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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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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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Recommended Reading: What We’re Reading to Cultivate Our Goals

One of the many benefits of joining the Cultivate Team is our Reading Library! Every month, we have a book allowance to put towards a physical, digital, or audiobook of our choice to help us grow individually and as a team! We keep a running list of our current reads in Asana for team members to see, but after seeing the excitement from the Cultivate Book Club launch last week, we wanted to share some of our favorite reads with our fellow book lovers!

Not only are we sharing books, but we're also sharing which PowerSheets goal corresponds with our book choices!

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A recommendation from Emily Thomas, Creative Director and Chief of Staff

The Tech-Wise Familyby Andy Crouch

Goal: Enjoy our family of three (before it becomes a family of four!)

A recommendation from Casey Marchbanks, Designer

Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst

Goal: Keep the first thing FIRST, and cultivate my relationship with the Lord by keeping my eyes fixed on Him.

A recommendation from Jess Thore, Community and Content Manager

The Path Between Us by Susanna Stabile

Goal: Love Logan well in this new season

A recommendation from Marissa Kloess, Partnerships and PR Manager

Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus by Karen Ehman

Goal: Start each day with Him.

A recommendation from Kristin Winchester, Conference Director

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Goal: Intentionally take care of myself through activities I love (reading!)

A recommendation from Lara Casey Isaacson, Founder

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Goal: Re-creation: Take care of myself so I can care for others well.

A recommendation from Kaylee Hobbs, Operations Director

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Goal: Use my creative gifts well.

A recommendation from our newest team member :)

A Lineage of Graceby Francine Rivers

Goal: Embrace God's calling for my life and spend more time in the Word

A recommendation from our newest team member :)

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher

Goal: Live life to the absolute fullest right where I am by intentionally doing the things that bring me joy.

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Of course, we couldn't make a list of our favorite summer reads to help you cultivate what matters without mentioning Lara's two books: Make It Happen and CultivateIf you want to add both of these to your summer reading list, be sure to snag the book bundle to save a few dollars!

Want to cultivate a love for reading but don't know where to start? Check out our tips to enjoy reading and join our Cultivate Book Club! We're reading a chapter a week all summer long, and it's going to be the easiest book club you've ever done. Both of these are great places to start!

Now it's your turn! Share any book recommendations you have below! I'd also love to hear if they correspond with any PowerSheets goal you set for the year!

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Welcome to Mid-Year Goals Prep Week

Today kicks off an exciting week in the Cultivate office: Mid-Year Goals Prep Week! Whether you're a brand new PowerSheets user or want some extra encouragement to keep tending to those goals, there's something this week for you.

The most important thing this week?

Take one step forward. Just one!

We believe there's power in each and every intentional step you take. If you take more than one step forward, that's great, too!

What do you need to move forward on your goals and take that one step? Choose your adventure this week:

Need a kick in the pants? Join us for daily live coaching.
Need help getting started with your PowerSheets? Read on in this post!
Need some goal-getter friends to cheer you on?Cultivate Community Groups are here!
Need some real-life examples from others? Be sure to follow us on social for inspiring stories and daily pep talks.
Need some motivation to take that action step you’ve been putting off? This is where we’re gonna get a little crazy. We’re going to take those action steps LIVE together!

But first, I'm going to ask you a question: What can you do right now to love your December self well?

Is there something you can say no to, giving you room for something more important?

Can you make a decision now that will bear fruit by the time December rolls around?

What habit could cultivate now that will help you love your December self well?

If you're like me, I'll bet you have an answer for each of these questions! Where I want to be in December doesn't happen overnight. Others might believe in quick fixes, but around here, we cultivators embrace little by little progress.

And that's what this week is all about. By spending time working on our PowerSheets together, we’re going plant the seeds now for the good things we want to grow in the second half of the year!

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Brand new to PowerSheets? How exciting! Over the course of this week, we’ll break down our proven process and walk you through your workbook day-by-day and page-by-page. The PowerSheets Prep Work has instructions on each worksheet for you to get started (it’s like having a coach in your back pocket!), but the Cultivate team wants to take it one step further and cheer you on. Each day, a different CWM gal will walk you through a piece of the PowerSheets Prep Work on Facebook Live at 3 pm ET. Sign up to join us!

Have goals you want to make progress on? Consider us your biggest cheerleaders! We've created a Cultivate Goal-Getter's Board in the office to celebrate YOU! When you take just ONE step on any of your goals this week, tell us! Leave a comment on Instagram or tell us in a Facebook Live, and we'll add your name to our board. Just like the progress bars on your Tending List, there's something exciting about seeing visual proof of progress!

Need some extra encouragement from fellow PowerSheets friends? Join our PowerSheets Facebook Group to find like-minded ladies near you! Once you do, consider starting (or joining!) a monthly meet-up with local friends using our brand new Community Groups resources.

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Your turn! Leave a comment and let us know if you have your PowerSheets in hand and are planning to tune in this week! Introduce yourself. Tell us where you live! How are you feeling about your goals? I'd love to see how many friends we'll be spending time with this week!

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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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