There seems to be two types of people in this world when it comes to clutter. There are those that like to hang on to mementos from the past, almost as if their souvenirs were “evidence” of their histories. Others, however, can let go of material possessions as they value the experiences more than the “proof” that an event happened.

Being distracted by non-essential information can negatively affect your ability to complete essential tasks! While keeping up with friends electronically can be a surprisingly healthy option for maintaining a sense of connection and mattering to others, when you spend hours comparing yourself to others’ “best moments” or spend more time attending to the electronic social media in your palm than the social gathering you’re in, this can be detrimental to healthy, face-to-face relationships.

Here are five tips to get you started on spring-cleaning your electronic clutter:

  1. Whether you are a loyal Facebooker or you’re tweeting or linking in with people that you care about, people that you’ve never met before, or just people for the sake of being heard, it’s important to do some regular housekeeping on these sites just like your stack of old grocery receipts. When you’re being inundated with too much information about people you can’t remember meeting, it’s probably a sign that your social media accounts are ripe for some trimming back of contacts with whom you seldom -- or never -- make contact.
  2. Research shows that having a two or three people you can count on as “good friends” is all that a person really needs in order to reap the benefits of social connections. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too many birthday reminders or status updates, it’s okay to let go of connections that drain you rather than serve you. Turn off updates or “unfollow” the people, organizations, or groups that inundate you with instant alerts.
  3. Getting a fresh start feels remarkably freeing and when social media and non-work-related technology platforms are beginning to feel more like obligations than recreation or pleasant diversions, it’s time to de-clutter and downsize these sites. If you can’t bring yourself to unfriend people, then delete the app off your phone for awhile. You’ll still be able to catch up later, but give yourself a “clutter break” for a time.
  4. Clean up your contact list on your phone. If you tend to collect contact information for people you meet anywhere and everywhere, you might have a phone filled with names and numbers that mean very little to you by now. Take time to clean out your contacts – if a name isn’t familiar or you’ve never placed a call to someone, delete, delete, delete. If you need the number of a great electrician next week, you can ask your friends then – don’t collect names and contact info just to store away and have trouble finding later.
  5. How many emails do you have “sitting” in your inbox? Some people worry about the tenuous nature of electronic communications and let their emails stack up higher than the junk mail pile in their homes! If you are the kind of person who “needs” to keep emails, make the time to create relevant folders and sort them as they arrive. You can set up most email programs to sort them to the proper folder as soon as they are received. This is an awesome set-up – you don’t “lose” emails, but you don’t have to dig through 60 to find the one from your business colleague or mother-in-law, either. This won’t fix your current stack of 1,200 emails, but you can create a folder called “2017 Email Clean-Up” and move the backlog into this folder. Then you can reap the benefits of a “clean” Inbox – but promise yourself to sort and file new emails every day moving forward.

The most important think to remember is that all of our electronic forms of communication are designed to serve you -- when you feel driven to keep up with the 24/7 nature of electronic communication, you know it's time to take a break. Don't be a slave to your cellphone -- and remember that true friends understand that their friends have lives of their own. 

All material copyrighted to Suzanne Degges-White

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How strong is your social support network? Do your friends and family help keep you healthy?

If you would like to take part in a new research study designed to explore the relationship between social support and overall well-being, please follow this link: https://niu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9Y2egoTAuVhT7bn

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