Redeeming Your Time in the School Car Line

School started back in our county yesterday, August 17.  My son gets out of school at 2:50 pm.  I was in the School Car Line to pick him up for 35 minutes.  Wait times are customary in the mornings and afternoons.  It’s something we all build into our schedules.  This year, our district changed the school start and end time so that our elementary, middle, and high schools have a staggered start time.  My son has to be at school by 7:50 while my daughters start time is 8:45.  We live 1 mile from my son’s school and 3 miles from my daughters’ school so our wake up times are all different.  In the month leading up to this I started making some changes in how I used and viewed social media and moving from reacting to reflecting.  I knew I did not want to spend the time in the car line mindlessly scrolling a news feed.  I also need that I would have 15 minutes here and there in the morning that I didn’t want to waste.  Here are some things I’m trying this year and I hope they will help you in redeeming your time in the school car line.

  1.  From 6-6:40 am I am waking up and doing my devotions and praying.  Right now I’m using the book The Rhythm of Prayer: a forty day experience by Mark Moore as a prayer guide and Walking with Wesley: A Ninety-Day Devotional by Nick Harrison.
  2. 6:40 am is wake up time for my son, Drake, and I will spend 10-15 minutes managing emails after waking him up.  This is mainly deleting and unsubscribing from email lists.  I’m not really mentally processing things at this time.  I’m just trying to reduce digital clutter.
  3. After I double-check to make sure Drake is up and getting ready I will have 10-15 more minutes before we leave.  This offers a chance to give a quick glance to some news sites and ESPN.com or even do some Fantasy Football team management.
  4. After taking Drake to school at 7:20 I will have 1 or maybe 2 more 15 minute time slots while getting the girls ready for school and then I’m home from taking them at 8:20 and the day is off and running.
  5. For the afternoons I have decided to not go so early to pick up Drake.  This will cut my line wait time from 35 minutes to hopefully 10 or less.  I’ve placed a devotional book in the console of the van so that I’m not tempted to let that time slip by.  Whose mind doesn’t need a refresher and reminder at that point in the day?
  6. If the wait is longer I can catch up with folks on the phone, do a calendar review, or make a Facebook live video.  I did several last year called the Car Line Diaries just as a way to encourage folks and share things that have been going on with my family.  I can also use this time to rehearse my sermon.

The point of this is not for you to copy what I am doing.  Your family and routine are totally different from mine.  What I hope we can all start doing is making the most of these little bits of time that we’ve started sacrificing at the altar of the mindless phone scroll.  What are the tasks we can do that “clear the deck” and make our days easier later on?  What are the quick decisions and actions we can take to relieve our minds from unneeded stress?  How can we use these times to renew our minds and allow God to speak into our hearts and lives?  I’d love to hear from you about what you’re doing for Redeeming Your Time in the School Car Line.  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter or by leaving a comment below.

Moving from Reacting to Reflecting

Social Media's effect on our thinking

Think about this.  All recorded history and facts are at our fingertips.  No longer do we have to wonder “what year did that happen”, “what’s the RBI record for 2nd basemen in odd number years”, or “what movie was that guy in?”  With a few clicks, the answer can be ours.  The same goes with social media.  No longer do people have to wait to know how we feel about something.  We can either post our thoughts or react(like, heart, smiley face, shocked face, etc.) to the thoughts of others in an instant.  How many times have you been reading or thinking and something great pops in your mind or you see the perfect quote?  What is one to do?  Share it immediately of course!  In July, our family went to the beach.  I needed it.  I was burned out on a molecular and spiritual level(did I mention that studies have shown a link between depression and cell phone use).  I was excited to begin the habit of daily morning devotions and journaling(on the beach no less) and to delete Facebook and Twitter off of my phone.  An amazing thing happened.  The first day of devotions I came across a great quote from John Wesley’s writing and instinctively thought, “I’ve got to share this right now!”  The only problem was I had intentionally left my phone in the car plus…no Facebook or Twitter.  When the urge to post subsided my mind returned to the quote and I reflected on it more deeply than I’ve reflected on anything in a long time.  One thought led to another and soon I found myself lost in the moment, scribbling down my thoughts, and taken away by the Holy Spirit to a place I had not been in a long time.  It was a euphoric feeling.  I continued my morning reading and praying and at the end I just sat and took it all in.  It hit me.  How many times has God given me(or you) a great thought and once we have shared it on social media that’s it.  We feel our work is done and the moment passes and that thought soon fades away except on the Wall of Facebook or the Timeline of Twitter.  I have tried to calculate how many hours(days, months!) that I have wasted on the scroll.  You know what I mean: the mindless social media scroll of thumbing down the page until something catches our eye and we either click our reaction or click on the article.  I have permanent tendonitis in my thumb.  I have encouraged my son to look into being a carpal tunnel surgeon.  Between video games, keyboards, and phones he would always have a line of patients.  What if, instead of going right to our phones to find the answers, we took the time to think about it?  Of course, I’m not talking about if you need life saving medical advice or something like that.  What conversations and thoughts would be borne out of letting our minds search for…anything?  To fire back up those connections that have grown dormant?  What if, in the light of recent racial events in Charlottesville and other cities, I sought the Lord and let my mind consider all of these things instead of scrolling through to see what everyone else thought and reacting to it?  I’m not saying that there’s not a time and place to scroll through your social media feed, but we have gotten to the point where it’s our go to solution for any dead time in our day.

