During April, my word - intention - took a decidedly action-oriented turn.
At least . . . if you can call "inaction" "action." ;-)
On April 1, I launched myself into a 30-day digital de-clutter, à la Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism book. (You can read my original post about my digital declutter here.) I wasn't THAT bad when it came to my digital habits. I mean . . . I'd already removed Facebook from my life (which brought me much happiness and no regrets at all). But there were a few tendencies that I wanted to disrupt; bad habits I wanted to break. (And I will admit to being shocked at how much time I DID use my phone every day . . . when I was finally brave enough to really look at the stats for my screen time!)
This digital declutter meant I had to be very intentional about how I was going to use my phone and the rest of the digital tools at my disposal (my laptop and my iPad). I set up rules for myself. I removed the most troublesome apps from my phone. I committed myself to . . . just leaving my phone in its pocket in my bag. It also meant I needed to be very intentional about what I would do instead of picking up my phone. (Always having something handy to read really helped here.)
Every single thing about my digital declutter has been intentional. And now that I'm at the end of it, I'm going to be equally intentional about what I allow back into my digital life.
Here are some highlights from my digital declutter:
- I reduced my daily phone use to under an hour each day. According to my at-the-end-of-the-digital-declutter screen time stats, I now only pick up my phone to use my camera, to check the weather, to meditate (I use an app called Insight Timer), and to communicate (text or phone). And that's . . . pretty much it these days.
Now that the digital declutter is over? I want to keep it that way!
- I have completely disrupted my tendency to "Google everything." (My kids used to call me Google Mom.) Seriously, before the declutter I would pick up my phone and Google any "I wonder" thought that popped into my head. (We're not talking Useful Information here. We're talking Really Stupid and Inane Things that I don't even really care about, but that were mildly interesting in a passing way.) I have learned to let this stupid stuff just . . . go.
Now that the digital declutter is over? I don't see this tendency making a return. I'm just not interested anymore.
- I took email off my phone completely. Turns out that checking my email . . . was my "gateway drug" to using my phone. I'd check my email "real quick" . . . which would lead to a scroll through Instagram, then maybe checking out what Pinterest was recommending for me to look at, and then a scan of today's headlines -- where I would probably click in to a story or two (or three or four). And then, well . . . maybe I should check my email again??? Total. Waste. Of. Time.
Now that the digital declutter is over? I'm leaving my email off my phone, unless I'm traveling.
- I took away the "headline news" feature on my phone. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this has boosted my happiness. And it's not like I'm living in a cave now, completely unaware of what's happening out there in the world. Now I pick up my news through once-daily digests from my favorite news sources. I access the information when I'm ready to check the news, and I find that I am more than adequately informed.
Now that the digital declutter is over? No news headlines. Ever.
- I took the Instagram and Pinterest apps off my phone.. They did remain on my laptop and iPad, but, like I discovered with Facebook a couple of years ago, I found that I just didn't access either of those sites very often during the 30 days. (I think I never looked at Instagram, and I know I pinned two things to Pinterest from my laptop. But that's it.)
I do miss Instagram. A lot. I miss seeing what my friends are up to, and I miss sharing photos. What I don't miss? People I never should have been following anyway. (No surprise there.)
What I miss most about Pinterest is having it available as a reference. I pin a lot of "inspirational" ideas that I like to access in my art classes or when I'm sketching or when I'm with my friends and want to share things I've seen -- and not having access on my phone is a pain. Somehow, I need to balance the handy reference feature of Pinterest with my tendency to scroll to see what ELSE is out there.
Now that the digital declutter is over? I'm putting both apps back on my phone. I'll begin engaging on Instagram again tomorrow, but on a limited basis (maybe just once every couple of days). I'll also "unfollow" people who make me roll my eyes. As far as Pinterest goes, I'm going to have to be really careful. I'll monitor my use, and if it becomes a problem for me . . . I'll have to take it off again.
I did this digital declutter to take control - with intention - of my digital tendencies and habits; to get my digital use "in line" with how I want to spend my time. The declutter was super valuable for me in doing just that! I disrupted tendencies and patterns of use, I broke habits, and I gained a TON of perspective. You know what else? I discovered that I have so much time for DOING . . . when I'm not glued to my damn phone.
From an intention standpoint, it was an ideal exercise for me. I will be more purposeful and deliberate (more intentional!) about the digital parts of my life from now on.
How about you? What did you learn from your word this month?
Also -- be sure to check back on Friday! I'll be . . . Asking Questions!
(Are you curious????)