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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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What Can PowerSheets Help You Do?

As a community, we've had the privilege of watching thousands of women around the world cultivate what matters using PowerSheets. Whether they are creating a life-giving home, achieving career goals, building strong relationships, fostering friendships, working on wellness goals or anything else they can dream up—these women are making change happen in their lives and in the lives of those they love.

This is about so much more than planners and checklists. This isn’t traditional goal-setting like you’ve seen in the past.

We create the PowerSheets Goal Planner to help you take a leap of faith and set intentional, meaningful goals to simplify your life. It’s about you living on purpose. PowerSheets are a proven process of uncovering what matters most to you, setting grace-filled goals, and creating an action plan to make those things happen little by little, no perfection required.

Our guarantee is simple: when you intentionally use the PowerSheets, change will happen. But don't just listen to us! We're excited to introduce a few women who are sharing their PowerSheets stories below!

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Ready to see change happen in your life? We're ready to be your biggest cheerleader!

Grab a set of Six-Month Undated PowerSheets from the Cultivate Shop, and get started!

There's nothing magical about January 1st when it comes to setting goals. Today can be the day that everything changes! Your December 2018 self will thank you for taking the leap of faith.

We want to hear from you! What have PowerSheets helped you accomplish? Tell us below in the comments!

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Less is Actually More: What is a Low-Information Diet, and Is it Right for You?

The end of 2017 rolled around, and I felt myself craving margin. Life was full–full of some really good things–but full nonetheless. As I sat down to do my PowerSheetsPrep Work, I started to see a theme.

I had too much stuff.
I felt unsteady, wavering back and forth based on circumstances instead of truth.
I was no longer doing something I loved: reading.
My eyes were heavy.

The root of all those things? Information overload.

I had too much stuff because I was on every single shop mailing list. I felt unsteady because I spent too much time on Instagram, silently comparing myself during the scrolling. I was reading less because my free time was full of work and wedding planning and traveling. I was tired because I spent a lot of time staring at a screen–both for work, and after-hours while wedding planning.

It was a stark wake-up call. I immediately knew one of my PowerSheets goals needed to be "Phone Down, Eyes Up." Short, simple, but packs a big punch (the best kinds of goals often do that!).

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What is a Low-Information Diet? 

A Low-Information Diet means you're limiting the consumption of media in your life. Tim Ferris coined the term "Low-Information Diet" in his book The 4-Hour Work Week, where he talks about the importance of cultivating selective ignorance. "Selective" is an important word here! He doesn't talk about complete ignorance in all things, but instead talks about the disservice consuming what doesn't concern you does to yourself and those around you.

“Just as modern man consumes both too many calories and calories of no nutritional vale, information workers eat data both in excess and from the wrong sources.” -Tim Ferris

What's going to matter to you when you're 80?
What are the things you will look back on and want more of?

Not sure what those things are? That's okay! PowerSheets can help you uncover what matters most and make a plan to cultivate those things–the right things.

View More: http://ginazeidler.pass.us/cultivate2018springsummer

Those are the things you can start to cultivate now. Nothing says you have to wait until January 1st to start making changes. As cultivators, we're big believers in little by little progress!

Trying to decide if embracing a Low-Information Diet is right for you? Here are my three checkpoints I'd encourage you to try:

Check the phone usage in your battery life. On my iPhone, I can go to my Settings > Battery and it will show me what apps have used the largest percentage of my battery life over the past 24 hours or 7 days. This is eye-opening!

Answer this question: What is the first thing you reach for when you wake up each morning? If it's your cell phone to open your email, social media, or blog reader, your television remote, or a newspaper, it could be a sign it's time to take a step back.

Download the Moment app. Moment automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day, and it allows you to set limits based on the information you see!

Go-Do-Life

There's no better time than the start of summer to kick a bad habit to the curb. This can be your summer to thrive! Fill those longer days with the things that fire you up. Make your own list of things to do instead of scrolling or watching television, and start checking those off one-by-one!

