July: Month of Digital Declutter
First off: Hello! I hope this year has thus far found you happy and well. We’re at the end of June now. JUNE. Holy smokes. I swear yesterday I was putting away Christmas decorations and breathing a sigh of relief that another holiday season was over. Now I’m excited that June has passed, and we’re one month down in summer in the desert and the temps have been, dare I say, tolerable. However, July and August is really when the outdoor furnace is lit and the sun melts everything. So, eight to ten weeks of breathing in fire when we’re not having monsoon storms and then we’ll be back to decent temps once again. Small price to pay for a solid 9 months of truly great weather.
One of the goals I set at the beginning of the year was to read a book a week. I’m slightly behind right now as I’ve only read 22 books, but I have a feeling I might just catch up this next month.
You see, last week I started reading the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and decided that as of July 1, I would put into practice his Digital Declutter Process. I frequently find myself scrolling through Facebook and Twitter feeds, not seeking anything in particular, only wasting valuable time. I often walk away feeling empty and even irritated, which makes me think, “Why do I even get on social media?”
Habit. There are some things I love about social media: travel stories and pictures of foreign lands on Pinterest, my family and friends’ pictures and adventures, an occasional funny meme, and the sharing of art, music, food, and books. However, I’ve found more negative aspects lately than positive, so it’s time for me to take a step back and decide how I want social media and technology to work in my life.
The Digital Declutter Process works like this:
Step 1: Define Your Technology Rules
What will I eliminate during this period? Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest without a doubt. Netflix and Amazon streaming videos are out as well unless my daughter wants to watch a movie with me. I don’t have social media or games on my phone, but I do have apps for news feeds that I will delete. My texting is minimal; I typically respond to/send fewer than a dozen texts a day and is not compulsive in nature, so I’m not including it. Personal email use is already minimal as well. I do watch/listen to some content on YouTube put out by people like Tom Bilyeu (this interview is how I was introduced to Cal Newport), Mel Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and Lewis Howes, which I will limit to the time I am on my treadmill 2 or 3 times a week. The only time spent online will be at work for activities such as accessing insurance websites, dealing with Allscripts issues, provider contracting, posting information about new providers, etc., and at home when I am taking my online courses or to pay bills.
However, what about Google? I decided that if I felt it absolutely necessary to research something, I would write down exactly what I needed to know and then, toward the end of the day, take my “need to know” list of items and allow myself ten minutes to seek answers. That should be a sufficient amount of time to research without falling into a rabbit hole.
Step 2: Take A Thirty-Day Break
July 1 – July 31. I’ll journal about the experience and share it in August. I know the declutter process will be a challenge at first, but my expectation is that once I break the habit of tapping on Twitter or FB and stop the compulsion to scroll, I won’t find it so attractive once July is over.
Step 3: Reintroduce Technology
I have goals I want to reach this year, but I fear I’ll keep losing myself in time wasters if I don’t do something drastic. Writing for twenty minutes a day has been great for me to get back into the habit of writing, but I need to invest more time if I want to finish the book, edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite and edit some more, and then publish. This means significantly limiting social media and using the time I do spend on it wisely. It means stepping back and deciding which tools are best for me.
I’ve placed into regular practice suggestions in the books Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam and Atomic Habits by James Clear, which have helped me use more of my free time in a productive manner, but I need another jolt. I think this declutter will help significantly.
Have any of you tried a digital declutter or social media fast? If so, for how long and did it work for you?