Simplify Your Digital Life

Posted by on Mar 16, 2012 in Work-life Balance | 33 comments

The key to time management isn’t really managing your time, it’s managing your efforts. We are bombarded with so much digital data, it’s easy to get overwhelmed keeping up with email, social media, videos and more. You can make the most of your efforts by focusing your time and energy on information that truly matters to you.

The internet is a wonderful tool and great source of entertainment but it can also quickly become an unfulfilling distraction.

Chances are there’s something else you’d really rather be doing if you gave it some thought. You might find another activity far more gratifying.

Simplifying your digital life gives you the opportunity to do what you really want to do such as exercising more, preparing healthier meals, spending quality time with loved ones, and making progress on your goals.

Let’s discuss a few ideas to declutter your digital life. By spending your energy where it’s important to you, and minimizing wasted time and distractions on activities that aren’t important to you.

Are these activities consistently adding to your happiness?

Social Media

Joining every new social media platform is a great way to waste a lot of time and energy you could be using to pursue your goals and dreams. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, etc.! No one can keep up with them all, so pick one or two that truly interest you and spend your time there.

In addition to reducing the number of social media website you visit, limit the time you spend on these platforms. Decide how often you want to check in with these platforms and stick to it! Once to three times a day is usually enough to catch up on photos, news, and videos without sacrificing something else in your life.

When you do sit down in front of your computer or tablet, limit the length of time you spend browsing. Try setting an alarm to alert you when it’s time to log off and do something productive instead!

“Friends” That Aren’t Really Friends

Do you add every person that sends you a friend request on Facebook? Do you follow back everyone that follows you on Twitter?

Before accepting yet another friend request from someone that isn’t an important person in your life ask yourself why you’re adding them. Do you want to stay in contact with an old friend? By all means add them. Are you adding them simply because you feel guilty rejecting their request? Perhaps it’s time to reconsider accepting their “friendship”.

You can’t please everyone, so choose the people that are most important to you and focus your attention on those people. Stay in contact with those people that enrich your life in some way or another.

SOS keyboard by Paul Paladin

Multiple Open Tabs

Do you surf the web with 2 or more tabs open in your browser? How much attention are you really paying to the tab you’re working in? Are you fully enjoying the page you’re currently viewing?

Choosing to work in just one tab at a time allows you to be mindful and effective in your online activities instead of getting sucked in to page after page after page.

Giveaways and Freebies

Very few things in life are truly free. When you participate in giveaways for a chance to win a prize, you’re actually working for that prize whether you win it or not.

A simple “like” of a Facebook page, follow on Twitter, or email sign-up seems like a no-brainer, but companies really aren’t giving away something for nothing. Now they have your contact information so they can market and promote their business directly to you.

An email here and a status update there may not seem like much, but every time you spend energy on something you don’t truly care about, you’re diverting your focus and attention from something that does matter.

Is the prize even something that will actually add value to your life, or will it be one more thing cluttering up your life? If the prize is useful to you, do you fully support the company sponsoring the giveaway?

Email Subscriptions

There are many ways to get on an email subscription list- some emails subscriptions you signed up for, and others are the result of ordering a product or service from a website and automatically being added to their list.

Whether you directly signed up for a subscription or were automatically subscribed, ask yourself if it’s an email you really want to get. When you see a new message in your inbox are you interested to open the email, or do you delete it unread? Take 15 seconds now to unsubscribe from any email lists that don’t consistently interest you. You’ll save yourself up to 520 seconds, or 8.67 minutes, per subscription per year! (Here’s the math on that: 10 seconds per weekly email to scan and delete, times 52 weeks per year.)

Snark Websites

While you’re clearing out the digital clutter, take a look at the websites you regularly visit and ask yourself if these websites motivate and inspire you. Wouldn’t you rather enrich your life with positive and healthy messages that promote your best life?

