Mindful Millennials

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My 30 Day Digital Declutter

Mark RaglandComment

Cal Newport recently released a book called “Digital Minimalism”. In the book, Newport believes that we are so addicted to technology that it’s overrunning our lives and our minds. Many people are unable to go without their phone for any major length of time, experience anxiety if they are without their phone, and spend the majority of their waking hours staring at a screen.

Small hacks and fixes are popular among people looking to control their phones use (I have tried many), but Newport argues that these hacks often don’t have long term effects, as we often slide back into old habits. Newport is hoping for a different lifestyle where people live more deliberately.

This lifestyle/philosophy is called Digital Minimalism, and here is how Newport describes it.

A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

His first step to the solution is a 30 day digital declutter where you remove optional modern technology from your life. This includes social media, video streaming, websites such as Reddit, etc. This declutter should not affect your job in any way, so he does not encourage ignoring your work email (but maybe remove it from your phone if possible). Some conditions are allowed. One of mine, for example, is that I’m not allowed to watch Netflix by myself, but I can with my wife when we watch our one episode at night. You can keep your cell phone, but the vast majority of apps should be removed, especially any that would lead you to check your phone constantly. This 30 day period is supposed to stretch you, and you should expect it to be difficult at times.

One of the main focuses of your declutter is to fill your time with activities you enjoy and are of high value to you. The goal of the declutter is not to be bored, but that you spend your time on hobbies you otherwise wouldn’t have had time for.

So, I am going to do my own declutter starting tomorrow. Here are my rules and conditions:

  • Remove all apps from my phone that I use regularly, the phone should be a tool only

  • No social media on phone or computer, the computer should be a tool only

  • No “time killing” websites such as Reddit

  • Netflix/streaming only with others

  • May check Bleacher Report on the computer once per day for sports news

I’m pretty nervous about these next 30 days, but I think I need to do it. Technology really does dictate so much of my life, and I haven’t been able to take control back.

My phone is a constant distraction and that’s not how I want to live my life. Every interaction or event is bookended by me checking my phone (and often checking it during too). I want to read more but I don’t because I spend too much time on my phone or watching Netflix. I want to write more. I want to think more. I want to be more present. In one way or another, technology is currently inhibiting me living the life that I want to live. Of course, there are many benefits to technology, but right now the negatives are beating the positives. I will do this declutter because I want to know for sure that I’m living my life as well as I can, and right now I’m not sure. I want a healthy life with a healthy relationship with technology.

So here we go. I think it’s good to test different things in your life and practice self-denial at times. I don’t need to always get what I want. I hope that my senses are sharpened during this next 30 days and that I gain better clarity in my life.

I’ll be posting regular updates during the next 30 days through my email list, so be sure to subscribe below if you want to follow along.

-Mark

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Photo by Neil Soni on Unsplash

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