Our guest on this episode of the Early Accountability podcast is Meico Whittlock, founder and CEO of the Mindful Techie, an organization that helps high-achievers reclaim their time and refocus on their life purpose. Meico uses his experiences on the brink of burnout to coach individuals and organizations on the topics of reducing digital distractions, reclaiming work/life balance, and refocusing on their purpose or mission in life.
Meico identifies two key tools in this shift in perspective: (1) deciding to live in a way that will fulfill your own life purpose, rather than in reaction to other people’s priorities, and (2) a very helpful Gmail tool that helps you spend less time in your inbox. It is easy to view your inbox and your calendar full of meetings as someone else’s to-do list for you, but Meico recommends shifting your mindset when an email comes in so that you see it as a way to fulfill your purpose rather than someone else’s. In Gmail, Meico uses the “when inbox ready” plugin that allows you to hide your inbox until you are ready to see it and then it provides you with metrics about how long and how many times you access your inbox over a specified timeframe.
The three life-changing questions that Meico wants us to ask ourselves are: (1) What am I grateful for? (2) What would I do if I knew that I couldn’t fail? (3) What will people say about me after I die?
The answers to these questions can either affirm that we are on the right path or alert us that we have strayed from our life purpose and we need to evaluate our vision and priorities. The items that we put on our calendars are the items that take precedence over everything else, so be sure to schedule time for what is important to you.
Topics Covered in this Episode:
- Meico’s tools for focusing on your life’s purpose
- The three key questions to ask yourself about your life’s purpose
- How to still be able to spend time on social media without feeling guilty
- Multitasking is a myth
Meico Marquette Whitlock, Founder and CEO of Mindful Techie, is a speaker and trainer on mindfulness, technology, and productivity. Mindful Techie is an organization focused on helping purpose-driven professionals and organizations boost their personal and professional effectiveness and increase productivity and work-life balance in a digital world.
Through talks, workshops, and trainings, Mindful Techie helps purpose-driven professionals and organizations integrate purpose, intention, and mindfulness into their day-to-day work in order to increase employee satisfaction, productivity, and work-life balance, and more effectively advance organizational missions and priorities.
Meico has served the non-profit and public sectors for nearly two decades by connecting people, information, and technology in ways that promote wellness and lasting social good. He is based in the Washington, D.C. area and travels domestically and internationally.
He shares from the depth of his personal experience through his thought leadership as a speaker and workshop facilitator with organizations and individuals invested in living full, whole, integrated, and balanced lives.
Meico has been a featured speaker on mindfulness, technology, and productivity on ABC News and on the main stage at events such as the Nonprofit Technology Conference. Meico has been a guest on the Meditate This! podcast and the NTEN Ask The Expert: Mindful Social Media national conference call and has supported social media for the annual Mindful Leadership Summit and the Mindful Life Conference.
Connect with Meico:
Welcome to the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ hosted by Kimi Walker. Kimi has a track record of serving as a behavior change, and improve the catalyst for individuals, groups, and organizations. Get ready to make the best version of yourself a priority. Now welcome Kimi Walker.
Kimi: Kimi Walker here and welcome to the next episode of the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’. Tonight, I have as a guest Meico Whittlock. He is the C.E.O. and founder of ‘Mindful Techie’. Welcome Meico, thank you for being here this evening with us.
Meico: Thank you for having me.
Kimi: Why don’t you start by just introducing yourself? Or just telling the audience a little bit about you, talking to us about like ‘Mindful Techie’ and how you kind of started that initiative and company.
Meico: Awesome! So I’m Meico Whittlock. I’m the founder and C.E.O. of ‘Mindful Techie’. And ‘Mindful Techie’ is an organization to really hope purpose driven high achievers reclaim their time, reclaim their lives from work life imbalance and digital distractions. So we live in an ever increasing hyper connected world where we’re expected to be on 24/7. And what I’ve found from my own life experience you know spending the vast majority of my professional career in the nonprofit and technology sector and communications as well is that we oftentimes can lose ourselves in our work particularly when we work for mission there in organizations and we can also have that exacerbated by the technology piece.
