Dusting your digital house - LoveJo

Do you sometimes feel like you’re drowning in posts and reports and news flashes and videos and the next abhorrent thing you truly wish you’d never heard about? In sales and Cyber Monday and everyone wanting your money and your attention? In the impossibility of reading everything, even the good stuff, maybe especially the good stuff, and feeling guilty, dismayed, discomfited because you can’t?

Here’s a BFO (a Blinding Flash of the Obvious): You have a choice. You have some options about what comes at you, how it comes at you, and whether you delete, filter, or in some way engage. It’s up to you.

Cal Newport (author of the brilliant 2016 book, Deep Work) is fond of featuring independent thinkers and exemplars in this regard on his blog. His posts are brief, pithy, thought-provoking. One of my favorite blogs. To spark your creativity about your digital life, check out several recent posts, The Woodworker Who Quit Email or Aziz Ansari Quit the Internet. Rather shocking, that! Ansari deleted the web browser from his phone and laptop, and also stopped using email, Twitter and Instagram, earlier this year. Wonder what the update on that is?

Maybe your digital life is something you’d like to think about as the holidays and then the new year approach. You could take a moment to take a breath, close your eyes, and imagine the type of modus operandi you’d really like to have, if it’s not the one you have now. How might more time, space, clarity and simplicity in your digital life improve your world?

I’ve decided I want more real, less virtual.

I’m happy with a nourishing balance of digital and real-life. Of podcasts and actual books in my hand. Texting and going for a walk with a friend, or scheduling a regular call with folks far away.  Simplifying, and committing to what matters most to me.

You, too?

Here are some things I’ve found useful in creating some breathing room and living with greater ease in my digital life. What a difference!

  • Editing how you take in information. You know this, but no—you don’t have to engage with every social media platform. In fact, you don’t have to engage with any! I love Brene Brown’s practice of writing herself permission slips. You can write yourself one to jump off Facebook! I haven’t closed my account, but I removed the app from my phone and only access it occasionally on my computer, so I can see my cousins grandchildren.

    My preferred platform is Instagram, which Ezra Klein of vox.com calls “the happiest place on the internet.” I love the beautiful photography, and connecting with kind-hearted people doing good and creative things. Works for me!

  • Cleaning your digital house. How did this happen? Our digital lives have become mammoth! With the conveniences and the information, which are so cool, come the bewildering profusion of options, logins, cyber threats, time-wasters and frustrations. Ugh!

    Here’s what’s helping me: to think of my digital life as a virtual home, that I can choose to furnish as I like. That I can decorate with beautiful and interesting features that nourish me. That I need to keep clean! Where I sweep out the dust and open windows so fresh air can come in. Spending time to:

    • Unsubscribe from mailing lists. You signed up for the discount, and are being blasted mercilessly with marketing emails. Let it go! If you don’t knit as much anymore, jump off the yarn shop lists! Go go go! Don’t waste another minute deleting message after message. Visit the yarn shop when you choose.

      No reason why you can’t do this regularly. Gmail is making this really easy now, with a new link to unsubscribe at the top of mailing list emails. Click!

    • Filter non-essential emails. Send categories of non-essential emails directly to a folder to check weekly/occasionally, such as merchants; listservs; newsletters. The world will not collapse if you don’t see these immediately.
    • Dust and rearrange online folders. I use Google Drive folders and Google Docs to organize both professional and personal documents. I love the simple, clean design, the ease of composition, and the ability to share and collaborate in real time with colleagues and/or family. I have standard folders for clients (“Agreements,” “Consults,” “Website”…) so it’s easy to find what I’m searching for. Such a time saver!

      Honestly I’m also aware that when I die my sons will have to sort out my complex digital life! So I periodically delete what’s not needed anymore. I have an In Case of Emergency spreadsheet that I update from time to time with critical contacts and accounts.

      Are you beginning to feel the pressure easing up as you read this?

    • Clean out my inbox. Do you know how marvelous it is to open your email account and see only the latest emails? To quickly sort those: respond immediately, *star for further work, forward, file or delete. Zip zip. Once a week I deep clean, to catch the ones that slip past me. A good time to unsubscribe!

      I love the “Priority Inbox” feature in Gmail. You can turn on this feature in “Settings.”  This places priority emails (from family, friends, clients) at the very top. Next are starred items for quick reference. The last tier are non-essential emails, which I keep winnowing down or filtering, making my life flow simpler and more fun!

And do all the above as needed! It’s much easier to maintain than to deep clean massive volumes of dust.

Wishing you greater peace of mind in your digital house. 🙂