The Focus Course

Digital Declutter Kickoff

Today, we’re kicking off our 30-day digital declutter. If you’d like to join, here is the basic premise of the declutter. (Summarizing from the book Digital Minimalism)

  1. Take a break from optional technology for the next 30 days.

  2. Explore activities that you find satisfying and meaningful.

  3. At the end of the 30-day period, reintroduce optional technology back into your life starting from a blank slate. Determine what value each technology serves in your life and how you will use it to maximize its value.

You can find more details about the declutter in last week’s article.

Beginning today, Monday, Jan 13th through Tuesday, Feb 11th, The Focus Course community will take a step back from optional tech.

There won’t be any social tags, but if you want to let us know you’re doing the declutter with us, shoot us an email.

desk @ blancmedia dot org
Subject line: Digital Declutter

And if you haven’t read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, I would highly recommend reading it while doing the declutter. This whole 30-day experience will make a great deal more sense with the backdrop of the book.

And if you have read it, I would recommend re-reading a few chapters as a refresher.

* * *

I wanted to pull the curtain back and give a little more detail as to what optional tech I’ll be removing over the next 30-days, as well as what alternative activities I plan to do instead. I’m hoping this will give you some ideas of what optional technology you’ll remove and what activities you’ll pursue in their place.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty, here’s a quick recap of why we’re doing a digital declutter to begin with.

Why a Digital Declutter

The fastest way to simplify the technology you use is to go through a detox period of any addictive tech or software you may be accustomed to using on a daily basis.

It’s challenging to make objective decisions about the various technologies you’ll use while still being clouded by the addictive nature of these tools. The digital declutter is a detox that brings the necessary clarity to process what technology is truly essential for everyday life.

Basically, it’s a way to ensure the tools you’ve adopted is by design and not default. A lot like the foods we eat, we can fall into patterns with our digital diet. The truth is, these habits are either intentionally curated to help us achieve our goals, or, they are hindering our ability to accomplish our goals.

Basically, is my tech use enabling me to live out my vision and values, or is it getting in the way?

I’ve adopted Cal Newports technology philosophy of Digital Minimalism, which is “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Central to the 30-day digital declutter process is removing optional tech. Here’s what I’ll gladly miss out on for the next 30 days. After which, I’ll decide if these are worth re-introducing back into daily or weekly life.

Optional Tech I’m Removing

  1. No YouTube
    I have to admit, the YouTube algorithm has me pegged. It knows I enjoy catching up on NFL post-game interviews and highlights, Tonight Show clips, Marques Brownlee tech reviews, Casey Neistat videos — all of it. But the problem is when I finally get a moment in the evening to watch a short video, it never ends up being just one. I end up spending more time than I’d like, even for the marginal entertainment value. So, for the next 30 days, no YouTube.

  2. No Social Media
    I’ve stopped actively posting on social media like Instagram and Facebook for a number of years now. But now instead it’s just checking in to see what is happening. I’m not sure which is worse? And while I don’t have any social media apps on my phone, I can still check feeds through the web browser.

    So, I’m logging out and removing the web browser from my phone just to completely remove the temptation of checking. This will also help me make sure I don’t stumble over to YouTube for a hit.

  3. No Email on Mobile Phone
    I removed my work email from my mobile phone well over a year ago now, and I never miss it. I still have a couple personal accounts that I randomly check, but never reply to anything. It’s probably just that nervous inbox addiction tick where I need something to check.

  4. No TV (Sun – Thu)
    With three young boys in the house, my wife and I usually collapse in a heap at the end of the day. The ease of turning on a show and vegging out in front of a screen for a couple hours is way too easy. While the occasional show snuggled up after a long day is fine, I just don’t want it to be the every day normal.

    So, for this one, we’ll just limit our show watching to Friday and Saturday nights.

Declutter Do List

What I’ll Do Instead

A crucial aspect to completing the 30-day declutter is choosing what I’m going to do instead of the aforementioned activities.

We’re already facing a fair amount of resistance given the fact that we’re making a pretty significant change to our default behavior. We need something to fill that void or we’ll find ourselves quickly returning to our old vices.

Here’s my go-to list:

  • Reading (Have my stack of books ready to go)
  • House Projects
  • Take a Nap
  • Honey-Do-List
  • Writing
  • Ideation
  • Play with my Kids
  • FaceTime Family
  • Connect with a Friend
  • Sit by a Fire
  • Be Bored
  • Go for a Run / Workout
  • Write a Note to a Friend

I plan on keeping my little 3×5 card handy to remind myself what I can do when I’m dumbfounded by the lack of a web browser on my phone. 😏

The first few days will be the hardest, but slowly I’ll detox from my addictive patterns.

Happy detoxing! (I mean decluttering 😉)

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