We'll be kicking off a series on cultivating a Low-Information Diet over the next few weeks, and we're excited to learn together! Up next, practical ways to set yourself up for success and how to use your PowerSheets to keep the momentum going!
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How To Be Present

At the most recent Making Things Happen Conference this spring, as I sat in the back listening to each of our attendees share over their two days at The Carolina Inn, I noticed something...

Over and over, a theme emerged: women want to be present in their lives. They want to be present for their spouses, present for their kids, perhaps present in their time with the Lord, or even simply present with the task at hand as they move throughout their day.

This sounds like such a twenty-first century problem, doesn't it? And there's shame there, like why can't we just do this thing that sounds so simple?? While I'm sure this has always been a challenge to some degree, the fact is that it is uniquely a "right now" problem: there are more distractions, and more powerful distractions, tempting us than ever before in history. (Can you tell I'm reading The Tech-Wise Family and LOVING IT? :))

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Photo by Rachel Coffey

But back to the MTH Conference: this deeply-seated desire to be present was so universal and so keenly felt, but by the same measure, attendees seemed at a loss for how they could create change in this area in their lives. I certainly don't have all the answers, but I wanted to share a few things that have worked for me and for other Cultivate team members. The catch? Very few of these will be surprises to you. We all know these things. The true challenge is doing them. I'm here to encourage you on that, too, as you'll see below! :) Let's go!

One final note: when we talk about being present, I don't think most of us are talking about achieving a blissed-out state of zen. What we want is to live deeply in important moments, giving the people we care about the gift of our attention, and maximizing (in the most heart-centered sense) each moment we have. We want to live and remember each day as distinct and praiseworthy instead of just one more in an undifferentiated slog. Okay, now let's go :)

1. Define what's truly important to you and remind yourself of it often. We will never stop talking about the importance of a "why" at Cultivate - it is central to everything we do, and to the message of the PowerSheets! Without a strong and personally meaningful why, we'll never stick with something that's challenging or requires something of us. So why does being present matter to you? Define it, write it down, and perhaps picture it visually (I have a simple inspiration board on my fridge that reminds me of the kind of life I want to live -- one that is very present).

As an example, part of my why was articulated beautifully in this opinion piece from the New York Times. The author writes that the quantity of "quality" (present) time is almost as important as the quality, that we delude ourselves when we think we can "plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, and engineer intimacy in an appointed hour." The truth is that we never know when those moments will show up, so I want to be present and ready for them as often as I possibly can be. "People tend not to operate on cue... We reach out for help at odd points; we bloom at unpredictable ones. The surest way to see the brightest colors, or the darkest ones, is to be watching and waiting and ready for them."

2. Set a hard boundary. This is perhaps contradictory to my first point, but if being present is something you struggle with, start by setting a discrete time period when you commit to being fully present. It might be in the hour after your kiddos arrive home from school, the thirty minutes when you sit down to dinner or breakfast, or the ten minutes with your spouse before you go to bed. Making a commitment is the first step in keeping it.

3. Don't just hope things will work out - make a plan. Identify your biggest barrier to being present and make a plan to defeat it. For most of us, I would venture to say it's our phones. I have found that the very simple practice of putting my phone in the same place on the kitchen counter when I get home from work stops me from having to make a decision every day about whether I'll have my phone in my pocket, in the bedroom, etc. When I place that phone down, it's a physical reminder that I'm switching over into uninterrupted time with my daughter.

4. Find a way to quiet your mind. By definition, if we're not "in the present," our minds are in the past or future, right? Once my phone is put away, I focus on soaking in as much of the moment as I possibly can -- the sights, the sounds, the smells -- instead of focusing on what happened earlier that day or what's to come. It can also be helpful to focus on your breath, especially if you feel a pull to grab that phone!

