Cindy Lander is a humorist, the author of "A Dinosaur Moved in Next Door," and the former editor of @Ease magazine. She enjoys helping others organize their thoughts on paper when clarity counts. After living in Europe for nearly 20 years, Cindy currently resides in Montgomery, AL. She hopes to retire near the ocean in her native North Carolina someday.

What Are You Waiting For? Stop Procrastinating.

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” ~ Rita Mae Brown, author

Writers are notorious procrastinators. When deadlines loom, some are relaxed because all articles or presentations have been submitted. Others are right on schedule, just giving it a quick review before sending. Then, there are those of us who are still scrambling for ideas with neither outlines nor rough drafts, mere days before the due date. We know procrastination adds stress to our already overloaded to-do cart, so why do we do this to ourselves?  More importantly, what can we do to stop?

What type of procrastinator are you?

According to Ali Schiller and Marissa Boisvert , professional business coaches and co-owners of Accountability Works, procrastinators are one of four main types: the performer, the self-deprecator, the overbooker, and the novelty seeker. Schiller and Boisvert explain that finding out which group you belong to can help break your cycle of procrastinating. For each type, they describe behaviors and challenges, and offer solutions.

The Performers

The Performers are those who say, ”I work well under pressure.” Mostly perfectionists, Performers force themselves to focus by reducing the time they have.  This self-inflicted ploy makes it impossible to have a perfect outcome when there is so little time, so why bother.  Other Performers truly believe they are best under pressure to make deadlines.  The Performers’ biggest challenge is getting started, and the best way to beat that, says Schiller and Boisvert, is to concentrate on the start date, not the due date.  By inverting the timeline, you will lessen the pressure and can focus properly on starting the project.

The Self-Deprecators

The Self-Deprecators claim laziness, but in fact they are far from it. Schiller and Boisvert say many of their male clients are in this group of Type A people, who are very hard on themselves. When they miss a deadline, they blame laziness rather than admit they are tired.  What they should do is give it a rest, literally.  Take a break, even when you think you can’t. Regroup and recharge, so you’ll have a new focused view of your starting point

The Overbookers 

The Overbookers are too busy; they are mighty beasts at filling up the calendar, but too often overwhelmed by the load. Since the busiest people are usually the ones who get the most done, if an Overbooker says, “I’m too busy,” it may mean, “I don’t want to do this.” It’s a form of avoidance, but rather than admitting that, they let their chaotic schedule take the blame. The solution in this case is simple: ask yourself what you are really trying to avoid and why. Once that’s settled, you’re free to get started.

The Novelty Seekers

Finally, the Novelty Seekers are those who always have the best new ideas.  Schiller and Boisvert call this the Shiny Object Syndrome, where these people are constantly coming up with new ideas and quickly tire of older ones. They are quick to see trends and act on them, but they fail to follow through, causing lost time and burnout.  They aren’t consistent long enough to see results.  The coaches say many entrepreneurial clients fit in this category, and their greatest struggle is completion. They often advise these clients to “make it stick,” literally, with sticky notes.  Posting the ideas gives them validity and acknowledges the possibilities while recognizing the possible distraction. The only rule: Do not start them until after the current project is complete.

The Writers for Hire blog agrees.  “Writers are known procrastinators,” says the (staff) author.  “Whether we’re afraid our ideas won’t be good enough, or we’re waiting for inspiration to strike, we tend to set ourselves up for stress by waiting until the last possible minute to begin serious work on our projects.” Don’t worry, they assure us.  We can stop this pattern with their tips

“Always keep the main idea in mind.”  

Define your purpose in one sentence, and let that guide you. Posting that sentence in your line of vision while you write helps.  Keeping the end result in mind will help guide you and keep you from wandering off on random tangents, and strengthens your focus.

“The end is in sight.”

Visualize your end result, especially with larger projects. Vow to outline an article or two, do some research, or write a certain number of words daily. Keep track of word counts on a calendar. Little accomplishments will bolster your confidence. Remember: each word written is one word closer to the finish line.

“Just do it already.” 

Stop with the excuses, and just start writing.  It doesn’t have to be perfect; that’s why they are called drafts, and you can have as many as time allows.  Don’t worry about the mechanics, just get it on paper.  You can edit later.  If you can’t think of anything, try some free association. Schedule time for brainstorming with a friend.