There are many humor websites that are very funny, but the laugh comes at someone else’s expense. Promoting condescending, belittling, and hostile attitudes towards others, these websites can negatively influence your life experience when you find that attitude carries over into your daily life. What kind of life do you want to have? Align your digital activities with your core values.

Simplifying your digital life creates space for purposeful and meaningful living. Use the internet as a tool that works for you, not against you. A thoughtful evaluation of your online activity can help you focus your energy and create a life you love!

I love your comments! What areas of your digital life need simplifying? What other ways do you declutter your digital life?

Photo Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

33 Comments

  1. Hi Chrysta, great post and one that resonates with me too. Lately, have been feeling guilty about spending too much time online – but I am in a stage of trying to learn more about social media (am quite new to blogging) and I just find so much interesting stuff online! Like so others have mentioned, I think the key is having your social media organised (am try to do this through Delicious – I hate it when I want to go back to a good blog I read, and can’t find it!) and prioritising what’s important to you!

    I found your post through Adrienne too!

    Look forward to reading more of your posts

    Michelle
    Michelle Childs recently posted…Elearning or Face to Face training – the big divideMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Michelle!

      This post was absolutely inspired by my own struggle managing my time online. It can quickly suck up a lot of time on activities that aren’t really that important to me.

      I’m so happy to hear you found this post useful and hope you find ways to manage your online time to make the most of your life!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. Hi Chrysta,

    I found your website through Adrienne Smith’s, and, let me tell you, I really liked what I’ve seen (and read) so far. I agree with you on several points in this post and it is a really great write-up overall. My favourite paragraph was the following:

    “An email here and a status update there may not seem like much, but every time you spend energy on something you don’t truly care about, you’re diverting your focus and attention from something that does matter.”

    So true. My rule of thumb is, – to enjoy whatever you are doing, you should care about it. If you don’t, then you might as well want to stop doing it, if you have the ability. Same concerns the digital, “virtual”, life and all its aspects.

    Great post. I am hoping to read more of your posts in the future and will subscribe to your blog right now.

    M.
    Dave M. Saha recently posted…Books, books, booksMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Dave! I’m so glad you stopped by.

      I love your rule of thumb to enjoy whatever you are doing- this belief is so important for health, happiness, and success!

      For me that doesn’t mean I always get to do what I want, but that I spend time on things that are important to me and minimize time spent on the things that aren’t.

      It also means I make the best of my life even when I’m not exactly where I want to be because enjoying life isn’t about all my dreams coming true, but having at least a little bit of love, laughter, and fun every day.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. This is a great story to discuss. Many people nowadays consider their life on many things and they start to be stressed as well. Prioritizing things are sometimes difficult to build.

  4. In these days where in we are already living in a digital world, it is important that we discover how to manage stress. Digital world, though fast pace and high-tech, can be really stressful so we should learn how to declutter and organize our stuffs to keep the stress at the minimum.
    Kim@How To Manage Stress recently posted…PTSD and Laughter: Guest Post by Michelle RosenthalMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Kim!

      I agree the digital world can provide as many challenges as it does conveniences. Being constantly connected is stressful, even as many people become addicted to tech and social media- taking a break from any activity is important for physical, emotional, and mental health. Decluttering and organizing the information and experiences we are exposed to can help us reduce stress and use technology to our advantage.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. Hey Chrysta! It’s funny you mentioned multiple tabs. Right now I have 18 tabs open just in Chrome! I won’t tell you what’s open in Firefox and IE :-)

    Here’s my strategy though (it makes sense to me):

    1. Firefox usually has the least amount of tabs open and is only used for business.
    2. IE is only used for testing purposes when I’m working on websites so I can see what they look like in that browser so usually only a couple tabs open there.
    3. Chrome is my main browser so I could have from 5 – 20 tabs open but here’s what happens. The core tabs are always gmail, toodledo (task manager), calendar, and blog site/admin pages. After that, my tabs indicate what I need to do and/or come back to. I don’t like my bookmarks to fill up uselessly so I’ll open a tab – sorta like a todo (or if I know I can’t finish in the next few minutes, I’ll add to my task manager). And then I’ll order them by priority.

