Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

As seen on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, Wired, Yahoo!, BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal
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12 questions with the author of Log Off (that’s me!) about offline success

Lake Bennett, Canada—courtesy Lindsey Snow

I was recently interviewed by popular author Melinda Emerson, aka SmallBizLady, for an upcoming podcast about my book Log Off. This is what I told her.

Why should I read your book?

I believe we live in the most distracted, bottomless, demanding, opportune, and noisiest time in all of human history. That makes finding offline (or digital) balance very hard indeed. It’s a great time to be sure, and we’re all empowered with more life-changing tools than ever before (i.e. internet, smartphones, work from anywhere). But we must deliberately harness these powerful tools with measured boundaries, otherwise they can dictate how we live our daily lives rather than consciously choosing how we want to. But offline balance isn’t just about good health—it’s the key to greater income, growth, fulfillment, freetime, and lasting relationships. That’s what my book puts forth in a short and prescriptive 100 pages.

Why is online addiction a growing problem?

While online addictions certainly existed in the desktop and laptop computing days, they didn’t go mainstream until the smartphone era about a decade ago. To compound the issue, the more information and entertainment that gets digitized, the easier it is to get lost in the bottomless search for distractions.

How does too much internetting negatively affect our lives?

The last decade of research shows that excessive internetting, smartphoning, and social media make us miserable. There are two reasons for this. First, online abuse stifles our individual and collective creativity and productivity. Secondly, it keeps us from bonding and connecting with others in more meaningful ways. That is to say that social media is mostly the illusion of relationships. True relationships develop largely offline, though facetime, human touch, body language, and shared presence and experiences. While social media can sometimes facilitate that, it mostly isolates us. In fact, in-person meetings have dwindled in the social media era, as opposed to being boosted by it. This all matters because all of us want to contribute and all of us are social creatures. 

What are some successful strategies for limiting time online?

The first if not biggest step is turning off all beeps, buzzes, and visual alerts on our default phone settings (save for voice calls from very important people such as spouses and our boss). That way we can choose to use our phones when we want to rather than having our day interrupted by them every other second. As radical as it sounds, I’ve done this for the last nine years and my professional, personal, and social lives have dramatically improved as a result. True story!

How can work-related online use be balanced?

Set the expectation with bosses, coworkers, and clients that you’re revising your online use for greater productivity and fulfillment. This starts by ceasing to answer emails on nights, weekends, and vacations. Obviously emergencies happen. In that case, tell those you work to please call you. But remember, in most cases, legitimate emergencies are rare. Either way, 99% of people are understanding because they want the same thing in their own lives. If you happen to have a boss in the 1%, it’s probably time to start looking for a new job.

Are there benefits of online time? If so, how can we avoid going overboard?

Certainly! I wouldn’t be where I am today without the internet. It truly is a wonderful thing, the greatest human invention since Penicillin. I say as much in both the opening and closing chapters of my book. That said, the internet isn’t going anywhere. The sooner we all realize this, the easier it becomes to take more regular and healthy breaks from it (i.e. on nights, weekends, and vacation) without getting sucked into and distracted from the overwhelming amount of noise taking place online. It’s all about using the internet, our smartphones, and social media with purpose as opposed to the default and unhealthy “all the time.”

Can “Logging Off” fix your business?

Yes! Better focus, revenue, mental recharges, and personal fulfilment all play a contributing role in running a successful business. Although “Logging Off” is no substitute for ABC (always be closing), it’s a powerful program that permeates and improves virtually every aspect of your business.

Can you still have a positive content marketing presence after logging off?

Yes. Most content marketing is constant but forgettable. You just need regular content that’s good to make an impact. And regular doesn’t have to be up to the minute, second, or even the day. It just means at least once or twice a week and it will reach more people if it’s really good, say an original idea or perspective rather than a regurgitated, predictable, or trite ideas that often populate social media or blogs. If you don’t believe me, please read What 12 years of content marketing taught me.

What’s the greatest single truth that comes from your book?

If you fail to set well-defined boundaries with your phone, social media, and internet, you’re planning to fail in most areas of your life.

Besides your book, what’s the best thing you’ve ever done to improve your business?

Many years ago, I hired a one-time management consultant (Hi, Josh!) and nearly doubled my sales as a result. He taught me how to set sales targets, how to position myself, and gave me the pat on the back I needed to grow my business. A few years later, I hired him again and plan on doing so every few years to recalibrate my business priorities, opportunities, and threats.

What are some surprising things people might not know about you?

I’m a two-time marathoner, a former 96% chess player, reader of 8-12 books per year, believer in the afterlife, and I hope to visit all seven continents within the next two years (I’m only lacking Antarctica). I chase experiences more than paper. I believe people are inherently good. And if you disagree, you’re wrong.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

“Here lies a man that tried his hardest to be kind, helpful, forgiving, and hopeful. His wife and kids made him a better man that he would have otherwise been. He liked to write sentences for a living and hope that some of them had a positive impact on those who read them.”