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Low-Information Diet: 11 Ways to Eliminate Digital Overwhelm

We can't say we're surprised the introductory post for our Low-Information Diet series struck a chord with you! In the summer season where days get a little bit longer and everyone tends to linger a little bit longer, we're very excited to have a conversation about spending more time cultivating the most important things in your life (which rarely include screens!).

Here's a list of 11 practical ways to begin to eliminate digital overwhelm in your life. The best part? You don't have to do all of these things at once! Instead, you can embrace little by little progress, slowly adding these items can be added to your PowerSheets Tending List each month.

PhoneDown_EyesUp

Uncover the root of the problem and eliminate it. Where do you spend most of your time staring at a screen? If it's laying in bed at night before you close your eyes, purchase an alarm clock, charge your phone in the kitchen, and put a new book on your bedside table. Is it when you arrive somewhere 15 minutes early? Keep a book or Write the Word Journal in your car to use that time on purpose. Find the root of the problem, and come up with an alternative thing to do to stop staring at your screen!

Choose to only check email on your laptop or desktop. While I love the suggestion of only checking email two times a day, that isn't always a possibility depending on your career or circumstances. One thing I love to do is to only check my email on my laptop or desktop. Not only am I more efficient at responding with a keyboard, but I'm not tempted to spend more time on my phone than necessary.

Download the News Feed Eradicator. The News Feed Eradicator for Facebook is a great browser extension that completely eliminates the distracting parts of Facebook. Part of my job as our Content and Community Manager means spending time on social media, and this is a huge help! I can still access the site, but it eliminates the news feed so I don't get distracted by the various things my friends and family are posting. I can sign on, head straight to the Cultivate What Matters Facebook page or PowerSheets group, knowing I won't get distracted!

Prioritize face-to-face time! Where possible, prioritize face-to-face time with friends and loved ones. Technology and social media can make it easy to trick us into believing we've had quantity time when quality time is much more important in the long run! Invite a friend to join you for coffee one morning or meet up with you the next time you have to head to the mall for errands. It's okay if you use technology to invite them :)

Get back to the root of what matters. When I ask myself what's going to matter to me when I'm 80 years old, my answer never includes a screen or device. Working through the PowerSheets proven process and Make It Happen has helped me prioritize the things that matter most to me, and say no to everything else.

Unfollow. Cull. Be ruthless. We often do this with our closets and possessions, removing the items that we don't benefit from our closets and drawers. Now is the time to do it in the digital realm! The information you consume on social media takes up valuable brain space and has the potential to influence what you believe to be true. Take some time to unfollow the accounts on your social media feeds who bring up feelings of jealousy, comparison, or negative thoughts.

168Hours_PowerSheets

Cut your television consumption in half. I realize this might be controversial, but hear me out first! I'm reading Laura Vanderkam's book 168 Hours, and I was shocked when she reported that Americans watch anywhere from 2.5 to 3 hours of television each day. While I won't tell you to eliminate television entirely, I will challenge you to an experiment: cut your television consumption in half for a month, and see where you spend your free time. My husband and I have made a conscious decision not to have a television in our home. Yes, it means sacrificing hosting Super Bowl or UNC basketball viewing parties, but we know it's more than worth it to eliminate the distraction entirely (bonus, we save money because we don't pay for cable!). Now we find ourselves spending our evenings going on neighborhood walks or reading together. And we always have our laptop handy if there's a new show we'd like to watch!

Unsubscribe from all mailing lists. Marketing emails aren't a bad thing, but when you fall into the rabbit hole of opening the most recent J. Crew 40% off email, spend 20 minutes adding items to your cart, and then close the tab entirely, you've taken up valuable brain space and time in your day! Many Cultivate friends love using Unroll.Me to unsubscribe from mass emails (be sure to pay attention to their privacy policy in case you're curious about your data), but I've found simply leaving the marketing emails in my inbox and dedicating five minutes at the end of each day to unsubscribe has been helpful, too! Not only will this help you eliminate the digital overwhelm, but your wallet will thank you too! It is, after all, one of the first things we recommend you do in our Finance Goal Guide.

Turn off push notifications. All the buzzing, dinging and vibrating not only makes everything feel urgent, but it's incredibly distracting, too! Depending on your job or circumstances, it might not be realistic to turn off every single one of your push notifications, but chances are you can eliminate most of them. There isn't a way to turn them off all at once, but it's worth it to go into your phone's settings and turn them off app by app.

Build in social media and tech-free time into your calendar. Social media and technology isn't a bad thing when it is used purposefully, and eliminating yourselves from technology entirely isn't always an option (hello email!). Use social media and your time online on purpose. Write out a mission statement for how and why you will use them well. Post that mission statement to your computer or desk where you will see it often. We shared more tips on how to have your own social media-free weekend (hint: it's okay to start with a few hours or day first!)

Practice gratitude the old-fashioned way. The next time you're tempted to send a thank you email or text, take a few extra moments to write out a note the old-fashioned way! Our Encouragement Postcards (pictured below!) are great to keep on hand for this, but any notecard will do! Taking a few extra moments to slow down will not only keep you away from your phone, but it's more meaningful for the recipient, too. If you're looking for a way to practice gratitude on a more personal level, try keeping a gratitude list in an empty notebook or one of our Write the Word Journals. Each Write the Word journal has a blank On My Heart section that is a great place to record an ongoing gratitude list for the day.

Postcards_Gratitude

Now it's your turn! What else would you add to this list? What tactics have you found helpful in eliminating digital overwhelm? Leave a comment below, and share with us what you've learned!

Show Comments (5)
  1. Dana
    Dana
    reply

    I started keeping my book in the living room. So when my kids are watching their show before bed, I pick up the book rather than my phone. They see me reading. I’m not looking at junk. And I don’t have to watch the same scooby doo for the 100th time. :)

    • Jess Metcalf
      Jess Metcalf
      reply

      I love that idea, Dana! While I don't have kids just yet, this is a great reminder that children are watching and learning from us!

  2. Taylor
    Taylor
    reply

    This post is coming at such perfect timing for me! I'm getting married next May and have been working on clearing out clutter from my apartment and parents' house, which has transitioned into clearing out other not so "physical" clutter from my life! I have unfollowed a ton of people/accounts that either I don't know or don't talk to anymore, and have kept the ones that are encouraging or my closest friends. I'm a nosy person by nature so this was hard at first, but then it felt so good just to get rid of it all!! I also started keeping my phone in the kitchen to charge overnight. It started as a way to help me sleep better (less blue light before bed!) but it has also helped with my desire to check Facebook or Instagram first thing in the morning.

  3. Annelies
    Annelies
    reply

    Have you read Laura Vanderkam's book 'I know how she does it'? I have just finished and it was amazing.
    With my phone I found that I just needed a little push and I feel much more in control. I travelled with my children to western Victoria in NSW, Australia where there was very little internet coverage. I didn't go on social media for that whole week. When I returned and went back I found this weight of comparison come back onto me and that was the push I could recognise, and I needed. Since then I will only look maybe once a day but I often go numerous days without it.
    Glad I have email notifications though, otherwise I would miss out on your blog posts!

  4. Weekend Links, #12 – Rachel, Striving
    Weekend Links, #12 – Rachel, Striving
    reply

    […] tips on how to avoid digital overwhelm by choosing a “low-information diet” are great. […]

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