You know how it is today. Since we basically live our lives out of our phones and laptops it’s safe to say that’s where we spend a lot (majority?) of our time. Hours on end. And there are apps for everything – a lot of them designed to keep us hooked as long as possible. We work, create, entertain, read, write, plan, shop, flirt, decide, pay and what not with our screens. Think about those tens of thousands of pictures we all have. (Btw who remembers the analogue rolls with 24 or 36 frames each?) Our multiple mailboxes are full of emails from the last 10 years we don’t need anymore. Bombarding us with notifications about yet another useless newsletter we signed up for last winter looking for ski goggles. Sure I’m generalizing but for the majority of us – it’s a tiring reality.
There are new apps every day, we read about them, we want them. Usually, because we think we need them. Because we fantasize that with this brand new app – we will now be able to plan better, eat better, sleep better and so on and so forth.
The thing is – we have too many already. Too many distractions that keep us chained to our screens, too many apps that leave an enormous digital footprint too. And instead of our better productivity and comfort oftentimes we get.. well – the opposite. Problems with focus, procrastination, strained relationships, increased tension, problem sleeping, headaches, guilt… We’re drowning in the sea of digital clutter.
What is digital clutter?
All the apps on your phone/computer/tablet that you don’t consider essential. That you don’t find indispensable for either your work or everyday life. Apps that take too much of something that’s yours. Something that’s precious and not renewable. Your TIME and ATTENTION.
Is there something wrong with “too much”?
We live in times of too much information, of endless possibilities. Each time we want something, there’s 20 kinds of it, all available now. Whether it’s a car, a phone, a book, cereal, an app – whatever it is – it’s there. Just waiting for you to get nuts. There’s data that suggest we are only capable of making a certain number of decisions a day, and if we are faced with more – we also face anxiety. Now think about trying to pick this one picture of your baby you want to show your mom. One out of 19,000. Or using an app to edit it – you probably have minimum 3 apps for that already, don’t you?
Have you ever found yourself staring at your phone because you just wanted to quickly “check something”? And an hour later you were still browsing FB, Twitter or IG feed?
Have you ever wanted to message someone but forgot what social media messenger was the one they used? And you have like 6 of them on your phone?
What happens when you face all this? Anxiety rises, focus and creativity drop.
Who is a digital minimalist?
Or is a better name ‘digital essentialist’?
What could be the right definition?
- Someone who does not use technology at all.
- Someone who uses technology that is simple and minimalistic looking.
- Someone who uses the most efficient apps and does it to simplify their life.
- Someone who is able to engage in a conversation without picking up their phone every 12 seconds.
- A person who enjoys their analogue time more than time spent with their nose glued to their phone.
- A person who decides that he owns the screen, not the other way round.
- A person who is aware that minimalism is a form of attention management.
- A combination of above or do you have any other definition?
Do I need to declutter?
First of all – only you can decide for yourself whether you think something’s wrong. Maybe it was already on your mind. Maybe that’s the reason you’re reading this article. Maybe someone close told you they think you’re a bit too engaged…
Below you’ll find a couple of questions that should make the answer easier. In order not to flood you with dozens of questions – let’s just focus on the phones only:
* how many apps do you have on your phone?
* how many of those are games?;)
* how many of those apps do you actually use?
* how many are there that you downloaded 3 years ago?
* how many pictures are there on your camera roll?
* how many albums in your camera?
* how many hours on average do you spend on your phone daily? (You can check your screen time settings.)
* what do you do right after you wake up and turn your alarm off?
* what do you do right before you go to sleep?
* can you imagine going out without your phone?
An orthodox way of dealing with digital declutter would be to get rid of everything and then install only what you truly need. The softer way is deleting – one by one. It is a similar process to what you go through to deal with your clothes if you’re a minimalist. You only leave (and buy for that matter) what you need and love. Things you actually feel good wearing and (that’s crucial) do wear. Same with apps. The key word would be INTENTIONAL. You have a plan, a vision, and you stick to it. Not letting the notifications and feeds distract you from what’s essential.
Since my focus here on But First, Tea is around minimalism and essentialism – in all areas of life – I’m starting a new cycle about just that – DIGITAL MINIMALISM. In it, I’d like to focus on “aha” moments. Apps that save loads of time and nerves, solutions that make this digital world much simpler and therefore friendlier to use.
I will be also inviting you all to join me in the comments – if you happen to have a revelation, If you came across an app that made your week, your month or even your year ??;) Do share it for others to see it too:)
You can sign up for a newsletter to receive a short ebook about ways to work on your minimal declutter. It will be ready sometime soon🙂
But first, tea!