Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Thoughts About Digital Decluttering

The month of June has been one of decluttering.

I spent a little time decluttering my physical space. Not sure if anyone but me could tell or not. I have three desks, each with a distinct, intended purpose. Apparently one was to hold all mail and the other was a place to stack books. That was not at all what I intended. I now have access to all three. (I’ll write about my desks and their intended purposes once I’ve actually lived out my vision).

This has also been a month of digital decluttering, a la Cal Newport’s book “Digital Minimalism”.

Here’s what that looked like for me:

  • Logging out of all social media for the entire month (I made an exception for LinkedIn because I’m currently seeking clients, and this seemed like an important place to stay connected.)
  • Deleting all social media apps from my phone.
  • Scheduling email checks.
  • Not using my phone for entertainment purposes.
  • Looking for ways to practice deeper and more meaningful social interaction and leisure time.

As we near the end of the month, I don’t know that I’ll ever become a true digital minimalist. But I do know I’ve learned some things this month. In the age in which we live, it’s an ongoing struggle. Apparently, technology is rewiring our brains and we’re growing horns. So, how long can we really be a part of the resistance?

Here is an incomplete list of learnings/observations/takeaways from this month, in no particular order.

  1. There are lot’s of things capable of digitally distracting me. The weather became weirdly important a couple of times. So did my bank balance. We have a strong “check” instinct. It has something to do with the dopamine. This is something I need to continue working on.
  2. I’m making a new rule for myself (starting July 1st): Most social media will stay off my phone. (I will probably still use Instagram and it only works properly on the phone.) Scrolling feeds full of political memes and random animal videos are not the best way to make use of phone time. I will use social media at a scheduled time on my desktop.
  3. Fun fact: Facebook gets really unsettled when you don’t log in for a while. Seriously. Until I changed my communication preferences, I started getting frantic sounding emails from Facebook telling me about all the things I was missing. Definitely has something to do with the fact that I’m their product, and their product wasn’t behaving the right way. I found this oddly satisfying.
  4. I think better with a pen and paper. Sure, no one can read it. It takes me a while to translate/transliterate. The unintelligible lines and mysterious charts and scribbles may eventually prove meaningless — but there is something liberating to my brain when I go tactile. (That’s the purpose of one my desks). This is something I want to continue exploring.
  5. I need more outside physical exercise. I quit the gym. But need to replace her with more outdoor activity. Biking. Hiking. Walking. Something along those lines.

There’s more. I’m stopping here for today.

Bottom line: I recommend a good decluttering.
It’s a little inconvenient.
Sometimes mildly painful.
But, all in all, a very healthy activity.