How to Find Your Happy Place with Free Stock Files

iStockPhoto.com free stock filesIf you work with media, you are probably already familiar with iStockPhoto.com – if you aren’t familiar with them, I’m happy to introduce you!

e-Learning instructional designers and developers, graphic artists, Web developers, technical writers, video production specialists, voice-over actors, eBook authors and publishers, copywriters, advertising gurus…the list could go on for several more lines. I know that there are several terrific sites on the WWW for finding and downloading stock photos, illustrations, audio, and video files.

For years, I’ve stuck with iStockPhoto.com because, well…they just make it easy for me to find, save to Lightbox, purchase, and download stock files. Awhile ago, they began sending emails to members highlighting free, high-quality stock files.

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The Big Question | June 2009: Time Spent

e-Learning. m-Learning. iPhone apps for learning. Wikis. Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web. Social networks for collaboration. What’s an e-learning instructional designer and developer to do with the rapid pace of technology change and innovation?

bigquestionJune’s “The Big Question” at ASTD’s Learning Circuits blog is posed by Dr. Tony Karrer, from a question asked him by my colleague Robert Kennedy III.

What is your typical day like? How do you do all you do with elearning learning, elearning technology, techempower, work literacy and all the consulting and still remain profitable while having a LIFE? Ok, so that is more than one question, but hopefully you get the drift. What are your thoughts here?

I invite you to click the Learning Circuits blog link above, first, and then read my post. I have heard Dr. Tony Karrer speak in person at my local ASTD chapter. We all sat dumbfounded to hear how much he knows, calculating in our brains how much time he must spend online, on the WWW, each day. He has a family, so we bluntly asked him… “Do you spend time with your family?” He does, but we left the meeting wondering how he balances his work and his life. Robert Kennedy posed the same question on Tony’s blog, and now Tony would like to hear from us. (And, I can’t wait to read Tony’s answers.)

  • How much time do you spend and how did you find time for all the relatively newer things like reading blogs, twitter, social networks, etc.?
  • What are you doing less of today than you were 3-5 years ago?
  • Do you have less of a life with all of these new things?

My Initial Responses and Thoughts

  • A guess: Inhouse/corporate practitioners may not have much time at all to devote to new technology. Corporate policies and very strong firewalls keep them from experimenting and demonstrating to their management the learning potentials hidden in Learning 2.0. This may cause feelings of frustration.
  • Another guess: Those who own technology and e-learning businesses (like Tony) do have the time to explore. They have time to set up, follow, and contribute to branded social networks, Twitter IDs, LinkedIn, Facebook pages, etc., because it’s a large part of marketing their company to the wider world. They may even have a greater need than most to stay ahead of the curve to keep that competitive edge in a highly competitive world. CEOs may be facing increasing “pressure” to Be The Online Brand of their company as it’s a great way to have direct contact with the people who matter the most to their business: their customers. Zappo CEO Tony is an amazing example on Twitter.
  • My reality: Independent consultants/freelancers (like Robert and me) definitely have more freedom than corporate practitioners. We can schedule our time and set our daily priorities. For example, I’m online at 6:00 a.m. for my east coast clients, and I check my messages, the Twitter tweets from my tweeps, update my status on Facebook and LinkedIn, write a new blog post, etc. I love technology, and keep up with what’s new. Why? One day, a client might need me to create a branded wiki or social network for them. So, what I play around with today, can become a client product tomorrow. However, I’m certain that I don’t keep up with it all at the same pace that Tony does. I am a practitioner, and he’s a CEO with staff. He can hire e-learning designers, Flash developers, etc. I wear many of those hats and need to put my cost of business first and foremost. That’s a great transition to my next paragraph.

How Much Time Do I Spend?

I haven’t formally tracked my time, but I’ll guess it’s at least two hours a day. When I am on a client project, the client comes first, so I dedicate my hours to getting the job done. If I have time at the end of the day, I’ll check all of my accounts and contribute if I have something of value to share. And, I’ll click on the bit.ly URLs to discover new things that both amaze and amuse me. If I don’t have time, I don’t do the above. Again, the client’s e-learning course comes first.

johnlecarre_tinkertailorsoldierspyjpg

What Am I Doing Less of Today?

Sadly, my answer is reading books for fun. However, I’m scheduling book-reading time into my week. My husband is going to the library this afternoon, and I’ve asked him to pick up John Le Carre’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” for me. It’s a novel I’ve wanted to read for a very long time, and that’s my plan for June… “git her done!”.

I also place face-to-face (F2F), “people” time as a higher priority than online time. And, I schedule that in, too. Association meetings, networking groups, user SIGs…. Not everything is scheduled. I have a heart and mind open to serendipity and spontaneous events! One thing I won’t do is allow the online, digital/virtual life to take away from my analog, real world life. I’ve noticed something. When I’m inside SL (Second Life), more and more people are mentioning their RL (real lives).

To be authentic in the digital realm,
we must always cultivate our “analog” selves in the real world.

As much as I may love a Twitter colleague, I cannot shake his hand, nor give her a collegial hug, when needed. That may be why I see many Twitter tweeps creating networking groups in the real world. They meet at local restaurants or coffee houses so they can experience the F2F time we need as human beings.

The Real Answer to The Big Question for June

Priorities. That’s the answer to all of the questions, and to the third bullet point. Each one of us will have priorities different from the person we’re tweeting with or IM-ing. Not all of us can or will be like a Tony Karrer. That’s Tony’s amazing role and we all have different roles, gifts, and talents that we’ll share with others in a different way.

strawberriesThat said…I believe all of us in this brave, Learning 2.0 (or 3.0) world need to remind each other of the non-job things that we do. Tony does spend time with his family… he goes to his son’s athletic events, for example (he told us that after we grilled him at our ASTD chapter meeting). I believe we need to share a bit more of this with each other without going into details about our private lives (nor Tweeting every 15 minutes about personal things). For example, on Twitter Saturday morning, I tweeted that I was going out to pick fresh strawberries in my backyard garden. No one responded to that tweet, but for me, it was a subtle reminder to me and everyone that we need to log off, go outside, smell the roses, and savor the taste of a sweet, juicy, red strawberry on the tongue.

I cherish my colleagues and loved ones in both my real world and my virtual world. Together, they all add value to my life and profession. When Tony, Robert, or someone forwards a URL about a new technology, I’ll follow it to the end and try to create a demo to show my clients. If I don’t have the time at the moment, I’ll schedule it for later.

Priorities. Again, it’s about what we value and what’s urgent vs. what’s important in our lives. And, only you can answer that question for you, including how much time you dedicate online to new learning technologies. And, I can only determine for me what I’ll do with Learning 2.0 today and tomorrow.

How’s that for a long answer to The Big Question? Let me know your thoughts.

@jenisecook (on Twitter)

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