And so, I work with people on reclaiming their time from that. And it’s really born out of my own experience of being on the brink of burnout working at organization where I was really passionate about the work, really passionate about the mission. Just reached a point where I realized there was no underfeeding and that I had to make a decision about what the next step was and I was really looking to bring my spiritual self, bring my personal about the work that I was doing outside of work to my work to bring a whole up to my work.
And long story short, I was able to do that and started talking about to bring it to work, gave talks about that at conferences, and the response was overwhelming. And I realized that I could actually do this full time and really have a tremendous impact in a positive way for professionals just like me. So I decided to go ahead and do it full time.
Kimi: What was the brink or the point that made you say, “Okay enough is enough and I have to make these changes, and how I deal with technology, or how I consume technology”, whether it’s social media, being on the phone, emails?
Meico: So there’ve been I guess lots of warning signs if you will. But one of the ones that stands out to me was I think I reached the point where I realized that the e-mails were never gonna stop coming in, and that I could literally die. And people would say lots of wonderful things at my memorial service. But the e-mails will continue to come in and they were probably hire someone else to replace me.
And so once I had that realization, once I sort of came face to face with that, I realized that my life is a gift that I need to be investing wisely inn. So I could choose to suffer and to give my life away to something that was a mother feeding me and trying to keep up and trying to do it all. Or I could take a stand to take a risk to run something differently. And so once I took that risk and was willing to do something different, that opened up a whole new world for me.
Kimi: I know when you said I know it’s very easy to… I know I kinda find myself. I can get drowned in emails if I don’t really stay on top of them. But as I’ve had it started to diversify what I do and I’m working self-employed and I have just different channels and different things that I’m kind of communicating with. Like you say you can just constantly be answering emails, and constantly doing it where you’re like doing that and not really working with people, or helping people. What kind of tools or techniques do you tell people to kind of help organize and get some clarity and how they’re doing it? Or to kind of decrease the amount of time you’re using. Or just being like on the Internet or on social media; just kind of my Wesley.
Meico: Yes, so there are two parts of this. So one is this that the technology tools. (And I’ll make some recommendations for that.) But the first part is more important, right. Oftentimes, we approach these particular challenges with technology overwhelm from the standpoint of okay, what’s the technology solutions can help me solve the problem? When the real challenge is to really have to wrap it around is getting in contact and in a sync with your why, your purpose, your vision for your life and for your work. Often times, we are living in reaction to other people’s priorities and other people’s visions. And essentially when you think about it that way your email inbox for example can turn into everyone else’s to do list for you.
And so, if you are checking your email and you are approaching in that way, you’re always gonna be overwhelmed and you’re never gonna be in a place where you feel like you are actually accomplishing something, right. Whereas if you’re approaching it from a place of I have a clear understanding of how it is and also secure a service, how it is I’m so make an impact for this organization, for my clients, or whatever the context is, then your email use gets to shift to focus on those priorities that are aligned with that particular vision. Ever did align with you know why, your purpose in the particular context. And when you’re able to do that, you’re able to see.
Okay, I can’t do it all. I can’t necessarily answer all of the emails. I can’t get to the mythological ‘Inbox Zero’. But what I can do is being very laser focused on those one or two priorities that are around my vision about why, and center my email uses around that. And anything else it doesn’t have to do with those priorities or have to do with that particular purpose; that becomes secondary. And then it becomes more manageable because you’re not putting everything on the same level. You’re not giving everything the same way. You’re prioritizing things that are aligned with your vision and your why. But we don’t often connect with that. We’re often… I think sometimes unconscious and we’re living in response to other people’s vision and priorities.
So that being said in terms of tools there’s one tool in particular I like to use I used gmail for my business e-mail. And one of the plug ins that I like to use is call ‘when inbox ready’. When inbox ready is a plug in that you can download for gmail that hides your inbox. And it gives you metrics on how many times you have checked your inbox that day and also how much time you have spent in your inbox. And so that awareness is a tool that you can begin to use. As okay, I spent two hours in my inbox that day. Like I could have been spending at doing other things.
Like is there a more efficient way that I could be using my time? So that’s one way that it works. The other way is it allows you to search for e-mails, allows you to compose emails, and not be distracted by the number of on unanswered e-mails that are in your inbox [crosstalk] [06:58] by new e-mails that are coming in. Yes, so ‘when inbox ready’ is you’re looking for like a technological solution. That’s one of the tools that I would recommend. I think we’re going to I was saying earlier I think we’re getting clear about your purpose. Like what is it that you’re trying to do?
