Is Digital Overload Dragging you Down?

I always thought that emails and technology in general were created with the intention of freeing us for more time to do what we enjoy the most in life, ironically, tools like emails, cell phones, instant messaging and the “Crackberry”, as some call it, aren’t always making our life any easier or calmer.  There is not a day that passes that I don’t hear  people express how overwhelmed and stressed they are with the amount of time spent on these supposedly helpful tools.

Even as a professional organizer,  I am no different from anyone else and also challenged by digital overload.  In fact, my 2012 New Year’s resolution was to clean out my in-box and start the year with a clean slate.  It took two months to accomplish this goal. So, let me share the six steps I used to de-stress and find more time.   

STEP 1 – Try OneID!
OneID is a new service that will be launched this spring.  It frees you from having to rack your brain for the all those password log-ins you have online.  Most important of all, this service will allow you to organize all your passwords in a Password Log.  Unlike other password management tools that must be downloaded to each favorite web site and account, OneID will offer a single digital ID that’s automatically recognized on all your devices - no password necessary.  Very useful, don't you think?

STEP  2 – Turn off emails for the first 60 minutes of your work day at home or in the office – unless you need to review your supervisor’s or co-workers communications early on.  If not, before reading your messages, do the big stuff  FIRST.  Look at the tasks you must accomplish each day and segregate them into priority and less critical ones. Take care of the essential jobs first and use those endorphins that you’ve gained to tackle the small stuff  LATER.  Most people tend to knock off the small – and usually easier -- items first, figuring they’ll be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment that will make the more important work easier to do.  But it doesn’t work that way. If your computer is constantly alerting you of new emails, you’ll rarely have time to concentrate or complete an important task.  The longest your colleagues will have to wait for your reply is 59 minutes.

Go back to previous years’ emails and start deleting the old ones that you are sure you don’t need anymore.   Be committed to keep deleting these outdated emails, as challenging as it may be, until you get to the current month.  If it makes sense and is appropriate, you might even want to take a courageous and extreme approach by  deciding to delete everything and start from scratch.  That process is definitely faster, but also might not be beneficial to you.  Most of us have treasures (important work) in the middle of the trash so that can causes major anxiety.

STEP 4 - From this point, take control by using a new strategy with your current emails.  With each message you receive, IMMEDIATELY decide if you want to REPLY TO, ARCHIVE, or DELETE it.  Create folders for the  main email categories you receive and, if you prefer, archive them, moving them to these appropriate folders.  For emails that require some thought before answering, create a folder called TO ACT/TO FOCUS ON and review this file daily until you have a solution or a place to store it in.    

Inform your recipient that it’s OK not to reply to your message by emailing the below acronyms, placing them at the bottom of your message near your name or closing:  
NRN – No Response Necessary.  This notifies the recipient to read but not necessarily respond.
NTN – No Thanks Necessary.  This means you don’t expect a thank-you email.

– KEEP APPS THAT ARE WORTHWHILE (Computer software design to perform a specific task – generally used in Smart Phones)
If you haven’t opened an app more than once, it’s likely you will not use it. Delete apps that you don’t use. If you would like to save a few useful item, ShoeBox is a valuable app. You can keep a virtual scrapbook that allows you to scan and transmit high quality digital images of 1,000 mementos or items so you don’t have to hang on to every receipt, birthday card and newspaper clipping you’ve saved over the years.  

Here’s to a peaceful month FOR YOU and more time to enjoy what you love.

Light and Love
~ Flavia

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