HHC Week One: Digital Clutter

Before you start angry tweeting me about the fact that week one isn't exactly in your home... hear me out. I wouldn't get them anyway... I'm not even sure what my Twitter password is. oops. 

Digital Clutter is a huge burden on us. HUGE. Our phones and computers are huge sources of stress, huge time sucks, huge distractions, and the clutter that builds within them is easily ignored. So this week's task is two fold: 1. get our devices cleaned up and working better for us and 2. create some healthy boundaries with our devices so we're not attached to them so much.

I wanted to start with digital clutter because without clearing out this number one distraction first, we're not going to get as far anywhere else in this challenge. This one is a totally free, you can do it during commercial breaks or while you wait for the pasta water to boil, in the pick up line etc. And it's going to make an instantly positive impact for everyone. It's instant gratification, instant results, and I promise - it'll help later on! 

Part One: Digital Decluttering

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I think I'll break this down into 4 major categories so you can tackle one as you have time. I'm going to focus mainly on our phones today since that's the device I think we work with the most. Obviously this will apply to tablets as well, and even your computer in some ways. 

Your Home Screen

You spend a lot of time on your home screen. Even if it's for a couple seconds here and there to open up the next app, it's still the screen that greets you when you look at your phone first thing and before you go to sleep and while that could be a whole separate post, it's still a place we spend a lot of our time. So it's really important we make it a nice place to be. So here are a few ways I'd suggest doing that.

  1. Get rid of the badges and notifications for any app that isn't absolutely necessary. I have badges turned on for my phone app, FaceTime app, Texts, and Snapchat because that's where the people I care to answer immedately contact me the most. Anywhere else isn't important. Seriously - turn off your notifications. Do it for every single thing besides the bare essentials. Trust me. You're going to check those other apps anyway - you don't need the reminder. What you do need is a solid boundary between your space and what others are allowed to put in it. You wouldn't allow big red stop signs all over your living room. So don't allow them in your digital space either. It clears up your notification screen, gives you less to think about when you open your phone, and gives you fewer distractions.
  2. Purge your Apps. Go through every folder on your phone and delete any apps you don't need. They're slowing down your phone and they're taking up space. Any app you're not sure about, delete it. It's free to re-download it if you need it, and chances are, you aren't using 70% of them anyway. Anything you use less than every couple of weeks, bye Felicia. Again - it's free to re-download. You're not deleting it forever, you're just storing it until you need it again.
  3. Organize it. Put like apps together and simplify it down to one page. Yes - ONE page. Ain't nobody got time for scrolling through pages of stuff on their phones, and there's a search function anyway. Pair it down, keep only what you want, and put up a background image that inspires you and brings you joy. My favorite place to find fun backgrounds: unsplash.com (free, high quality photos, and tons of 'em) or your own camera roll. 
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Email

I'm not going to ask you to go through your entire email inbox - AKA the depths of the Earth - this week. If you feel inspired to do so, go for it. But instead, start setting some boundaries with what comes into your email inbox going forward. I personally use a service called unrollup.me and it takes all of my incoming emails and sorts them for me. I choose what stays in my inbox, what I'd like to have in my daily "roll up" and what I'd like to unsubscribe from. Sales emails, newsletters, etc are in my daily roll up (one email to catch them all). I use this for both my business and personal accounts  and it's made a fantastic difference in the amount of emails I actually have to sort through on a daily basis. You can also write rules in Outlook, or there are tons of apps to get your inbox manageable. Then when you have some down time, clear out those existing emails. That's unnecessary clutter!

Contacts

Do me a favor... take out your phone and scroll through the contacts really quickly. I'll wait...

How many people were in there that you haven't spoken to in YEARS or you maybe you don't even know anymore? A plumber you no longer need the contact for, the school your kid doesn't go to. Bottom line - purge those contacts. You don't need them.

And while you're at it, purge your Facebook friends list. Don't cut people off, but I guarantee there are probably people there you don't even remember meeting or friending. 

