I am the “NO RED DOTS” kinda gal. I hate to see those pesky little things. When I look down at my phone and see a Red Dot of Shame, I instantly feel compelled to address it. I’m sure that says a lot about my personality, but for the purpose of minimizing, it was something that I knew I simply had to address as they represent clutter to me. A task undone or something that needs put behind me so I can relax.
So, I spent an hour or so cleaning up my phone. I deleted apps that I rarely or never use. I left unecessary group messages and Facebook groups. I even removed some people from my social media accounts (gasp!). It felt good to clear the virtual clutter. Probably the biggest source of the red dots that drives me nuts are the emails. I have three email accounts linked to my phone, and I truly do use all three of them. One gets maybe 2-3 emails a week (totally manageable). The other is for work, so those emails are necessary. The other account is my main “personal” account, and it is OUT OF CONTROL. Of course, it is the one I used to sign up for accounts to buy things or sign up for stuff or get on a mailing list. Basically, it is where marketing and promos come to die. It’s a black hole, and I’m constantly hitting delete, delete, delete.
I wonder how many of these emails are things I actually need? Which of them adds value to my day or life? Certainly not the multitudes of notifications about sales and discounts. The goal here is de-cluttering, right? Not buying more crap. Bottom line: This inbox is a challenge.
Well, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I decided to go one week without deleting the red dots in this particular inbox to see how many I received versus how many actually contained valuable info.
I made it one day. I just hate those dots so bad!
So in this first day of what was supposed to be a week of ignoring the Red Dots of Shame on my email, I had over 100 emails come in. Of those 100+ emails, ONE of them was worth my time in opening (it was from The Skimm, in case you’re curious).
The rest were notifications of notifications from Twitter and Facebook (who needs an email when you have the red dots staring you in the face on the app itself), sales from Zulily, Dick’s, Nordstrom, J.Crew, Gymboree, Pottery Barn, Oriental Trading, eBates, eBay, Shutterfly, Old Navy, Draper James (Dear Lord, I’m as basic as they come, aren’t I?)… and a couple other stupid things I have signed up for along the way in the hunt for retail therapy. I also get some political emails and such from “causes” or organizations wanting donations or support of some kind. I thought long and hard about getting rid of those because I don’t just want to cease being involved, but these emails are not what makes me “give” to things that are important to me or wanting to be involved. I get these emails because I did make a donation or gave support in some shape or form at some point in time, and if I want to give or support them more in the future, I know where to find them. Therefore, they’re gone from the inbox.
Well… NO MORE! I saved these emails for another reason: At the bottom of alllllll these emails is the option to Unsubscribe, which is what I will spend some time doing until my inbox is back under my control. I did the same for ads and groups on social media, getting rid of what isn’t contributing positively or adding distraction.
It is also worth noting that, sure, I could maybe try to change my thinking on the red dots. Maybe the emails/group messages/app notifications can wait and I don’t need to be so uptight about them. But that’s not my goal here. I am prioritizing, organizing, and minimizing. If it isn’t adding value to my life, then it is going away. I’m not going to change who I am or how I feel (can’t teach an old dog new tricks, amiright?), instead I am going to change the circumstances and conquer The Great Red Dot Reduction of 2018 with joy. I also know that you can disable notifications within apps, but that doesn’t help the amount of crap flowing into the app and therefore jumping into your face when you open said app or inbox. This is a reduction act, not a disabling act.
In my research and self-reflection for this piece, I came across an article about young folks/millennials who are using flip phones instead of smart phones. It’s a little bit about cost and durability, but it is also about their realization that life exists outside of their device. From a more “minimalistic” standpoint, that completely makes sense! (Remember…. I bought something with my FACE! Which means that the phone is quite often pointed at my face.) Much of this journey toward less means getting more out of life, and I don’t know that we can do that with a phone scanning our face all day long.
To be clear, and to avoid any accusations of hypocrisy or being preachy, I am not going to give up my phone, nor do I think that anyone should give up their phone. Like I have said before, I don’t think that I will ever be a true Minimalist in every sense of the word. This is more about the journey to realize what brings value to our lives, hence the removal of the DRD’s (Damn Red Dots), unnecessary apps, and people on social media who I wouldn’t say “hi” to if they passed me on the street.
That was my litmus test, by the way. As I went through Facebook for example, I asked myself,
“if this person were to pass you on the street, would you say hi?”
If the answer to that question was no, off they went. It’s a friends list, after all. Wouldn’t you say hi to a friend you passed? And would you want people who you don’t really feel comfortable saying “hi” to seeing pictures of you, your family, and things going on in your life? I’m a very social person; I always say hi (thanks for that life skill, Mom), so this was a pretty good test as I am not a shy person. More reserved folks might not find this a good way to weed out unnecessary floating heads on your page, but it sure worked like a charm for me!
Minimalism. It’s not just about tamping down the “stuff” in our houses or literal junk surrounding us. It’s about slowing down a little bit and realizing what is necessary and valuable to us in our lives. I, like many, feel as though I look at my phone too much. Part of that was because of those damn red dots. What an epiphany it was to realize that I have major control over these little phone pimples that draw me in and away from the real world.