now, go back and tweak the titles, making them juicier and more specific. For instance, kitchen could become Finding Space for All Your Cooking Supplies in Your Kitchen. Use your imagination. Also, what would you like to read about? What would you like to write about? Realize that you’ll also learn some things while writing this or any book. So if you decide what you want to learn about, you could write about that.

Look for inspiration

There’s inspiration everywhere. For instance, I just found a fun video about organizing that talked about unpopular organizing ideas. The woman was funny and talked about popular organizing ideas that she hated. Could you do that? Sure you could! Those hangers that give you more space, for instance. She talked about how inefficient those are. And how cheap the Dollar Tree organizing products are, and how they create food deserts. Here are some ideas for finding content ideas for your social media.

Write two sentences about each title

Stay with me here. Start with a general idea and then get more specific. For instance, for the kitchen, you could say Your first step will be to remove everything from your cabinets. And Don’t be afraid. After all, everything will return to those cabinets (except for the things you don’t want to keep, that is). Now go onto each of the other nine chapters, and write two sentences for each of them. Then write two more, and so on.

Make a bigger plan

The idea is to get going, have a bigger plan, and to use your writing in more than one place. As you know, repurposing your social media posts is one of my favorite things to do. In fact, here’s a link to Repurposing Your Social Media Content is the Ultimate Time Saver. More on writing a book next week!

 

 

In a Hurry? Time Management for the Busy Professional!

Today I feel particularly harried. My to-do list is overflowing, the phone is ringing, and the end of the day is approaching while there are still about a million things left to do. If you’re busy and think you have no time for time management, think again! A few moments spent “sharpening the saw” will yield terrific results! Here are some of my own tips for staying on top of your time.

We only have 24 hours

That might seem like a stupid thing to say, but it’s a good reminder that we’re only human. You can’t clone yourself (yet!), so you’re the one who has to get everything done. You need a few hours for sleep, some for eating, and some relaxation. By the way, you might like: Time Management for the Tired and Frazzled.

Spend 15 minutes

Every evening, I spend up to 15 minutes creating my list for the following day. This is a brain dump so I don’t think of these things as I’m trying to fall asleep. Simply write down everything you can think of that needs to get done. 15 minutes is only 1% of your day.

Prioritize the list

I like to number my list in the order that things need to get done. Here’s an article you might like: How to Avoid the Five Stages of Social Media Burnout. So you have a road map for the following day, and can spend your precious time doing, rather than puzzling over what needs to happen first and last.

Leave space for last-minute items

There will always be last-minute emergencies, phone calls, and meetings that spill over, etc. So leave some time for those. If you don’t get any last-minute chores, take the time for yourself. Sometimes meetings will get canceled, and those are gifts of extra time for you.

Leave space between things

Your health is the most important priority. Without you, nothing is possible. Your business will probably fall off (unless your business can run without you, that is). So leave yourself some time to transition. And just breathe. Or have a snack.

Decide what not to do!

Sometimes procrastinating (on some things) can be very helpful. Someone else may take that chore you didn’t want to do, for instance. Or suddenly, that “emergency” isn’t one any more. That’s often the case!

Figure out how to say no

This is maybe the most important one of all! Think of a few different ways to say no. Here’s a good article from Inc. Magazine on 7 Tips for Saying No Effectively. Who do you need to say no to? Maybe it’s a family member, or a friend who keeps interrupting you?

How do you manage your time?

I really do want to know. Leave a comment. And thank you.

 

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