Posts Tagged Time management

Get Ahead Of The Game With A Sunday Reset Routine


Get Ahead Of The Game With A Sunday Reset Routine


sunday reset

NAVIGATION

Having a simple checklist of things to do on Sunday in order to start my week off right has been a game changer for me. A Sunday reset routine sets the tone for the week and doesn’t take a lot of time, helps keep my house tidy and clean, and lowers my stress levels.

Knocking out those pesky things like cleaning, groceries, or cooking earlier in the week means the simple things have been taken care of so you can give all your attention to living your life.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I call my Sunday reset routine my “Sunday sweep.” I’ve created a short list that tackles problem areas in less than 30 minutes, even if it’s just me doing it. My checklist takes thinking out of the process so I can just grab my cleaning supplies and knock it out.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Why A Sunday Reset Matters

Why A Sunday Reset Matters

I think the concept of a Sunday reset works so well because it is a routine or practice that helps bring some ritual to starting the week off right.

I know I am not alone in this, but when I get stressed, I often find myself cleaning my space. It helps me feel a sense of control when life gets a bit crazy and I can say, “I might not be able to control that part of my life, but I can control this part.” I’m sure a therapist would have a field day with that one.

Regardless, I do feel that there is merit to setting the tone of your week with a tidy space. This ritual also helps bring a healthy close to the weekend so you can begin easing into the work week in a productive way.

The trick with any good habit is to make it easy to do, reduce the friction of the process, and, where possible, make it fun.

building good habits

Why Do Sunday Resets Work?

Why Do Sunday Resets Work

In addition to setting the right tone, there is a fair bit of science that has come out regarding what we need to be more effective in our daily lives. Rest and relaxation make up a big part of that, as well as getting oriented in the right way.

rest and recalibrationMovements like the quiet quitting movement that challenge unfair work environments and salute those who take care of their workers first are finally being praised on a macro level. We are beginning to voice something that we should have been voicing all along: Human beings need rest and recalibration to take care of themselves well and, thus, do higher quality work. The priorities should go: human first, work second.

Biology, neurology, and psychology all agree that the human body is an organism that needs to be recharged and refueled in order to function. Numerous studies reveal that putting in extra time on the front end to prepare your body, mind, and space, and simply recalibrating is not only good for your soul, but it improves productivity, too.

Taking that extra step on Sunday to clean or organize your office, prep some healthy batch-cooked meals, take a long warm bath, or go on a relaxing walk will set you up for a far more successful week than if you neglect all of your personal needs. Your body and mind are the most valuable tools at your disposal to help you be the person you want to be and create the work you want to create, so take the time to care for them.

ways to declutter your mind

A Sunday Reset Routine Reduces Decision Fatigue

A Sunday Reset Routine Reduces Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue has been a core inspiration for many of my decisions as a minimalist. It has led me to start wearing a personal uniform, adopt a basic minimalist diet, and declutter most of my belongings.

getting a grip on a busy scheduleWhy? Many studies including one by Medical News Today reveals that limiting the number of choices you make in one day improves your mental clarity and cognitive capacity.

Reducing the number of trivial choices made in a small amount of time gives you more brain capacity for depth, creativity, theorizing, problem solving, analyzing information, and relating to loved ones.

Starting a Sunday reset routine will reduce the number of decisions and open doors for other things. When I started doing my Sunday sweep every week, it took cleaning, cooking, organizing, decluttering, and sorting entirely off my mind during my work week. This gave me more brain space to use on things that were important to my life and my work.

You Gain Time When You Reset On Sunday

You Gain Time When You Reset On Sunday

Choosing to be strategic with how I use my “off” time has been one of my most helpful tools in managing tasks while also feeling at peace and content in my own mind.

Instead of spending my Sunday mindlessly scrolling on TikTok or watching reruns, I ask myself how I can use my time to take care of me. Going that extra mile to prep meals or tidy up my office on Sunday saves me time throughout my week.

A Sunday Reset Routine Gives You Peace Of Mind

A Sunday Reset Routine Gives You Peace Of Mind

The best aspect of implementing a Sunday reset routine is the peace of mind it brings you. I can be pretty cynical about things, and I often look at trendy routines like this and think about how they’re not a magic fix. And while that’s true — a Sunday reset routine isn’t a magic fix to solve all your problems — it has genuinely helped me get my mind ready to dive into my work week.

Put simply, my reset routine just gives me less to think about during the day. When I know I have my fuel in the fridge, my tools in their right places, and a clean and cozy house to work in, I can conquer the week with ease.

tips for simple living

My Personal Sunday Sweep

My Personal Sunday Sweep

I wanted to share some of the things I do in my own Sunday sweep routine to get everything in order for the week. However, before I get into it, I want to say that self-care is going to looks different for every single person based on the things that they value most.

You want your Sunday reset routine to align with the goals you have for the week. I don’t personally participate in the more artistic or self-reflective parts of self-care, but if your idea of resetting means painting a self-portrait with classical musical blaring on vinyl behind you, definitely go for it.

Like I said, your Sunday reset routine should reflect you above all else. I’ve shown you the things I do below!

Ryan’s Sunday Sweep Check List

Ryans Sunday Sweep Check List

Like I said, I start off each week with a Sunday sweep routine that helps me to be more efficient, make fewer trivial decisions, and increase the quality of my day by having a nice, clean space.

Most of the tasks I go through each Sunday are about cleaning and preparation, because I know that’s what I need to do to start my week off right.

I have my own personal Sunday sweep checklist that helps me to stay on track. It includes a section for decluttering, dusting, doing laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the kitchen, and other general cleaning.

 

sunday sweep bucket

Sunday Sweep Check List

Ryan’s Sunday Sweep Cleaning Caddy

Ryans Sunday Sweep Cleaning Caddy

I actually built a specific cleaning caddy for my Sunday sweep routine which only holds the things that I need to complete my specific checklist and nothing else. That way, when I am ready to start my reset, I can grab my checklist and my caddy and knock out all the work in under 30 minutes!

Sunday Sweep Cleaning Caddy

Ryan’s Sunday Sweep Cleaning Items List

Ryans Sunday Sweep Cleaning Items List copy

Over my years of resetting on Sunday, I have filled my caddy with some of my favorite cleaning products that have passed the test of time.

OXO deep cleaning brushesI love using my Swiffer, which has been a game changer for me and my personal cleaning routine. The magic eraser is great for tough stain spots and I really could not live without it.

When it comes to odor removal, I use Mrs. Meyer’s air freshener because it doesn’t have any sketchy ingredients and smells so good. Sometimes I’ll light a candle or two. Plink’s drain deodorizers also smell great, and I haven’t been able to find a cheaper generic version that matches them in quality.

