Findings from my Digital Declutter
So my digital declutter phase ended today and I would like to share the results, but first, a slight recap:
- I started my digital declutter phase a month ago.
- These were the rules I followed. The rules were pretty much spot on because I don't remember having to modify them throughout the 30 day period.
- The “digital declutter” is an exercise I read about in Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism book.
- I bought the Digital Minimalism book to try and find more ways to curb my smartphone addiction. It is an attempt to regain control of my attention and time.
Okay so here are my notes, findings, revelations, thoughts, etc... on how it went:
- I had so much extra time to read books during this phase; I finished reading 3 books and I wasn't even trying to finish books. Finishing 3 books in a 30 day period is amazing to me, I never thought I could do that. Here are the list of books I finished reading during the digital declutter phase:
- Aside from reading books, I also still had extra time to do something else. Cal Newport in his book suggests picking up some high quality analog leisure activities, so I decided to focus on playing the guitar.
- I had time to read books to my 3 year old son. This was great because it took his eyes off his tablet. I also think it was a good activity for father and son bonding time. I used to get annoyed when he asked me to read a book, because I would have been doing something else, like playing video games or browsing the internet or writing a post on here. However during the digital declutter phase, I had ample enough time that it didn't bother me at all if he wanted me to read a book to him. In fact at times I was looking forward to it, because I've already reached my quota for playing video games, have already played the guitar and was generally just looking for something else to do.
- My ability to concentrate has improved. During the start of this phase, I had trouble keeping my attention while reading a book. I would go a few paragraphs and then my mind would wander, like it was looking for a distraction. This significantly improved as days went by. Now I'm able to stay focused on a book for pages at a time. Based on what I learned from the Deep Work book, this should continue to get better.
- I have found that I underestimated how much time it took for me to publish a post on here. Apparently I spend at least, at least 30-45 minutes to write posts on here. And I post almost daily. That's a good chunk of time in a week that I could have spent reading books that could improve my career or learning a new skill. The ban on writing posts on here during the digital declutter phase allowed me to realize that. This is not to say that writing posts on here is not worthy of my time, but it made me realize that I should scale back the amount of time I dedicated to writing posts on here.
- While I did miss being able to write posts on here, I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. I realized that my gaming blog for instance, cut into the time I had for reading books or ironically, playing video games.
- Writing journal entries on a real notebook/journal is a superior experience to writing journal entries online. Even though I like to think that I'm writing for myself when I post on here, deep inside my mind still knows that this is the internet. Somebody could be reading my post and so I'm still writing defensively. In other words, I'm still writing as if I'm expecting somebody else to read my post. This feels like a restriction compared to writing offline journals.
- With the ban on writing journal entries online, I switched to writing journal entries on my Bullet Journal. This made my Bullet Journal much more important in my day to day routine. All that writing lead to an improvement in my penmanship as well.
- A realization I made while writing entries on my Bullet Journal, is that some of the stuff I wrote could have been, or would have been posted as social media statuses/posts. This leads me to believe that if people kept real journals, people would have less of a need for posting online. I mean like seriously, who really needs to know what I ate for breakfast? Or that I went for an afternoon walk? Writing it down on a journal scratches off the itch to post it online.
- For the most part I was successful in keeping browsers off my phone. There were really only a few instances where I felt like I needed to enable Safari on my phone. Most email apps for instance, had built-in browsers so if I needed to take action on an email, I would still be able to do so.
- I rarely ran out of battery on my phone. During the 30 day declutter phase, I never even had to charge my phone at work. Charging it in my car during my commute was good enough to keep it usable all day long.
- The ban on entertainment and news websites made me more productive at work. This also took away the reasons I had for browsing the internet at night.
- Decreasing my news consumption made me a happier person, or at least I think it did.
- I have found that email is a perfectly usable method for communication. During this phase I sent a couple of emails to my friends and they actually replied!
- I have confirmed that FB Messenger is actually an app I needed for keeping in touch with friends who don't live in the same continent. At one point during this phase, I had to reinstall the app to ask my friends a few questions that I needed quick answers to. Email would have taken too long to get a reply back.
There are probably a couple more notes and revelations that I missed, but I'll stop here.
I'll be making some changes to this online journal and my gaming blog based on what I've learned from this digital declutter phase. I'll talk about those in another post.
Anyway I've already spent more than an hour writing this so let's wrap this up. The most important thing that I learned from this exercise and from reading Cal Newport's books, is that our time is an important resource and we shouldn't just give it away to mindless distractions.