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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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20 ‘How To’s’ to Help You Cultivate What Matters

We made it to the halfway point of the year! These past six months have been full of so much little by little progress, but we firmly believe the very is yet to come!

Our Four Favorites Summer Sale is happening in the shop now through Monday, July 9th! Four of our favorite products are on sale for up to 25% off–The Goal Setting Sticker BookTending TapeMake it Happen Book and Encouragement Postcards!

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The Cultivate team will be in and out of the office this week as well—traveling, spending time with our families, and taking some time to invest in our own PowerSheets goals: rest and recharge (perhaps even going social media-free for portions of our time away!)

Meanwhile, here's a list of 20 how-to's to help you cultivate what matters in the second half of the year:

How to use Powersheets and how they might change your life
How to use your tending tape
How to make a tending list
How to use Tending Tape in your PowerSheets (and other places, too!)

How to celebrate progress
How to make little by little progress
How to be present
How to get unstuck 

How to get things done
How to have a low information diet
How to stay off of social media 
How to act on your financial goals 

How to cultivate friendships
How to make what matters happen
How to cultivate what matters in finance and wellness
How to take your leap of faith

How to cultivate your faith
How to cultivate faith with kids
How to leave a legacy 
How to know what to read all the summer

We hope that these words inspire, encourage, and re-energize you to get going on your goals!

We’d love to hear from you! Have we posted a blog post that helped you cultivate what matters in your life? What other content would you like to see? Share in the comments below!

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Three Lessons Lacoya Learned from Giving Up Social Media

Here at Cultivate What Matters we're big believers in social media-free weekends and intentional time away from our phones. This spills over into everything we do, including the Making Things Happen Conference!

One of the core components of the MTH Conference is being able to dig deep into what matters most free from any distractions. To make this easy for our attendees, we provide a safe home for all cell phones so they can focus on uncovering what matters without the temptation of a buzzing phone nearby.

View More: http://rachelcoffeyphoto.pass.us/mth-2018

When we interviewed MTH Conference Alum, Lacoya Heggie, for our monthly MTH Alum newsletter a few weeks ago, we were intrigued when she mentioned recently taking a long hiatus from social media.

We love seeing our MTH Alum live out what they learn from the conference, and we learned so much from her interview that we wanted to invite her to share a bit more about her experience with the Cultivate community.

What prompted you to go on a social media hiatus?

I decided to take a hiatus from social media for several reasons.

I felt like I was becoming more invested in the surface relationships of Facebook (not to demean those relationships in any way) than I was the relationships that I could be forming in my very own community. I was also becoming overwhelmed with all of the social media inspiration that comes from everywhere about everything.

I had just made the firm decision to transition out of wedding planning and pursue a different direction in my career. I needed some alone time to zone in on what I wanted versus what my brain was telling me I wanted from what I was consuming via social media.class="s1">There are so many pretty things and microscopic lenses into everyone's lives on social media that you can really lose focus and get your goals and desires jumbled up based on what you see, what you think you want, and what looks great.

It's hard to focus on what matters most to you when you're constantly looking at what everyone else around you is working towards.

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What lessons have you learned from your social media hiatus?

1. Focus on pursuing my own, organically-created goals.

Focus, focus, focus. What does our family desire our lives to look like? What do I like to do? What could I, realistically (with my life and my schedule and household income), pursue as a career? What do I need to work on and perfect? FOCUS on MY house and what we want - not on what I see via social media.

2. Don't take social media personally.

class="s1">What I do, how I view myself, those around me (anything personal that I need to think on and determine), will not be determined by what I see on Instagram or Facebook. Some people have a great life but don't have an Instagram. Just because a person seems insanely successful on social media, doesn't mean their life is perfect. The break was exactly what I needed to sever the tie that tricks people into taking things personally on social media.

3. Social media is a tool.

There are some great things about social media, like getting to stay in touch with friends and family, but, in the realm of business—social media is a tool.

