It’s been nearly a year since I started on my journey of digital minimalism, sparked by reading Cal Newport’s book on the topic.
Over the course of 2021 I embraced the practice of “choosing a focused life in a noisy world” (the subtitle of the book) and my life is all the better for it.
I appreciate digital minimalism isn’t for everyone. But I do believe that everyone can benefit from taking a break from screens and digital tools from time to time.
Whether it’s for a day or longer, there are many benefits to unplugging and taking a step away from digital noise.
What about a digital detox?
Many people see the solution to digital overwhelm as having a detox – a fixed period of time without screens. Ofcom research from 2016 shows a third of people have undertaken a digital detox, ditching screens for anything between a day and a month.
The pandemic has made us more reliant than ever on our devices. We use them to do everything from connect with others and shop, also things like work or go to school or university.
This can make the thought of a digital detox feel even more intimidating, but you don’t have to go cold turkey to reap the rewards. Progress is better than perfection!
I’ve put together some digital detox tips that helped me. See if you spot any that you’d like to try over the festive season!
Tame your email inbox
Clearing out your emails will not only help clear your head, it will also help dramatically reduce your digital carbon footprint and improve your digital privacy!
- Unsubscribe from any email newsletters you’re not interested in.
- I don’t check work emails in the evening or on weekends. Set up separate email accounts for personal and work emails, so you can check any personal things without worrying about what’s in your work inbox.
- Organise your emails into folders. When you open your inbox you only have to process what’s new and you don’t get distracted by everything else.
- For work emails, I have a folder for each client along with an ‘Inactive’ folder to drag in any of those folders from people I haven’t heard from in a while.
- Delete anything that’s not important rather than let it sit and clog up your inbox.
Read more: I recently had a rather intense trip down memory lane deleting 10 years of old emails.
Reduce your time on social media
The negative impact of social media on people’s wellbeing is becoming increasingly documented. So are the ethical misgivings of the companies behind the apps. There’s no doubt that cutting back on social media can only be a good thing.
If you use social media for marketing your business it can be easy to get distracted by what everyone else is posting rather than getting your own messages out.
Here are a few things to try instead.
- Delete the apps off your phone and use the desktop sites instead.
- Make use of scheduling tools such as TweetDeck for Twitter, Buffer, Later and Facebook Business Suite/Creator Studio so you can compose your posts away from the apps themselves.
- The extra benefit is that you can spend a single chunk of time writing a week’s worth of posts (or more!) and then let them go out at the scheduled time. Batching work like this is far more time-efficient.
- Social media apps are designed to be addictive. If you’re trying to reduce your time on them it makes sense to make it harder to access them.
- Log out of your accounts after you’ve used them. Don’t save your login details in your browser, so you have to manually type it in easy time you want to login.
Read more: One of the main drivers to my cutting down on socials was watching the 2020 documentary The Social Dilemma.
Spend less time on your smartphone
The dangers of too much time mindlessly scrolling our phones have been well documented. It’s not your fault! These devices are designed to be addictive: constant pinging alerts us that a dopamine hit is just a phone pick-up away.
But if you want to break this cycle and improve your mental health, sleep, relationships and more, here are a few tips for you to follow.
- Turn off all notifications. ALL OF THEM!
- Tidy up your home screen and make the addictive stuff harder to get to. Hide your social media apps away in folders so you have to make a conscious effort to open them up (or you could delete them completely!).
- Turn on a password to unlock your phone.
- Get an actual alarm clock (I use one that lights up to emulate a sunrise) so you can leave your phone in another room when you go to bed.
- Keep an eye on your phones usage stats (on Android phones you’ll find them in your Digital Wellbeing settings) so you’re fully aware of how much time you spend on your phone each day.
Read more: Alternatively you could follow in my footsteps and try swapping out your smart phone entirely!
Embrace digital minimalism
Remember that all small improvements add up to a positive change! If you’d like to learn more about conscious tech use I highly recommend reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
Fancy taking your digital detox a step further? Perhaps you’d like to try a 30 day digital declutter.