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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!).

LowInformationDiet

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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46 Productive Things to Do Instead of Scrolling Social Media

We're big fans of social media when it is used purposefully! It is, after all, how we connect with so many of you on a regular basis! Like so many things in our lives, when used purposefully, it can create a beautiful home for encouragement and support.

However, we know there are time when we are guilty of replacing real life with Instagram, and we spend precious time mindlessly scrolling through social media instead of accomplishing the things that matter most to us.

Our team is sharing 46 productive things you can do instead of scrolling on your phone today, and we hope it inspires you to start prioritizing what matters most to you!

  1. Unsubscribe from email promotional emails
  2. Plan a coffee date with a friend
  3. Delete photos from your camera roll
  4. Floss your teeth
  5. Go to bed early
  6. Take a walk
  7. Write a thank you note
  8. Read a magazine
  9. Check off a daily goal on your Tending List
  10. Organize your bedside table
  11. Volunteer your time
  12. Make a to-do list, and check one thing off your to-do list
  13. Write out a social media mission statement
  14. Wash the dishes
  15. Make your bed
  16. Choose ten pieces of clothing to donate
  17. Read a book
  18. Learn a new language
  19. Call your best friend
  20. Kiss your significant other
  21. Take out the trash
  22. Get your finances in order
  23. Make a sweet treat for your neighbor
  24. Go to the library, and check out a new book
  25. Write the Word
  26. Clean out your pantry
  27. Do a puzzle with your child
  28. Write down your goals
  29. Unload the dishwasher
  30. Choose one new recipe to try
  31. Print a few of your favorite photos to display
  32. Plan a gathering in your home
  33. Make a new friend
  34. Exercise
  35. Doodle
  36. Start a gratitude journal
  37. Reply to five emails in your inbox
  38. Organize your bathroom cabinet
  39. Apply for a passport
  40. Prep your meals for the week
  41. Reply to your text messages
  42. Start one load of laundry
  43. Clean out your junk drawer
  44. Watch a TED talk
  45. Organize your desk
  46. Make an inspiring playlist

We'd love to hear from you! Leave a a comment, and tell us what else would you add to this list! The possibilities are endless, and we can't wait to hear your creativity!

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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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Goal-Setting as a Business Owner with Kara from the Barn of Chapel Hill

One of our favorite things about our PowerSheets Goal Planners is how versatile they are! Whether you're a stay-at-home momma, a student, or an entrepreneur, the PowerSheets are for anyone who needs a grace-filled system that works.

That's why we're thrilled to introduce you to someone who has become a dear friend of the Cultivate team this year! Kara Brewer, Owner of the Barn at Chapel Hill, has welcomed us into her space with open arms and warm hospitality. When filling out our team's 2018 PowerSheets, we realized two of our favorite memories took place at the Barn: Lara's Cultivate Book Launch Party and the PowerSheets Photo Shoot! One of the reasons those two events shot to the top of our list was because of the beautiful and welcoming space Kara and her team have created.

I'm thrilled to have her share a bit more about how she got to where she is now, what her day-to-day looks like, and some of her goals for 2018! -Jess

Did you always want to own an event venue/farm?

Starting a small family farm has been a dream of mine for quite some time–my husband and I wanted to start a business that our kids (ages 8 and 10) could really be involved in. We wanted to get them away from computers, TVs, games, and have them spend most of their time outside, getting dirty, working hard, and learning about agriculture and basic business principals such as how to package, market and sell our products (we specialize in flowers, chestnuts, and honey). They do a little bit of everything: planting seeds and bulbs, weeding and harvesting, creating market bouquets, mowing the grass, roasting chestnuts and checking on our bees. It’s always all hands on deck, all the time!

What types of events do you host at the barn?

We host on-farm weddings, floral workshops, and children's educational programs, and I absolutely love interacting with all of our visitors. Nothing makes me happier than helping a child dig in the dirt to learn about the importance of healthy soil, or watching the joy of a bride on her wedding day, carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers that we grew specifically for her.