I would highly recommend OXO deep cleaning brushes for removing grime around sink and faucets. I also like to keep a large box of baking soda and a gallon jug of white vinegar with my caddy, which isn’t shown in the image. I have some items that I rotate in and out of my cleaning caddy, but for the most part, these items are my weekly go tos.

create a minimalist house

Building Your Own Sunday Reset Routine

Building Your Own Sunday Reset Routine

When building your own personal Sunday reset routine, ask yourself what kind of reset routine will be most helpful for the way you operate: what do you need to do or have to help get you through your week?

meal prepping for sunday resetI know my good friend Tessa likes to spend Sunday away from all notifications, emails, text messages, social media, and looming work tasks to read something enlightening or write in her journal. For her, resetting her mind needs to come first in order to tackle the rest.

For me, having a sense of control over my physical surroundings helps me feel prepared enough to dive into the rapid influx of tasks and work that comes with being a small business owner. For some of my other close friends, meal prepping for their huge family or tackling long forms and business phone calls early on in the week helps them feel less anxious.

Your Sunday reset routine should match who you are and what you need. Here are some simple ideas of things you could do to reset on Sunday:

1Give Your Home A Deep Clean

Giving my entire house a deep clean is an awesome way to help me reset my space and mind to prepare for a long week. Not only does having a clean space help you mentally prepare for a busy week, but it can also be great for your body and physical health to have clean sheets, clothes, and air.

Ideas To Clean Your House And Reset Your Sunday

  • Change your sheets
  • Clean sinks and counters
  • Mop and sweep
  • Vacuum
  • Wash towels, hand towels, and bathmats
  • Sanitize shower, sinks, and soap dispensers
vacuum cleaner

2Knock Out Other Household Chores

It can be super difficult to find time in the middle of my busy week to do basic household chores. That’s why I like to include household chores in my Sunday reset to-do list, as it helps my hectic week run much more smoothly!

Chore Ideas During Sunday Reset

washing dishes

3Organize And Declutter Your Rooms

Taking the time to organize and declutter my bedroom, bathroom, and work space helps me set myself up for success amidst a hectic week. Knowing everything is in its place can save you from decision fatigue and help you find what you need faster in the middle of a long work day.

Organization Ideas During Sunday Reset

sorting clothes

4Running Errands

Running errands and buying groceries are two of the best tactics to set yourself up well for a busy week, so this is something I prioritize getting done before my week gets hectic. Think about what you might need for the week or what errands you may not have time to get to after a long workday, and try to knock those out during your Sunday reset routine.

Ideas For Errands To Run During Sunday Reset

  • Buy groceries
  • Get gas
  • Pick up or drop off laundry
  • Clean or vacuum the car
  • Pick up prescriptions
filling the car with gas

5Meal Prep This Week’s Lunches And Dinners

Meal prepping has gained a ton of popularity in the past few years as one of the best time savers for those with hectic schedules. I do a lot of meal prepping for my lunches so I can eat quickly between meetings.

Whether you are a mom with school-age kids or an adult with a full-time job, cooking lunch and dinner every day may not be in the cards. Help yourself get ahead and cook meals during your Sunday reset routine.

Meal Prep Ideas

  • Prep mason jar meals
  • Prep freezer meals
  • Prep sack lunches
  • Chop or prepare ingredients
  • Decant food
  • Cook meals ahead of time
prepped meals stored in fridge

Sunday Reset Routine Checklist

Sunday Reset Routine Checklist

Go through this checklist to tackle all of these Sunday reset ideas! I’ve put them all in one place for easy access. Of course, don’t feel like you have to address them all — choose what works for you.

Sunday Reset Routine Checklist

Declutter

  • Sort mail and email
  • Put away clothes
  • Organize desk or workspace
  • Sort bathroom and medicine cabinet
  • Sort shelves in fridge
  • Declutter yard or garage

Clean

  • Change your sheets
  • Clean sinks and counters
  • Mop and sweep
  • Vacuum
  • Laundry
  • Wash dishes

Errands

  • Buy groceries
  • Get gas
  • Pick up/drop off laundry
  • Wash/vacuum the car
  • Pick up prescriptions
  • Item

Meal Prep

  • Prep mason jar meals
  • Prep freezer meals
  • Prep sack lunches
  • Chop or prepare ingredients
  • Decant food
  • Cook meals ahead of time
There are so many ways you can reset on Sunday beyond what I’m suggesting. Journaling, setting intentions, or giving your room a new ambiance are just a few ideas of other ways you can reset on Sunday. Matching your reset routine to your needs is the best way to help you feel empowered to take on a crazy week!

Your Turn!

  • What steps will your Sunday reset routine include?
  • What reset ideas can you implement on Sunday to make your week easier?

The Best Dumb Phones for Smart Minimalists


The Best Dumb Phones for Smart Minimalists


Best Dumb Phones for Smart Minimalists


NAVIGATION

If you’re tired of being constantly bombarded by notifications from your smartphone, or maybe you just want to take a break from constant connection, a dumb phone could be exactly what you’re looking for. Dumb phones are simple, minimalist phones that allow your cell to fulfill your needs instead of controlling your attention.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

A few years ago, I decided to buy a simpler phone to bring with me at times when I wanted to be more present in the moment. I decided to use the original Light Phone, transforming my phone into a simple a tool, rather than a distractor. Back then, I never would have imagined that there would be a whole line of these phones for minimalists, but now there are so many options!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Are Dumb Phones?

What Are Dumb PhonesA dumb phone is a phone that only makes phone calls and, by design, does little else.

When people talk about dumb phones, they are typically referring to devices that, unlike smartphones, have little to no computing or internet capacity. Dumb phones are simple devices, usually focused on providing utility tools to users without any excess.

All dumb phones include texting and calling features, while some also include tools like GPS, camera, calculator, or hotspot access. Some dumb phones even include access to Spotify or podcasts, if that’s what you’re looking for. Most, however, do not include access to the internet, social media apps, games, or web browsers.

Dumb phones are simple devices

Why Do People Want A Minimalist Phone?

Why Do People Want A Minimalist PhoneWe do this thing as a species where all we want is more; we want to make the world bigger, faster, more exciting, more grandiose, and more satisfying to our desires. However, we’ve added so much to our phones that it has overwhelmed us. Now, people are looking for reprieve from a world that’s all about moving faster.

In an attempt to create a broader, more interconnected digital world, we’ve created smart devices that are smarter than we are. Our smart phones are strategically designed to absorb our attention and keep us away from real life. One study found that the average American receives 63.5 notifications in one day!

Thanks to this incessance, people are seeking a simpler, less invasive virtual life. Ironic as it is, the dumb phone movement is all about living smarter by moving away from the constant demands of social media and the internet and back to being present and attentive in real time.

digital decluttering

Would A Dumb Phone Fit My Lifestyle?

Would A Dumb Phone Fit My LifestyleThere is nothing wrong with continuing to use a smartphone, as long as you are taking the necessary precautions to keep it from controlling your life! If you’re wondering if investing in a dumb phone will be helpful for you and whether it is right for your lifestyle, ask yourself these questions:

Questions To Ask Yourself

  • Will I feel left out without access to social media?
  • Is iMessage or group texting important to me?
  • Would a dumb phone help my digital addiction?
  • Do I spend too much time online or need a change?
  • What tools do I absolutely need on my cell phone?
  • What cell phone features could I live without?
Could you live without social media

The great thing about making the switch from a smartphone to a dumb phone is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recipe. There are many different models of basic phones out there, some that only text and call and some that are akin to smartphones but with a few variations and simplifications.

