Adventures in Business: The 30-Day Digital Declutter

By: Courtney Templin
President of JB Training Solutions

74. I picked up my phone 74 times that day. I had not looked at this scary and revealing number on my phone until I was reading Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy WorldIt wasn’t that I didn’t know this information. I know I am addicted to my emails, and although I don’t spend too much time on social media, it’s definitely an easy go-to during wait times. So seeing my screen time numbers and learning more about the idea of decluttering my digital life sounded refreshing, revitalizing, and freeing.

I love 30-day challenges, so I was all in for the 30-day digital declutter. I knew it would be a challenge and an adventure. Here’s the big idea:

• For 30 days, only use the technology you absolutely need.
• Organize how you use and interact with technology.
• Intentionally align your values with your technology use.

Even though I didn’t think I needed HUGE changes in my technology use, I still had countless aha moments during my 30-day challenge, and I have incorporated ideas that have changed my life for the better.

Aha Moments for Me

Just because I have access to it, doesn’t mean I need it.

Before the digital declutter, I didn’t realize how often I picked up my phone to find a quick answer or idea. Did I really need to Google the restaurant menu before I got there or could I just read the menu once I was there?! Did I really need to Google “rainy day activities with toddlers” or could I just use my own imagination?! Did I really need to look at the weather forecast for the week, or could I just wake up and look out the window?

Living the moment can be better than capturing (i.e. editing, cropping, enhancing, and light filtering) the moment.

We have two daughters (3-years-old and 9-months-old) and they do really cute things all the time (according to me). With family far away, I often feel the need to capture everything in a picture or video….And all of sudden, the moment that was so worth capturing has passed by as I trim the video, type a creative caption, send off the text, and then heart the replies.

I always will capture some moments because it brings us great joy to look at the different stages of life that can be forgotten. BUT I will challenge myself to live and be present in the moment more often.

Nothing will really implode if I leave, hide, or neglect my phone.

Why did I need to go on a run with my phone? Why did I need to walk to the back of our home with my phone? Does my phone need to be on the table while I eat or when I’m having a meeting?  Do I really need to get back to that email this millisecond? Breaking up is hard to do, but it was worth it.

Making technology less easy makes doing what you REALLY want to do easier. 

Turning off all the adrenaline rushes helped me a ton. No more push notifications or push emails. Deleting social media apps from my phone and turning on downtime all added extra steps. I found that when it wasn’t as easy to do a Facebook scan, then I wouldn’t do it. This helped me align with what I truly find valuable in life.

If you’re intrigued by this big idea of Digital Minimalism, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What are the opportunity costs of my technology use or digital habits?
What if I was charged per minute for my social media use?
Should I take the 30-day Digital Declutter challenge?

It’s been a few weeks since my digital detox, and I already find myself slipping into some of my old habits of checking or relying on my phone too much. It’s a constant journey. It can be a noisy world with information coming at us from every angle, but I have a few more tools and a lot more inspiration to live a more focused life aligned with what I truly love and enjoy. Today, I am going to have a dance party with our two girls while my phone is hidden in the cabinet. I’m going to stretch and journal by lamplight before going to sleep rather than scrolling social media via blue light. And tomorrow, I am going for a run without my phone and without music – just me. I won’t even look at how many steps I took. Now that’s the good life.