Free Your Ability to Focus By Cleaning Up Your Digital Landscape

We're not physically confronted by all our ties to the digital world... maybe that's why it can get out of control? Today's the day we tame the chaos! Let's get started! (In other words, a lot more spring cleaning for writers!!) | lucyflint.com

Welcome to the next little challenge of this spring cleaning series!

How's that writing life of yours feeling? A bit cleaner? A bit brighter? Happier? High five!

Let's start today's challenge off with an honest confession: I'm much more of an analog girl than a digital one. 

Don't get me wrong: I love what technology is able to do (letting me hang out with you, for instance!), but I'm much more comfortable with tangible, tactile things.

Paper, pens, physical books. I know where I'm at with all that stuff.

... Which is probably why it's easy for me to let my digital world get out of hand pretty dang quickly. 

Our virtual and online landscapes require maintenance, just like everything else. But it's so easy to let things go undone!

It's basically invisible, after all, which means that we're not physically confronted with the untidiness. But, if you're like me, you might be feeling a kind of ... digital chaos. 

There are so many things I've put off or left undone or haven't checked on. (It's a long list. Like: embarrassingly long.)

So whenever I'm on my computer, or doing anything online, I feel the pressure of allllllllll the little things I've been putting off.

Kinda makes it hard to get the important stuff done, you know?

So let's take today to clean up our digital landscape! 

The simplest way to round up everything that needs to be done is, of course, make a list!

(Fellow list nerds: Yes, you can absolutely break out the good coffee and the excellent notepads and pens for this. Everyone else: just carry on as planned, and ignore our maniacal laughter. It's all good.)

All set? Let's jot down everything that comes to mind. Some places to start:

  • computer maintenance: anything your system needs? new hardware? or any old cords and expired batteries to get rid of? 
     
  • computer files: is your desktop cluttered with documents, just like mine?? Let's clean 'em up! Or is your machine chugging slowly because it's clogged with photos you've been meaning to go through? Today's the day!
     
  • software: security updates? new versions to install? (Am I the only one who puts this off forever?) any software you need to buy?
     
  • email accounts: time to deal with any old accounts you want to delete and close down, address books you want to purge, email newsletters you want to unsubscribe from, passwords to update, other security protocols you've been meaning to deal with...
     
  • websites you manage: any design issues that are bugging you? pages that are begging for an update? how's your about page, or your profile section? any sidebars that need cleaning up? 
     
  • social media: profile pictures to update, freshening up your personal information, cleaning up any photos you've stored, answering any outstanding messages...
     
  • online friendships: any online buddies you've been meaning to contact? replies you want to send? questions you've wanted to ask, or connections you want to make? groups you want to update? 

There's so much more going on in the digital arena than I can possibly grasp (and expanding all the time!), so my bulleted list is just a starting point.

You know best what you need: it's the thing that you keep forgetting to do, the stuff that you remember only when you're driving, or you're taking a shower, or you're in the middle of something else and you can't get to it right away. 

That stuff.

Get it all written down, all in one place.

Whew!! Seeing everything on your mind can be pretty daunting, but it's also a relief. Now we can deal with it!

And just like when we cleaned up our work spaces: you can choose how big you make this catch-up. 

If it's a super long list, try just tackling half, or a third.

If you're short on time, pick the three biggest wins. What takes the least time, but will make the most impact? Start with those!

Whatever you can fix, catch up, install, delete, consolidate, or update quickly: do it! 

But no matter what you decide to do, today is a great day to keep all your amazing words and ideas safe by ... backing up your computer. 

Tell me I'm not the only person who perennially forgets to do that! Yikes! 

... But no excuses. Every little lionheart has to do this today. Okay? Your stories are too precious to risk a computer glitch.

There!! Now let's sit back and enjoy our cleaner, safer, happier, digital world!

Making Room for All that Writerly Brilliance (In Other Words, Let's Clean Already!)

Heads up: It's about to get really practical in here.

It's hard to think in a cluttered space. You know that. I know that. We all know that. ... So let's take some time and kick the clutter today! | lucyflint.com

Why are we going to talk about actual cleaning on a writing blog?

Because, my lionhearted friend, a cluttered physical writing space takes up too much room in our minds

If, in the midst of our writing, we're dealing with broken tools, pens that don't work, lost papers, and junk-filled drawers... it's going to be really hard to hear all the plot breakthroughs we're listening for.

You know? 

Tough to be wildly creative if part of our brains are stuck fighting our environment, trying to find the plot bunnies amidst the dust bunnies.

It's so easy to neglect where we're working. After all, our main focus is on just getting our writing in, day after day.

It's totally understandable.

If you're like me, you generally know how to clean. It's just ... it doesn't happen.

Which is why today isn't so much of a "how to" guide. Just a bit of a nudge in a tidier direction.

So let's grab a little bit of time for this today, and dive in!

You can do this in one of three ways: 

1) Go BIG.

Pull everything off your desk, out of drawers, off bookshelves. Empty file folders. Make a day of it! 

Haul bags of recycled papers out of your office. Purge your shelves of books that you don't need, or don't absolutely love

Deal with all the old drafts you've printed out and kept hanging around. (If you're feeling up to it, toss them all out. Dance in the space you've just cleared.)

Dust everything! Vacuum! Polish! 

And then feel that wonderful sense of wellbeing that comes after a day of cleaning hard.

2) Or, go MEDIUM.

If life is crowded and spring cleaning—while a nice idea—just isn't going to work this week (or this month!) then try this option. 

Focus on just one zone in your writing space. Try to pick the area that's been bugging you the most. (You know the one!) 

Budget just an hour or two. 

Whatever area you decide on, try to get it as decluttered and spruced up as possible. 

A little can go a long way, you know? Even if you just have time for that, you'll feel such a huge relief and clarity afterward.

3) And we totally won't judge you if you decide to go MICRO.

I get it. Personally, I'm super low on stamina lately, so if this is the best option, then that's great. No worries at all. 

Pick one small thing and clean it up. Tidy it. Declutter it. Or just get rid of it.

And whatever that looks like is fine.

Maybe you just empty out a pencil cup: make sure every pencil in it is sharpened, and every pen actually works. And that you even like all of them. And that you like the pencil cup, too.

That's it! 

And then—ahhhh. Feel that little rush of peace, every time you look at it, every time you reach for a pen. 

See what I mean? Even dealing with just a small space can have a big reward.

But no matter what amount of cleaning and clearing you did, bring something lovely into your writing space.

Yes! You know I'm a sucker for this. But take some time and bring some beauty into your writing area. 

Maybe it's a small vase of flowers. Or a candle that smells ah-mazing. Or even something that makes you laugh.

Heck, you can go crazy and just re-beautify everything in your writing life. Get allllll the lovely stuff. 

On the other hand, it doesn't have to be major: I have an owl mug that holds my Sharpies. It's a sly reference to my work in progress, but it's also just dang cute.

I've also spent an afternoon stamping silly polka dots on all my file folders. (I just used a little paint and the eraser on the end of a regular pencil. Easiest. Craft. Ever.) They still make me smile!

So it can be small. But treat yourself to something lovely in your office.

... There. Isn't that better? Can you feel the extra space in your head? It's almost a physical sensation, isn't it? Crazy how that works. 

So here's to a freshened writing zone, and a fresh writing week!


Random-ish side note: Yes. I DID just read Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and yes, it is my new favorite thing, and yes, I now want to overhaul EVERYTHING. Trying to pace myself. We'll see how that goes...