I actually have two phones, one dumb phone and one smartphone, which I use for different reasons. I use my smartphone when I know I’ll need access to thing like TikTok, email, or the internet to look up recipes or builder DIYs.

However, when I make plans to spend intentional time with a loved one, read for a long time in a park, or do anything I don’t want to be distracted from, I intentionally bring my basic phone along. This way, I am fully present where I am and don’t feel like phone notifications are pulling my mind away from the conversation.

living in the moment

Top Dumb Phones Models And Where To Buy Them

dumb phone models and where to buy themThere are many different models of dumb phones that you can buy to fit your lifestyle. Each phone model has different features, some of which are about as simple or “dumb” as you can get, and others that are pretty close to smartphones but with fewer bells and whistles.

The Light Phone Helps With Digital Mindfulness

The Light Phone and the Light Phone II are probably the most popular phones known for being minimalist. The Light Phone was designed to be digitally “light,” thus not having access to any social media, clickbait news, email, or even internet.

This Light Phone has text, call, a headphone jack, and Bluetooth. It can be used as a personal hotspot and connect to other devices, but does not have internet on its own. However, the device does have a menu of customizable tools available, like an alarm, a calculator, directions, a simple music player, and a podcast tool. The company places emphasis on providing utility-based tools as opposed to anxiety inducing apps, which a lot of people appreciate.

The biggest setback I’ve heard from people who have tried the Light Phone is the lack of storage. I have a friend in the minimalist community who tried out the Light Phone hoping to stay off of social media, but still wanted to stay enlightened and listen to music and podcasts.

However, the lack of internet causes you to download each song or podcast, and with only 8 gigabytes of storage, it fills up pretty quickly. If you’re simply looking for a phone with text, call, and tools to keep you from being distracted by media, though, it might just be the perfect one.

Price $349
Size 3.7″ x 2.2″ x .35″
Weight 2.7 ounces
Features Text, call, Bluetooth, hotspot, alarm, calculator, GPS, podcasts
Where To Buy the light phone

[NOTE: not sold on amazon]

Get Your Life Back With The BoringPhone

The BoringPhone is a smartphone made dumb and marketed towards minimalists seeking less. The phone is designed with access to calling, texting, camera, GPS, podcasts, music, and other utility-based tools and features. It does not have email, an internet browser, social media, or an app store.

The BoringPhone was created with the goal of giving cell phone users their time, focus, and energy back and keeping them from the intoxicating distractions that smartphones provide.

A lot of people really like the BoringPhone because of how easy it is to use. This model is truly the definition of a dumb phone because it lacks email and internet and has no hack to install them, which my hardcore minimalist friends really love.

Price $499
Size 5.7″ x 2.1″ x .5″
Weight 3.4 ounces
Features Text, call, camera, GPS, podcasts, music, hotspot, calculator, notes, calendar, clock, flashlight, FM radio, voice recorder
Where To Buy boring phone

[NOTE: not sold on amazon]

The Simplicity Of The Punkt. MP02

Another device designed to specifically cater to those who need a digital detox, the MP02 is a very intentionally designed apparatus. It is a 4G phone that is able to be turned into a hotspot when needed, but the phone itself is not connected to the internet or to social media.

Additionally, the Punkt. MP02 is the first phone to offer a downloadable privacy feature that uses the signal protocol to provide free, encrypted internet-based calls and texts worldwide via Wi-Fi or mobile data to keep your digital life more secure.

If you’re seeking a phone that is incredibly simple, the Punkt. is a smart way to go. However, some users do get a bit frustrated with the difficulty of group texting with this model. If you are hoping to stay involved in your friend or family group message, this may not be the model for you. Otherwise, it has many perks.

Price $379
Size 4.6″ x 2″ x .55″
Weight 3.5 ounces
Features Text, call, notes, clock, calculator, calendar, Bluetooth
Where To Buy Punkt MP02

The Easyfone Prime-A6 Is Great For Seniors

The primary demographic the Easyfone Prime-A6 is marketed toward are senior citizens looking for simpler, easy-to-use devices. This is apparent in the phone’s makeup, complete with large fonts, huge buttons, and simple features.

The Easyfone Prime-A6 also comes with an emergency help button that is hearing-aid compatible. Overall, this phone is an ideal device for anyone wanting a dumb phone or a simpler digital life without all the social media notifications. The Easyfone does have call and text access, but it does not have a camera or photo storage.

I know a lot of seniors who thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of the Easyfone, but it can totally work for a younger minimalist as well. I have a millennial friend who loves using the Easyfone because it isn’t as expensive as some of the dumb phones that are branded for minimalism, but has all of the same simplistic features.

Price $69.99
Size 4.5″ x 2″ x .57″
Weight 2.4 ounces
Features Text, call, navigation, alarms, calendar, reminders, large text, loud audio
Where To Buy Easyfone Prime-A6

The Doro 7010 Is a Good Choice For Any Age

Similar to the Easyfone, the Doro 7010 is marketed towards seniors. This phone is awesome for those looking for a simple, easy-to-use device.

The Doro 7010, however, does have access to Facebook and Whatsapp along with text and call, which is different from many of the other “dumber” phones. The phone also has an extra-large display, making it easier to use for seniors needing simplicity.

A major complaint I’ve seen about the Doro phone is that it has a weaker battery life than some of the other minimalist phones out there. If you aren’t on your phone all day or have a goal of reducing screen time, this shouldn’t be a huge issue. However, if you want to use it for a long period of time without charging, this may not be the dumb phone for you.

Price $86.35
Size 4.6″ x 1.87″ x .42″
Weight 2.7 ounces
Features Text, call, camera, Bluetooth, GPS, email, internet, WhatsApp, Facebook
Where To Buy Doro 7010

Choose The Nokia 6300 For A Basic Phone

The Nokia 6300 is a good quasi-dumb phone to try out if you are looking for the best of both worlds. If you’re craving a little more simplicity but still hoping to have wiggle room around things like WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube, this may be a good phone for you.

This phone has text, call, access to Google maps, and a generous amount of storage space. The Nokia 6300 can also be made into a mobile hotspot. However, its lack of notifications and simplistic design allow it to be a good gateway to the world of digital minimalism.

Most friends I know who use the Nokia 6300 actually really love it. It has many features that aren’t necessarily “dumb phone” features like connection to emails, the internet, and apps, but it’s a good happy medium if you are seeking a simpler phone that can keep you connected.

Price $69.99
Size 4.9″ x 2.1″ x .54″
Weight 3.7 ounces
Features Text, call, camera, GPS, Youtube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Hotspot, email, internet
Where To Buy Nokia 6300

Finding The Right Minimalist Phone For You

Finding The Right Minimalist Phone For YouFinding the right dumb phone for you depends on exactly what your needs are in a cell phone. There are some people who set out to get a device that makes calls and sends texts only with no internet, camera, or GPS.

