M arch is spring-cleaning time, but I’m guessing you don’t need another article devoted to tips for cleaning out your garage or organizing your pantry. Honestly, there are people much more qualified than I to provide hard- and-fast tips for getting rid of your junk. But one thing I do feel knowledgeable discussing is how to remove some of the clutter from your daily routine. We may not think of our habits as things that need to be spring-cleaned, because they don’t take up physical space. In my experience, though, they can slow us down just as much as digging through an endless pile of clean laundry to find an outfit would. A lot of these habits have to do with technology. When it comes to tech, either we use it or it uses us. The endless stream of alerts, emails, and other digital distractions is a type of clutter we’re just now learning how to deal with. With the right tools and attitude, technology can streamline our routines and keep our loved ones looped in. Without them, tech can be more of a headache than it’s worth. The first way to spring-clean your digital life is to unsubscribe from some of those email lists. Nobody reads all of the promotional emails they’re sent, even if they check them all off. If you find yourself mindlessly skipping over a bunch of emails from a particular company, do yourself a favor and unsubscribe. It takes a second and will save you the hassle of sifting through emails you have no desire to read anyway. If your inbox is an endless litany of this stuff, it may be time to start a new one. Once you get past a couple hundred unread emails, the odds of getting back to zero are slim to none. Another way to cut back on the digital debris is to centralize your information in the most important places. For me, the single most important online tool is my Google Calendar. I share it with my entire staff as well as my husband. If they can’t find me, they know to check the calendar. I travel a lot for work, and it’s so TECHNOLOGY CANHELP YOU DECLUTTER BUT ONLY WHEN USED MINDFULLY
much easier to update my calendar than it is to send all my travel information to anyone who might need it. It also limits the chances for miscommunication. You may not use an online calendar, which is perfectly fine. What you should try to do is centralize your online presence to only the most essential tools. It can also help minimize the alerts you receive on your phone to only the most essential apps. I get alerts for Snapchats (more on that later) and text messages, but I don’t need my phone to buzz every time I get a junk email. I do the same thing with nonwork communications. My kids and I stay in touch primarily through a group Snapchat. I can’t pretend I’m any good at using the platform, but I love that I can use it to see my children in their element. It’s much better than having piecemeal conversation through a dozen different means. Of course, in-person conversations are preferable, but that’s hard when you have four children in three different states. Also, I much prefer them to snap me a request for running shoes at 2 a.m. rather than calling me to do so. Look, I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m the world’s most efficient person. I am, however, a pretty busy lady, and I like to think I navigate life well. A lot of that success comes from the fact that I’m always interrogating my digital presence and asking what’s essential and what’s wasteful. In a world where time is increasingly spent online, it’s one of the most valuable types of spring-cleaning you can do.
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