Back in 2021, I decided I’d had enough of constantly scrolling on my phone and began practicing Digital Minimalism with the aim of cutting back on my screen time.
It’s now widely acknowledged that many of the digital services we use are purposefully designed to be extremely addictive so the idea of digital minimalism is to mindfully use digital technology as a tool to enhance your life, instead of letting it use you.
After reading the book Digital Minimalism by Professor Cal Newport, I completed a digital declutter where I cut back on the various digital services that had their hooks in me (such as social media, news websites, instant messaging and so on) for 30 days and then reviewing whether to reintroduce any of them again afterwards.
The results were swift and massively positive impact on my mental health. The exercise taught me a lot and in many ways shaped my continuing lifestyle.
My life has changed quite significantly in the three years since the original experiment, and the world at large too which have prompted me to revisit cutting back on my phone use:
- My wife and I had a baby and I want to be present.
- I launched a new business Root Web Design Studio in 2022 focussing on sustainable web design and development.
- I’ve been sticking to a 4 day working week so try to remain focussed enough to fit work into a shorter amount of time.
- In other news, the pandemic thankfully ended though everyone seems to have forgotten it happened and we now exist in a fresh Hellscape where dread and anxiety lurks at every turn if you let it. Cutting back on consuming news is only a good thing.
- Smartphones are increasingly being used as an integral part of life (tickets, keys, banking, parking) and if anything, the attention economy is more powerful than ever.
Since the original digital declutter I deleted all of my social media personal and business accounts, except LinkedIn (if anyone would have asked me 10 years ago if LinkedIn would be the last stand of social media I would have laughed but here we are).
I’ll sometimes post a new blog on there, which does feel good when you get the likes and comments (sweet, sweet dopamine), but I honestly struggle to see the point of it? It just feels like noise.
When I set up Root I purposefully decided not to advertise on social channels and focus on referrals and organic SEO for finding new business.
On a side note, whenever I need to check someones profile (this is actually sort possible without an account albeit very limited), it kind of feels to me that the ‘traditional’ social channels of Facebook, Twitter (X lol) and Instagram all seem to have dropped off a cliff so again I struggle to see value of promoting there weighed up against the mental toll it requires.
What’s happening now?
My smartphone remains (in fact it’s the same one!) in it’s stripped back state with only a small number of functional apps installed.
My phone use is currently back up to around 2 hours per day, with non-focussed web browsing accounting for an hour per day. This is thankfully well below the rather sickening global average of 6.5 hours per day but it’s still more than I’m willing to concede.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to revisit of the digital declutter and review which tools and activities actually add value to my life and what can be cut out.
I’m hoping to post my progress and other digital minimalism tips I’ve learnt along the way. If you’re on your own digital minimalism journey I’d love to hear of your experiences too!