    It’s a sense of accomplishment when I close out tabs until it’s back to gmail and toodledo :-)

    I know, it may sound crazy but so far so good. I had to mention this for us weird people regarding tabs *tee hee* ;-)

    Oh to touch on one of the other items, on a monthly basis or so, I take inventory of my “To Read” (inbox skipped) folder in gmail and see what emails are in there read. If it’s been awhile since I opened or don’t ever open an email from a person, I’ll just unsubscribe.

    I’m one of those Inbox Zero people so I get real anal about what’s in my inbox ;-)

    ~Kesha
    Kesha Brown recently posted…7 Random Facts (You Didn’t Need To Know) About KeshaMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Kesha!

      It sounds like you are a very organized individual- a girl after my own heart! Having multiple tabs open is really only a problem when it distracts from the task at hand- whatever the task may be.

      I actually have multiple tabs open all day at work so I can quickly switch between internet accessible programs. Each program runs different reports, and I find it improves my efficiency to have several tabs open at once. Sometimes I even have the same program open in 2 tabs so I can run different reports at the same time!

      My home browsing habits are a different story. I usually have 5-6 tabs open, and I admit I will bounce back-and-forth instead of sticking in one tab at a time. It’s not necessarily a bad habit, but in my case I notice bouncing back and forth generally means I sit at the computer longer than I intended instead of doing something productive.

      I applaud you for scrubbing your subscription lists regularly! It is a valuable practice that will give you more time and energy to live a great life!

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation and sharing a bit about your online habits. I enjoyed reading more about what you do that works for you. I always say whatever works for you is great- as long as it continues working! :)

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  6. Hi Chrysta,

    I was on your post a couple days ago, but didn’t get to the end, so here I am again and finished reading it. Ahaha! At least you know I’ve really read your post.

    Yes, there are a lot of time suckers (as I like to call them) on the internet. You’re right, there is no such think as a one click win an ipod or anything like it. You would be sent in a marry-go-round that would take you at least 20 minutes to get out of, and who knows if you’d win anyway.

    Those social media, can really be time consuming as well. I’m going to tell you a secret, I don’t like them :) Just on them because my biz is online :) Frankly, I rather be picking flowers :) Other, than that, I’d rather do some work done!

    Thanks for the valuable tips and have a great day!
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted…Decision Making – How Is It Impacting Your Life?My Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Sylvaine! And thanks for coming back to finish reading the post! :)

      Social media can be incredibly time consuming for me, as well. I find it useful to limit the time I spend on social media by scheduling my social media time as “work time”. This way I can manage my energy and time and still create connections online. No doubt my blog would grow even more if I spent more time on social media, but I am happy with the progress I’m making.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have an awesome day!

      Chrysta

  7. I know so many people who suffer from information overload. They get caught up in one thing and the next thing you know hours have gone by and they’ve gotten nothing accomplished.

    I do keep several tabs open but when I’m focusing on one specific task, my mind is on that task. I won’t run over and check my emails or see who has posted what on Facebook or jump over and check my Twitter stream. Last year I opted out of a bunch of newsletters that I wasn’t reading anyway and I told myself no more shiny objects unless it’s something I want to know about right then and there.

    You are so right Chrysta, we need to get a better handle on our time if we intend to have any success in life and each individual is responsible for deciding what they deem important and what can truly wait.

    I’m sure there are more areas I could get a better handle on but I’m getting there. Business is booming and life is great so I must be doing something right.

    Thanks for sharing and have a fabulous day!

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…My Secret Twitter StrategyMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne!

