July Digital Declutter

July: Month of Digital Declutter

First off: Hello! I hope this year has thus far found you happy and well. We’re at the end of June now. JUNE. Holy smokes. I swear yesterday I was putting away Christmas decorations and breathing a sigh of relief that another holiday season was over. Now I’m excited that June has passed, and we’re one month down in summer in the desert and the temps have been, dare I say, tolerable. However, July and August is really when the outdoor furnace is lit and the sun melts everything. So, eight to ten weeks of breathing in fire when we’re not having monsoon storms and then we’ll be back to decent temps once again. Small price to pay for a solid 9 months of truly great weather.

One of the goals I set at the beginning of the year was to read a book a week. I’m slightly behind right now as I’ve only read 22 books, but I have a feeling I might just catch up this next month.

You see, last week I started reading the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and decided that as of July 1, I would put into practice his Digital Declutter Process. I frequently find myself scrolling through Facebook and Twitter feeds, not seeking anything in particular, only wasting valuable time. I often walk away feeling empty and even irritated, which makes me think, “Why do I even get on social media?”

Habit. There are some things I love about social media: travel stories and pictures of foreign lands on Pinterest, my family and friends’ pictures and adventures, an occasional funny meme, and the sharing of art, music, food, and books. However, I’ve found more negative aspects lately than positive, so it’s time for me to take a step back and decide how I want social media and technology to work in my life.

The Digital Declutter Process works like this:

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Step 1: Define Your Technology Rules

What will I eliminate during this period? Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest without a doubt. Netflix and Amazon streaming videos are out as well unless my daughter wants to watch a movie with me. I don’t have social media or games on my phone, but I do have apps for news feeds that I will delete. My texting is minimal; I typically respond to/send fewer than a dozen texts a day and is not compulsive in nature, so I’m not including it. Personal email use is already minimal as well. I do watch/listen to some content on YouTube put out by people like Tom Bilyeu (this interview is how I was introduced to Cal Newport), Mel Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and Lewis Howes, which I will limit to the time I am on my treadmill 2 or 3 times a week. The only time spent online will be at work for activities such as accessing insurance websites, dealing with Allscripts issues, provider contracting, posting information about new providers, etc., and at home when I am taking my online courses or to pay bills.

Whew.

However, what about Google? I decided that if I felt it absolutely necessary to research something, I would write down exactly what I needed to know and then, toward the end of the day, take my “need to know” list of items and allow myself ten minutes to seek answers. That should be a sufficient amount of time to research without falling into a rabbit hole.

Step 2: Take A Thirty-Day Break

July 1 – July 31. I’ll journal about the experience and share it in August. I know the declutter process will be a challenge at first, but my expectation is that once I break the habit of tapping on Twitter or FB and stop the compulsion to scroll, I won’t find it so attractive once July is over.

Step 3: Reintroduce Technology

Meaningfully.

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I have goals I want to reach this year, but I fear I’ll keep losing myself in time wasters if I don’t do something drastic. Writing for twenty minutes a day has been great for me to get back into the habit of writing, but I need to invest more time if I want to finish the book, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite and edit some more, and then publish. This means significantly limiting social media and using the time I do spend on it wisely. It means stepping back and deciding which tools are best for me.

I’ve placed into regular practice suggestions in the books Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam and Atomic Habits by James Clear, which have helped me use more of my free time in a productive manner, but I need another jolt. I think this declutter will help significantly.

Have any of you tried a digital declutter or social media fast? If so, for how long and did it work for you?

Hello, 2019

Greetings and salutations, all. I hope this bright and shiny New Year’s Evening finds you happy and well. And hopefully not too hungover.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve found myself on this side of a blog – the writer’s side, that is. The break was intentional as I found myself with scant desire to do much of anything useful, let alone write blog posts that no more than a dozen people might read on a regular basis. The last time I wrote a post was in July of 2017 when I was in the middle of a weight-loss challenge. I lost a significant amount of weight, but then gained it back. My mental and emotional states were not functioning at a high level (or even mediocre level) of well-being. I was terribly stressed and unhappy.

Some people can lose and maintain weight-loss or write novels and screenplays and be creative little bad-asses while they are mentally and emotionally fucked.

I can’t.

At least, not for long periods of time.

I decided that 2018 would be the year I would focus on my inner well-being. Inner only. I wouldn’t obsess about my fat rolls or amble backside. I wouldn’t constantly berate myself for not writing as much as I *should.* I would drop the blog for a while and simply focus on being mentally and emotionally healthy for myself and for my daughter.

Man, what a difference a year can make.

Here’s something I caught today during my “years past” review that I didn’t catch a year ago, despite my initial goal of inner change for 2018: I write in journals on a fairly regular basis, and on January 1st of 2017, I wrote this, “Here we go! New Year, same me, bright new shiny goals!” The problem with the latter sentence is there is no way I would meet my upgraded goals under the management of the same me. I didn’t realize it at the time.

You don’t make significant changes in your life as the same person you’ve always been. You must change. You must evolve. You must step out of your comfort zone, embrace and move beyond your fears, and try to act as the ideal you would act if you want to make your goals and dreams your reality. Period.

I made significant strides in increasing my overall well-being this past year.