Others are still looking to use their device for daily needs like internet access or location services, and merely hope to reduce the excessive demands that social media and untimely notifications can bring. Whichever boat you find yourself in, there’s a dumb phone out there to fit your needs.

Dumb Phones With GPS

Dumb Phones With GPSGPS and maps is one of the most common smartphone features that dumb phone converts hope to keep around. When I made the switch from my smartphone to a dumb phone, I knew I wanted to hang onto my maps system and forgo the hassle of buying an entire navigation system to do what an app easily could.

Dumb Phones With GPS

4G Dumb Phones

4G Dumb PhonesFor some people, making the switch to a simpler phone means giving up their wireless internet access altogether. Others merely hope to limit the intrusion of the internet while still being able to access the tools they need when they need them.

4g tower

5G Dumb Phones

5G Dumb PhonesIf you’re hoping to merely get rid of a few excessive features while staying connected to the 5G network, converting your existing smartphone into a dumb phone is probably the way to go — keep reading to learn how! You can certainly simplify your smartphone to match a more minimal lifestyle.

As far as iPhones go, the iPhone SE is likely the simplest model of iPhone on the market today. Other simple smartphones with 5G include the Jitterbug Smart 3, and the Google Pixel 6a.

Dumb Phones Without A Camera

Dumb Phones Without A CameraThe camera feature is something that many minimalists disagree over when it comes to whether or not they hope to keep it on their minimalist phone. The con to having one is, of course, living your life with the knowledge in mind that you could record, capture, and post any image at any time, pulling you from the moment.

Best Dumb Phones Without A Camera:

Dumb Phones With A Good Camera

Dumb Phones With A Good CameraOn the flip side, when a special or meaningful moment does happen, it’s nice to have a camera at the ready. Unfortunately, you can’t always predict when a photo-worthy memory will occur, which is the awesome part of living in the digital age. With many feature phone models, you have the option to choose either the model with or without a camera.

Best Dumb Phones With A Good Camera:

Dumb Phones With Talk And Text Only

Dumb Phones With Talk And Text OnlyA dumb phone in its truest form is a phone that isn’t connected to the internet at all. Text and call only is pretty much the dumbest you can make a phone!

Best Dumb Phone With Text And Call Only:

Which Carriers Have Dumb Phones?

Which Carriers Have Dumb PhonesYou don’t want to have to change every aspect of your digital life and expenses just because you want a dumb phone. If staying with your current carrier or current phone plan is a priority for you, check out this list of basic feature phones carried by Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T to find a dumb phone provided by your carrier.

Verizon Dumb Phones

Verizon Dumb Phones

T-Mobile Dumb Phones

T-Mobile Dumb Phones

AT&T Dumb Phones

AT&T Dumb Phones

How To Turn An iPhone Into A Dumb Phone

How To Turn An iPhone Into A Dumb PhoneIf you’re anything like me, it may be that you still want to maintain the best of both worlds. For some people, the goal of buying a dumb phone is to unplug entirely and remove their social media presence or excessive distractions throughout the day. However, others are simply looking for a way to control their digital engagement without allowing it to control them.

You can easily go through a couple of steps in the settings of your iPhone to make it “dumber” without buying a new phone entirely and also keeping some of the features that are most important to you on your device. Here are some ways to dumb down your smartphone to make your digital life simpler and less chaotic.

social media break

Turn The Color Scheme Of Your Phone To Greyscale

Turn The Color Scheme Of Your Phone To Greyscale

Psychologically, a simple color change is the single most effective way to curb a digital addiction. A peer reviewed study conducted by psychologists Alex J. Holte and F. Richard Ferraro demonstrated that changing your phone scheme to grayscale reduced smartphone use by an average of 39.7 minutes per day. That’s 242 hours gained back in one year.

Bright colors are neurologically gratifying to the human mind and serve as a kind of visual stimulus that provides dopamine. This often isn’t as thought about as one of the most addictive elements of a cell phone. Putting your phone in greyscale reduces its addictive quality and is psychologically proven to help you unplug.

iphone screen set to black and white

Uninstall The Majority of iPhone Apps

Uninstall The Majority of iPhone AppsWhen turning your iPhone into a basic phone, think through specifically what it is that you want your device to be able to do for you, as that’s going to change what you choose to uninstall. This will be different for every person depending on intent.

Most minimalists looking to dumb their phone down choose to delete all applications that don’t function as a tool or utility. This includes social media of any kind, games, food apps, or any form of interactive media that could take control of your mind throughout a given day.

Of course, everyone is different, and maybe there are applications that are important to you to keep around. Just make sure you are honest with yourself about the reason behind keeping it installed.

Disable Notifications

Disable NotificationsDisabling notifications is the bread and butter of turning your smartphone dumb. As has been discussed at length by many psychology articles, marketing articles, and recently Netflix’s “Social Dilemma” documentary, the way that notifications appear on our phone has actually been strategically designed to make us addicts.

iphone notifications screenExtensive research has been done on human psychology that has gone into smartphone design. There is no higher valued commodity these days than our attention. Yikes!

To turn your smartphone from an all-day attention sucker to a helpful device you engage with by choice, it’s best to disable all notifications for things like email, texting, social media, apps, news, and anything else that could make your brain go, “Squirrel!” instead of being present where you are.

If you feel the need to keep notifications on for texting and calling, that makes sense. It really does come down to what you need out of your phone. I’d honestly challenge you to be as minimal as possible though — see how much of your time and attention truly gets sucked away by that pesky, “look at me!” ding or vibration.

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions To Match Your Needs

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions To Match Your NeedsOn your iPhone, you can actually manage which apps, services, features, or tools appear on your phone screen. While app limits are helpful, you can still see the greyed-out version of the app you are missing out on engaging with, like staring at the last piece of pie on the counter even though you told yourself you wouldn’t eat it.

With Content and Privacy Restrictions you can remove anything you don’t want access to from your phone entirely. Parents often use this to keep their kids from downloading unwanted apps, but you can also use it to dumb down your cell phone.

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions On iPhone

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Select “Screen Time”
  • Scroll down & click “Content and Privacy Restrictions”
  • Change apps you don’t want to access to “Don’t Allow”

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions On iPhone

Turn Off Wi-Fi And Mobile Data

Turn Off Wi-Fi And Mobile DataDisabling access to the internet on your iPhone altogether is probably the most extreme way you could dumb it down.

However, it is the most effective way to truly turn your smartphone into a dumb phone. Turning off “Cellular Data” as well as “Network and Internet” in your phone will limit you from being able to do a quick Google search on your phone, use Apple Maps to get around, or even check your email from your device.

This is the most basic you can make your iPhone, but if you want to be this extreme, it will certainly reveal how much you’ve depended on your smartphone in the past. This is the best way to turn an entirely new leaf in your digital life, but it will be a huge change.

