Just like over-abundance and clutter in physical life can be, and often is, stressful, digital clutter can trigger just the same negative emotions. I came to this realisation through self-observation and after reading one of my idols work in regards to meaningful work where Cal Newport discusses what transition to digital minimalism may look like.
I do believe that the idea of digital clutter applies to everyone, but even more so to all knowledge workers, since they spend the most time in front of various computing devices reading things, absorbing information, learning new tools, getting distracted by notifications and so on. This makes it extremely easy to unintentionally create digital clutter in one's life.
Inspired by the idea of digital minimalism, I decided to take drastic changes in how I personally use digital devices. But let's first dive into what digital clutter actually means.
Digital clutter consists of:
- Too many subscriptions to [insert your own] - newsletters, YouTube channels, blogs;
- Overuse of various applications on one's phone, PC or browser;
- Lack of coherent organisation of one's files, backups and lack of general overview of one's digital life;
- Too many distracting notifications coming your way for whatever reason;
- Mindless absorption of information, scrolling through news feeds and similar.
The above list is subjective but these are the things that I feel are taking the most time/attention from me. As a counteract to these time and attention black holes, the next section outlines the changes I have made to how I use my PC and phone.
Reducing digital clutter
- Get rid of smartphone and get a dumbphone ☎️ (still carry smartphone in the backpack for some apps in emergencies like Google Maps);
- Stop using OS X and embrace open philosophy of Linux by using Ubuntu (definitely not necessary but wanted to give it a go anyway ☺️);
- Unsubscribe to all but one newsletter;
- Unsubscribe to all YouTube channels except to ones of my family or friends;
- Freeze/delete all social media accounts for the entire year. For me that includes only Twitter and Facebook, still keeping LinkedIn;
- Adopt the use of Stylebot, Timewarp and other Chrome extensions that minimise the volume of distractions coming your way on the Internet and also permanently remove distracting sections of websites;
- Review my entire files organization (including GitHub and cloud services), and set up a proper system once and for all for how my files, projects and backups are organised;
- Send the articles I want to read to my Kindle and read them in one chunk.
After I recited the above list to my father, he was asking me whether I was also going to become a monk? 😀 Well, not exactly. But since I am getting tired of being bombarded with garbage online, and like a druggie being unable to resist the temptation once it's there, I see these changes almost as a necessity. Let's see how it goes and evaluate by the end of 2017!