When you show up at work that day or this week, what is the number one thing you’re trying to accomplish? How you know that you have had a successful week? And then shape your email, use your social media, use it around that. If it’s not related to those priorities, not related to that vision, those outcomes of that success that you’re trying to see then a secondary is not as important as those other things that you’re focused on.
Kimi: I know I really like your work with the vision and I know I’ve completed and done your 90-day vision and I really liked it. And like you say really getting clear. Oh and what it is that you want and also looking to see if you’re kind of aligning yourself with your vision. Like the steps that you’re taking with your vision. And I was talking with one of my friends the other day even about your vision plan and how I kinda noticed when I said, “This is the vision that I have for myself.”
There were still some steps or things that I wasn’t doing in that. Could you kind of walk people through how do they really get clarity on what their vision is. Like what are some like questions they should be asking themselves. So that they know actually okay, this is my vision, this is what I want for myself.
Meico: Yes, so that’s a really good question. So two things that I would recommend. The first is oftentimes, we approach to a place of what I’m missing, what I don’t have. So what I’m reminding people of is you have everything that you need right here in this moment to fulfill your life’s mission and purpose. And so your goal is really to get in touch and uncover that. And so one of the first ways that I help people to do that is to actually ask themselves the question, “What am I grateful for?”
To engage in an exercise about gratitude and to really recognizing the be great for the things that you have in your life. So that’s just the first part of that process. The second part of this process is asking yourself a really powerful question such as, “What would you be doing with your life if you knew that you could not fail?” In other words, if you knew that you had everything that you could possibly do that you could possibly desire, what would you be doing with your life.
Meico: Often times, we think oh well, if I have more money, if I look this way, if I had this job, if I had this title, if I had this partner then everything would be hunky dory, and I would be able to live my life purpose. Well let’s assume for the sake of argument that that’s true that you had all those things. What would you be doing with your life if all of those things were aligning in the way that you expected? And so that’s one question that you gonna ask yourself. And the third question I’m out leave you with is, at the end of your life people are gonna be hopefully saying wonderful things about you at your memorial service when you pass away.
If there’s a breaking news alert on C.N.N. or on N.P.R., what would they say about you? What would they say about you in terms of your life? How would your life have mattered at the end of your time here on Earth? And so when you begin to move from what am I grateful for it, to what would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail, to what my legacy will be. Those are really the reflection questions that you can begin to ask yourself to really uncover what it is that you’re supposed to be doing with your life. How it is that you’re actually supposed to be investing the precious gift of your time.
Kimi: Yes and so what kind of techniques or tips do you have for people who feel I know I often feel like, oh my gosh, if I just had more time. Like if I just have more time in the day. What type of tips do you have for people in another [inaudible] [10:24] who feel like they just don’t have enough time to do all the things they kind of desired to do?
Meico: You know that’s a really great question. So for the first part is getting clear about your vision. And we sort of talk about how you can actually uncover what that is; what your purpose is, what your why is. The second step in the process is going to where you are saying Kimi is okay, when you have your vision, but is your life aligning with that, right? You have to say okay, I have ten things that I wanna accomplish this year. But I can only do so many things simultaneously. And we talk about multitasking, we know that that’s a myth, right.
So we’re focusing at a high level of multiple things simultaneously. What we’re doing is we’re creating anxiety, we’re creating stress in our bodies, and we’re actually reducing the likelihood they were actually gonna be productive on those things. At some point, we have to say, “Okay well at this moment in time, what one thing am I actually gonna focus on?” So I help people to take their lifelong vision, and their year long vision and to say, “Okay, well over the next 90 days, how am I actually gonna operationalize this? And over the next 90 days, I know I have ten or 20 goals that I wanna focus on, but what one or two things I can focus on over the next 90 days.
And let me put the other 18 or 20 things into the parking lot. And then once I get clear about what are one or two things I wanna focus on, then I need to take a look at my calendar. And I need to make sure that my calendar is actually aligning with how I am thinking about my priorities. In other words, your calendar, your time should reflect the time you’re spending on action steps to actually achieve your particular priorities.
