I’ve found myself spending less time online lately. This first started unconsciously but since having a break over Christmas and New Year I just never really got back into social media. Recently, this has become a more conscious choice, I’ve been aware of what I’m spending my time and energy on and the online world is just not where I want to focus my life.
We all have our different reasons for using social media; some positive, some a little less so. Email accounts for personal, work and some we’ve just accumulated. Notifications upon notifications all vying for our attention, distracting and taking us away from the present, from real life.
My last couple of Mindful Monday (LINK) emails have been focusing on ways we can clear our digital spaces as well as our physical spaces. With a rising trend of cleaning and decluttering our homes, we often forget to do it with other aspects of our lives.
Decluttering our online spaces
With so much information available to us all the time, it can be easy for our brains to get cluttered and to feel overwhelmed. Decluttering our technology and online spaces can help bring a sense of calm.
- Phones – get rid of apps you no longer use or that don’t really have a purpose or don’t make you happy. You can do this for any tablets, laptops and desktops too.
- Emails – unsubscribe to junk emails you automatically delete. It can be easy to just delete them but why not just stop them appearing in the first place. Unsubscribe to any newsletters that don’t bring you some kind of benefit.
- Social media – mute, unfollow, unfriend, delete any accounts you follow that you don’t want to or go one step further and delete profiles you don’t use anymore.
Once we’ve got rid of the stuff we don’t need we need to make sure we have the right stuff in the right places, ensuring our technologies assist us to live better rather than distract us and overwhelm us.
- Phones – what does your home screen look like? Could you use folders, move apps to separate pages to get them out of the way? Could you keep all the apps you use daily in one space and the rest moved out of the way? This is even more important on laptops and computers – making sure folders are used and that you don’t have a gazillion files on your desktop. Folders can be searched; you don’t need everything on your desktop.
- Emails – Could you clean this out, make this a clearer space using folders? Keeping hold of what you need or what you refer to and deleting what you don’t need. Clearing your inbox means you don’t miss anything and gives you a clean page to look at rather than feeling cluttered.
- Social media – organising how you use these spaces, on what technology? Do you need the app for it or does that allow you log in a little too frequently?
Now to make sure technology helps us in the real world and doesn’t take over! Setting boundaries for our online and social media makes sure it doesn’t blur over into other aspects of our lives.
- Phones – Removing notifications from apps can be a powerful tool. Since doing this I’ve felt so much more in control of my technology, I decide when I access messages rather than being distracted by them. Do you need your emails connected to your phone? Do you need social media apps or could you log in only when you use them?
- Emails – deciding to access your emails, once or twice a day or once or twice a week, whatever works for you, can be very useful. Blocking the task rather than letting it take over a lot of your time. Scheduling emails can help, if you need to email whilst you don’t want to be on emails or to access people at specific times. Schedule the email to send later. Gmail easily does this and I’m sure other email systems do the same.
- Social Media – remove notifications and choose when to access your accounts, don’t let them take over your life. Move apps off your home screen so you’re not tempted to open them unnecessarily or out of boredom. If you have a tendency to scroll without realising, set a timer and when it goes off get off of social media.
Chances are that in choosing to read this blog post, you already have an awareness of how much you use social media and how much time you spend online. However, we can all be a little more consistently aware and present when using these technologies. Being aware of whether we’re reaching for our phone out of need or boredom. Noticing if scrolling through social media is helping us feel connected to friends or bringing us feelings of jealousy or inadequacy. Being more present, allowing ourselves to use these technologies in ways that support us in the moment can be so beneficial. Making sure we are mindful about how much we expose our minds to the endless information accessible online protects our mental health.
I hope you found some of this useful. If you have any other ideas and tips to help with digital minimalism please leave them in the comments.