Starting a digital declutter 3/19/19

By Chris Johnson

Over the weekend, I finished Cal Newport’s latest book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. In the book, Newport lays out a convincing argument that we have become captives of our digital tools, and that we need strategies to regain control of our time and attention. Over the next 30 days, I’m going to give his advice a shot.

Personally, I know that social networks have slowly replaced a lot of my free time in the evenings and on the weekends. Scrolling through posts on Twitter or Instagram seems fun, and it’s easy, but I never feel quite satisfied when I’m done. Newport thinks that to truly feel satisfied with how you spend your free time, you need a mix of true solitude 1, deep social interactions 2, and working with your hands.

For a digital declutter, Newport suggests taking a 30 day break from all of your non-essential digital services. I’m personally dropping Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, RSS feeds, and reducing my podcast consumption. At the same time you’re supposed to have a plan for how you’ll spend your newfound free time in the real world. I’m still working on the hobbies I want to pursue, but I’m considering photography, cooking, and writing for this blog.

When the 30 days is up, the plan is to reintroduce the tools and services that add value to my life, and consider better ways to use them to efficiently get the value I want out of them. For example, I’m considering reducing my Twitter and Instagram feeds to just the people I have conversations with, and removing all celebrity and meme accounts.

I’ll let you know how it goes over the next 30 days. Wish me luck, and if you want to get in contact, use the form on my About page.

Update: My friend Chuck Grimmett, is joining me in the digital declutter. Check out his blog post for a deep dive on why and how.

  1. Newport defines solitude as being free of the input from other minds. So you’re not truly in solitude if your alone in a cabin in the woods, but listening to a podcast, or reading a book. 

  2. Think phone calls or talking face to face, instead of likes, emails, and text messages.