5 Tips to Minimize Your Digital Life

Hi. My name is Justen and I’m a tech addict. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity for things that beep, blink, slide, and click. I’ve been in the IT industry for over 10 years, and it’s my job to stay in touch and on top of the latest and greatest in tech. But sometimes it gets too much, you start drowning in all the information, and enter a never-ending labyrinth of starting things and never returning to finish them.

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To give you some perspective, the internet grows at an exponential rate every day. More content is uploaded every day than one person can consume in a year. Apple announced in July 2014 that it had more than 1.2 million apps in the app store.

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Google Play is even larger. For every minute of the day, 48 hours’ worth of video is uploaded to YouTube. The internet has become more than just the collective knowledge of mankind in a searchable form, it has become a dynamic being, consisting of knowledge and facts, opinions, expressions, ideas, and virtually every kind of human interaction expressed through digital media.

It’s just too much to consume.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the never-ending rabbit hole, lose all productivity and become a gluttonous consumer of information you don’t need, or need right now. In a digital world of too much, the only way to get back focus and perform optimally, is to minimize, untangle and organize your digital life.

Minimize. Slow down. Breath. Take only what you need.

Organizing your life, and in this case, your digital life, is not just a once off event. It’s a recurring theme. It’s a habit.  I recently started this journey when I realized that my life was cluttered with too many apps, too many services and products I have never and will never use, and I also realized that I needed to optimize my time.  And the best way to do that, is to ensure the content I want is the content I get, without having to filter through 100 irrelevant articles. Find what’s right for you, things that add value to your life. Things that make your job easier, your own time more enjoyable. Customize your data so you get what’s important to you.

Here’s 5 things I’ve done to unclutter my digital life, and you should too:

1. Keep a to-do list

One of the most important things I do daily is check my to do list, make changes to item priorities as it evolves, add new things as they come up, and most importantly delete or archive the things that aren’t important and that I know I won’t get to. Keeping a good to-do list works well when you use the 4 D principle:

  • Do. If you can do it immediately, do it, and check it off.
  • Defer. If you can do it, but not right now, set a deadline and get to it on time.
  • Delegate. If you can’t do it or know you won’t get around to it, delegate to someone that can and will. And only check it off once done, not when you’ve delegated. It’s still your responsibility.
  • Delete. 20% of your to-do list makes up for 80% of your productivity. Be honest with yourself and delete the things that aren’t important and you know you won’t get to.

The best app I’ve found to keep a nice, synchronized to-do list is Any.do. It syncs with all your devices and looks amazing. The User Experience is also out of this world. Check it out at http://any.do.

2. Store your most critical files in cloud.

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Nothing breaks your productivity and ability to perform well like having multiple sets of files across multiple devices. If you have to spend time looking for the files you need, you are contributing to your own frustration and stress. With so many solutions available, the fact that most companies and homes having access to decent broadband, and these apps’ compatibility with all devices, you don’t have any excuses not to have a central repository of your files.

  • Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, which you can increase for free to about 3GB by following the introductory steps.
  • OneDrive gives you 15GB for free.
  • Google Drive also gives you 15GB for free.

When you really get into storing your files online, you’ll soon see that spending $10 – $15 a month on 500GB – 1TB of online storage is definitely worth it.

3. Switch off

Most of us are connected every waking hour. But so much good will come from even an hour of disconnection every day. Spending actual face time with the people in your life is so much more powerful than sending messages, videos and chatting. You’ll feel their presence and connect on a more emotional, spiritual and personal level.

You’ll also get so much more done if you cut out Facebook, Twitter, Emails and the like for even an hour. Change the light bulbs you’ve been meaning to do for a month. Pick up a real book and read a little with no backlights, and feel the print on the paper. Sit outside and appreciate nature, even if you only have one tree to look at.

4. Syndicate Your News

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Getting the right information on time is key to being more efficient at work and at life. Know what you want to know, when you want to know it. Reading about awful crimes is not a good start to the morning.

But reading motivational and call-to-action articles late at night might also stop your brain from shutting down. By using RSS feeds, customized dashboards and correctly timed email notifications, you can control what you see and when you see it. Since the demise of Google Reader, both Feedly and Digg Reader have become the leading news syndication readers available.

5. Take Notes or Keep A Dairy

The average person has between 50000 and 70000 thoughts per day. Or at least, science thinks so. How many golden nuggets and billion dollar ideas are floating around in your head every day? How many times have you had a brilliant idea, but by the time you get to the office the next day you just can’t remember the detail?
Taking quick notes, pictures, voice recordings and screenshots of things you’d like to remember, think about later, or refer back to will leave your brain free to think about more important things. You can then go back to your written, visual or audio notes when you have time, no, MAKE time, to organize them and filter through the stuff that will really matter.

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A brilliant app to do just this, and also my recommended #justensays App Of The Week is without a doubt Evernote: Evernote calls it “The Workspace for Your Life’s Work” – Check it out at Evernote.com

That’s a wrap for this week, watch out for the next Just Tech!

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Justen Van Eck

Proud Dad. über Nerd. Scuba Diver. Business Owner @uthandahd. Web Designer. Entrepeneur. Love adventures, tech, @sugarstumpie, good whiskey, good people.

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