      I often have multiple tabs open and I do get distracted when a new email notification pops up in one of my open tabs. I have to close all my open tabs to keep my mind on one thing at a time. It’s great that you can keep your focus in one tab at a time- a very handy skill!

      I have recently unsubscribed from a bunch of newsletters and email lists- some of which come from blogs and bloggers I enjoy reading, too! But of course if I enjoy reading their blog, I am already following them on Twitter and Facebook and I’m already seeing their updates across multiple platforms. Unsubscribing or unfollowing one platform helps me manage my information overload.

      I’m happy to hear your business is booming and you’re happy with the balance you’ve struck! It couldn’t happen to a nicer person! :)

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  8. You’re absolutely right on this, Chrysta! I’ve actually been making some of these exact changes with my approach to social media and blogging. I found that I was over extending myself, all over the place, with people and websites that were not doing the same for me or providing me with any type of growth. And these days, it’s all about the growth for me.

    One thing I despise about social media, is that it so “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” themed. I’ve been cutting a lot of those strings that people and websites have had over me; if I read something that moved me to comment or share, I do. Otherwise, I move on to something that I feel will assist me and/or my readers, followers, and friends.

    I don’t feel people are even aware that they’re doing it. It’s become such a practice in the community that it doesn’t even seem out of the norm anymore. Therefore, I believe that we have to continue walking our own path in life and in the digital world; and not allow “the powers that be” to influence us in doing what they want us to do.

    It goes back to “Just be yourself.” When we know who we are, we can simplify our lives so much easier; than if we allow other’s to do it for us.

    Great post! Loved the read, my friend. :)
    Deeone Higgs recently posted…Forgetting Where You Come FromMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Deeone!

      I didn’t specifically address the tit-for-tat mindset in social media but this practice was on my mind when I wrote this post.

      While I advocate sharing and community in social media and blogging, I also believe building valuable relationships requires authenticity.

      It’s is my practice to give freely that which I am pleased to give, and give in ways that are appropriate for me. I’m not sharing inspiration and gratitude if I don’t truly believe in what I am doing and the message I’m sharing!

      Thanks for joining the conversation; I love what you shared.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  9. Hi Chrysta,

    In my opinion, Internet social media sites have become quite an addiction for quite a number of people and I find it surprising that many of them don’t even realize that they become addicted.

    It’s easier to spend your time facing a screen these days, rather than facing a real person. The way people interact with one another these days is quite worrisome.

    Have a wonderful day,
    Daniel
    Daniel Lombardi recently posted…Motivational Speeches: I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.My Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment Daniel, and thanks for commenting for the first time on my blog!

      The allure of social media is it can be safer than face-to-face interactions because we’re shielded from the other person’s reaction. In addition, social media can make us feel more powerful by providing the opportunity to wield our influence over a larger group of people. The problem with both of these behaviors is while they may be temporarily satisfying, they do not provide real happiness in life.

      I enjoy social media and I recognize that a full and balanced life requires I connect with people face-to-face as much as I connect with people online. This allows me to have a healthier sense of self as well as increased happiness.

      I agree social media can bring out some of the worst manners in people, and yet I think it can also be a powerful and wonderful tool if used thoughtfully.

      Thanks again for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  10. Simply love each of your blogposts. And this one comes out like you’ve spilt out words for what I and most of the people around me have been feeling lately. There’s so much to catch up in a day’s time that I often find myself hypnotized and completely loosing track of time. Thanks for writing and sharing the post.

    • Thanks for hour awesome comment, Himani!

      I’m so glad my post resonated with you. I’m an information junkie and find myself consuming much more data than I truly want or use. When I sat down to write this post I suspected others feel this way too. The good news is we have choices about how we spend our time and the type of information we expose ourselves to.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  11. Hi Chrysta

    I found your blog through Adrienne and I’m so glad I did, I can relate to this post, the number of times I have signed up for a freebie or a report etc and them get my inbox overloaded with emails that don’t interest me, it took me a little while to realize that I should not be wasting my precious time and just unsubscribe!
    I also have recently cleaned up my hard drive that was collecting PLR etc that I had downloaded that was just sitting there and I was not doing anything with it! We all are guilty of this habit now and again so your post shows that we need to re-think and de-clutter.