Now, I will add Twitter and Facebook to my phone when attending an event that I want to “report” on which is usually a church conference or a wrestling match.  Insert your joke here.  Most of the time though, I’m only getting on from my computer or iPad and only at the times I’ve set aside to do such.

I kept Instagram on my phone.  I have never struggled with it personally as far as getting lost in the scroll.  It allows me to post to Facebook and Twitter and now I will mark the quotes and scriptures I find in the morning for posting later.  I have also traded the screen for a book every night 30 minutes before I go to bed.  There’s been an amazing difference in my quality of sleep and sharpness of my dreams.  Here are some books that have really impacted me over the past month or so…and yes, I am reading more than I ever have before.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Mind Hacking: How to Change Your Mind for Good in 21 Days

Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health

The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World

The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture(Hey, I didn’t say these were all serious books.)

The Quest for Holiness-From Shallow Belief to Mature Believer

Here are 3 suggestions I would make to move from reacting to reflecting

  1.  Take social media off of your phone if you can’t resist the urge to immediately post every good thought you have.
  2. Give yourself time(I prefer the mornings) to read, reflect and pray.  Get up early enough so time is not an issue and you don’t feel rushed.  Start writing down what you’re reading and the thoughts that come to your mind.  Feel free to share these later, but don’t lose the power of the moment to go deeper.
  3. Schedule scroll time.  Set aside 15 minutes(not right after you wake up, right before you go to bed, or during family time) to see what’s happening and when time’s up that’s it.

I hope to continue the daily of deeper reflection and thinking.  God continues to bring my mind back from a dark place of depression every single day.  The depression has always kept me from my best work including writing which I hope to remedy shortly.  Thanks for reading.  What’s been your experience with social media and smart phones?  How are you combating the pull to the mindless scroll?

Social Media Fast


This video discusses my recent social media fast, the benefits, and why you should plan one for yourself.

Books mentioned:
A Tale of 3 Kings-http://amzn.to/18MoJxA
Making it All Work-http://amzn.to/11zc4oT
Getting Things Done-http://amzn.to/1aVWppm

http://www.twitter.com/heathmullikin
http://www.facebook.com/heathmullikin

Twitter Reboot and ManageFlitter

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I am a huge fan of Twitter and other social media.  At the point where I was trying to build 2 blogs, make a little money online, and connect with people around the world I made the decision to use a program called TweetAdder.  TweetAdder is a tool that allows you automatically follow back anyone who follows you on Twitter, send messages automatically, and do things that can gain you a large following.  I was obsessed with my follower count.  At one point, @chaseurlion was over 40,000 followers, @chaseyourlion was over 15,000, and @heathmullikin was over 20,000.  I was trying to build a brand, but instead I built a monster.

There are lots of people who use tools like Tweet Adder to spam the world.  I tried not to be one of those people.  I was content to follow people based on certain criteria and unfollow them based on other things.  Out of over 75,000 followers, only about 30% were real people.  Now, did this tool and strategy help me connect with great people I wouldn’t have met otherwise?  Absolutely. In the process was I following around 75,000 people myself?  Yes, and many of them were sketchy to say the least.  I knew it was time for a Twitter Reboot.