So if you wanna [inaudible] to get in shape and to work out, then there’s at least some time on your calendar for running or swimming or biking or working out with the trainer. If it’s not your calendar, then I mean it’s not really important. This is not really a priority for you. If one of your goals is to finally launch your business, then I need to see time on your calendar that actually reflects time that you’re spending to going to workshops, or working with a business coach, or putting together business plan, or doing some business development.
All of those things are necessary for you to get your business off the ground. And then you have to protect that time. And you protect that time by learning to say yes and no the right way. In a way that honors you and honors your priorities. And finding the support that you know actually hold you accountable. So that you can continue to do that over the long term.
So just to sum all this up, you have to really start with a clear vision. And then once you get clear about your vision, identify those one or two priorities for the short term career that you know me working on, and then make sure that your time is actually aligning with that. Those are the most important things you can do to actually help you to make sustaining long term progress.
Kimi: I was wondering too if you could talk a little bit… because I see this a lot and I know a few years back after I worked a lot in social media did a lot with social media in my job. I kinda was like oh how do I wanna do it. So I’m not really a one social media a lot a lot. I can kinda go without. But I do notice when I do get on like one thing I’d be it to be form more mindful. And like you said mindful, be a component of mindfulness. People don’t understand it’s just awareness so…
Kimi: I notice that a lot of people are like in my feed or I just don’t care. I was getting sidetracked when I would get on the air, and just kinda looking at people’s lives that you know we don’t even speak. So one of the things that I did because I was like deactivated from Facebook from I like almost two years. And other social media, I just kinda stayed off of it. One thing I did was I removed everybody from my feed. So I only see like the stuff that was about like news or things that actually went on there to learn. Like in crafting things or like videos that were in alignment with my hobbies.
I know it’s very easy on social media too on the personal side to see people kind of putting on the glorious parts of their lives. Like you know just things that look really great. Like nice trips, these nice get away with their significant others, this house they just got, the car they just got. So it can be very easy to get caught in comparison. So what are some tips and techniques you get for just the casual side of like social media and technology? Like I don’t know if I spend too much time on Instagram. How do I know if I’m spending too much time on like Facebook or Snapchat?
How do I know if it’s kind of crippling me with all the stuff that I’m seeing on there as well as what I’m doing with my life? Like you say I could be spending an hour on Instagram. That could have been an hour I spent on my business. Was I on Instagram with the purpose, do I have a certain amount of time, or I can just be like social? Like okay I’m just casually looking on there. What kind of tips and techniques do you give for that component? Because I think that’s important to even the social and personal side of social media.
Meico: Yes, so I think that’s a really great question. And I would start with again going back to your vision, and going back to your priorities. When at the end of each week or each month or whatever the time you’re using to actually check and just to look at their progress. That is gonna be indicator of whether or not you can actually afford to be spending the other time on those other things, right. So if you’re not making progress and working with your trainer to lose weight.
If you’re not making progress in launching your business, but you have time to spend on social media and you’re not just doing it where you’re sort of spending a few minutes here and there to catch up or to entertain yourself. But you’re spending hours of your time on it and you’re not making progress in your business, that can be an indication that you are not actually in alignment, right. That you’re actually spending more time than you actually need to. So a couple things I recommend here.
One is as you mentioned; mindfulness. Mindfulness is really about awareness, it’s about purchases, right. So being aware that that that is getting in the way of you getting to where you wanna go. And then also recognizing that… You know often times, when it comes to technology and social media in particular, we sort of accept the default settings for how things are set up. Not recognizing or sometimes we forget that we have a choice.
We have a choice in who we choose to follow and what we choose to follow on social media. So if you are following brands, or news sources, or people that are toxic that are sort of challenging you emotionally in terms of how you feel when you’re interacting with people or sort of saying those particular stories, then you can unfollow those people. There’s an absolutely nothing wrong with it. This is about you and your health and your well-being.
So you can make a conscious choice on the reverse. Like you were saying to me to actually choose a handful of brands, a new sources that actually are feeding you, that actually are informant, that actually are in line with your priorities around getting fit, and losing weight, and launching your business. And you can follow that, and you can be intentional about following those people. And that way when your time… when you’re on social media that you’re actually spending it in a constructive way.
