“With all those lights, dings, buzzes & notifications, no wonder our brains are on overload.”
THIS chapter has made, far and away, the biggest difference in my daily life.
I didn’t even realize that I needed to simplify the technology in my life until I read this chapter. I wasn’t always on my phone – for large chunks of the day, I didn’t even have it on me, I deleted emails and unwanted photos and I knew where all of my apps were. But then I read these pages. And then re-read them.
My first time reading Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life, I decided to simply read it and wait to follow any of the suggestions until I had finished it. But after finishing this chapter, I knew that I needed to make these changes right now.
I wasn’t always on my phone. But I was on it more than I wanted to be.
I didn’t have unneeded emails in my InBox, but I was captive to the ding of an incoming email.
There were no photos on my phone that weren’t keepers. But those photos weren’t anywhere except on my phone.
I could tell you where each app on my phone could be found….. after really thinking about it for a minute or two.
I made some of her recommended changes on a Sunday afternoon and the following Monday was one of the best days I’d had in a long time. I got my chores done (technology) interruption-free and enjoyed distraction-free time with my kids. Time that I had more of it because I wasn’t wasting time on my phone.
Are you sold yet? Here’s where to start:
Simplify Tech Gear
- Gather all of your “gear” not tethered to a wall (including devices, chargers, cords, power supplies) together. Pull out all of the keepers – what you currently use – and put the devices and accessories away TOGETHER. Get rid of everything else. Gazelle and Amazon have buy back programs for used tech and Best Buy will recycle it for free for you. There is no need to hold on to that Nokia phone for nostalgia purposes. Pitch it!
- Create a charging station – that is not in bedrooms. Give all of your gadgets a resting place away from sleeping areas.
Simplify Your Computer
- Organize files by category. Create folders for files, photos & videos.
- Clean up your desktop. Delete unnecessary files and keep a minimum number of icons (1-3) on your desktop.
- Print photos. If this overwhelming or you are unfamiliar with the concept of a printed photo (to all my millennial readers out there), at the very least, back up the digital copies of your photos.
- Wrangle your email. Flag items that needs actions. Create a “Flagged” folder, and file those flagged email in that folder. Delete ALL unnecessary emails. UNSUBSCRIBE to emails that you never read. You don’t read them, so having them pile up in your InBox is doing you no good.
*If you have your computer organized differently than she suggests and it works for you, do not feel compelled to change your system to hers. If you don’t know where to start, use her suggestions.
Digital Clutter is Still Clutter.
Remind yourself of this when you see the number of photos saved on your hard drive and going through them seems too monumental of a task.
Update Wallpaper to Something Serene
- Now that you can actually see your desktop, make it a picture of something that calms you and brings you great joy.
Simplifying Tablets & Phones
- Declutter – This means contacts, photos, apps & text threads. Do this a little bit at a time. Keep your home screen less than half-full with only apps that you use daily. Visual simplicity affects mental simplicity.
- Perform Maintenance – Clean the devices with a safe cloth, double-check your privacy setting and update the software
- Change your phone wallpaper to something serene. Again with the visual simplicity. Emily Ley has a number of free backgrounds on her website.
- Change your lock screen to something you love. You will see this often, so make it something that brings a smile to your face.
- Use reminders. This is the stuff phones or good for. Utilize it!
- TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS. Take the power back from your device. If something is truly important, your phone will ring. If this seems like it’s too much, I suggest that you try it. Turn off notifications for a day. See if the world stops. Or your heart. If either of those things happen, then turn the notifications back on.
“We no longer know how to sit and look around at our surroundings, taking in the scenery, just thinking, and sometimes just being bored.” (Pg. 127)
Create a Social Media Policy
This will look different for each individual and family, but it’s important to remember that not everything you do needs to be shared. As Emily Ley says on page 130, “We can’t ignore that our hyperconnected world has also fueled a modern-day addiction that sucks time away from what matters most.”
Take the control back. You life will be sweeter and simpler for it.
Read some of Emily Ley’s tips for Keeping Tech from Taking Over.
At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.
Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week. I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag. Like good, helpful swag. No clutter-y stuff.
Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!