“Reward yourself for a job well done.”

Finishing your written project is a great reason to celebrate, and knowing there is a planned reward at the end of the road will motivate you to press on to completion. Then, relax with your favorite beverage, a round of golf, a much-needed nap, or a bit of retail therapy to congratulate yourself. 

“Lose the ‘I work better under pressure’ mentality.” 

Stop kidding yourself; that mindset is false, and it never works to your advantage. Stress causes you to rush through your work, forget things and make mistakes. Putting off your paper or article will only make you want to pull your hair out later. Stop trying to kid yourself and start writing. Now

A Smaller Screen = A Larger Audience

With technology advancing at the speed of light, your website must be up to date now more than ever. Digital publishers must keep pace, and this means keep looking at the big picture, but view it on a smaller screen. If your website has decreased in activity lately, it may be that it doesn’t meet the needs of your mobile phone user audience. Here are a few ideas on how to make your website more (mobile) user friendly: 

Test for Mobile-friendliness 

According to Kristen Hicks on, “Having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional. If your mobile visitors don’t have a good experience on your site, you’ll drive away a huge portion of your traffic (and hurt your search engine rankings in the process).”  

Hicks suggests using this testing tool from Google to determine if your website is mobile-friendly.  It lets you know quickly, and even throws in a screenshot of what your site looks like on a mobile phone. 

Code it Right 

Tatiana Tsyulia, of, advises publishers to code in HTML5.  She also recommends avoiding software not normally found on smartphones, like Flash. Doing this, says Tsyulia, will ensure your content is presented smoothly on more mobile devices.  

Make sure your page loads quickly.  Smartphone users don’t like to waste their time waiting for a page to open, and will likely search elsewhere. Google’s update Core Web Vitals can determine if your site is “healthy” by its core indicators, one of which is load speed.  Tsyulia says if your site doesn’t start loading within 2.5 seconds, it needs improvement. 

Keep it Short and Sweet 

Hannah Whitfield of lists a few things to keep in mind when checking the mobile-friendliness of your website.  “Avoid large chunks of text.  The copy on your website should be short and sweet at the best of times (with the exception of blog posts, like this one!), but on mobile this becomes all the more important.”  

Whitfield also advises all forms to be shortened, because “Long forms will lose you readers faster than you can say ‘this is a required field.’” Ensure all forms only ask for the necessary information.  Her top tip? “Pesky autocorrect is a surefire way to turn form-filling into a major waste of time. Save your readers the stress by switching it off.”  

Access for All  

On her blog , Megan Hendrickson stresses inclusivity: “Make sure your website is accessible to all readers – from adjusting the contrast so colorblind people can read content to making it possible for visually impaired people to understand through screen readers.  

According to Hendrickson, it’s a mobile-first world, and optimization can’t wait.  Since users rely more on mobile devices than their desktops, considering how your site works and looks on small screens is important. “Optimizing your site so that it performs well and is still easily usable on mobile devices is key, especially if you don’t want to get penalized by search engines.   

Governmental Role Model 

Tips on reader activity can be found in this very informative article on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services site. “The truth is, users don’t read Web pages; they scan them, looking for things they can read very quickly until they find a relevant piece of information. What does this mean? Write pages the way people use them. Make them scannable.” Here’s more good advice: 

  • Organize Content in an Inverted Pyramid 

Organize your content as an inverted pyramid; put the most important information at the top and less important information at the bottom. 

  • Add Headings 

Look for opportunities to divide your content into sections and give each section a descriptive heading. 

  • Use Bulleted and Numbered Lists 

Use bulleted or numbered lists when appropriate. 

  • Write Concisely 

Keep your paragraphs short—no more than 3-4 lines of text. Look for opportunities to cut words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs if they do not contribute necessary content 

  • Link and Bold Important Pieces of Information 

Use hyperlinks and bolding to highlight important pieces of content, but be judicious—less is more. 

Watch Your Language! 

The University of Maryland website provides useful hints on your language use in this article on their website.  Make your choices the right ones with their advice

  • Use Common Language 

For SEO (Search Engine Optimization) use the same words and phrases your readers do. When creating page titles, headers, list items, and links, choose keywords carefully and use them consistently. This practice reinforces keywords relevancy for search engines. 