Deactivate Wi-Fi And Mobile Data

Dumb Phone FAQs

Dumb Phone FAQsDumb phones truly are a fairly broad category, and every single aspect of one dumb phone won’t necessarily apply to another. I thought I’d go through some frequently asked questions about what dumb phones are and why you might be inspired to give a minimalist phone a try.

Can A Dumb Phone Be Tracked?

Yes, dumb phones can be tracked. While not all dumb phone models are able to be tracked, the majority of them are. If your dumb phone model has GPS tracking capabilities, then it is, of course, able to be tracked.

If you want to track your phone without GPS, cell tower triangulation is the way to go. If you don’t want your phone to have tracking capabilities at all, you will need to disable all GPS services, location services, and tracking through the internet.

To give my devices extra protection in the past, I’ve used this faraday bag, which shields your device from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals, including all 5G networks. Using one of these helps me feel more protected, especially with my work phone where I keep all of my important account information.

What Is The Simplest Cell Phone For Seniors?

The Easyfone Prime-A6 is probably the most basic phone for senior citizens. The large fonts, huge buttons, and simple features on the device make it really accessible for someone who wants to keep things basic. My own parents rave about the Jitterbug phone, which has huge buttons, a large display, and an extra loud speaker.

What Is The Best Dumb Phone For Kids?

The Gabb Phone, the Relay Phone, and the KidsConnect KC2 are some of the most highly recommended dumb phones for parents who want to be minimalist with their kids and smart about what they have access to online. While these brands make phones specifically for young kids, many parents also choose basic phones from their carrier to fit with their kid’s lifestyle and desired restrictions.

Can A Dumb Phone Be Hacked?

Yes, dumb phones can be hacked. Even though not all minimalist phones have internet access, they can be hacked through Bluetooth or other apps. They can also be hacked through mobile data and Wi-Fi if they are connected to the internet.

However, basic phones are typically a less attractive target for hackers because they do not have as much data to release. Thus, while it is possible for dumb phones to be hacked, they are less likely to be hacked than smart phones.

At the end of the day, the appeal of trying out a dumb phone for myself was having a device that was just a simple tool. I didn’t necessarily want something with a constant influx of notifications specifically programmed to vie for my attention constantly.

I keep my smart phone around for when I want to use group text, Pinterest, TikTok, and other apps I enjoy, but it isn’t always attached to my hip. My dumb phone goes with me when I need to get work done or am meeting someone for coffee and hope to have a truly intentional conversation. Doing this has changed the game for me!

Your Turn!

  • In what ways could switching to a minimalist phone improve your life?
  • What features would you need on your dumb phone? What features could you do away with?

How To Get To Inbox Zero And Not Drown In Emails

How To Get To Inbox Zero And Not Drown In Emails

inbox zero method

NAVIGATION

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I am all about trying out efficient systems that help you work smarter, not harder. As the founder of my own company, I get a ton of emails every single day. When I heard about the inbox zero method for managing emails, I knew I had to try it out to help me stay on track and save my sanity!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

I’ve heard that your email inbox can be described as a convenient way to manage other people’s priorities, and after adopting minimalism into my work life, I have to agree. Your inbox is a tool that you should have control over — not the other way around.

I discovered the inbox zero method for email organization a few years ago and immediately started using it to manage my inbox. While I can’t claim that I’m perfect, most days I am able to say I usually have an inbox that is down to zero.

What Is The Inbox Zero Method?

What Is The Inbox Zero Method

What I love the most about the inbox zero method is that it’s super simple, yet it makes a huge difference in productivity. The method takes minimal effort while giving you maximum reward in your workday.

Inbox Zero MethodThe inbox zero method wasn’t created as another frivolous workplace tactic that ends up being a time waster. It’s a thoughtful, intentionally designed method to help reduce digital and mental clutter.

In a nutshell, the inbox zero method is intended to be a strategy that allows you to keep your inbox as close to empty as possible at all times. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire day staring at your inbox and clearing your junk mail.

Inbox zero is kind of an umbrella term for the many different ways workers go about keeping their inbox under control. The strategy is more of a mindset paired with tangible strategies that work for you. It isn’t just about achieving the quantitative goal of zero emails.

The method works for every person differently! Some people like to address each email that comes in as they’re notified, while others devote a specific amount of time to email management at the end or beginning of their workday.

digital decluttering

Where Did The Inbox Zero Method Come From?

The inbox zero method was created by productivity expert Merlin Mann. Merlin runs the 43 folders blog and podcast. His writing and his podcast focus heavily on making the best use of your time in the working world and directing your attention toward whatever brings value to your life.

inbox zero time managementMerlin coined the term “inbox zero” on his blog for the first time in 2007. Then, later in that same year, He gave a Google TechTalk about the value of the inbox zero method in the working world.

After his TechTalk, the idea spread like wildfire throughout the corporate world. Merlin followed this momentum surrounding his strategy and, in 2014, published his book, Inbox Zero: Cutting Through the Crap to Do the Work that Matters, which gives a super detailed account of the inbox zero method.

In Merlin’s explanation of the method, he is very clear that there’s a lot more to his method than a mere number. He explained that the “zero” in “inbox zero method” is actually two-fold in its meaning.

The “zero” in the method represents getting to zero emails in your inbox, but it also represents the amount of time employees spend worrying and stressing about their email: zero hours, zero minutes, and zero seconds. Sounds too good to be true, right?

Does The Inbox Zero Method Really Help?

As a small business owner, I’m obsessed with efficiency because I need to make sure I stay on task and get things done. I wouldn’t devote a whole blog post to a method I didn’t believe would actually improve the productivity of your workday and your general sanity.

monotaskingIt may seem like constantly keeping your email cleared would be more work than reward. However, studies show the rewards from using this method are astronomical in regards to your work quality, productivity, and focus during a workday.

I think when we picture distractions in our workday, we usually picture our kids running into our office with a surplus of random needs, dogs barking, loud music from our neighbors, or other external distractions that can get in the way of our workflow.

Yet, so many of our major culprits for distraction are digital. A 2022 study conducted by Team Stage has found that sending and receiving emails, smartphone interactions, and attempting to multitask instead of monotasking are some of the biggest culprits for workplace distraction.

It isn’t just the data talking either. Many small business owners, entrepreneurs, and content creators have fallen in love with the ways that applying inbox zero has drastically reduced distraction and increased their productivity in a given day.

I had the honor of speaking to small business coach, content creator, and owner of Breakthrough Boss, Tara Wagner. Tara had a lot to say about all the ways that using inbox zero has helped her run her small business.

Tara has used the inbox zero method for the past 10 years. She’s really nailed down systems that keep her inbox clean, her priorities straight, and her soul sane.

Tara Wagner email expert

“Cleaning up your inbox won’t solve all your problems, but it will establish habits and boundaries that can bleed into other areas of your business and life. It’s a step in the right direction.”

– Tara Wagner, Breakthrough Boss

How To Get To Inbox Zero

How To Get To Inbox Zero

Like I said before, inbox zero is an umbrella term. The way you implement this strategy will come down to what your workday looks like and what your personal goals are.

There are many different ways to implement the inbox zero method. Tara breaks it down into three digestible phases which I’ll share in the next few sections.

