2 February 2022

An App for Everything




How’s it going getting started with digital minimalism?

Last time we talked about RescueTime and figuring out how much time you actually spend on your digital devices and what you’re doing when you are there.  Were there any surprises? Did you get a good idea of where you are spending your time when you are online? Did you look just at your computer, or did you also install RescueTime on your phone?

Our phones are full of fun things and interesting information, but they’re also a big source of distracted time suck. Not only using the apps, but scrolling and scrolling past screens of other apps to get to the one you want.

Take a look at your phone. How many apps do you have? More than 20? More than 50? (approx. 140 for me – that was a surprise!)

How many of those apps are you actually using? And have you thought about why you’re using those particular apps?  Does each app have a purpose beyond ‘fun when I’m bored’?

(Some of that is okay, but part of digital minimalism is acting with intent.)

Just like we declutter our houses, we also need to declutter our phones. Next time you’re sitting in front of the TV, or waiting in the pick-up line, find those seldom used or unnecessary apps and delete them. It’s a great way to minimize your digital clutter and work towards minimalism.

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19 January 2022

The first step is awareness




After our talk last week about digital minimalism, I had a reader mention the phrase ‘attention management’ when it comes to working with intent. It’s a great phrase because, with our digital life, so much of what we do is mindless.

This is especially true when it comes to surfing and Internet usage. How many times have you fallen down an Internet rabbit hole? Or turned on your phone just to kill time while waiting?

We all get caught up sometimes, and the first part of minimizing your digital use is figuring out how you actually use your time. I use a great software called RescueTime that tracks your digital activity across all devices it is installed on – phone, computer, Internet, and tablet. The software allows me to see, for example, that I spent 15 minutes playing Alien Hive on my phone last night when I could swear it was only a couple of minutes before bedtime.

I’ve written an App Review on RescueTime before, which you can find here: App Review – RescueTime

Check it out. It’s a great tool to try as we work on digital minimalism.

Questions? Let me know! Otherwise, I’ll see you next time!

12 January 2022

Starting with Digital Minimalism




We all want a more peaceful life. Less stress, less clutter. The minimalists out there say the way there is through less stuff and more intention.

There are Instagram feeds and Facebook groups devoted to decluttering your kitchen, your closet, any part of your house. But in a world full of tech and information streams and social media, what does digital minimalism look like?

It’s more than just organizing your files or purging your email. More than giving up Facebook for a month or two. Digital minimalism is about being intentional with how you spend your time online. Intentional with what you consume and how you consume it.

Cal Newport, the writer of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a focused life in a noisy world”,  defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Easy enough to say. But not necessarily easy to do.  There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of suggestions of what to do to embrace digital minimalism.  A lot of discussion about how much minimalism is enough.

According to research, you’re likely to check email and chat every 6 minutes, spend 4 hours or so on your phone a day, and use something like 50 or more tools and apps a day.  Few of us want to give up technology and all the great things the Internet has to offer. But there is a way to minimize your tech without giving everything up.

How to turn down the noise and surf with intent is going to be our focus for the next couple of months.  We’ll talk about apps, notifications, values, and goals as they relate to digital minimalism.

Stay tuned for more details!

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16 November 2021

Habits and the power of repetition




We all have habits. Good ones and bad ones. As we come up to the new year you’ll see people trying to start new habits. Maybe an exercise program, maybe a reading routine, maybe a commitment to post to social media once a week. I read somewhere that setting a new habit takes 21 days. This could be true, or it could just be that the longer you do something, the more likely you are to keep doing it.

November is a big month for habits for me. I’m a writer – and mostly write for myself – which can be hard when it comes to consistency. Some days, weeks, I just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes I’m not inspired, sometimes I’m too tired, there are a lot of excuses for those days I don’t get any words down. Without a publisher or deadline for my work, it’s up to me to stay motivated.

This is why November is an important month for me. In November there is an online project called National Novel Writing Month  (NaNoWriMo).  The primary goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

I’ve accomplished that goal several years, but this year I am using November as my month to reset the habit of writing, which I’ve fallen out of. My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to write new content every day.  No excuses, just repetition to rebuild the habit of writing.