  • Tone 

Readers expect a personal, upbeat tone in web writing. They find bureaucratic writing offensive and out-of-place and ignore the message it’s trying to convey. 

To avoid bureaucratic language, turn the tone down a notch. Search out and destroy jargon. Use active voice. Always try to write in first or second person. 

  • Use active voice instead of passive voice 

Yes: Tim taught the class. 

No: The class was taught by Tim. 

  • Choose lists over long paragraphs Use lists to make your content easier to scan 


People are using their phones from everything from paying bills online to see who is stealing their Amazon packages while they are at work. Clear, quality, timely, mobile-friendly, fast and accessible information are what your mobile readers want.  Apply the KISS principle, don’t waste their time, and you can reach out and touch everyone.  

What the European Union’s Digital Day 2021 Means to Digital Publishers in Europe

Author’s Note: At first glance, this subject may seem unrelated to Trojan Digital Review’s singular focus on digital publishing; however, many Americans (and their family members) living in Europe are US military members, international news journalists, or global company employees, and earn their living as writers.  Having Europe-wide, advanced technology which enables secure, reliable handling of their digital communications and publishing is vital.

On March 19, the European Union’s government ministers signed declarations to work together and share resources “to promote international connectivity, incentivize the rollout of clean digital technologies, and improve the regulatory environment for start-ups and scale-ups,” according to a  press release from the European Union.   

Twenty-seven members signed the declaration which will reinforce connectivity between Europe and partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as across Europe.  The focus will be on satellites, network links, and ground and undersea cables.  According to the release, “The EU already has strong data protection standards and high-quality internal connectivity.  By improving its global connectivity networks, it can become a global, secure, and agile data centre.”

Thierry Breton (France), Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “The Digital Day is an important avenue for Member States to come together, around key digital goals. The new commitments that Member States made today are also evidence of our determination in the EU to work together for greater digital leadership by 2030.” The Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margarethe Vestager (Denmark), stated, “The new commitments made today strengthen our joint ambitions for a human-centred approach to digitalisation.” These comments reflect the EU’s commitment of support not only on the corporate level, but also improve the day-to-day life of the citizens of the European community.  Greater connectivity will help corporations and small businesses, and start-ups equally. 

Their support for everyone across the board, both businesses and citizens alike, means better connectivity for writers. They can depend on faster connections for submitting their work, and have confidence their communication is secure.  For the journalists who need to call their home office, the commission is also working on recalculating the roaming charges on the telecommunication network.

Also of interest to news writers, the European News Media Forum was held simultaneously with the EU’s Digital Day 2021.  Some points were covered by both agencies, such as the safety and protection of international journalists. According to their press release, “The European Commission launched a dialogue on the protection of journalists in the EU with a wide range of stakeholders, including journalists and their associations, news media companies, representatives of media councils, European Parliament, Member States and regulatory authorities as well as international partners.”

This action is in response to the 2018 murders of investigative journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia,  Ján Kuciak, and Viktoria Marinova, all of whom were killed in EU states. This Europe-wide concern for violations of press and media freedom encompasses fact-finding, advocacy, monitoring, and awareness raising. It will bring violations to the forefront, and provide practical help to journalists under threat. Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová (Czech Republic), said, “The increasing threats and attacks against journalists are threats and attacks against democracy as a whole. For the first time, the Commission is working on an initiative dedicated to the safety of journalists, which should bring tangible improvements on the ground.”

Thierry Breton (France), Commissioner for Internal Market, added, “Media freedom cannot be taken for granted, we must actively defend it, particularly with the increased risk of online attacks in the digital age. We must ensure that journalists can play their crucial role in our democracies by guaranteeing that they work in complete safety. Today we are launching a dialogue on how to increase their protection, facilitate cooperation among them and help them acquire the digital skills needed.”

As this article from Matical states, “The Digital Europe programme is addressed to strengthening Europe’s position as a global digital reference, focused on people and their wellbeing.  According to the EC, the digital transition should work for all, putting people first and opening opportunities for business.  It will be based on three main complimentary pillars to ensure that Europe seizes the opportunity and gives its citizens, businesses, and governments control over digital transformation.” The first of these pillars, and the most relevant to this audience, is a technology that works for the people. As the world becomes more interconnected, the more it is at risk from malicious cyber activity.  The technology must be trustworthy and secure. The EU’s commitment to increase cybersecurity for all of Europe is important and necessary for all people in Europe.