    Thanks for sharing
    Have a great day
    Pauline
    Pauline recently posted…Tips On Emailing Your List Part 2My Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Pauline! Isn’t Adreinne’s site a great resource?

      We’ve all found ourselves overloaded with seemingly innocuous digital information and often don’t realize just how overloaded we are! I always appreciate the reminder to simplify life and spend time on more important and valuable tasks.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  12. Oh Chrysta, this post is so TRUE! People often just keep going on adding up their digital clutter and never try to remove unimportant. Sometimes, I’ve these newsletter that never stop coming even after I unsubscribe. Maybe they don’t realize I’ve a power weapon in gmail –> “FILTERS!”
    Jaky Astik recently posted…Why dominating someone is a bad idea anywayMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jaky!

      Individually all those email subscriptions don’t seem like much time wasted, but when you add them all up, week after week, it starts to be a real drain. Every distraction splits our focus from living a meaningful life.

      Thanks for mentioning filters- a great tool!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  13. Digital Media can be overwhelming. As with so many things in life, it’s important to know your own limitations. It is OK to say NO once in a while. I also think it is so important to surround yourself with others that you enjoy being around and bring you up, not down. This is a great post, written with real perspective.
    Sara Broers recently posted…A Re-Cap of Our Highways and By-WaysMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Sara!

      I love that you mentioned knowing your limitations- this is such an important factor for living a happy and healthy life! I agree, it is okay to say no and just as essential to surround yourself with people that bring you up. I’m not interested in spending more energy than necessary on people and things that don’t have a positive impact on my life.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  14. It is so easy to get too caught up in all the online activities. To balance, there needs to some some connection to the community outside of your physical window. This is what will help keep the online activities in check and, ultimately, more real.

    Chrysta, achieving the right balance is essential, so thanks for pointing out solid advice. Keeping it simple is critical, as is keeping your interactions focused on real life activities and growth.

    Thanks!

    Jon
    Jon Mertz recently posted…On Stamina: Three Principles and Two Supporting ThoughtsMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Jon!

      I love that you mentioned making a connection with community and I agree this is so important. Many of my relationships with friends are mainly online, but I enjoy meeting friends for coffee or lunch as much as I do interacting online. I get something different out of both types of interaction and both are important to my sense of community.

      I’m also reminded of Jon Acuff’s keynote at BlissDom where Jon told us a story about his daughter. One day he was helping his daughter study for a spelling bee and he was interacting with his followers on Twitter. His daughter asked him several times for the next word and when he didn’t respond she placed a napkin on top of his iPhone with the words, “daddy, please pay atension?” on it. He said that was a clarifying moment for him and he took a picture of the napkin to remind him interacting with his family is more important than tweeting something really witty.

      I love the internet as an amazing resource for insight, growth, and entertainment, but I know I’m not going to live the life I want to live if I allow myself to be distracted by things that aren’t really important to me.

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  15. Wonderful piece Chrysta!

    I’m definitely suffering from information overload at the moment. It has actually got to the point where I find it very stressful trying to keep up and manage everything!

    I’m trying to manage it all by applying the priority test, that is, does this activity really matter to me or my goals? If not, then why am I doing it!

    Easier said than done though! :)
    Chris recently posted…Do You Know What You Like to Do?My Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Chris!

      I’ve been suffering from information overload myself and thus the blog post about it. In the past few days I’ve unsubscribed from 6 or 7 email subscriptions. :)

      I love the priority test- thank you for mentioning it! This is a great tool to check my intentions and determine what activities I really want to do versus activities I get pulled into and start doing out of habit.

      Good luck to us both in minimizing our information overload. Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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