I’m on the mailing list of Cal Newport and back in December he wanted to set up an experiment on taking a digital detox in January.
I decided to start mine on 19 December as I was going to be on a small expedition ship for 2 weeks, with very expensive internet access and this was a great way to make a start.
Usually on holiday, with free wi-fi, I log on regularly. I download my daily paper, read and respond to emails and check in with Facebook, and Twitter. But this time I decided no. It was 12 days before I was somewhere where I could access my emails, and I cleared them all out in about an hour. I decided to delete all the newsletters and mailing list emails without a glance (I had got a rule to save anything from Cal into a special folder, so I wouldn’t lose his emails. As I was on holiday I uploaded some photos, but I didn’t check my stream for messages.
For the next week I checked emails but kept off Facebook (almost totally) till we got home, just doing a check-in and uploading some photos from a great day out.
Of course, I need to be online, I write articles, read relevant business articles and keep in touch with clients. I also read The Times online and do some essential shopping online. It’s Facebook and less relevant articles that drain my time – I get lots of articles I share with others, but should that really be part of my daily task? So, I’ve stopped a good number of subscriptions such as to FastCompany, XXXX and YYY and found I still get a reasonable number of interesting sources via the links I want to receive. I have also changed my subscription to The Spectator from digital to print so I can read it in bed without reading online.
And Facebook – the app is now deleted from my phone and iPad so I’m not going to be tempted to browse while waiting in a queue or when watching TV.
With emails I’ve previously made the change so mail only comes to my phone when I ask for it and I’ve removed all notifications. I’ve hated the way they show up and shout at me to look at something. I’d prefer to log on to e.g. LinkedIn messages when I choose.
What I’ve found is that I have more time to read books, and more time to think, dream and reflect.
And if you wanted to try this, here are the instructions
The Digital Declutter Experiment: Summary
The digital declutter experiment will take place during the month of January. Its purpose is to help you reset your digital life to something more intentional and meaningful. You can think of the digital declutter as a process to transition toward digital minimalism.
The experiment consists of the three parts summaries below…
Part 1: Take a Break from Optional Technologies
The core of the digital declutter experiment is its requirement that you take a break from optional technologies for the entire month of January. This means, as you might expect, that you’ll avoid social media for 30 days. But it also means you’ll avoid using the internet as a source of entertainment (no browsing clickbait when bored) and news (you’ll rediscover the joy of newspapers), and greatly restrict the amount of time you spend text messaging family and friends (it’s only 30 days — they’ll forgive you). Technology in your professional life will largely be left alone — as that’s an entirely different can of worms.
Part 2: Identify What Really Matters
Taking a temporary break from distracting technologies enables you the space needed to rediscover — through reflection and experimentation — what behaviors and goals bring the most value into your life. I won’t let you sit around bored, counting the hours until you can once again browse Twitter. You’ll instead get up and get out and start figuring out what you really want to be doing with your time.
Part 3: Reintroduce Technology
At the end of January, the experiment asks you to reintroduce optional technologies back into your life in an intentional manner. Building on your self-reflection work during the month, you’ll work backwards from the things you value and ask for each “what is the best way (if any) to use technology to promote this value?” Crucially, you’ll then accept missing out on everything else.
I meant to post this a few weeks ago, just found it saved as a draft – still relevant!
Photo credit: https://veganliftz.com