I've been thinking about freedom a lot lately. What does freedom really mean in terms of your personal and business life? What could I accomplish if I was freer?
Over the Fourth of July weekend, I thought about what some of our forebears--Ben Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglass--had accomplished. Could they have done so much if they had to post on social media or keep up with the Kardashians?
Sometimes it feels like we're suffocating under an avalanche of information in which everything, everywhere is important all the time. Over the Fourth of July weekend, I decided to declare my independence from multiple email accounts, mass email subscriptions, and numerous notifications.
Reduce your multiple email accounts
You can't be free if you're spending half your day on multiple email accounts.
Think about it. How many email accounts do you have? Do you still have that ancient AOL or Hotmail account? What about that free Apple account they gave everyone? Or those multiple Gmail accounts you created for some reason?
I bet you have at least five. That's right. Sounds ridiculous, and be honest with yourself, there's probably one you forgot about.
You should write them down. And next to each one, why you must keep that account.
In the past, it seemed like a good idea to have multiple accounts. Storage space was limited, and different accounts had different access rights. Everyone was giving them away free. Schools, websites, associations.
Suddenly, I had seven accounts I checked regularly. That's probably not even close to a record, either. Though, it was a huge time waste.
As I was going through this line of thinking, it occurred to me, almost like a TED Talk question, "What if ... " And I thought, "What if I only had two email accounts? One for everything business. One for everything personal. And this would be the only two. Could that work?"
Immediately, fear set in. If I deleted those accounts, I could miss out on something important. Someone would write and wouldn't reach me. Or maybe I wouldn't be able to log on somewhere.
Once that fear of missing out passed, I chose two email accounts to keep and associate with all my accounts. It wasn't hard. It just took some time over the three-day weekend.
Cull your email subscriptions to the essential
How much of your free time do you spend deleting email each day? Could it be used elsewhere?
How many email subscriptions do you have? Five? 10? 50? The endless emails pile on one after the other. Week after week. Travel. Sales. Advice. You think, someday that information might be useful, so you don't unsubscribe. Then you spend each day deleting five to 20 emails you don't need.
I had 130 weekly and monthly subscriptions.
I narrowed my subscriptions down to three newsletters I always get value from: one from James Clear (record-setting, best-selling author of Atomic Habits), one from Marc Randolph (innovator and creator of Netflix), and one from Guy Kawasaki (early Apple, Canva, surfer, podcast host, and social media evangelist).
Now when I open my email inbox (personal or business), I don't spend 75 percent of my time deleting emails I don't need and would never read.
Turn off the notifications
Finally, get your freedom from your computer and phone notifications.
They had taken over my life. The sounds, the red numbers, the pop-ups. They were always taking me away from what I was enjoying. I was either dismissing them or, even worse, checking them out. And not just for email--texts and social media, too.
So I turned off the notifications on my computer and phone. Now I'm not being dragged away from my life and into my email (or texts) unless I choose to go there.
The result: I feel lighter, freer, and my headspace clearer. Ahhhh ... breathe.
And now I have the freedom to concentrate on what's important in my personal life and my business life.
So can you.
Oh, and you're welcome.