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When is the last time you did a complete 24-hour digital detox? No social media, no emails, no texts or phone calls, nothing.
Honestly, not enough (on my part). Many of us can admit that we’re probably too glued to our phones than we should be – and that our digital lives are way messier than they need to be. Today we’re talking digital detoxes and a total digital declutter: from spending less time on social media, to properly organizing your inbox and apps for – you guessed it – less clutter.
If you are interested in creating a more minimalist lifestyle, applying minimalist habits to these other aspects of your life is a good habit to begin. Our online lives take up an increasingly bigger part of our lives, so approaching this part of our lives from a place of mindfulness and kindness for ourselves is a must.
Step One: Schedule A Social Media digital Detox
For some people, the thought of spending 24-hours away from social media is perfectly doable (you might not even have social media!).
For others, however, scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, etc is a key part of the day. It allows us to connect with others, it’s entertaining, it keeps us up to date on latest news and trends – it’s how many of us get real time updates on the state of the world.
However, social media also causes us to compare ourselves. To see other people’s highlight reels as proof that everyone else has more friends, more money, and more exciting things to do compared to our own (perfectly normal!) lives.
If you aren’t feeling super content with your life right now, taking some time away from social media can be extremely transformational. Instead of living for other people’s lives, you can put yourself back in the main focus. Schedule 12 hours, or even 24 hours, with zero social media. See how it makes you feel.
Step Two: Declutter Your Desktop
As the first impression you get when you log in to your computer, having a clean, minimal desktop is a great place to start when clearing the behind-the-scenes clutter! All you need today is your laptop and some time to do some serious cleaning…
1) Desktop Shortcuts
Take a look at your desktop. Is it full of shortcuts that were automatically installed by software you no longer use?
When you download an internet browser, online software such as Photoshop, or even add an antivirus program to your computer, they’ll almost always add a shortcut icon to your desktop.
Take a look at these and think, which ones do you ever really use?
The chances are, you use the shortcut to access your internet browser and that’s about it!
2) And the rest…
Any software that you never use, delete it straight away. You can do this by right-clicking the icon and selecting ‘View in Folder’. This will allow you to not only delete the shortcut but actually delete the software itself as well.
Any other programmes that you don’t use frequently, but might still need in the future, keep those for now. We’ll cover using folders to effectively sort these apps and software another day.
Although your desktop wallpaper is of course personal choice, have you ever given much thought to how that image could affect your overall mindset?
If you’ve got a cluttered image in your face every time you log on, that’s not the best way to encourage yourself to keep these minimal attitudes when navigating your device. Take a look at Simple Desktops for some beautiful, minimalist wallpapers that won’t distract you from what needs to be done.
A great wallpaper with minimal distractions could include:
– A lot of white space
– Soothing colours
– Geometric shapes
– A scene that you find relaxing
Step three: a more efficient email system
Hands up if your inbox consists of lines and lines of opened emails left to rot in the inbox? Or maybe hundreds of opened emails that are now just…sitting there. This was my inbox before I did the digital declutter. It was a mess.
An inbox like this makes you want to stop working before you’ve even started. Before we do anything, you need to sort through your inbox and delete or keep every single email.
This sounds like a lot of effort, I know, but you’ll probably find you can just select and delete entire pages of emails! Only keep the emails you really need, and leave these for now.
Once that’s done, it’s time to really start clearing up the email clutter!
Unsubscribe) First, unsubscribe to all the newsletters you receive and never open. This includes online shopping, one-off purchases, apps you signed up for, notifications from social media and newsletters that you don’t find relevant.
Unroll.Me is a great app for this that will automatically find all of your subscriptions, and let you choose which ones to unsubscribe from at the click of a button.
Folders) To clear the clutter in your inbox, the magic folders is going to come back into play.
Create folders and subfolders for the emails you typically receive. Again, this might be a work folder with subfolders for all your clients.
If you’re a digital nomad like me, you may find creating a ‘travel’ folder to put your flight details, accommodation booking and anything else travel-related in. Once you’ve create all the folders you need, put any relevant emails that survived your inbox clear out in them.
Filters) Next, if you use Google Mail, you can filter certain emails to go straight into the folders you’ve created. Simply click the arrow to the right of the email, select ‘Filter messages like these’ and select the label you want to apply to this email and others from the same sender.
These filters are essential for staying on top of the clutter in your inbox and not ending up in the same position 6 months from now!
Remember those photographs we sorted through on day 3? Well, today we’re going to free up some space on our storage without deleting all those happy memories.
Cloud-Based Platforms such as DropBox, Google Drive and iCloud are perfect for storing important files without taking up valuable space on your laptop. Not only do these files slow down your device, but they also add a lot of clutter without much day-to-day use.
Sort your photographs into folders, whether that’s by year, type, or something else entirely. Then select a cloud-based platform to store your files.
Step Four: Declutter Who You Choose To Follow
If looking at photos of skinny girls living their best life on the beach makes you feel miserable about your life, then guess what? You don’t need to follow them! No one who makes your life feel boring, uninspired, or miserable (even if it is inadvertently) deserves your following.
As well as a social media detox, a digital declutter is a good thing to get into the habit of regularly. For a minimalist social media profile, start by doing the following:
Step 1) Sort through your followers/friends
If you find you have over 500 friends on Facebook, but only stay in touch with 100 of them, consider a purge of your friends list.
Facebook is a great tool for staying in touch with friends that live across the world, or that we may have lost touch with as the years pass, but there will also be people you are ‘friends’ with that add no real value to your profile.
Sort through your friends list and unfriend anyone that you don’t enjoy following, don’t talk to, and don’t hope to stay in contact with in the future. When you have less people showing off their lives on your social media platforms, there’s suddenly much less of an urge to spend time on their yourself!
Step 2) Unfollow Facebook Groups/Twitter Lists
If you find yourself subscribe to a lot of groups and lists that aren’t particularly relevant to you anymore, just leave them!
Conserve your attention for group subjects that you enjoy reading about and would feel more compelled to participate in. It’s in groups like this that your time on social media can actually turn into something productive!
Aim to use your social profiles to follow people that inspire, uplift, and make you feel secure and happy where you are in life right now.
Stay on top of everything
Once you’ve done a huge declutter and detox of your online space, staying on top of it is much easier if you make small, consistent updates and checks.
Get into the habit of consistently evaluating your online habits – of taking a step back and asking yourself how your time on social media makes you feel, how much time you spend going through your emails, and what habits you have online that are healthy compared to those that are maybe less healthy for you.
A digital detox can make many different forms – from staying off social media for 24 hours or even longer, to addressing other points of your digital life. Try doing a digital detox in whatever way speaks most loudly to the habits you know aren’t the best for you – either because they take up too much time, leave you feeling drained, or something else entirely.