Staying organized is a habit too. Sure, there is the original goal to meet, whether that is organizing your pantry or closet or computer, but there is also the daily upkeep of an organized space.  The reminder to put your keys on the drop zone every night. The routine of picking up your clothes before you go to bed. The habit of deleting unwanted emails after reading.

And it isn’t easy to establish these new habits.  It takes time and practice. Sometimes more than those 21 days. There can be a lot of reasons why you don’t stick with your goal. Maybe you don’t feel like it that day. Maybe you’re too tired. Maybe lots of things get in the way.

But you can do it!

Build your habit on your own or with a support system to help you through the rough patches.  Just because you miss a day or forget about your new habit for a moment, don’t worry! You can pick right up where you left off.

Habits are all about consistency and repetition. There’s no time like the present to get started.

What organizing habit do you want to develop? How can I help? Reply here or send me an email to let me know!

29 September 2021

Why Inbox Zero Won’t Fix Your Email Problems




How many times are you checking your email each day? Either because you’re bored or because you’re trying to stay on top of your unread count? How much spam are you getting? Cat memes you didn’t ask for (but why not, they’re about cats!), and messages you didn’t need to be cc’d on. That’s not including all the newsletters and ads you subscribed to at one point.

The business world runs on email.

Love it or hate it, you can’t leave it behind or pretend it doesn’t exist.  But beyond basic communication, email can be just as much of a distraction as it is a tool. This is where Inbox Zero comes in.

You’ve heard of Inbox Zero, right? It’s a productivity hack, a system that was developed as a way of managing email clutter and distractions. The goal is to keep the inbox empty – or nearly empty – at all times. Inbox zero. It’s a great goal, one that a lot of people work hard to maintain on a daily basis. This is not about those people.

This is about other people. Those whose inbox will fill up with emails, into the thousands, and they’ll set aside a day to try and achieve Inbox Zero through mass deletions and processing.  It’s a one day blitz and after achieving their goal, and celebrating, the user goes back to business as usual.

Using Inbox Zero this way is just like putting your inbox on a diet.

The problem with so many diets out there is that they are focused only on achieving the result. Drink this shake and lose 10 pounds. Try this meal plan for a month and lose 15 pounds. The thought is you go on a diet, then eventually you go off a diet and return to your normal life. With this approach, there’s no permanent change in how you behave. Once you’re off the diet you go back to living the behaviors that got you there in the first place. 

Too many people use Inbox Zero like a diet for your inbox. They focus on getting the result – zero emails – thinking this will solve all their email problems.  But an inbox diet isn’t the answer to email management. Better habits are.

So what can you do today to better manage your email?

  1. Make a decision about that email the first time you read it – action item, reference item, or trash. Read and react.
  2. Create filters to keep your inbox uncluttered. Get those urgent items front and center instead of hidden in the spam.
  3. Set specific times to check emails and turn off your notifications. Theses dings and flags interrupt your workflow and decrease your productivity.
  4. Be the change you want to see in the world. Send the type of messages you want to receive and model positive email behavior to others.

And remember, better email management is a lifestyle change, not a diet. Instead of chasing the goal of trying to get down to zero emails in your inbox, focus on building better habits as the way to manage your inbox and incoming email!

Need help getting your email under control? Call me and let’s talk about how!

14 September 2021

How to Eat Your Frog




How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Or maybe it was something about eating a frog first thing in the morning. Either way, there’s an important message there.

Many clients I work with tell me about the “pile” of things that have accumulated. Maybe it’s the unread count in email, maybe it’s the number of documents in your downloads folder. No matter where the stuff has gathered, there is this prevailing feeling that you have to tackle the whole thing at once. 

And nobody wants to do that.

But that all at once theory isn’t true!

The pile didn’t accumulate in a day, so don’t try to tackle it all at once. Instead, take 10 – 15 minutes at a time and see what you can accomplish. Before you know it, the pile is a little smaller, and a little more manageable. For many people once they have the pile tackled, it’s easy to stay on top of the everyday.

Do you need help tackling your pile of emails or your stack of files? Reply here and let me know what I can do to help you be more productive!

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