5. Learn how to be together. Sure, perhaps the best way to be present with someone is to sit by their side and simply listen to them. But, I think we can also be present with each other in ways where our whole world doesn't need to come to a screeching halt. Some of my favorite moments each day are in the mornings when I'm getting ready for work and my two-year-old is sitting next to me in her high chair eating breakfast. Washing my face, doing my hair, and putting on makeup don't require much brain power, but since my hands are busy, it's easy to focus on her and whatever she'd like to talk to me about. If she's playing independently in the afternoon, I also like to sit on the sofa nearby and read my own book - giving her the gift of my available, present self, even though we aren't interacting constantly.

6. Make a system for capturing info. Aside from my phone, one of my biggest barriers to being present is all of the stuff constantly swirling in my head. You, too? To dos, worries, reminders, appointments to make, ideas to remember, birthday messages to send... the list goes on. Simply keeping a scratch pad out in our kitchen so I can jot those things down instead of juggling them in my mind goes a long way toward freeing me up mentally to remain "in the moment."

7. Acknowledge the tension. Like I mentioned at the beginning, just the fact that we struggle with being present can be a source of guilt or shame. Shouldn't being with our kids be the easiest thing in the world? Shouldn't sitting with our spouses bring us the most joy? They very well might - but that doesn't mean the pull of long-held habits is easy to break. You are learning a new way of being, so simply acknowledge the little by little steps you're taking as well as the set-backs, and keep moving forward!

8. Listen to older people instead of resenting them. We've all heard about the frazzled mom at the grocery store who wants to strangle the grandma who says "you're going to miss these days!" as she tries to wrangle her three screaming kids out the door. Well, my own grandma's best parenting advice when I asked her was "I just tried to enjoy them." What a simple, poignant, true thought. To me, that is what being present is about: simply enjoying the people and time I have been given. Keeping that as my focus instead of resenting it, even in the difficult moments of parenting or life, has been a game-changer for me.

Friends, I'd love to hear: is being present something you struggle with? What tactics have helped you be more present in your life?

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Cultivating What Matters in Finances, Wellness, and Faith in Kids

If you've been in the Cultivate family for long, you know we don't create products for the sake of creating products. We create products we are excited to use, and our Summer Launch coming April 24th is no exception. Not only are we restocking Six-Month PowerSheets in White, we're releasing a new collection of products we dreamed up to help you continue to cultivate what matters!

Three of our favorites? Our brand new Finance Goal Guide, Wellness Goal Guide, and Write the Word Journal for Kids!

Whether you're cultivating your finances, wellness, or hoping to plant seeds of faith in your children, we've teamed up with experts in these arenas to offer practical advice and encouragement and answer all your questions!

FIVE WAYS TO CULTIVATE WHAT MATTERS IN YOUR FINANCES

Wednesday, April 11th at 2pm ET with Shay Cochrane

Our resident finance guru, Emily Thomas, will be teaming up with Shay Cochrane, commercial photographer, to share their top five ways to cultivate their finances. There's no need to be an expert, because no matter your financial situation, you have everything you need to change the course of your financial story! Register here.

HOW TO CULTIVATE FAITH WITH KIDS

Wednesday, April 18th at 2pm ET with Lara Casey

Our brand new Write the Word for Kids has our entire team excited about planting seeds of faith in young ones. Join Lara Casey, mother of three under six, for a live class on how to cultivate faith in the lives of children. Register here.

HOW TO CULTIVATE WELLNESS

Thursday, April 26th at 2pm ET with Amia Freeman

Taking care of yourself is far from selfish–it's necessary to cultivate all aspects of your life. Join Lara Casey and Amia Freeman of inneractive FITCLUB™ as they talk through how to live a healthy, full life. Register here.

Please note: Crowdcast works best on the Google Chrome browser, and we recommend downloading it ahead of the webinar. If you experience technical difficulties, please reach out directly to Crowdcast support.

If you aren't able to join us live for any of these events, there's no need to fret. A replay will be available for all those that have registered, so be sure to sign up to receive access to the broadcast afterward! Note: you will have to sign up for multiple events.

Leave us a comment, and let us know you're coming! We can't wait to see how your little by little progress will add up to help you cultivate what matters in your own life.

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