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Intention: Now With Extra Action

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.

Bottom line?  

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????)




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kim in oregon

This is great. I want to try this. I know that I've been much happier since I started limiting my FB usage.


Of course I'm curious! :-) And this is great. I've got a bit of an Instagram habit myself. I've made an effort to put. the. phone. down. when I'm relaxing in the evening. I'm getting better! (Maybe move it to another room???)


I've been really curious to hear about your month away from it all! So glad to read this post! Your reflections on email gave me a lot of food for thought--it being 'the gateway drug' to so much else, I can really relate to that. I'm really curious about how you spent your extra time and how you experienced that?
For me, my audiobooks are my gateway drug, and I guess it would just take good old-fashioned discipline for me to continue enjoy my books without getting sucked into the digital vortex! Imagine that :)
My One Word is Thrive. But I've been only half-joking that because I was sick for the majority of the month, my word, just for April, was more like Surrender!!

kathy b

Wow . This is a fascinating wrap up of your intentional Digital/cyber less use. I am trying not to click on anything for more information. I don't need to hop into every ad and see if somethings on sale.

Carolyn S Thomas

I didn't mean for that question/comment to sound nosy--I hope you know what I meant! :)


I was just wondering how your digital declutter month was going, and this sounds wonderful! I love your intention, recognizing email as your gateway, and deciding what is going to work for you in the future. I'm wondering how I might approach this, but want to do it with the same thought and intention that you did. This will definitely be a future project for me. Congratulations on using your phone in a way that works for you and regaining time for doing!
P.S. I am curious!


The first thing I'm going to say is: HOOOOOOORAY that you're going to be posting on Instagram again. I really missed seeing your photos and knowing more about what you were up to on a regular basis. I'm glad you found ways to break some habits that weren't working for you, too. But I'm still REALLY GLAD that you're coming back to Instagram. I use Pinterest on my phone as a reference tool a lot but I don't usually mindlessly scroll through it - I save that for on my laptop when I'm bored at work. I also moved Facebook a couple of screens in on my phone so I don't check it much there and I only check email on my phone when I'm on vacation or when I'm away from my laptop for an extended period of time. I do think it makes a significant difference that I'm basically sitting in front of my computer for work 4 days/week - I use that way more than my phone.

Honore Francois

Hooray for you! Pinterest irritated me to no end so I just didn’t /don’t use...and I seldom post to IG...just doesn’t occur to me...I like the idea of taking email notifications off my phone...just interrupters ... thanks for the idea and enjoy your new freedoms - control of your time and digital life. You rock!


It's really great to hear how successful this experience was for you! I find that I'm most on my phone when I'm at work (during slow times, of course), when I can't do much else. If only I could knit during those down times! I haven't deleted my Facebook account altogether just yet, but when I got a new phone a couple of years ago, I deleted the app, and I haven't missed it one bit.


Your journey to gain control of your digital habits is interesting. Congrats on landing in a place that is good for you. I must admit that my phone checking has become a bit of a problem especially since we are “ on the road” a lot. As we drive in the car I check my emails way more than I need to and Facebook as well. Facebook in particular is annoying. The main reason I joined was to keep track of my far flung children. Then it became a way to stay intouched with far flung friends. Now it’s just a stream of annoying links shared by friends. My kids rarely post. So maybe the question is why?


Thank you for the debrief, Kym - this is super helpful! I still have a long wait for the book - and now that you and Juliann have both posted about it, I have a much better sense of what I'll learn. Volume 1 of the Mueller report made me glad (yet again!) I don't have FaceBook ... and I'm really careful about my news sources, too. I do use my phone A LOT to listen ... to podcasts and books. Does that count? did you pare that back, too?


Facebook and Instagram are the time sucks I dislike most. Facebook was easy to give up for the most part, but I have a couple of friends facing health challenges who like using it and there are other groups I need to monitor, so that makes it hard to completely delete. I'm not sure how best to handle it until I can totally delete it from my life. I enjoy Instagram, but have had to started monitoring my habits when it comes to time spent. It's easy to be drawn down its rabbit hole. I have been fairly successful in only checking it once a day. I was very happy to see you return as you are one of the people few people I enjoy following. I'm only keeping positive people and artists I can learn something from in my feed. Our phones are good tools and if we use them as we would any good tool we will be much happier. Life is so good when you don't have a devise attached to your hand!


OMG. I never ever EVER have nor had a headlines news (or any news) app on my phone!

I was happy to see you back on IG!

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