Emma Gannon has got the art of clearing out the unnecessary down. As a writer, author, podcast host and social media whizz, she’s refined life to include only the stuff that matters - weeding out what doesn’t add value, outsourcing what she can and getting a firm handle on planning and organising.
To steal some of her ‘out with the clutter’ wisdom, HuffPost UK caught up with Emma, to talk tech, innovation and designing a world that works for you.
What’s the biggest and most effective change you’ve made to streamline your own life?
“Getting truly organised with how I spend my time. People probably think I’m physically working more than I am because I’m constantly posting or appear ‘on’. But I schedule content online, I plan ahead, I bulk record, I outsource tasks, I plan and schedule emails. The amount of physical time I spend on things has decreased, but my output has increased. I’m not at my laptop as much as it looks.”
Any apps you would recommend, for streamlining?
“Pocket, for digestible news and to save articles you want to read later. Boomerang for scheduling emails. Google Docs for shared documents. I know it’s not an app, but airplane mode on my phone is a godsend. When I want to dive into a deep piece of work, I put my phone on that mode and get stuck in.”
Why is it important that we consider how we can do things differently - in work, home and our personal lives?
“Time is our biggest luxury, it’s one of the most important things we have. It’s easy to feel like our time is being pulled away from us or like it’s been wasted, in both our personal and professional lives. It’s important that we embrace technology in a way that allows us to get more time back for ourselves, at work and at home, so that we can spend more time on things we care about and the people we care about.
“For example, surprisingly, recent research from E.ON found most Brits (57%) haven’t turned to technology to help them with tasks at home. We should be encouraged to master our tech and online tools, from video tutorials to getting home tech like smart thermostats, so that they can help us streamline our lives, instead of piling more things on our to-do list.”
Would you recommend people take stock, regularly, of how they’re doing things and how they could potentially be reimagined?
“Yes - our modern world is moving at such a lightning speed that we can often feel like we are playing catch up most of the time. It’s a horrible feeling always feeling behind, or comparing ourselves to others. But it’s important we move at our own pace, and really look at how we can tailor or tweak our lives to suit us. We might live in an online “swiping culture,” but it’s so important to take some time out every now and again to regain perspective and re-focus. It’s very easy to get bogged down in admin, waste away our time scrolling on our phones, or looking at things that aren’t good for us.”
Which other innovative/ tech-based methods do you use to streamline your life?
“I recommend tools such as Starling Bank* or Yolt if you want to streamline and categorise your spending habits. Money is a very important part of designing your own career, and you need to know what you’re spending on what, at all times. Another way to help you streamline your budget is by better managing your energy use. Self-reading smart meters let you see how much you’re spending on energy in pounds and pence in near-real time, and mean you no longer need to spend time submitting meter readings. Meanwhile smart thermostats, like tado° from E.ON, allow you to control your heating from your phone, wherever you are.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to waste less time and devote themselves more to the things that matter to them?
“Check your emails less often. I usually check at the beginning and end of the day, so that the day is free for the deep work. You can also choose to have certain notifications so you get a pop up when ‘important’ people email you, if you’re worried about missing anything urgent. Same goes for social media, turn off push notifications for unnecessary distractions and pick one or two things you really don’t want to miss (breaking news, your boss etc). Face-to-face meetings are important, so make sure you group these meetings together. But if someone wants to have a coffee in the middle of the day (and it’s far away from your workspace) maybe suggest a Skype call instead.”
Do you have any heroes, in the tech/innovation space?
“Ann Friedman is amazing. She is a multi-hyphenate writer and podcaster in LA and I admire the way she organises her life using tech and tools. I enjoyed reading this article about her daily routine recently.”
How does living a life that you’ve carefully designed make you feel?
“Empowered, in control and motivated. It’s also scary, because you are in charge of your creative output, but, at the end of day, designing your day helps with productivity and gives you more options. For example, I’m not very good in the mornings, but I still get loads done. You can match your day to your body clock and your strong points.”
*Emma was formerly an ambassador for Starling Bank