Digital Declutter 2019: The Plan (What Goes + What Stays)

Aug 16, 2019

4 minutes
Digital Declutter 2019

Can an entrepreneur do a month-long digital declutter + still stay in business?

Let’s find out.

As I mentioned in my review of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, I’m planning to do a digital declutter for the month of September 2019.

Since this is an experiment, I’m making it public.

Each week, I’ll be posting about my successes, failures, + lessons learned along the way – about business, about technology, + what’s really important in life.

Why Do a Digital Declutter?

In general, I find myself to be less digitally attached than most of the people I know … but I have my weaknesses too.

As an introvert, it’s all too easy to feel “more connected” through digital mediums like texting or social media versus in-person conversation.

Notably, many of the people I’m connected with are NOT local, making digital technology (like video chat) vital to staying connected in our modern world.

Yet I still find myself checking Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, hoping for someone to interact with on a probably-superficial level to momentarily satisfy my need for deep connection.

That’s why I keep going back again, and again, and again – the connections are superficial. They last mere seconds. They aren’t enough.

The problem, then, is not that using social media directly makes us unhappy … The key issue is that using social media tends to take people away from the real-world socializing that’s massively more valuable.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Fear + trust issues often keep us from connecting with others on a deep level, but that’s never worked for me. I’d rather talk about similarities between religions, the subtle differences between recipes, or what makes you excited to be alive right now … not the weather, or your job title.

Needless to say, I can be awkward socially (haha). Every now + then, I meet someone who skips the conversation filler. I’m reminded there are others seeking deep connection. Maybe you’re one of them.

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life running from myself. Running for my responsibility to understand who I am, why I made my choices, + actively choosing to make better choices. I have more control over my life than I realize, yet not total control. Embracing that balance is part of the inspiration behind this digital declutter.

The Digital Declutter Plan

Cal Newport’s book does a solid job of laying out guidelines for creating a digital declutter plan.

At the same time, I’ll be using the Clear Habit Journal, based on James Clear’s Atomic Habits. September will be a month of less tech + more focus on returning to the small habits that make a huge difference.

The amount of time you have been performing a habit is not as important as the number of times you have performed it.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Here’s the plan:

Digital Declutter Elements

Smartphone (remove ALL apps except):

  • Drops – 5 minutes a day of Māori (for my New Zealand trip next year)
  • EveryDollar – budget app
  • Flo – personal app
  • Forest – focusing app
  • Whole Foods – groceries
  • Google Maps – directions
  • GoodReads – books!

Laptop:

  • Facebook (web) – Only from 9:30am-10:30am + 5pm-6pm
  • Instagram (Windows app, replacing smartphone app) – Only from 9:30am-10:30am + 5pm-6pm
  • Social Media Rule: NO LIKING POSTS – only commenting (minimum 2 sentences)
  • Twitter (web) – none
  • LinkedIn (web) – none

TV (don’t have cable):

  • No Crunchyroll – I often use it to fill the sound space when my mind is wandering or ease loneliness, yet it is more distracting than music.

Clear Habit Elements

  • At least 30 minutes of physical activity each day
  • Writing 1 hour each weekday morning before client work
  • Use “Do Not Disturb” mode on my smartphone from 8am-5pm Mon-Fri
  • Weekly meal prep on Sundays
  • Re-establish morning routine
  • Re-establish evening routine
  • Have at least one free virtual (non-business) coffee date a week (Want to have one with me?)

Notably, my plan is relatively devoid of what I will FILL my new-found time with, but I’m looking forward to discovering what those things will be. 

I certainly will be more physically active + reading more, but I’m thinking of painting again. I imagine writing will continue to be a strong outlet + point of focus as well.

It all kicks off Sunday, September 1st, 2019 + my weekly articles will provide updates on what’s working, what’s now, + if it’s all worth it.

Don’t want to miss anything? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter for updates every Friday – my latest articles, books I’m reading, + other nifty articles around the web.

Predictions (aka Famous Last Words)

I think the most difficult things for me will be:

a) not having Crunchyroll / anime / Japanese language on in the background during the afternoons. That’s when I start to get the loneliest.

b) not checking social media frequently in the afternoons, or in between tasks. This relates to loneliness + the desire to be connected to my community of friends + fellow entrepreneurs around the world. I hope to replace this with at least one free virtual coffee date each week. (Want to have one with me?)

I don’t think I’ll be professionally impacted much by a month-long digital declutter … but let’s find out. 🙂

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

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