A few things have happened over time to bring me to this place.  First, there was a run of great people who decided to unfollow everyone and start all over on Twitter.  Michael Hyatt blogged about it here and he heard about it from Chris Brogan.  Now, I’m not going unfollow everyone, but I am going unfollow a lot of people.  Secondly, I decided that managing multiple accounts and blogs was not in my best interests.  Finally, I realized that every connection mattered.  Being followed by a spam California real estate firm with 100,000 followers was far less important than connecting with a college student with 25 serious followers.  TweetAdder had taken true intentionality and connection out of the equation.

Enter ManageFlitter.  Erik Fisher from Beyond the To Do List recommended this service and I am loving it so far.  ManageFlitter is not a bot that runs 24/7.  It allows you to really see who’s following you and who you’re following.  My favorite feature is that I’ve been able to see who’s tweeting too much(spammers) and who’s not tweeting at all(quitters).  Neither of these groups are real connections so unfollow away!  It also has a great Whitelist and block feature.  I can list everyone I know and never want to unfollow(Whitelist) and blocking means that I will never follow that person and they are unable to follow, DM or @mention me.  There are all sorts of great uses for ManageFlitter, but right now I’m concentrating on making all of my connections count.  Did I mention that they have a free version?

All of this is part of a strategy involving two projects I’m working on this year.  It will all tie in with the calling God has placed on my life and some great opportunities ahead of me.  Call all of this “Launch Preparations.”

The Tweetable Mission Statement

compass

A life mission statement can keep you headed in the right direction.

How do you create a Tweetable Mission Statement?

What does that even mean?  I’ve been working on some life planning for myself, my family, and my church.  This past weekend I had the opportunity to share some thoughts on forming good habits with some ministerial students from Southern Wesleyan University.  One of the habits was to create a life mission statement to

Social Media Research Part 2

Social Media Clicks via Hootsuite for @heathmullikin

Daily Social Media Clicks via Hootsuite for @heathmullikin

Last week I posted about some Social Media Research I was doing to see what tweets at what times get the most clicks.  My goals this week were to continue to tweet out quality links using HootSuite and to also schedule the posts with Google Plus using the Do Share app for Chrome.  This constituted a switch from Safari as my primary browser to Google Chrome.  (FYI-I will be posting about my history with browsers later this week.)  I simply copy and

The Techology Show moves to Tuesdays!

The Techology Show logo

Now on Tuesdays at noon EST.

Just over three years ago, Tony Casey, Matthew Tietje, and Steve Stanley had the idea to start a podcast that would cover technology, theology, and everything in between.  The Techology Show was born to see what technologies pastors and churches could use to have a greater kingdom impact.  I was serving in North Carolina at the time and started out as a monthly guest to talk about youth ministry.

When I moved to South Carolina in August 2010,

Social Media Research Part 1

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Daily Social Media Clicks

I decided to do some Social Media research to find out if the information I was reading on when is the best time to post on Facebook and Twitter was true.  My goal was to see what times and days people were more likely to click on a posted link and to see what types of links people would click on. HootSuite makes this all possible.  It enables me to schedule tweets throughout the week and track my clicks using their ow.ly link shortener.  Their new “Hootlet” button(which ironically was released soon after Buffer came on the scence) makes tweeting out web articles and pages a snap.

What were some of my goals?

Are you a consumer or a creator?

guitar in progress

It’s time to put your inner creator to work.

When was the last time you created something?  Maybe it was a term paper, a speech, a t-shirt design, or something else that was created by your mind and hands.  I think that God, the original and ultimate creator, put it in our DNA to be creators as well.  It’s why a child has this strange urge to

Why and How I Use Twitter

Heath Mullikin Twitter follower count

I finally passed 20,000 Twitter followers!

I was not an early adopter of twitter.  However, soon I was running multiple accounts as I launched the Chase Your Lion blog.  I’ve tried to be very intentional with my social media strategy.  A year after joining I posted my thoughts on the 5 groups you see on twitter.  The past few months has been about simplifying my online presence by merging my blogs and phasing out some twitter accounts.  I’d like to answer the why, how, and