Most importantly I've learned that my identity, worth, and value does not come from a virtual platform. It comes from the very real reality of the life that I live, the wife that I am, the mom that I am, the sister that I am, and the amount of time that I spend cultivating my friends right where I am.

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Isn't it great to hear from Lacoya? We firmly believe social media isn't a bad thing when it is used purposefully (it's how we've met so many of you!), and eliminating yourselves from social media entirely isn't always an option.

However, when you use social media and your times of connectivity on purpose, it becomes intentional. Write out a mission statement for how and why you will use it well. Post that mission statement to your computer or desk where you will see it often. If you find yourself mindlessly using social media again, check your motive and get back to cultivating what matters in your life!

Do you need time to unplug and focus on uncovering what matters most to you? The Making Things Happen Conference is for you! We give you two days of intentional time to start uncovering the things that are important to you, knowing that time away is an investment in yourself and will create a ripple effect, impacting those around you, too.

Are you ready to take the leap and join us at Making Things Happen? Now through July 31st, you can get nearly 50% off your ticket with the early-bird rate! Register now

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How to Break It Down: Why We Love Mini Goals

We often say around here that we "do goals differently," and that can mean a lot of things–that we don't believe in anxiety-fueled goals, that we DO believe in attaching a strong WHY to each goal, or that we believe little by little progress is just as powerful as a big leap of faith. One of my favorite ways we do goals differently, though, is the way we actually go about tackling them–and THAT has a lot to do with mini goals.

The Cultivate What Matters proven process includes three steps:

1. First, uncover what matters to you: your passion, path, purpose, priorities, and big-picture vision
2. Then, make a plan: identify your big picture goals and clear starting steps
3. Finally, take action: think big picture and take small steps, experiencing change along the way

I am SO excited to say the 2019 PowerSheets, debuting this October, are going to reflect this process more clearly than ever before. As we reimagined the newest version, we wanted to reflect the way we see much of our community (that's you!) and our team setting goals. Instead of setting very concrete goals for the year, you are identifying "buckets" of areas that matter deeply to you and where you want to experience change. For example:

  • Love long-distance family members and friends well
  • Cultivate a life-giving home
  • Enjoy our family of three (before it becomes a family of four) (One of my 2018 goals!)
  • Love the things above, not the things of this world (Lara!)
  • Phone down, eyes up (Jess!)
  • Cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit in motherhood
  • Intentionally take care of myself through activities I love (Kristin!)
  • Use my creative gifts well (Kaylee!)
  • Build a strong financial foundation (Jess!)

Personally, I LOVE goals in this format–they immediately fire me up, because I can so clearly see how they have the potential to transform someone's life, not just serve as another thing to check off a to-do list!

But, as we all know, to see a change in these areas, at some point we DO need to make them more concrete (which makes them more actionable). Breaking each big "bucket goal" down into mini goals helps us take the next step, and when we string many steps together over the course of a year, THAT is when we will see real change!

Our PowerSheets walk you through all the necessary steps to do this, including getting specific and visualizing what progress on your bucket goal might look like and identifying what success at the end of the year might look like. Once you have the why and the finish line, it's easier to fill in the middle!

Speaking of the middle, that's where your Tending List comes in. Every month, it gives you the opportunity to refocus on your big picture yearly goals, identify the next ways you can move forward for each, and then add those mini goals to your daily, weekly, and monthly slots. Let's look at one of my goals for the year as an example!

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Big picture yearly goal: Grow our family story through creating and maintaining a beautiful, simple visual narrative

Monthly goals I have completed so far this year:

  • Gather all of the loose printed photos in our home. Cull them to keep only favorites.
  • Sort loose printed photos into a box with sections (childhood, school, newlyweds, family life)
  • Choose a back-up solution for phone photos (we went with Amazon Prime)
  • Order new external hard drive for back-up
  • Create folder system on hard drive
  • Collect all random digital photos and sort them into folder system
  • Choose new favorite photos for display at home, print them, and frame them

This particular big picture goal hasn't had too many weekly goals, but I have had great success with daily goals here. As I work through organizing my backlog of phone photos especially, I'm editing, sorting, and transferring just one month per day of phone photos to our hard drive (i.e. January 2018, February 2018). It's not overwhelming, and I can clearly see myself making progress toward my big picture goal with each step!