One of the things that’s hard to people about is actually making sure just like I was talking with your calendar; your priorities, that you’re actually building in time for you to actually spend time on social media. So you’ve identified with social media is to reconnect with friends, and to entertain yourself. You can build that into your calendars, and you can give yourself permission to do 30 minutes a day or 30 minutes and then for your lunch break, and then 30 minutes in the evening that you’re spending on that.
You can build in that time, so that it’s not a surprise and you’re looking forward to it. You built in the time for it. But then it’s not… you not looking at like an hour later two hours you know wondering like what else you could have been doing, right. Because you’ve scheduled it in, and you’ve thought about it. You’ve got a clear intent about how you’re actually gonna be using that time and that’s gonna be more in alignment with helping you move for with your priorities.
Kimi: What kind of services do you offer at ‘Mindful Techie’? If somebody was interested in learning more. Like how can they get connect it with you and what are some of the just the services and things that you do offer?
Meico: That’s a great question. I offer two sets of services. One is working one on one with high achievers and purpose driven professionals that really wanna get a handle on work-life balance, really wanna get a handle on their life goals, and get on track with those. And also some folks that might be struggling with digital distraction or news and information overload. I work with them one on one through one on one coaching and also group coaching. And so also folks that are interested in exploring what that could look like. They can go to my website; mindfultechie.com. And at the top, there is a link to sign up for a free one on one session with me. And people can sign up for free one on one session. We can talk and figure out what might be the best way to help you moving forward.
The second way that I work with folks is actually I do speaking and training for organizations. So folks will hire me to come in to do for example, a happy workshop where I’ll work with the group of people at a company or at an organization to actually be able to do workshops around technology distraction, how you actually managed at a popular in the workplace. Or folks might be challenged by setting personal and professional goals and tying it to their work perhaps or challenges as a work life balance. I work with companies and organizations in that regard. Those are the two ways that people can work with me. Again the individually with the coaching and then at organizational level to come in to actually do training and speaking.
Kimi: Yes and I can say you definitely have some great framework and it does help people kind of thinking in alignment and kind of to see where they’re at. Kimi say I highly recommend it. And I’m gonna continue to use it because it brought me a lot of clarity and kind of help me shift a lot of things that I’ve been doing in this first quarter here personally and professionally. So I like that you have the personal and professional angle and now that you do. So I think that’s awesome.
Meico: Awesome! I’m happy to hear that.
Kimi: Before we leave can you tell people what is your personal mantra Meico? Like what you used to get you through the day, and the weeks. What is it you have that kinda helps keep you refocused?
Meico: The central thing is sort of being connected to my why, to my purpose. And I think in anything if nothing else the people who are listening to this take away from this. Whether you’re dealing with technology, structural, work-life balance issues, or some other reason that you’re off track. If you can uncover your reason for living the unique reason that you have been called to serve to make a contribution to people at your job, for your business, to your clients, where serving. In terms of being a good partner, or spouse, or a parent. When you reconnect to that, that is the anchor from which everything else flows. [Inaudible] [20:33] that life has its ups and downs.
It happens in ways. There is no such thing as a pain free existence. That’s how we grow and that’s how we evolve. But when you can remember your purpose, that’s gonna help you to get back on track. And so one of the things that helped me in terms of some of that up because of a mantra is that your life is a precious gift and so invest it wisely. You know something that I come back to over and over again. Invest to go through your life wisely. And the best way I know how to do that is to uncover your purpose and to live it.
Kimi: Oh well, that’s awesome! Thank you so much again Meico for your time, mindfultechie.com for more information on connecting with Meico. Whether it’s at the individual level or the organizational level definitely feel a great source of tons of information on how we can be more mindful in our conception and execution in social media in technology and is very digital driven age. So thank you again Meico for your time.
Meico: Yeah, thank you.
Kimi: Until next time. Thank you again, bye bye.
It was a pleasure to have you join us on this episode of the ‘Early Accountability Podcast’ with Kimi Walker. Be sure to visit earlyaccountability.com to sign up for the early accountability newsletter. We look forward to activating your greatness and helping you reach your goals.