How to Filter the Crap Out of Your Life

It’s time to lighten the load.

notepad opened and pen on a blue and pink background

Mental smog, toxic thoughts and endless to-do lists – being a grown-up can be tough. Even the smallest sliver of time for yourself is valuable but pretty impossible to find. Instead of digging aimlessly for extra time (let’s face it, it’s never going to happen), we suggest getting rid of a few things you really could do without to make the load of the day feel a little lighter. Because Brita are masters of filtering (here’s our favourite example), we got together to nut out some ways you can filter the crap out of your life, making room for bigger and better things: here are our favourite ways you can detox your day-to-day.


Stop opening a million multiple tabs

For those prolific browser tab openers out there (guilty!), this one is for you. OneTab is a Chrome extension that, with the click of a button, moves all your open tabs to a list on a single tab (one tab!). And if there’s something you really want to read later, save it to Pocket and read it on your commute home.


Spend five minutes cleansing your mind

Tim Ferriss, Oprah and Arianna Huffington are all fans of journaling. Even Jack Dorsey uses the Day One Journal app to digitally record his thoughts. Indeed, a New Zealand study found that ‘expressive writing’ can help to reduce distress and anxiety, even speeding up recovery time for patients who have undergone medical treatment. But what if writing away your worries feels like just another commitment? There’s now a time-saving alternative perfect for fans of brevity. The Five Minute Journal, published by Intelligent Change, is a bite-sized diary designed for busy people. Just fill out a few simple questions designed to encourage a positive mindset, decide on an affirmation and set an intention. That’s 300 seconds well spent.


Reduce digital overflow (in three ways)

Change… your voicemail message. In 2014, Coca Cola’s Atlanta HQ did away with voicemail. Last year, JP Morgan followed suit after employees complained it was “annoying” and “redundant”. If you feel this way then change your voicemail message to politely explain so: “I no longer check voicemail so please send me a text or email and I’ll get back to you.”

Stop… leaky interactions. Tech designer Tristan Harris, founder of the Time Well Spent movement, says we need to use our mobiles more mindfully. To prevent ‘leaky interactions’ – when you’re checking one app and then another distracts you – he recommends having a ‘tools only’ home screen, with four or five essential apps such as email and contacts. Also, set up shortcuts to your camera or clock without unlocking your iPhone so you’re not tempted to click elsewhere.

Cull… your crowd. Do you really need to copy that many people into an email thread? London company International Power reduced total email traffic by 54 per cent just by encouraging their executives to “think twice” before cc’ing or bcc’ing anyone on an email. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner offers similar advice with his golden rule of email management: “If you want to receive less emails, send less emails.” If a conversation is ongoing, instead of including others in the entire thread, send them a summary once a decision is made.


Dissipate self-doubt by…

Listening to the Mindset Zone Podcast.

Hosted by psychology PhD graduate Ana Melikian, this online radio show ponders self-growth topics such as “Courage to be imperfect” and why “Getting a no can be your best goal”.

Downloading JIYO.

This new app, created by Deepak Chopra, is a one-stop shop for self-development (the Chinese-Buddhist word ‘Jiyo’ means ‘to use yourself’). Check out the article on ‘Growing Out Of Hypersensitivity’ in the Personal Growth section and, in the social section, read other users’ tips for emotional resilience.

Build your creative confidence

This TED talk by David Kelley, whose company IDEO designed the world’s first mouse, looks at how to develop a sense of ‘self-efficacy’ – which is a belief in your own ability to accomplish a task even if it’s outside your comfort zone.

Learn to delegate (without the guilt):

Why? Sir Richard Branson put it best: “Most entrepreneurs are driven personalities,” he says, “but you can’t overcome challenges and bring new ideas to the market through the sheer force of personality alone. You need to learn to delegate so that you can focus on the big picture.” And it won’t only empower you, but also your employees. Studies have shown that delegating tasks to staff can boost their self-esteem and create mutual trust in an organisation.

When? According to best-selling business author Josh Kaufman, there are four ways to ‘do’ something: completion, deletion, delegation or deferment. He recommends making a list of all the things on your mind and then asking yourself, ‘How many of these tasks can I move off my plate immediately?’ As for knowing when to delegate, “It’s effective for anything that other person can do 80 per cent as well as you,” says Josh.

How? Leaders at PayPal, Etsy and TED use the task management software Flow to delegate projects to their workforce. Not only can you assign, organise and discuss projects with a group, but you can censor certain people – such as outside contractors – from seeing certain parts of a discussion or document stream. Because, you don’t need to give everything away.

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