Like most people, I lead a pretty busy life. These last few months have left me extra frazzled. Amid the rushing around, I’ve tried to notice exactly what I found so stressful on any given day.
My recently simplified home life has had the interesting effect of making me more aware of my cluttered digital life. I’ve realized that a lot of my stress was magnified by the constant nudges from apps and networks and the never-ending flow of new content. I’m not a digital packrat, but I’m also not immune to digital creep.
When I bought my latest smartphone, I mistakenly ordered the 16MB version instead of the 32MB. Because of the space limitations, I’m constantly having to make decisions about what stays and what goes. It’s pretty annoying, but I think it has taught me a valuable lesson. Limiting what’s on my handheld device makes me really notice what I use, what I don’t use, what I need and what is simply getting in the way.
I didn’t think I had a fear of missing out, but realizing the amount of time I spent tending to Words with Friends games or making sure to “like” posts from friends and family made me realize that I suffer from a digital version of keeping up with the Joneses.
All of these observations led to me making some of the harder changes so far in my minimizing journey.
- I deleted Facebook from my phone. I’m *this close* to killing my account entirely, but the professional need for it is great at this point, and it is a decent way to stay in touch with family and far-flung friends. Removing the app from my phone has been a good compromise because I find myself checking it far less. Plus, I freed up 500MB of space!
- I deleted many apps/accounts entirely, including Foursquare, Words With Friends, Vine, Klout and Google+. Each of them were purged for different reasons, but mostly it was to stop the incessant notifications, the compulsive need to check it, or to simply declutter my digital space with apps that weren’t providing any value.
- I took a break from my UP band. I knew I was chained to my desk for a few weeks this month. I knew I wasn’t getting enough sleep. The buzzing reminders on my wrist and emails from Jawbone telling me I was sleeping 3 hours less per night didn’t make me feel any better, and didn’t do anything to help the situation.
The same rule applies in your digital life as your real life: if it’s not useful or it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it.
I’m still searching out other digital habits that have more to do with the fear of missing out than adding real value to my life. I’ve kept my Tumblr blog, Pinterest and Twitter, because I really enjoy them all. Much like decluttering your home or office, transformation doesn’t usually happen in one fell swoop. It’s more about removing the obvious, noticing the difference, removing a little more, experimenting with giving something up, and simply learning about yourself and what works for you as you go.
The upside is that the more you thin your digital cloud, the more blue sky will open up in your devices… and your life.