What I Learned

KonMari Your Phone

Y'all. I think I might have cracked the code.

Lately, I've been REALLY struggling with my phone, especially Facebook. I'd find myself mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed when there were so many other things I could be or needed to be doing.

It had gotten so bad I'd thought about setting a special code for the app but that required ANOTHER app and I wasn't up for that. I tried moving it out of the easy reach of my thumb. I tried turning off notifications. 

Nothing worked.

Come 11pm there'd I'd be laying in bed mindlessly scrolling.

I was JUST about to take a friend's advice to set Guided Access every time I opened the Facebook app when I read an article in the New York Times entitled Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?) that lays out the case for single-tasking. This bit in particular caught my eye.  

“It’s a digital literacy skill,” said Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of WNYC Studios’ “Note to Self” podcast, which recently offered a weeklong interactive series called Infomagical, addressing the effects of information overload. “Our gadgets and all the things we look at on them are designed to not let us single-task. We weren’t talking about this before because we simply weren’t as distracted.”

The idea that single-tasking is a skill to be developed really appealed to me so I immediately signed up for the Infomagical series. I can't recommend the entire series enough but it was on Day Two that I learned one thing that changed EVERYTHING.

On Day Two, they teach you how to KonMari your PHONE.

When the host first announced the day's challenge, I actually exclaimed, "OHH!" 

We all know I love me some Marie Kondo and her KonMari method. Why hadn't I thought to apply to my digital life!?! 

The process is simple. You hold down the apps until they do that little jiggle dance. Then you go app by app and decide which app sparks joy... just like Marie Kondo recommends you do with your physical objects.

THEN - and this is key - you put every single app in one folder on your home screen.

Christopher Mims, whose article "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Digitally" inspired this exercise, explains why this is important.

"By putting all of [your] apps into folders, you can search for them by name. What happens is your device becomes task-oriented, instead of the place [where] you go to be like, 'OK, what do I need to do next?'"

This was an A HA! moment for me immediately because this is what happened to my television viewing when we cancelled cable. No longer could I just turn on the TV and let it (or my DVR) lead me where I wanted to go next. Now, I have to decide what I want to watch so I can go find it on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon.

No joke I went from watching 1 to 2 hours of television a night to 1 to 2 hours of television a WEEK.

This approach made sense to me so I immediately KonMari'd my phone.

Every app (except my camera) into one folder.

Literally, five times within the first few hours I would click the home button habitually only for my thumb to drift up to... nothing. I'd realize there was nothing to mindlessly click, abruptly realize what I was doing, and shut down my phone.

I can't overstate the impact of that. I've tried so many times get control of my digital habits but it is difficult because I can't simply go cold-turkey or delete Facebook because of my work. Now, I have an ACTUAL solution that changes my behavior instead of depending on my will power.

It feels like a new day!

Do you struggle with information overload? Show me pics if you KonMari your phone!

What worked for me in 2015... and what didn't

The few days between Christmas and New Years are some of my favorite of the year. I love spending time reflecting on the past year and strategizing for the year to come. Last year I followed Modern Mrs. Darcy's lead and reflected on what worked during the past year and what didn't and I'm here doing it again for 2015!

What worked for me in 2015...

1. Podcasting 

Beth Silvers and I launched Pantsuit Politics this year and it has been so. much. fun. I've loved learning this new world (and sharing it with our Executive Producer - my husband!) I'd had the idea for a political podcast for a while but realized I didn't really want to do it by myself. Adding Beth and our "meet in the middle" format has been fantastic! We've been getting really positive feedback and just got major love from iTunes which has been so exciting. 

2. Reading more

As I shared last week, I've doubled the amount of books I read this year. What worked for increasing my reading load was deadlines and audiobooks. Deadlines either through reading with friends OR by reading library books that I know have to be returned. I've used the heck out of OverDrive, an app that allows you to check out audio books and e-books from your library and I LOVE it! 

3. Roomba & Chores

The Roomba is my MVP for 2015. I love it SO much. I realized I felt like my house was messy when my floors were messy. Now, even if my counters are dirty and my shelves are dusty, the Roomba keeps my carpets clean and I feel like I'm winning at life. This year I didn't just offload vacuuming. I also re-arranging my kitchen and my life to allow my kids to help with chores which has dramatically decreased my household load and my stress. 

4. Capsule Wardrobe

This fall - using unFancy's guidance - I built a capsule wardrobe of 37 items to carry me through the season. I bought a few new items and worked with several I already own. I LOVED it. I loved really thinking through items I could combine in different ways. While I liked having options, I really liked having fewer choices over all. I get decision fatigue very easily so not staring at a closet full of items that I didn't love or didn't fit or didn't go together stressed me out. Now that I have one season under my belt, I'll post more information and pics in January!

5. KonMari

I've said it before and I'll say it again - this book really is life-changing. Having fewer but better options - from my underwear drawer to my bookshelf - has made my life so much calmer and simpler and BETTER. 

What DIDN'T work for me...

My One Little Word

Last year I chose vairagya and, while I still like the meaning of the word, a word in another language was hard to keep in the front of my mind. Going back to English this year...


Ugh, I'm so bummed to have this on my didn't work for me list two years in a row. I tried squeezing in exercise where I could this year but I need to go back to my yoga classes - I do better with a outside schedule I have to stick to.

Playing it by ear 

With a new baby in 2015, I know I didn't have much a choice but to let Felix (and his sleep or lack thereof) predict much of our schedules. However, it left me scrambling and frustrated so much of the time. I realize I need to set an alarm and get up and set goals even if Felix woke me up in the night. Luckily, he's getting bigger every day and easier to take care of. So, here's to a more structured 2016!

What worked for you in 2015? What didn't?