We’re living in a world of distractions. Advertising is more aggressive than ever, social media demands every minute of attention, and our inboxes are bombarded with notifications left right and centre.
I thought my digital life was much like everyone else’s: messy, untameable, unmanageable.
My email address is connected with hundreds of websites and services, most of which I can’t even remember signing up for, let alone use on a daily basis. My inbox is flooded with newsletters I delete immediately. My phone is a personal fruit machine I carry with me everywhere, constantly demanding my attention. As a result, my focus is shot to pieces.
In my journey to minimise my life, it’s been easy to focus on my physical belongings. There’s an obvious, tangible result that I can see every day.
Digital minimalism is an attempt to regain control and clarity in the digital world.
I can’t rid myself of the online world completely. I need it for work, for communication, for leisure, just like everyone else. But I can take steps to reduce my dependence on it.
Here are a few things I’ve done in recent weeks to regain some clarity in my digital life.
Delete all unused apps on my phone. If I haven’t used it recently and I don’t think I’m going to use it any time soon – and I mean really use it, not just thinking ‘oh, that might come in useful one day’ – it’s gone.
Keep only my most-used apps on my home screen. This is to stop myself opening up apps to browse for the sake of it while I’m on the train. Now my home screen consists of a handful of apps I use every day. Everything else is hidden.
Unsubscribe from all newsletters. If I don’t read an email newsletter, or I delete it as soon as it comes into my inbox, then I unsubscribe. If it’s not serving a purpose there’s no need to have it clogging up my time or my headspace.
Delete all unused files on my computer. So many screenshots, images, documents, all filling up my desktop. Now I organise things in Google Drive so I don’t need to store files physically on my hard drive. And if I’m not going to use it again, I delete it.
Turn off notifications on my phone. I don’t want to be alerted of special offers. I don’t want to be alerted about new features. I only want to be alerted by friends and family, so I’ve turned off notifications from all of my apps except for messaging apps and calls.
The idea behind this digital minimalism is intentionality. I don’t want to be held prisoner by apps and websites. If I want to use them – whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, or even my emails – I will make a deliberate action to open my phone, search for that app, look at what I want to find, and then put it down again.
Digital minimalism is my way of tidying up my online life, removing distractions, and regaining focus on what’s important.