Phase One: Clean Your Inbox With Inbox Zero

The first and most important way to use the inbox zero method is to declutter your inbox, especially if you’re the type to have thousands of unread emails just laying around in your inbox.

archive old emailsClear out all the junk mail crowding your inbox so you can focus on the emails that are actually essential to your day. If you have too many messages in your inbox, I want you take a bold step: select all, archive.

This seems drastic and people get really worked up about it, but most often there is nothing critical. Make sure your normal bills are paid up, do a quick search for key friends and family, then archive everything else.

Archiving is different from deleting because it actually keeps the emails, but it gets it cleared out from your inbox. So in a pinch, you can go find any email you might need later.

Tara was able to share five super easy steps to clear out your inbox in the least amount of time, which she explains in her video tutorial.

8 Steps To Clean Your Inbox

  1. Spend a manageable block of time deleting emails each day. Set a timer for five, 10, or 15 minutes at the beginning or end of your workday. Devote this amount of time only to the remaining steps. When you only do a little bit of inbox management each day, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed.
  2. Do an inbox-wide search for the words “receipt” and “order confirmation.” Create a separate folder for these emails so they are saved outside of your inbox and these financial exchanges aren’t accidentally deleted.
  3. Turn off email notifications from all forms of social media that you actively use.
  4. Choose one brand, company, or newsletter that is not actively improving your life, helping you meet your goals, or reflecting your values. Open one email from this group and unsubscribe from their mailing list. Do NOT move these to spam! This will not guarantee that you’ll no longer receive this group’s mail.
  5. Copy the email address of the brand or company you have unsubscribed from and paste it into the “from” tab. Click the dropdown and search your INBOX ONLY for this one specific email address.
  6. Click “select all” to check all the emails sent from this address. Look for an option to select all other emails that match the address so you don’t have to only delete 50 emails at a time.
  7. Do a quick scan to make sure you’re ready to delete, then select “delete all.”
  8. Repeat steps 4 through 7 with each brand, company, and newsletter you want to let go of.
Tara Wagner email expert

“Think of cleaning out your inbox like cleaning out a cluttered home: don’t do it all at once. Do it in three phases: clean your inbox, create new systems, practice new habits.”

– Tara Wagner, Breakthrough Boss

Phase Two: Stop The Inflow At The Source

The biggest a-ha moment for me was the day I finally threw my hands up in resignation over how many emails I was getting. At that point, I was getting around 700 emails per day that weren’t just random newsletters or CCs — each was an email that required me to actually do something for each of them.

get rid of non-productive emailsIt wasn’t sustainable! So I had to ask myself, what actions can I take to make sure an email doesn’t get sent in the first place?

I did things like clear out emails I kept getting that I didn’t want. I then looked at the types of requests I was getting professionally and talked with those people about how we could reduce the influx — a lot of this was just agreeing when I needed to be included and when I didn’t, but also empowering others to make decisions themselves. Finally, I setup an FAQ to answer the most common questions on this website.

It’s going to be different for you, but the point is, be ruthless in cutting things out. Then dare to challenge everything and question if that email really should be there in the first place.

Phase Three: Create New Systems With Inbox Zero

Once your inbox is cleaned out, you want to do everything in your power to implement systems that help you keep your inbox clean and organized. Creating better email management systems is all about setting yourself up to work smarter not harder when facing your inbox.

Put in the time on the front end to save time later. Weaving these systems into your workday can keep you from the grueling process of deleting 20,000 emails again down the line!

8 Systems To Organize Your Inbox

  1. Create a simple folder system to keep your emails organized and give each one a place.
  2. Set up automated responses or use email templates to tackle mass emails.
  3. Before you even open an email, evaluate the subject line and sender with a critical eye to decipher if their message is worth your professional time.
  4. For business owners, prioritize emails that represent the possibility of revenue. Respecting your time as a professional means understanding that your professional time is worth compensation. Look for emails from sponsors, clients, or new business deals and address those first.
  5. Edit your email filters so that recurring mail evades your primary inbox without you having to physically delete it.
  6. Address emails you feel you can wrap up quickly first. Any exchange you can solidify in under two minutes will feel like a win and carry you through the rest of your day with high morale.
  7. Do not ever reply to spam mail. This may send your address into a larger network of spammers, cluttering your inbox even more.
  8. Touch every email ONE TIME ONLY. This means, whenever you open an email, you’re addressing it. Addressing it doesn’t always means responding. It could mean adding it to a to-do list for later. But don’t do nothing.
how to organize a small office

Phase Four: Practice New Habits With Inbox Zero

Integrating the inbox zero method into your life is about much more than keeping your inbox clean, organized, and tailored to your productivity needs. As Merlin explains, adhering to inbox zero is also about adopting habits that help you waste less brain space on your inbox alone.

Inbox zero is about setting boundaries and developing a healthy relationship with email. If our mind is always on our inbox, we are constantly distracted and it’s much more difficult to get any real work done in a day.

Tara Wagner email expert

“In online businesses, it’s easy to be “on” all the time. But you don’t expect to reach the bank after 5 p.m. — why teach your clients that you’re available at 9 p.m. or on a Sunday or holiday?”

– Tara Wagner, Breakthrough Boss

Tips To Control Your Inbox And Not Let It Control You

Tips To Control Your Inbox

Tips To Control Your Inbox

  • Block out a set amount of time each day only for emails. Cut yourself off when that time ends.
  • Don’t check your emails first thing in the morning. Keep the most productive time of your day reserved for your most important, most deeply valued work. Tend to emails after you’ve made progress elsewhere.
  • Turn off email notifications to keep incoming emails out of your brain space until you are ready to address them.
  • Close out your inbox from your browser when working on other tasks to avoid the email notifications that pop up at the top of your tabs. Reopen your inbox only in the time block you set to tackle emails.
  • Evaluate if the interactions you pour your time into truly reflect your values or are required for your job. If they’re not required and don’t serve you, it’s okay to let some emails go unread.
  • When you’re done working for the day, turn off your devices — don’t just set them in another room. The glow of our message notifications is hard to resist, so turning off your devices can help you stick to your boundaries,
  • If it helps you feel in control, check your email once more before bed. On the other hand, if doing this will keep your brain active through the night, leave it until morning.
  • Don’t be a hypocrite. If you want others to respect your personal boundaries and time limits, respect theirs. Don’t burden someone else with follow-up emails after hours. If it’s truly that pressing, it probably warrants a phone call anyway.

Honestly, if I didn’t adopt the inbox zero method as a small business owner, it would be a lot harder to manage the vast number of emails I get on a daily basis.

The systems I have for cleaning my inbox, evaluating what comes in, and sticking to my boundaries is what helps me stay in control of my ever-fluctuating inbox.

Your Turn!

  • What’s one simple thing you can do today to better manage your inbox?
  • How can you apply the inbox zero method to your own work life?

