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Removing Digital Clutter

Let’s talk about the overwhelming, exhausting amount of digital clutter you have in your life.

Remember when you first got mail? It was fun and exciting to see who sent mail every morning wasn’t it? Think Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle- email was exciting, even romantic.

And now?  (sound of record scratching!)

It’s exhausting.  Most of us dread seeing tons of new messages every hour and discovering that so many of them are advertisements and newsletters only adds to the frustration of an inbox.

Back in the dark times of pre cable television, the T.V. would simply shut down at midnight.  Poof!  it was GONE.  There was forced down time. Now, we’re hit with 24/7 news, entertainment, and distraction day after day after day.

We don’t know how to unplug and most of us don’t even know what that means anymore.

Emails come in at all hours and we check them.
We’re like Pavlov’s dog with every ding, bing, buzz, and whistle coming from a 3 x 4.5-inch device from the moment we wake until the moment we close our eyes.

So I challenge you to turn your phone off for one night.
At 6 pm, turn it off. Can you do it? Can you wait until 7 am to turn it on? Do you have the strength?

According to Inc. Magazine, the average person reaches for their phone 150 times a day.
Why? Because knee jerk reactions are hard to beat. We create neuropathways in the brain each time we reach for a digital fix and those new neuropathways require more and more stimulus to create the dopamine release we begin to crave.

If we can’t get a handle on our digital usage, we’re no longer in control of life.  We become slaves to the desires of others, prey to advertising, television, the computer, and social media platforms.

So try taking a break, and if you need a little more help, read my top 4 ways to weed your digital garden and yield more peace:

1. Have an open relationship with your email account.

Have more than one email account.  One for business, one for personal use, and one for newsletters you’ve subscribed to.

This way YOU get to choose, depending on your time and mood, WHAT you’re going to give your attention to during every block of free time.

Another way to weed your digital garden is to take the first 5 minutes of every email check time and scroll to the bottom of emails you don’t enjoy and hit the magic words: unsubscribe.

Seriously, we victimize ourselves by bitching and moaning in our heads versus taking action and unsubscribing.

Your mantra for the week?  U N S U B S C R I B E  (but not to mine please!)

2. Let’s talk about contact list break ups.

I’m betting that you’ve moved on from ex romantic partners and business associates that didn’t make the cut for your happiness/sanity factor; but you’re still carrying their digits around daily with you aren’t you?

The next time you find yourself waiting for any length of time in line, at an appointment, or for someone to meet you, edit your contact list.

It’s liberating to hit delete on names and numbers that are either no longer relevant OR no longer fit into the world you’ve hopefully created for yourself- A world filled with peace.

3. Now it’s time to call a few names out in your phone.

Let’s face it: we ALL have people in our life who we’re not going to get away from, but would like to.

Perhaps it’s a family member, an in-law or a business associate.

One way to bring a little humor into your digital life is to rename them something funny.  At one time I named my mother in law Ms Martha Stewart Wanna Be in my phone.  I loved her and enjoyed her company, but every time she came to visit, she’d try to rearrange my whole home.

Seeing her title Mz Martha Stewart Wannabe come through when she rang made me giggle and answer the phone with a smile.

Perhaps your ex could be named to remind you why you’re staying strong and ending things.  Consider Mz Never Enough or Mr. don’t be so emotional.  

Now on to my last point.

4. Play hard to get: with your availability.

I go over this big time in my reboot program. Creating boundaries in all relationships, including the one with your digital life.

Would you text the CEO of Target to tell her something? If you did, would you really expect a text back?

How about calling?  Would you expect to reach that CEO and if not, get a call back from them?

Of course not!

They have people hired and systems in place to protect them from crazy people like you and me.

So a question for you:  Aren’t you the CEO of your own life?

Let me ask that in a different way: AREN’T YOU THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE?

Creating digital boundaries before 7 am, during lunch and dinner, and after 8 pm is NOT unreasonable.

It’s time we take some digital space.  Aren’t you and your loved ones worth it?

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.  I’d love to hear how you take digital space or plan on doing so asap.

Photo via Thomas Kohler Flickr

Cat photo via Angela N. Flicker

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