Updated: Dec 10, 2019
You may have heard of, or even tried, a digital detox. I recently listened to an excellent podcast, 10% Happier with Dan Harris, during which he talked with Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Newport talked about a 30-day Digital Declutter. Declutter is different from a detox in that you don't try to cut out all digital devices and content, but rather reduce your use. You start by deleting any unnecessary apps and content from your smart phone, and reducing social media and unnecessary emails. What you take away will be different for each person. Maybe emails from your boss must be read and answered in a timely manner, so you could set up an alert that lets you know when you get an email from your boss. Otherwise, you only check email once or twice per day. There might be an app or a webpage that you must access in order to do your work or run your business, so those stay, while others are deleted from your phone.
An important part of the 30-day process is to take the time that you are not looking at a screen to evaluate what is important to you - consider how do you want to spend your time? Maybe it's more quality time with your kids when you get home from work, or spending time in nature, or reading books. Whatever it is for you, take the time to figure out what you like to do and what brings you joy. For the younger generation who has always had the world at their fingertips, this might be harder to figure out. For those of us who remember a time "pre-smart phone" we just need to think back to what we used to do. To help you with this, spend time alone with your thoughts, spend real time with other people in person, and take long walks. At the end of the digital declutter, you get to decide how much technology you allow back into your life. Start from the ground up to rethink how you communicate. Work in batches - have planned times that you look at and respond to emails and steer clear when you are working on something else. Pick a place at home after work where you will put your phone, rather than having it as a constant companion. Let's do this together! As we shift from Summer to Fall, September is a great time to declutter your life. Click here to join our Digital Declutter to make the commitment to reduce your screen time in the month of September.