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Low-Information Diet: Five Tools You Need to Kick Your Phone Habit to the Curb

When you think about what's going to matter to you when you're 80 years old, where does your cell phone fall on that list? If you're anything like me, there's a good chance the amount of time you spend on your phone is disproportionate to how important it is in the big picture of your life. Little by little, it is possible to break the attachment we have towards our phones and replace them with the things that matter most to you.

Earlier this summer, we talked about a Low-Information Diet, and last month we shared 11 ways to eliminate digital overwhelm. Today, I'm thrilled to wrap up our Low-Information Diet series with five tools that are helping me—little by little—kick my phone habit to the curb.

Alarm clock. Our phones have become one of the first things we touch in the morning because we often use them for alarms, making it easy to roll over and start mindlessly scrolling through social media or emails. Remove the temptation by buying an actual alarm clock, and charge your phone in a different room at night.

Grayscale. Our cell phones and all the apps on it are designed to be addictive, but there are built-in ways to begin to break the addiction. By unlocking a feature within the accessibility feature in some phone's settings, you can change the color of your phone screen to grayscale. While it won't promise to kick your mindless scrolling to the curb entirely, it is a helpful (and free!) way to make social media and Snapchat less enticing! Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your phone grayscale if you'd like to give it a try.

A drawer. This could be a drawer, a box, or a countertop–it basically needs to serve as a home base for your phone when you're at home. Implementing phone hours is a great way to "out of sight, out of mind".

PowerSheets. I can say, without a doubt or hesitation, that the progress I've made on my yearly goal "Phone down, eyes up" is due largely in part to our PowerSheets Goal Planner. Working through the PowerSheets Prep Work helped my understand the WHY behind my goal, which has been the driving force for my commitment to making progress on it. I was able to outline starting steps, and I've been able to slowly add those to my monthly Tending List as monthly, weekly, and daily goals over these past few months. Our 2018 PowerSheets are sold out, but we can't wait to get the 2019 PowerSheets Goal Planners (and the rest of the collection!) in your hands on October 24th! Join our newsletter family, and you'll be the first to see our new collection in the coming weeks.

Accountability. Give people in your life permission to call you out and say, "You need to put the phone down." Community creates accountability. Accountability creates follow-through. Follow-through leads to results. Giving close friends permission to speak the hard truth to you in moments where you're on your phone takes maturity, and it's a surefire way to give yourself a kick in the pants. Sometimes my husband does this in a subtle way by asking, "what's on your phone?" Other times he'll reach across the couch, grab my phone, and put it on the coffee table. Both of these tactics get the point across! I'm often most blind to my own faults, and it sometimes takes someone I love and trust to give me a push and call me higher.

Saying no to distractions opens up space to say yes to something better. Our phones have the ability to do a lot of good when used purposefully–connecting us to so many wonderful people and organizations. Our best advice? Use social media and your times of connectivity 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. If you find yourself mindlessly using social media again, check your motive and get back to cultivating what matters in your life!

I'd love to hear from you: are there other tools you are using to help you control your screen time? Did you enjoy this in-depth series on a particular goal area? What else would you like to see? Please leave a comment below; all comments welcome!

 

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Cultivate Your Calendar with Lara Casey

Feeling overwhelmed? Like you don't have time for the good stuff in your life because your days are full of the to-dos on your list? Are you exchanging celebrating the people you love and adventures with the things that don't fill you up?

If that's you, you're not alone! And we want to encourage you to do something about it!

Join Lara Casey for a FREE live workshop on Thursday, August 9th at 12pm ET where she's going to share her top ten tips for cultivating your calendar.

If you are not able join us live at 12pm ET, there's no need to fret! A replay will be available for all those who register, so be sure to sign up to have access to the broadcast afterwards! If you have questions you'd like Lara to answer, use the "ask a question" feature once you sign up!

Leave us a comment to let us know you're coming! We can't wait to spend the afternoon with you!

P.S. Our 2019 #PowerSheetsAreComing on October 24th! Sign up to stay updated over the next few weeks and to be the first to see the new collection before it goes live!

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Six Must-Do’s for Your Evenings

Preparing well. That’s what the evening routine is all about.

I know, I know! That sounds like more work. And you’re thinking “I just got done with all of the laundry/work/chores/everything by the evening. I don’t want to do more.

Preparing well can serve you well that evening and it sets you up to be able to cultivate what really matters the following day. When you are cultivating what matters, you positively impact everything about your life and everyone in it.

Before we jump in, let me say this: everyone’s night routine looks different depending on your life, but the key is to find what works for you and cultivate those habits each day. Consistency creates habits that ultimately determine the flow of your everyday life, and an evening routine is a great place to start. I'm excited to share six must-dos for my evenings, and I hope it helps you start to think through your own personal evening routine.

Something to straighten up. For me, it’s the kitchen. If the kitchen is straightened up—dishes in the dishwasher, clutter-free counter, things put away—it's much easier for me to relax. Take a quick few minutes to pass through your space, and put away random things that need to be put away. After you're finished, set out only what you will need for the morning. For me, it's a packed lunch to take to work, water bottle for an AM workout, or a sticky note of things to remember for the following day!

Something to help you plan ahead. Each evening, I spend five minutes running through the next day's calendar to see if there are any schedule changes, high-level to-dos, or something out of the ordinary that my husband and I need to remember. These are things like getting gas on my way to work, running an errand before heading to the office, or picking up something specific at the store for dinner. I write these things down on a sticky note, and I put it somewhere I see first thing in the morning so I can get off to a productive start. I also take a few moments to look over my PowerSheets Tending List to mark off my daily goals.

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Photo by Brooke

Something productive. While I'm going through my schedule, I ask myself if there are any tasks that can easily be done that evening. Whether it's dropping mail in the mailbox, prepping the next day's dinner, signing a document, or folding the lingering laundry in the dryer, I find that finishing one productive task not only helps me feel accomplished, but it keeps it from building up on the weekends. My best advice? Don't try to tackle huge project. These should be small and achievable tasks that take no more than 15 minutes.

Something encouraging. This one is my personal favorite! I try to take a few minutes to do something that encourage myself or someone else. I might write a note for my husband's lunch or send a quick text to a friend or loved one just to say hello and that I miss them. Sometimes, I'll spend time in my Write the Word Journal, taking note of what I'm grateful for in the "On My Heart" section. Whatever it is, this activity should be uplifting and help you set a stress-free tone for the evening. 

Something restful. A great way to wind down before bed is to do something that helps your mind start to slow down. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be something that works for you. Maybe it’s reading or journaling. Maybe dimming the lights and putting on a bedtime playlist of soft tunes while you brush your teeth and prepare for bed. Whatever it is, the idea here is that it’s calming, relaxing, and creating an environment conducive to getting a great night's sleep!

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Photo by Sarah

Something tech-free. We talk about this one often, but it's because we believe it's essential! Designating the last hour before bedtime screen-free helps you get better sleep. A few tricks: make the very first thing you do before all of the nighttime necessities—brushing your teething, washing your face—putting the phone away. In the closet. In the bedside drawer, or across the room. This not only frees you from distractions but is also a nice mental cap on the end of the day. Hint: If you use your phone as your alarm, try replacing it with an affordable alarm clock. You eliminate the distraction entirely, and you can charge your phone in a nearby room.

 I’d love to hear from you! Do you have an evening routine? What are the best aspects of your night routine? Leave a comment with your best tips and tricks!

Want to embrace mornings and make them productive, too? Check out eight tips for embracing mornings!

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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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