The EU’s plan to “safeguard values and fundamental rights and security” while respecting social differences across the European Union is impressive.  This article from Concilium sums it up best:

“Digital technologies are changing not only the way people communicate, but more broadly how people live and work. With further impetus from the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU is working to accelerate the technological transition. Digital solutions help create jobs, advance education, boost competitiveness and innovation, and can improve the lives of citizens.”

Free Education, Anyone? Yes, Please!

If the thought of mandatory advanced mathematics or science courses in your degree plan have you terrified, you can take a prep course for free.  Yes, FREE.  Some of our nation’s top universities offer no- (or low-, as in $25.00) cost courses as preparation for more difficult classes, additional help with current classes, or a deeper dive into a particular subject.

Some of the websites are affiliated with the brick-and-mortar schools and universities, whether as a part of the school’s home site, or as a link. Others are hosted by foundations established to make education attainable for all.  For upcoming freshmen, taking the introductory classes before taking CLEP tests can save money one would have spent on freshman class tuition. There is the potential of CLEPing out of many freshman courses in this manner, depending on the CLEPs taken and school requirements. It can definitely save at least some money.

If you have finished your degree and are working in the business arena, there are many free online classes that can enhance skills needed in the business world.  Need more computer knowledge?  It’s there.  Management skills? They are there as well.  Some of the courses can provide a certificate for a small fee if that is needed.

For the simply curious, who want to know more about a particular subject, there are classes that delve deeply into singular subjects.  If home-schooling programs for children are lacking, or if a preparatory class would be beneficial for them, many universities and foundations have created (expressly because of COVID-19 situations) specially designed enhancement classes and seminar programs for school-age children, their parents, and teachers.  Again, many of these are free or charge a nominal fee for membership or access.

Here is a closer look at some of the schools’ free courses:


AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Education Repository, offers many free courses to boost knowledge in the everchanging world of STEM. It is a portal built specifically for those in Community and Technical Colleges, but are free for anyone to use. It is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the National Science Digital Library.

 Need a refresher before taking that physics class?  Choose from one of AMSER’s whopping 4,431 offerings in the physics category.  Some classes are video series from the likes of the BBC, lectures from Tulane professors, and lectures and presented papers from the likes of U of Maryland and Stanford. Even those individuals who want more information on a particular subject will find this website a virtual treasure chest.  Home-school parents and teachers will find it invaluable. For more information, go to .

Brigham Young University

            This well-regarded Utah university offers both free academic courses as well as self-enrichment classes.  Under its heading of free courses, one will find 31 currently available free classes from World History, to the Old Testament, to Introduction to Print Publishing. In their words, “So, whether you’re looking to better understand personal finance, learn how to build your family tree, or just try out our site before enrolling, our free courses are a valuable resource.”  Visit them at:

Open Learning Initiative

                OLI, whose mission is to “transform higher education through the science of learning,” has a variety of subject classes to enhance college courses or for self-enrichment purposes. The course catalog includes offers classes in the arts and humanities, business, computer science and programming, data science and causal reasoning, language and speech, life sciences, physical sciences, and math and technology.  OLI is affiliated with the renowned Carnegie Mellon University. While there are no free courses at OLI, most have small fees, starting at $25.00. Find them at:


            Harvard University has partnered with MIT for this amazing site for free learning, which is a platform and provider of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course).  EDX has collected courses and programs from partner universities including Harvard and MIT, of course, but also Berkeley, U of California, and the U of Texas system to provide higher education to students globally. According to EDX, it is a “cutting-edge platform filled with the latest college courses.” A sample free course: Excel for Everyone: Core Foundations, offered by the University of British Columbia. If a Verified Certificate is needed, for an employer as proof of completion, the fee is $149.00.  Find the perfect course at: .


And, finally, for those who can’t get enough TED talks, TED’s established an award-winning education extension “to share and spread ideas from teachers and students.” This global network boasts more than 250,000 teachers to help students learn a myriad of subjects, including a platform for those teachers to create interactive lessons. Here’s a sample of their free classes and videos: Underwater Farms vs. Climate Change, Think Like a Coder, Superhero Science, and oodles more at : .