The Day I Quiet Quit: Why Others Are Quiet Quitting Too

The Day I Quiet Quit: Why Others Are Quiet Quitting Too

quiet quitting

NAVIGATION

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

When I first heard the term “quiet quitting,” I quickly found that I could relate to it and had lost count of the number of friends who had done just that — quietly quit their positions at work. That’s what first interested me in this topic.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

If you spend any time on TikTok these days, you’ve probably heard people talking about quiet quitting. I can relate to the sentiment in my previous career. I was working in HR and had been crushing my metrics at work.

annual reviewIt came time for my annual review and when I sat down with my boss, the VP of Human Resources, she was so impressed and thrilled with my work that year. Then she told me, “I can’t give you the top marks on your employee review — I don’t want people to think HR is playing favorites. That also means I can only give you a 2% raise.”

I was stunned that she admitted that I earned and deserved a great result on my review and that in the same stroke, I was being cut out of a few thousand dollars in pay for political optics.

That was the day I quiet quit.

What Is Quiet Quitting?

Simply put quiet quitting is where you don’t outright quit your job, you’re just not going above and beyond while still doing the duties on your job description. The concept comes as a direct opposition to hustle culture and climbing the corporate ladder.

That was where I found myself in my past career, where going above and beyond wasn’t even recognized, let alone rewarded. Instead of resigning my position or looking for another job, I slow rolled my work to make sure I was getting what needed to be done in my position done, but no more.

How Do You Quiet Quit?

For each person it might look different, but the important thing to know is that quiet quitting isn’t about being lazy or unwilling to work. It’s more about finding an even keel with your job in a way that achieves your duties while balancing your well-being.

how to build a better lifeSo when it comes to how you quit quietly, you want to think about what items need to get done in order to satisfy your job requirements and then nothing more. It’s also about establishing healthy boundaries at work and in life. In a world where we are constantly connected, you need to make sure that you defend your boundaries after normal work hours.

What I’ve found is that those who get upset about this are often the worst offenders when it comes to employers. I can remember when I had a bad boss who got mad at me for not replying to an email sent at 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. on a Sunday.

Conversely, my current employer was very appreciative when I stayed late for a meeting with a client in another time zone once a year. The difference is night and day.

Why Quiet Quitting Instead Of Quitting Directly?

The reason you don’t quit outright is that your situation with your job isn’t toxic or causing you to jump ship, but you’re finding the most efficient amount of input to achieve the output (your pay). In a weird way, it’s a very capitalistic approach to work.

For employers, the work that needs to get done is done well, on time, with good quality in a manner that’s sustainable for the employee. Employers have just become over reliant on employees going above and beyond without additional compensation.

So many people are quiet quitting because they realize that their efforts beyond their core duties don’t amount to much in terms of additional compensation.

battle of the busy schedule

How Is Quiet Quitting And The Great Resignation Related?

With the Great Resignation, there was an inflection point for many as people found themselves reconnecting with family, free time, and a boost in funds. Being quarantined at home gave people some time to take stock of things like we haven’t been able to in a very long time.

In a world that is always on the move and going faster and faster, the time at home gave us time to reflect on things. That was a clarifying experience for many. It also brought out companies and boss’s true colors: great companies shined, while bad bosses acted so poorly many people threw up their hands and walked out.

Why So Many People Want To “Quiet Quit” Their Jobs

Coupled with the great resignation and a return to a healthy work-life balance are the facts that wages have not matched productivity since the 70s, we are facing high inflation, and the cost of living is sky rocketing.

If people cannot work diligently at a job and as a reward for a job well done afford a basic place to live, have access to healthcare that won’t bankrupt them, and put a little away each month for retirement or a rainy day, what’s the point?

That’s the question many people from all generations are asking themselves.

disconnect between productivity and workers compensation

What Does Quiet Quitting Mean For Companies And Bosses?

I’m in the unique position where I am currently an employer, an employee, and also a contractor. I’ve also worked in HR having hired more than 500 people and in management where I’ve had up to 30 people reporting to me.

issue of pay versus productivityThe entire issue of pay versus productivity is very much the chicken or the egg issue. In our society, the powers that be, the government, and industry have not kept wages matching the productivity of their workers. This means that those people have less money to spend on goods and services, which in turn mean those companies have less to spend on their workers, and so the spiral goes down.

A few bad actors have really messed up the entire ecosystem where people could have been paid more and companies could have profited more too. It’s not a zero-sum game.

How we fix the current circumstances is difficult to say and frankly beyond my pay range, but I think it needs to start with good leadership, care for the people we work with, and a healthy dose of empathy.

As an employee, I want to do a good job and get paid well for it. As an employer, I want to be successful in business to the benefit of me and my employees, to enable them to live good lives too.

Your Turn

  • What do you think about Quiet Quitting?
  • Have you quietly quit your job?

Monotasking: Mindfulness at Work

Monotasking: Mindfulness at Work

monotasking

NAVIGATION

Many of us fall into the habit of multitasking, especially when so much of our time is taken up by digital communication and online distractions. But did you know that multitasking actually hurts productivity? Monotasking — taking on one task at a time — is a much more efficient way to accomplish your short and long-term goals.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

It seems like in modern life it’s always go, go, go. With a million things pulling at our attention, monotasking has been the answer to a distracting world for me.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Does It Mean To Monotask?

What Does It Mean To Monotask

Simply put, the practice of monotasking is deliberately focusing on one task, with no distractions, for a clearly defined time frame. While it may seem deceptively easy, there is more to what is meant by monotasking than just sitting down to work on a project.

deliberately focusing on one taskThe mindset behind single tasking is one of self-reflection and connection. The practice is not just about focusing on work, but also examining our relationship to time and how we spend it. Recently, I sat down with my friend Anna Pugh, one of the co-founders of Spacetime Monotasking. We discussed what it means to monotask and why monotasking is important.

The goal of monotasking is to avoid burnout and to bring a sense of purpose to all aspects of our lives. Work tasks are not the only things that can benefit from a state of deep focus. Eliminating distractions helps us stay mindful during creative projects, leisure activities, and quality time with our friends and family.

anna pugh

“Monotasking is just doing one thing at a time, which sounds really simple but happens to be really difficult to do, especially in the age of the internet. Our need for a practice of creating space to focus and connect with our attention is growing.” – Anna Pugh, Spacetime Monotasking

Stop Multitasking

Stop Multitasking

Many of us are used to multitasking, especially when it comes to our careers. For a long time, the working world considered the ability to juggle projects and communications a desirable asset. However, we’ve recently learned the truth about why monotasking is better than multitasking.

Monotasking improves your focus and actually allows you to accomplish more in a day than switching back and forth between tasks. While multitasking may seem useful when your plate is full, it’s far more efficient to monotask your way through a to-do list.

multitasking to distraction

Why You Can’t Concentrate

Why You Cant Concentrate

Despite what we’ve been told, the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is not splitting your focus, but rather your attention switching rapidly between tasks, breaking your concentration with each leap. This habit overwhelms your brain and leads to decreased productivity.

