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How much is too much?

What do you do when you feel like you’ve got so much on you can’t catch your breath?  When as soon as you get a grip on what you need to focus on and what you need to accomplish the list doubles and doubles again?

As I’ve said before at the moment I’m juggling the delicate balancing act of working full time and studying full time.  Granted that I’m using the amazing technology of the internet to earn a University degree online without ever having to attend a lecture or tutorial in person.  But this comes with it’s own challenges.  To study online you need to be dedicated and self motivated.  There is no set time of the day or week that you HAVE to do anything.  No recurring lecture to attend, no tutorial group to discuss ideas with and get an immediate insight on the topics with.  You find the time, whatever time that is.  For me it’s increasingly becoming about 5 in the morning when I get home from work and can’t sleep I log on do some readings and post in the discussion board.  But unless you make yourself keep on track, unless you prioritise your life and commit to making study work, it won’t.

Up to this point I’ve been able to navigate the rocky terrain of this journey relatively unscathed.  Sure there is always a time when everything is due at once and work needs my full attention as well.  But that’s the exception to the rule, usually I’m able to plan things in advance enough for me to be able to maintain some form of balance and still have some form of life outside of work and Uni.

Recently there are more and more things coming up that I need to focus on.  I’m still working hard at work and uni, I’m also putting a lot of effort to build my social media skills and develop a genuine online presence, on top of that I’m working on a freelance design for Pride March Victoria, I’m getting the framework and website together for my freelance web design company Blushing Toms Design and I’m also committed to enhancing the website and web presence of Blushing Toms to generate more sales, reach more people, develop new products and really establish us as a renowned business in the LGBTI community.  On top of all that is another new venture that’s knocking on my door, it looks amazing and enticing, but it will also take an incredible amount of time, energy, enthusiasm, creativity and persistence to make it work.

Is that too much?  Will it be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back?

Usually it’s easy to tell when there is too much of something, you’re filling up a glass and it overflows, thats too much.  You feed your dog a bone that is double the size of it’s entire body, regardless of what your dog may tell you that IS too much.  But when it’s intangible things, when it’s your time, your effort and your energy where do you draw the line?  Do you wait until you burn out, have a breakdown and can’t do anything other than watch bad daytime TV for a year to recover?

That’s not something I’m all too keen on, don’t get me wrong daytime TV can be a good break but there’s far to many bad infomercials for my liking.  Truth be told I think your body and your instincts give you the signal when things are getting on top of you, even if you don;t always recognise what they’re trying to tell you. The trouble is your mind can sometimes take over and override those natural signals to slow down and focus.  Because your mind is part of your ego, and I don’t know about you, buy my ego always wants me to be capable, responsible and in control.  It wants to get a sense of achievement from doing things that seem impossible, from pushing boundaries and taking on the world no matter the cost.

This is the dilemma I’m facing at the moment, is it all too much?  Is my ego clouding the judgement of what my body and mind can handle? Or am I just scared of what might happen if I dive in and fail?

To be honest I think I know what I need to do, but knowing it and doing it are two very different things.  There have been a number of times in my life that have pushed me to make tough decisions, stand up for myself and live my truth no matter what anyone thought or the consequences it may bring.  I’m starting to think this is one of them.

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Privacy online, is there such a thing?

The world is too much with us.

With news that Facebook is introducing “frictionless sharing” it begs the question of if and how you can protect your identity online, or if you lose the right to privacy as soon as you step foot in the rabbit hole.

Facebook, known previously among users as having somewhat questionable privacy policies, the launch of “Frictionless sharing” has for some pushed the friendship too far.  Basically this new ‘feature’ allows apps from services and publishers to post a users activity without asking their permission for each item that it posts.  A once off, and possibly unread opt in allows third parties the right to access and republish your posts at any time.

But is this all too different from the once reproachable ‘News Feed’ that gives each user a stream of the most recent posts and activity of those that they ‘Like’ and are friends with?  When it launched in 2006, the news feed feature caused outcry and mass account deletion in protest of the invasion of privacy it posed.  But one wonders if Facebook would have reached the infinite proportions it currently has, if this feature had not been available.  Where would the draw card be for users to come back to the site?  Although initially it seemed as though our lives were being put on display against our will, now many users log in with the sole purpose of checking the news feed as an easy way of finding out what their nearest and (questionably) dearest have been up to.

Although Facebook acts as a “free” service, is it any real surprise to users that there’s a catch?  The reason it is free, the reason they have the money to run a multimillion user service with minimal downtime is that advertisers and marketing companies pay Facebook for something else, for us.  That means that the real ‘product’ that Facebook sells, is us, it’s users and our information.  Is it any wonder that a marketer or company wants to know the intricate details of their target audience, what we like, what we don’t like, how we react.  This is marketing 101, but in this case we’re creating our own buyer persona, can we really be surprised that companies are trying to get it?

To me it seems clear, whatever you put online, wherever it is posted be prepared for that information/image/text/video to be seen by the entire world.  That is the beauty and curse of the internet and especially social media.


In the beginning

In the early hours of the morning I found myself yet again staring furtively at the screen, my eyes weary from hours spent searching the endless lines of code for an answer that I was starting to believe wasn’t going to come. As I rise to fetch a new mug of coffee to fuel my endeavors for hopefully another hour or so, I ask myself “Why?”

Flashback to a few months earlier, I am at home, slumped on the couch half watching a TV show just to pass the time.  I’ve returned from another day at work, going through the motions, doing the same thing I did the day before, and the same thing I’ll do tomorrow.  A sobering thought flashed across my mind, the same thought I’d had for as long as I can remember “Is THIS all I can do?  Is this all I’m meant to be?”

Then something changed, an idea, a spark of life, an online business.

My friends and I decided to create our own business, but how to get it online?  I’ve always been technically minded, always wanted to know how things work, why they work, with a keen eye for detail, systems and patterns.  As soon as the website was mentioned, something deep inside me said “I can build it”.  Up to this point I’d never had any training or experience with web design or any other kind of programming, but still this voice “I can build it”.

Despite my lack of experience, my friends put their faith in me to bring our website and our business to the world.  I started reading, I watched seminars, I downloaded videos, I attended online conferences, I signed up to every web design blog/article/magazine I could find.  Slowly but surely it started coming together.  The more I learnt, the more it fuelled me to discover more, the more it challenged me the harder I pushed myself.  I was driven, I was alive!  But there was only so much I could learn on my own.  On a leap of faith and without a second thought I enrolled in an Internet Communications & Web Design degree and I’ve never looked back.

The internet has changed the world and continues shape the way we live.  Web design is the perfect mix of creative and logical thinking, driven by beauty and inspiration, built from systematic technicality, built for me.