If you are feeling stuck on a goal that you KNOW matters to you, this is the best way I know to start making progress. Break the big picture goal down into smaller and smaller chunks until it's almost impossible to NOT progress. That momentum builds, and soon enough, you'll be on your way.

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Meet Jordan, our Marketing and Content Coordinator!

It was so much fun introducing Ashlea yesterday! She's been around for three months and already feels like she's been here for ages, and we knew our Cultivate family would welcome her with open arms. But there's more celebrating to be had!

Meet Jordan, our new Marketing and Content Coordinator! I must admit, I breathed a sigh of relief after hiring Jordan, with whom I work closely, knowing I would be out of the office for two weeks for my wedding and honeymoon in April. Not only did she knock our Summer Launch out of the park while I was away, but she's continued to serve our team incredibly well over the past month (all while planning her own wedding and getting married, too!).

Jordan has an ease and warmth that can quickly steady anybody or any situation, and you are going to love getting to know her. She has a heart for serving women, an eagerness to jump in and try any new task, and sends the best GIFs! The main reason I'm excited about Jordan's job? Her gifts and passions are going to help us reach more women through our content, helping them to think big picture, live purposeful lives, and cultivate what matters–right where they are!

Keep reading to get to know Jordan. We're lucky to have her serving our team and this community alongside us each and every day!

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What's your title? Marketing and Content Coordinator

What have you been doing since March? Goodness, so much has happened since March! In just the first few weeks of being on the team, I attended my very first Making Things Happen Conference and went to our Team Summit, where I got to meet all of the team in person. We spent a few days planning and dreaming for the rest of 2018 and our 2019 PowerSheets launch! I also attended our summer product photo shoot, and in between I’ve been soaking up all there is to learn and writing content. Plus, I was planning a wedding—I just got married in May!

What else will you be doing in the coming months? Over the next few months, I will be working alongside Jess and our new Marketing Director (I can’t wait for you to meet her!) to bring you all more great content! For me, that means doing a whole lot of writing and sharing more behind-the-scenes on Instagram stories. Also, I’m looking forward to Making Things Happen Conference this fall and my very first PowerSheets launch as a team member!

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Tell us how you joined the team in a few sentences: Knowing I was getting married and would be relocating soon, I was looking for jobs in the area. My aunt, an avid PowerSheets user and Cultivate follower, saw that CWM was hiring (before I did!), and she encouraged me to apply!  I sent in my application, and after several interviews, found myself on my way to Chapel Hill to join the team. It all happened so fast, but I am so grateful!

Hometown and where you live now: I’m from Leesburg, Virginia. I currently live in Durham, North Carolina!

Birthday: February 14

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Something others might not know about you: I’m a golfer! I grew up playing golf with my dad and grandparents all the time, which was so special. Then I played golf for my college, and now, I enjoy playing with my husband!

Favorite part of being on the team: Without a doubt my favorite part of being on this team is working with these amazing ladies! It is such a privilege to work with such encouraging and hardworking women—they love what they do, they do it well, and they are so talented! It’s a joy to come to work every day and spend time with and learn from them.

Favorite Cultivate Shop product: Just one favorite? That's the hardest question in this interview! Besides PowerSheets (because of course those are a favorite) I would have to say it's a toss-up between any Write the Word Journal and our Encouragement Postcards! I love to spend time in the Word each day with my Write the Word journal (and they make very meaningful gifts!), and I'm a huge fan of snail mail so I love sending postcards to make someone's day!

Friends, please help us give Jordan a big CWM welcome in the comments below! You can also say hi and get to know her on Instagram!

Photos by Gina Zeidler and Traci Huffman.

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