Same could also go for people you follow in Instagram, Twitter, etc. But we don't have a ton of time here. Go with the phone contact first. Social Media can come later on. 

Photos

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You knew it was coming... we all knew it was coming. And somehow you probably still cringed a little when you saw photos. Here's the deal. Photos are a HARD one. We're taking more photos than ever. We take them to keep memories, as reminders or ideas... and there's tons and tons and tons on our phones. So here are a couple things that help me with photos on my phone.

  1. Back up Automatically. You can do this through iCloud, Drop Box, or (what I personally use), One Drive, which syncs them all to my computer for me automatically. It's an option in the app to just take any photo or video I take and sync it to a folder on my One Drive which is accessible from my computer, from the web, and any device. You just need a Microsoft account to activate it, and it's totally free. Not sponsored - I just love this product and use it for everything. But seriously, whatever you use, back them up and do it somewhere you can go through them on the computer.
  2. Set time aside to sort through them a bit at a time. Maybe when you're paying bills and sorting your paper at the end of the month, tack onto that a bit of time to go through that month's photos. Put all of that month's photos into a folder, labeled, then you only have to go through those ones specifically. Sort through them, delete what you don't need, make to-dos out of the screen shots, save the recipes to the right folder or pin to your Pinterest board, and keep your favs of the kids and life. Put a * at the beginning of each file name that are your top favorites, so it's easier to put into calendars, year books, and photo gifts at the end of the year. 
  3. Don't be afraid to delete photos. I know we get knots in our stomachs thinking about deleting a photo. But it's okay. You can love your kid and not love that photo of them. There are obviously a hundred others you do like. Don't keep them just for the sake of keeping them!
  4. If you are a blogger, or a photographer, set up systems for personal and business photos. I know that being a blogger, those can sometimes bleed together, but make sure your photos for your blog are stored somewhere specific and name them appropriately so they're easy to find. 

Part Two: Digital Boundaries

I'm not about to ignite a screen time debate, but I think we can all attest to our phones becoming an unnecessary distraction, and one that's hard to get away from a lot of the time. But because our phones do so much for us - they're out cook book, personal assistant, link to our friends, our camera, our health monitor, our GPS, literally almost everything we do is somehow attached to our phones. And when something is that omni-present it's even more difficult to draw boundaries, but it's also even more necessary. And like I said - no screen time debates here. But here are a few ways to draw boundaries with your digital devices. Because when they're not present, you can be. You don't have to do all of these, but I challenge you to take one of these things, or maybe think of your own, and implement one new boundary with your phone this week and try to think about how that helps you stay a little more focused or on task. 

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  • No phones at the dinner table. Play music in the background and leave it on the counter. 
  • Put it on Do Not Disturb mode when you're performing a task. Then it won't ding or bug you unless it's an emergency. Then put it somewhere out of sight and get to work.
  • Put it in the backseat while you're driving so you won't be tempted to check it at a stop light.
  • Give yourself a designated "social media" check in time so you're not mindlessly scrolling throughout the day. 
  • Read a paper book before bed, or a magazine. Free from the library and easier on your eyes. Or better yet - start to journal. Or all three!
  • Get a real alarm clock and charge your phone away from your bed so you're not tempted to look at it first thing in the morning. (I like this one!)
  • Give your phone a bedtime. Put it on the charger at a certain time and dedicate that time to other things you'd like to spend your time on.
  • Invest in a device that helps control your internet consumption. The Disney Circle is a great one for kids and (let's be real) adults too.

Whew. Okay. This was one word heavy post. But now you have a resource and your task for the week! So get off here! What are you doing reading this post?! You've got a phone to clean up! Then put down so you can live your life... or something like that.

And for this week's entry into the Happy Home Giveaway (at the very end!), take a photo of your home screen after you've cleaned it up, post it to Social Media, and tag me on Social Media for it to count! 

Happy Homing! 

Sara