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Tell us about your team:

My team is incredible, and I don't know what I would do without them! Jenn is our Creative Director and Florist, and her floral designs are simply stunning. She's been a floral designer for over 10 years, and she's just so incredibly talented. Gretchen is our Director of Agritourism and Educational Activities. She's a former elementary school teacher, and she's creating outstanding farm programs for kids from preschool through fourth grade–fun, innovative farm-based activities that you won't find anywhere else. Kelli is our Director of Operations (and my sister!), and she truly does it all. From spearheading our preschool story times with Gretchen, to taking care of our pumpkin patch, to helping me package our honey with her beautiful hand-lettered labels, Kelli keeps everything running smoothly. These three women inspire me daily with their talent and creativity, and I'm blessed to have the opportunity to work with them each day.

But I honestly couldn't do any of this without my husband, Chris. He operates all the heavy machinery, digs the trenches, hammers in the T-posts, spreads the compost, builds the deer fencing (and much, much more). Without a doubt, he's the glue the holds our little farm (and family!) together!

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Photo of Jenn, Gretchen, Kelli, and Kara by Danell Beede Photography

What was the most challenging lesson you learned as you started? How do you deal with setbacks?

When I first started out, I quickly learned that everything takes time and that it's ok to start small and grow things little by little. You don't have to farm 50 acres of crops to be successful–bigger is not always better. Don't let yourself become overwhelmed. Just get out there and do your best. I started our apiary with two hives in the spring of 2016, and I planted my first few flower beds soon after. It wasn't much, but it got me started. There's always going to be setbacks, but you just have to keep moving forward. Believe in yourself!

What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?

My proudest moment was when I started selling that first crop of flowers in 2016. The well hadn't been drilled yet, so for months, Chris and I would fill up a water tank and bring it over to the farm on the back of his truck, and we would water everything by hand. I was determined that those flowers would thrive, and I was so proud when they actually did!

How do you start organized? 

I know this is completely old-school, but in order to stay organized, I write things down in planners and notebooks. I'm always making notes and drawing diagrams, which helps keep me focused and on-track (which is why I love PowerSheets!).

I'm a very visual person, so back in 2015, I had an artist sketch out my vision for the barn, and about a year later I had someone else do a rendering of the farm layout. The illustrations beautifully captured what I was trying to achieve, and I put them on a bulletin board in my house as a daily reminder of my dreams and goals. Fast forward to this year, 2017. As I was going through actual photos of weddings that had taken place in our barn, I realized that my visions, those sketches, had become a reality!

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Photo by Kasey Poly Photography

What are big goals you have for 2018?

This is the time of the year when I start planning what we are going to grow for next season, and we have big plans for 2018! We just planted a large field of peonies, and we're getting ready to plant our tulips, ranunculus and anemones. I would really like to expand our u-pick offerings to include a larger selection of flowers, as well as blueberries and pumpkins. I'd also like to put up a high tunnel in 2018 so we can extend our growing season. And we are planning on having monthly flower workshops starting in April of next year.

What does a typical day look like for you as a business owner?

Each of my days are completely different, which is why I love what I do! Today we're digging up our dahlia tubers and storing them in crates, and in the spring we'll divide them and replant. In a few days, we'll clean up the barn, set up tables and chairs, and create flower arrangements for a holiday event. Being able to spread joy and happiness through our flowers and our on-farm events is the best part of my day!

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If you could go back and tell yourself starting out anything, what would it be?

I didn't realize that by stepping outside the box of what is seen as traditional farming---I grow flowers instead of vegetables, my farm is small and new, I don't come from a farming background, I open the farm up to visitors and special events, and I'm a woman in what is primarily viewed as a man's profession--that I would I face a barrage of hurtful criticism and backlash. My farm has been vandalized, I've been trolled on social media, and a county official told me that as a mom, I wouldn't have time to farm because I would be too busy taking my kids to and from soccer practice.

