Digital Declutter 2019: A Rough, but Positive, Start (Week 1)

Sep 6, 2019

4 minutes

Digital Declutter 2019: Week 1

Wondering why I’m doing a Digital Declutter for September 2019? Check out this post first.

Sunday, September 1st, I uninstalled nearly all the apps on my phone.

It was strange to hold a 6-ounce device that felt less like a magical connection to the outside world and more like just another tool.

Most of the apps I had on my phone I rarely used – once a week, at most – so getting rid of them didn’t feel like a loss.

The social media apps were the tough ones.

… we should treat with great care any new technology that threatens to disrupt the ways in which we connect and communicate with others. When you mess with something so central to the success of our species, it’s easy to create problems. – Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

As an entrepreneur, I connect with people around the world on a daily basis, thanks to social media. I’ve talked to some folks for almost a decade, and when we finally met in-person, it felt like meeting a childhood friend.

That being said, social media apps have their downside. As Cal Newport outlines in his book, there’s a distinct difference between conversation and connection. Conversation is what we long for – that deep one-on-one understanding + exploration with another person. Instead, we often get minor, “low-bandwidth” connections via texting or DMs on social media.

I personally enjoy conversation more. I’ve had numerous in-depth conversations on social media that end up evolving into a video chat. I’d like to have more of those.

Having in-person conversations is important – it always will be – but for those of us who aren’t always in one place for a while, social media is a godsend … and I took it all off of my phone. 

To be specific, I uninstalled Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I had uninstalled Facebook many months prior, due to privacy concerns + simply checking it more often than I needed to.

At the same time, I started using James Clear’s Clear Habits Journal, based on his Atomic Habits book. One of my new habits is to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

On Sunday, I went to a local park to take a walk, as part of my new habit. It was the first day of the Digital Declutter, so there was no point in taking pictures because I wasn’t going to post them anywhere. Instead, I had an enjoyable walk and ate a few delicious things at the farmer’s market I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

+1 point for not living life around social media

In a few mere days, I noticed that I was able to focus + be productive for longer and longer periods of time.

Previously, I would read a chapter in a book or end a conversation, and then jump to social media to see if there was something else I could read or talk about.

Now, like my younger days (haha, my 35-year-old self gets a kick out of that), I can sit and read chapter after chapter, or have even longer more enriching conversations, because I don’t feel the need OR have exceptionally easy access to thousands of others’ filtered lives.

Then, everything changed on Tuesday (cue dramatic music).

I post new book reviews on Tuesdays. On this particular Tuesday, I was posting about Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson – a damn good book, I highly recommend it. 

The post when live here on the site + updates were automatically posted to Twitter and LinkedIn, thanks to my online scheduling tool.

Normally, I use a tool to auto-post to Instagram too, but I have to be involved. It sends me a notification + then I post via my phone.

Instead, I was going to use the Windows 10 app for Instagram. It functions almost exactly like the phone app, so it will be perfect for this Digital Declutter, right?

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

It compressed the image so it looked pixelated + awful.

It messed up the formatting of my text so that even the hashtags didn’t work.

It was a massive failure.

What do you think the issue was?

a) the coding for the Instagram app didn’t translate well to Windows 10 and they’re still working out the bugs

OR

b) it’s all a conspiracy theory just to get people to keep the Instagram app to their phones

… the world may never know.

After that debacle, I downloaded the Instagram app + the scheduling app back onto my phone.

-1 point for faulty design

I felt a bit like a failure. It was day 3 of my Digital Declutter, and I already had a social media app back on my phone.

To be clear, Cal Newport never says in his book that social media apps are 100% evil. It’s all about when + why you use them.

Even with Instagram on my phone, I still stick to my previously-established rules: only access Facebook (via my laptop) + Instagram from 9:30am-10:30am and 5pm-6pm. If I want to post a photo, I do it then. If I want to catch up on what others are doing, I do it then. If I want to like a post, I comment instead.

Before the Digital Declutter started, I began using an app called Forest. I got the paid version because it allows you to blacklist apps that you can’t use while you’re using the app (*cough* Instagram *cough*).

Now, I make sure to use it even more often so I’m not tempted to look at Instagram + kill my adorable digital tree.

Week 1 Pros + Cons

Pros:

  • Increased focus
  • Increased productivity
  • Less mindless scrolling
  • More mental clarity
  • More space to think

Cons:

  • Reinstalling Instagram due to faulty Windows 10 app design
  • Still slightly tempted to check Twitter + LinkedIn on my laptop from time to time (what am I missing!?)
  • Minor feeling of disconnection

Photo by Jay Prajapati on Unsplash

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