I'm drowning in too-much stuff! Time for me to embrace the latest trend: "Minimalism".
Lately, everyone seems to be adjusting their lifestyles so as to whittle away the superfluous, cut the excess, and remove the distractions taking over our hearts, heads, and homes.
It's not just the material things at fault; it's also the stresses found in typical daily life, including the noise of too much information and the staggering digital overload. By keeping the essentials only, say proponents of minimalism, we find ourselves in a physical and emotional state that is free of all that overwhelms, and that freedom adds value to our lives, relationships, and experiences.
Sounds like a great idea - I'm ready!
1. Digital Minimalism: Short term pain for long term gain
Digital communication tools, including email, social media, and the web in general, can be held to the same minimalism philosophy. Therefore, I'm going to start with my computer, by reducing the digital clutter so that it doesn't take up as much of my time, attention, and hard drive space. Optimizing those tools to only what really matters, while clearing away the "noise", can make a world of difference.
Organizing my electronic life will cause a bit of short term pain, but should result in some long term gain. Yes, that means spending an entire evening or two scanning, and then shredding, documents for the sake of a paper-free countertop. And devoting a series of Saturdays to finally organizing all the family photographs into dated folders in the cloud.
I've already addressed my overflowing email; I enjoy receiving email marketing pieces from companies whose product or service I support, I just don't want a cluttered inbox. Therefore, in the spirit of reducing overwhelm while still leveraging the usefulness of email, I've worked on setting up filters for promotional emails so I can reference them only when I need them. An email offering me a reduced rate on a vacation hotel is useless to me at 10:30 am on a Tuesday workday. But that same email coupon can be the start of a whole new travel adventure when I refer back to it on a weekend!
Once all that is done - it will be so much easier to find everything, and one less burden to deal with.
2. Social Media: an 80/20 exercise in minimalism
We know that oldie-but-goodie 80/20 rule: doing less, but doing it with greater focus. Sounds like minimalism, doesn't it? In the context of digital space, it means there should be less attention spent on low-value online activities in order to make more time for those higher-value ones.
When it comes to social media, I am pretty sure I'm spreading myself too thin. I wonder - am I hampering my minimalism efforts by spending my social media time unwisely? I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed on my phone to find out what my friends are up to - or what world events are causing controversy (NOW what did he do?). I glance at Twitter every so often for a giggle (amazing how funny people can be in 140 characters). And I'm peeking at Instagram to keep tabs on my kids (oh, so that's where he's at!). I get updates from my professional network on LinkedIn, and I don't even pretend to understand SnapChat!
Clearly, I'm due to cut out the superfluous with my social media. For some of us, it seems like Social Media can itself be a source of the noise that minimalism tries to circumvent.
The solution to creating a digital space of true value, versus one of time-wasting distraction, often depends on striking the right balance. Less? More? Perhaps less is more: a focus on a few social networks only, but at a greater depth. Are you feeling the same challenges when trying to determine where, when, and how you should spend your precious online time to best reach your audiences? The social media experts at Cyan Solutions can help guide you through the clutter.
3. Question the Status Quo: Is this really working?
Minimalism is about enriching your life. It's about keeping things in order so there is more room for joy. It's also about knowing what's working, and what isn't. Being more deliberate and focusing only on the valuable - it's not so hard, but it does take some fortitude to question the status quo. The way things are now doesn't mean they always have to be that way. The whole idea of minimalism is about changing your outlook. If something isn't working, ditch it or fix it so it is no longer taking up physical, financial, or emotional space.
Now that I've started to approach my digital life with that perspective in mind, I feel empowered and motivated to look at the other aspects of my life that way - from my spending, to my calendar, to my hobbies, and yes, even to my work. I'm excited about clearing away the noise and distraction, so I can focus on what truly matters.
Prompted to start on your own path to digital minimalism, but unsure where to start? Whether it is with your email marketing, or your social media marketing plan, you can start your minimalism journey in a small way, like I did - and take just one step towards improvement. An easy first step? Contact us.