Monotasking Benefits

Monotasking Benefits

It is all too easy to stay stuck in our old ways, especially when our increased internet connectivity allows an influx of notifications to flood our awareness almost constantly. Breaking free of the multitasking habit may be difficult at first, but it can lead to a number of great benefits.

Monotasking allows us the chance to tune in to our lives and tune out the distractions that lead to procrastination and stress. It brings mindfulness to our everyday tasks and allows us to pursue simplicity in the workplace.

Benefits of Monotasking

  • Optimized Production. Monotasking is much more effective than multitasking when it comes to maximizing your productivity. Focusing on one thing at a time increases the number of tasks you can complete in a day and improves the quality of your work.
  • Increased Connectivity. By focusing on being present, you will improve your relationships with the people around you. I’ve found that eliminating distractions has allowed me to be there for my loved ones and connect with them on a deeper level.
  • Improved Outlook. Monotasking is all about living in the moment. Focusing on what you are doing, not what you have to do, decreases stress. By letting go of the past and not worrying about the future, you can learn to simply be happy where you are in the present.

How To Practice Monotasking

How To Practice Monotasking

The key word I want to highlight here is “practice.” Like any new skill, monotasking is not something any of us will be good at right away. Learning to enter a state of deep focus is a challenge, so it’s important to realize there might difficulties in the beginning and allow yourself time to grow.

When it comes to learning how to tackle something new, tangible steps are the best place to begin. Here are a few actionable tips for getting started on your monotasking journey.

Outline Your Goals

Outline Your Goals

Successfully monotasking begins with setting your expectations for yourself and defining the goals you wish to accomplish. Take a moment to check in with yourself and determine what it is you wish to achieve through monotasking.

Maybe you have a household to-do list or a work project. You may be looking to grow deeper friendships or focus on one recreational activity at a time. Whatever your goals are, have a set idea of them in your mind to guide you.

anna pugh

“When we think about monotasking, I like to think about it as mindfulness in motion because in order to monotask, you have to get really clear on your expectation of yourself. Monotasking exists underneath the umbrella of mindfulness.” – Anna Pugh, Spacetime Monotasking

Focus On One Thing At A Time

Focus On One Thing At A Time

This practice is the foundation of monotasking. Once you know what your goals are, pick one and devote your attention to it for a set time. If your goal is to clean the kitchen, set a timer for an hour and only focus your energy on that one task.

Setting a timer is an important part of monotasking. We are trying to prevent burnout, not cause it, and pushing yourself too hard to stay focused can have the opposite effect. I’ve found that starting small with 15 to 30-minute sessions has allowed me to work my way up to longer increments.

Silence Your Notifications

Silence Your Notifications

Our ability to focus is often impaired by the flood of notifications that keeps us from work. While it may seem mundane, stopping your workflow to answer a quick text or read an email can completely derail your progress. Silence your notifications and if necessary, turn your phone off to eliminate distractions.

silence your phone and device notificationsMake sure you set clear boundaries with the people around you. Let your colleagues know when you need to focus, and ask that you not be disturbed for a set period of time. You can program an automatic reply email or text to let others know you will get back to them when your monotasking session is over.

Sometimes we lose focus without even realizing it because we’ve become so accustomed to multitasking. Identifying the common culprits that draw your attention elsewhere can help you avoid them. Make a distractions list and keep it near where you work so you can nip bad habits in the bud.

Be Kind To Yourself

Be Kind To Yourself

Like I said before, monotasking takes practice, and you won’t always be good at it right away. Nothing kills productivity like a destructive inner monologue, so try to replace your self-criticism with words of encouragement.

Let yourself start slow and work up to the level of focus you want to achieve. It’s important to respect your energetic boundaries so you don’t become overwhelmed and give up. If 15 minutes is all you can handle for the day, congratulate yourself for that achievement and move forward.

anna pugh

“The most powerful thing is tuning in to your inner dialogue. That’s where we start. The inner critic wastes no time jumping in, so offer yourself compassion and gently guide yourself back to focus.” – Anna Pugh, Spacetime Monotasking

Optimize Your Workspace

Optimize Your Workspace

Monotasking requires an intense amount of focus, so it’s crucial to create a workspace that makes you feel comfortable. Anna told me that headphones, a great playlist, and crystals to fidget with are all essential parts of her monotasking set-up.

Optimizing Your Workspace for fewer distractionsOne way to stay focused and improve productivity is to declutter your digital tools. An organized computer makes it easier to find projects and documents quickly without risking the distractions that come from sifting through a messy desktop.

A water bottle and a healthy snack might also help you stay focused when sitting for a period of time to work through a project. At the end of the day, your perfect monotasking workspace is all about you and your needs. It might take some trial and error to discover what set-up works best for your goals.

Resist Distractions In Your Free Time

Resist Distractions In Your Free Time

Work hours aren’t the only times of the day when we can benefit from a mindful state of focus. If you’re like me, chances are you’ve sat down to enjoy a good book or watch a new movie and found yourself scrolling through your phone instead. Monotasking in our free time allows us to be fully present with the activities and people we enjoy.

Social media can be a huge distraction and often takes us away from spending quality leisure time. Consider taking a break from Instagram or Facebook so you can stay in the moment and connect with yourself.

social media break

Even if you don’t delete all of your social apps entirely, be mindful of how you spend your time on them. You can use monotasking as a way to break the cycle of endless scrolling and focus on learning something new or relaxing purposefully.

What To Do When You Can’t Concentrate

What To Do When You Cant Concentrate

Setting up the perfect work space and silencing our notifications isn’t always enough — we still get distracted and lose focus all the same. If you find yourself with an inability to concentrate, it’s time to take a break and reset. Try one of these tips for re-calibrating your monotasking session.

Take An Exercise Break

Take An Exercise Break

Sometimes the quickest way to bring back your focus is to get up and move around. Try stretching with some light yoga or going for a short walk.

Exercise breaks don’t have to be a big trip to the gym. Do some jumping jacks or throw a toy for your dog — something simple to shake out the kinks before you get back to work.

anna pugh

“If you feel like you’ve been working on something for a while and it’s not going anywhere, it’s okay to take a break. A simple phone-free walk around the block can be very powerful.” – Anna Pugh, Spacetime Monotasking

Identify What’s Stopping You

Identify Whats Stopping You

identifying the root of the problemDetermine what it is that’s keeping you from completing your task. Our first reaction might sound something like, “I just can’t focus,” but identifying the specific root of the problem can help you realize the problem isn’t your attention span, but something else.

For example, if you’re struggling to finish a report, your first instinct might be to say it’s because you can’t concentrate, but the reality might be that you’re missing an important piece of information. The trick is to examine reality at face value and not fall into old habits of self-criticism.

Try Again Later

Try Again Later

If you’ve found that you’ve truly hit a wall and can no longer remain in your state of deep focus, there’s nothing wrong with walking away and trying again later. Monotasking is meant to ease your burdens, not add to them. Practice being grateful for the goals you were able to achieve, and forgive yourself for the ones you were not.

Your Turn!

  • What are the goals you want to achieve with monotasking?
  • What are some distractions that commonly keep you from those goals?