  • I read many books – books by Tim Ferriss, Mel Robbins, Marianne Williamson, Brendon Burchard, Thich Nhat Hanh, and many others, from which I gleaned so much useful information that helped changed my life in the small moments from day-to-day.
  • I blew through my fear of applying for a passport (who knew that sort of fear was a thing? more on that in another post) and traveled to Finland and Estonia with my kid. Just wow.
  •  After 4 1/2 years, I saw my son, Josh, who lives in Finland. We stayed with him and his wife Sonja, and I was able meet her family. It was an incredible experience.
  •  I let go of a bunch of garbage that was holding me back, and I stopped chasing down and giving a crap about certain people who constantly lied to me and verbally abused me.
  • I created a solid morning routine to help install a positive mental and emotional framework for each day and I practiced gratitude on a regular basis.
  • I listened to informative, uplifting, and motivational podcasts and youtube videos, such as those by Tim Ferriss, Tom Bilyeu, Lewis Howes, Gary Vaynerchuk, Mel Robbins, and channels such as Be Inspired, Success Archive, Video Advice, and daily Motivation.
  • I stepped out of my comfort zone and had tremendous inner growth.

I don’t make grand resolutions for the New Year per se, but I certainly don’t look down upon people who do make resolutions. Here’s the thing about the New Year: it’s a reminder to all that every single one of us has a reset button. We can pause, take stock of who we are vs. who we need to be to make our visions a reality, and then set ourselves on a path to make it all happen.

Now, some will say that we should do this reset on a daily basis, and I tend to agree; however, we’re all human and we fail. Inevitably. Life gets in the way and that’s okay. Press that reset button any damn time you feel like it. Press it now. Press it again in twenty minutes or in twenty days. If you press it in twenty years, so be it. At least you’re making an attempt to move forward, and I think that’s wonderful. I like to make goals and try to re-evaluate every quarter. I frequently (and I do mean frequently) fail to meet my goals, but I inch closer toward that goal line with small wins than if I refuse to try at all.

trust the process

This past year was a huge win for me in many ways and less so in others. That’s the way it goes. My morning routine is a vital part of my life now and I’ll continue with my inner growth until the day I stop breathing. I’ll always want to be a better human being and the best role model I can be for my impressionable daughter (I’m afraid I might be a little late for my 25 yr old son). I made some fun goals for 2019 like trying a new recipe and reading a book each week. I also made some slightly more serious goals with regard to improving my physical health, figuring out a new budget for the next year, and setting myself back on the writing path. One day at a time.

I trust you’re all shaking off the debris that was 2018 and moving forward into the future with hope, love, and a greater vision for your life and for the lives of others.

You’re going to see much more of me in the future. I look forward to re-connecting with you.

Much love and happiness.

Michelle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifting

Two weeks of Shift Shop done. I feel stronger and somewhat leaner but slightly irritable. I suppose weeks of no carbs (except small amounts of starchy veggies) can do that to a person. This last week of the program cuts out the starchy veggies, so I’m trying to mentally prepare for that nonsense. I’ve been dedicated and on-point (not even sneaking a bite of mac-n-cheese from Maya’s plate) except for eating one mini-cupcake with no frosting today. So freaking good. Anywho, I’ll post a light run-down of the program and meal plan along with my (hopeful) weight loss and inches lost sometime next week in case anyone is interested. I have zero plans to post my before/after pics. Trust me, you don’t want that until I look like this again:

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Summer 2015 and soon-to-be Winter 2017

I can already tell you right now that my next round will have a modified eating plan that allows for some carbs. My kid doesn’t need Ms. Grumpy Pants for a mom.

Three weeks of zero alcohol as well. A few weeks ago, right before my bbq/pool party for some Portland friends, I decided that after said pool party I would cut alcohol out of my life until 1) I lost all the weight I gained while living in Portland and 2) I finished writing the first draft of my novel, Stupid Cupid.

Why did I decide on the alcohol exclusion, you ask?

Well, here’s a tidbit about myself: I love IPA. I mean, I like red wine as well (and that’s it for me for alcohol), but IPA is my thang.

me swami ipa
yum yum Pizza Port’s Swami’s IPA 

Hoppy, cold, high-calorie IPA. I’ve enjoyed it for a long time, but the past few years of the IPA explosion have been like Christmas to me. Couple that with moving to the craft brewery heaven of the US (breweries within walking distance of my old apartment) and an extended period of outright laziness thanks to the calm comfort of cool, rainy PNW weather (and perhaps a slight bout of depression) and you have a significant weight gain.

Ugh.

The weight gain not only made me physically unhealthy, it murdered my mojo. I am simply not comfortable with my body at this size, even if a potential partner is cool with my ample curves. I feel like a gelatinous blob. I don’t need to have rock-hard abs and a backside you can bounce a quarter off of, but I need to feel like myself again. I’m the only one who can change it, so change it is. I can already feel a shift in the way I carry myself again, so I know I’m s-l-o-w-l-y on my way.

The second part of my alcohol-free period is because I am not a spectacular or profound writer during/after drinking. I can brainstorm while kicking back a cold one, but the actual process of writing is different beast altogether. There are many writers who can pound out fantastic literature while intoxicated. I do not fall into that category. My drunken scribbles are disjointed and only moderately humorous at best. When I can understand them.

My brain has a tendency to wander far too much if I partake in adult beverages. I muse on life and love and what my life will be like five years from now, browse animal shelters looking for a dog to adopt, watch some Grey’s, post stupid stuff to FB, get lost in the Pinterest black hole and imagine all the cool stuff I’m *going* to create, and basically waste a buttload of time. My journaling is pretty damn interesting, I must admit. But journaling won’t pay the bills unless you’re Sedaris.

This may come as a shock to you, but I am not Sedaris.

So, I needed a huge reset, and that’s exactly what I have right now.

reset

Here’s the thing: I don’t miss it much at all. I don’t have a special someone around who also loves IPA, so it wasn’t difficult to drop. It’s not something I need and my life runs perfectly fine without it. It was all about breaking a not-so-great habit and (re)creating a few old good habits. Thus, I’m writing more, exercising, and working toward the future I want.

Cheers to that.