Last week I issued a challenge to my Internet Business Accelerator members to declutter their digital disasters and take of control of the flow of information that is pushed at you whether you want it or not.
The fact is, our brains only have the capacity to process so much information, and the minute we exceed that capacity our mental performance suffers resulting in forgetfulness, poor decision making, stress and lower productivity… and as an entrepreneur that means lost opportunity and profits.
It’s now been a week since I issued this challenge and the feedback has been incredibly positive. I am hearing things like: liberated, free, efficient, etc.
Now it’s your turn to take the challenge…
This is a two part challenge. The first part is about cleaning up the digital mess you’ve created so that every time you turn on your computer you can find what you want, when you want it with minimal distraction and stress immediately increasing your efficiency and productivity.
The second part is about taking control of the flow of new information that is being pushed at you every single day. So let’s get started:
Part 1: Decluttering Your Digital Disaster
NOTE: Before you start making any major changes to you computer please make sure you have a back-up!
Step 1: Clean up your desktop – If you open up your computer and your desktop is covered in old files, folders, and programs you don’t use regularly, clean them up. The only thing on your desktop should be the files and programs you access on a regular basis. The rest should be sorted and filed in a logical structure where you can find them quickly which brings me to the next step…
Step 2: Organize and clean-up your file system – Whether you use Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.com or just store all of your files on your local hard-drive, make sure it is organized and efficient. This means removing all of the old crap you no longer need and then organize and categorize the stuff you do need so you that you can quickly locate what you want, when you want it.
MY RULE: When I am trying to decide which files I should keep and which should be deleted or archived I have a simple rule: If I have not used or accessed it in the past 365 days I probably don’t need it so I either delete it or store it on an external drive. Out of sight, out of mind.
Step 3: Inbox Zero (or close to it!) – If you open your inbox and are staring down hundreds, maybe thousands of unanswered emails, it’s time to clean it up. If you have dozens of folders where you stash and store email never to be seen again, get rid of them.
Part 2: Controlling The Flow
Step 4: Unsubscribe – For the next week I want you to unsubscribe from every email you don’t want. If you are receiving commercial emails from a company or person and you haven’t read the last few they sent you then it is probably time to unsubscribe and eliminate future distraction.
Step 5: Setup Email Filters – We all get regular emails that we need or want but don’t necessarily need to read right away. Set up filters to sort these emails into folders for future consumption, automatically eliminating the potential distraction.
Step 6: Clean up contacts (Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) – How many people are on your contact lists on Skype, WhatsApp or whatever your chosen message platform is? Now let me ask you, who on this list do you actually communicate with or want to communicate with? Remove the ones you don’t.
Step 7: Unfollow On Facebook – Our Facebook news feeds are inundated with posts that we don’t really care about, so now it’s time to shut out the noise and “unfollow” all of those “friends” that are polluting your newsfeed with stuff that doesn’t matter. Remember, “unfollowing” does not mean “unfriending”. They are still on your friend list, you just won’t be distracted by their constant stream of posts that offer no value to your mental well being and are sucking up your valuable mental bandwidth.
Step 8: Turn Off Unnecessary Notifications – Every time you receive a notification from an app, a website or a program on your computer, I want you to ask yourself “Is this a mission critical notification that I can’t live without?”. If the answer is no, shut them off!
There you go. It’s not rocket science and as you go through this process, look for additional ways to eliminate distractions. I’m sure you can find more.
Mental bandwidth is one of your most valuable personal assets and in the information age, it’s easy to end up in a position where it’s unknowingly being consumed with useless crap and clutter.
So what are you waiting for? Get started now!
Also, if you have any tools or tactics for organizing your digital life – please share them in a comment below!