If I could, I would go back and warn myself to be better prepared for this, and to just keep moving forward, that it will all work out in the end. And, that yes, I can successfully run a farm, and still be able to take my kids to soccer practice! :)

Are you a business owner looking to set goals for your company? Join our Business Owners Cultivating What Matters Facebook group, and download our PowerSheets Business Owners Guide to use alongside your PowerSheets Goal Planner.

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Three Reasons MTH Conference Changed the Course of my Life

If we haven't had the chance to get acquainted yet, I'm Catherine! I'm a grateful editor here at Cultivate What Matters, and I'm your cheerleader and guide for all things Making Things Happen!

Long before I ever dreamed I could work on this team, I took the leap and registered for Making Things Happen in 2016. I didn't know anyone else who would be there, and I didn't know what to expect, but I knew this: I wanted a more intentional, more joyful, more purposeful life. What I got was that, plus an entirely new perspective on my days, practical strategies for prioritizing, and a whole lot of peace and grace.

You've likely heard us talk about Making Things Happen, but maybe you aren't quite sure what it is or if it's for you? Well, I'm here to answer all your questions and share the three biggest reasons MTH changed the course of my life!

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See that redhead? She spent two days doing a lot of hard work that continues to have a ripple effect on my life and the lives of those whom I love.

1.  The most important investment you can make in living your best life is TIME. 

If you're wondering how you're ever going to make the life you've always imagined possible when all you can do right now is rush from one to-do to the next with your hair on fire, please, please join me at MTH. The single most powerful step I took was to block off the conference dates on my calendar and say to myself, my family, and my employer: these 2-3 days are mine. At MTH we shut out the emails, the text messages, the laundry, the messes, and all the noise (we will even take your phone from you!), and we devote two full, blissfully uninterrupted days to reflecting, dreaming, and strategizing. Sometimes the most important thing you can do when you feel like you don't have a single minute to spare is to hit pause, take a time out, and devote the time to figuring out how you're going to create real change.

2. Beautiful things grow out of getting messy and doing the hard work first.

Around here, we know that good things grow through the dirt, but how often do you really get outside of your comfort zone? We have so many wonderful resources here at Cultivate What Matters, but there is power in getting out from behind your computer and getting your hands dirty. (It is, after all, why we created the PowerSheets!) Lara is going to ask you some challenging questions at MTH. She's going to ask you to be honest with yourself and use your voice to banish your fears. It's kind of like having a personal trainer pushing you to live a more purposeful life (which makes sense, since Lara was once a personal trainer!). I want you to get in the room with us where there's nowhere to hide and believe that you can do hard things. If you're exhausted at the end of your first day at MTH, that's how you know you've put in the work to plant some good seeds.

3. Sharing stories and encouragement changes things. 

But MTH isn't all hard work. The challenging moments outside of your comfort zone are balanced with a whole lot of community. There is power when like-minded women sit in a beautiful room with a cup of coffee and share their hearts, their struggles, and their triumphs. MTH is your opportunity to connect with these women in person, let their stories inspire you, and make life-long friends to share in the journey of cultivating what matters with you. I was so amazed at how most of the women at MTH really wanted the same things as I do at the end of the day: deep relationships, a vibrant faith, a healthy lifestyle, and a rich legacy to name a few. I can't tell you how many practical and inspiring ideas I got from these women. Plus, MTH is not just about the two-day experience. We encourage you to exchange information and hold each other accountable, start PowerSheets groups in your city, and grow together long after you leave Chapel Hill!

It's time! Take the leap, and join us in Chapel Hill, NC this March! We can't wait to help you uncover your goals and start making them happen!

Our Early-Bird Rate (more than 50% off ticket price) ends on December 31st, and seats are filling up quickly! You can register here! I'm an email away and I'm ready to talk your ears off about why MTH is a good investment for you. Email me any questions you have or for more information on payment plans!

We know many of you shared your 2018 Vision Board in our Pinterest Contest and are crossing your fingers tight that you are the winner! Don't let that keep you from taking advantage of the Early-Bird Rate before it expires on December 31st. If the winner chosen is already registered, we'll make sure to issue a full refund!

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