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How to Eliminate Distractions and Organize Your Online Life in 8 Easy Steps

How to Eliminate Distractions and Organize Your Online Life in 8 Easy Steps
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No matter how productive you might be, there is only one of you… so it’s in your best interest to cut out all time-wasting activities that don’t add value to your life. If you’d like to eliminate distractions and organize your online life, simply follow these eight easy steps.

1. Disable all text and email notifications from social media.

Humans are born with an innate desire for instant gratification. Add in the fact that most social media apps notify you of new activity instantaneously, and you can see how social media might be the biggest distraction in your life. Do you really need to know that your friend thinks that picture of your dog is precious the second it happens? The answer is “NO!” Remove the temptation to check your phone every few minutes by following the instructions in the help articles below:

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2. Unsubscribe from any email list that doesn’t add value to your life.

On a scale of 1-10, how cluttered is your inbox at the moment? If you answered “5” or more, you should consider unsubscribing from any list that doesn’t directly benefit you. Fortunately, there’s an innovative new service called Unroll.me that makes this process quick and painless. Click here to make an account. Let the software work its magic and mercilessly unsubscribe you from anything that isn’t necessary. My emails, however, are quite helpful, just in case you’re interested.

3. Leave Facebook groups you are not actively participating in.

Since user privacy is of no concern to Facebook, they allow people to add you to groups without your consent. And even if you do participate in some groups, it’d be smart to cut the excess, so you have more time to participate in the groups that are actually beneficial for your networking success. Simply click on a group that you have no reason to belong to (they are all listed on the left-side of your home page) and follow these instructions.

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4. Unlike Facebook pages you don’t care about to make more room for the ones you do.

Due to Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, it is more difficult for page-owners to get their content in front of fans. Help out your favorite pages by unliking everything else. In theory, this should result in a less cluttered feed, making it more likely you will notice the updates you care about. Log into your account and click this link to clean up your feed with ease. If you’d like to say “thank you” (and get updates that are actually helpful), you’re welcome to throw down a like on my page, and you might as well give a like to Lifehack while you’re at it!

5. Unfriend people you are connected to for no good reason.

You’d be amazed how many people you are connected to online for no reason. To declutter your friends list and make more room for your true friends in your feed, follow the steps below:

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  • Access Facebook via the mobile app on your cellphone or log-in on your computer
  • Navigate to your profile
  • Click the link to “friends”
  • Scroll really far down, because it lists them in order of relevancy (i.e. the people you actually communicate/interact with will be at the top and vice versa)
  • Use the quick link next to a person’s name to unfriend

Don’t feel bad about it. You don’t interact with these people, so they will never even know it happened (unless they are stalking you for some reason, then I can make no promises).

Note: Do not follow this process for people who don’t have a profile photo, because that means they have disabled their Facebook account, and unfriending them here will refresh the screen, slowing down the process considerably (I have no idea why this happens, but it is what it is). Get a pen and paper to write down the names of people without a photo as you go. When you’re done with the rest, you can search for those people on a one-by-one basis, and delete them individually.

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6. Delete unused phone numbers.

Take about 20-30 minutes to scroll through your contact list. You will end up scrolling past the names of your true friends who you haven’t thought about in a long time. Make a note to give them a call as soon as you can, and delete the rest; because it is better to have a few true friends than a lot of phony ones.

7. Stop unsolicited snail mail and phone calls.

If you’ve completed the steps so far, you’ve already done the hard part, and congrats on your newly organized online life! For bonus points, click here to join the Do Not Mail List and click here to join the Do Not Call Registry.

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8. Bookmark this article and schedule a check-up date one month from today.

I know you have good intentions to eliminate distractions and organize your online life right now, but in the interest of keeping you accountable, I’d like you to schedule a check-up date one month from today. Simply bookmark this article and give it a quick skim on your check-up date to make sure you have decluttered to the absolute best of your ability. At that point, you are also welcome to leave a comment telling us how things are going, how we can help, and how it feels to have more time and energy for the things you care about. If you know anybody who might be helped by this article, please share it via email or the social media buttons on the top-left corner of this page.

Featured photo credit: Hersman Girls – Already on Computers/Erik Hersman via flickr.com

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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