The most actionable takeaway I received from Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism was the experiment of a 30-day digital declutter. Which, for me, has turned into 90 days and counting.
The premise of the declutter is this:
Set aside 30 days where you do not use any “optional technologies”. Once the 30 days are up slowly add back in the technologies with defined boundaries for your usage. Optional technologies meaning the things you do not need to use in order to keep your job (email) and still need to communicate with friends and family (phone and text).
For me, I took it as 30 days to not log into Instagram or Facebook. My partner, Katrina, joined me on the experiment and deleted her Instagram.
What we found was more time to do important work. During this period I was able to read several books, complete Seth Godin’s AltMBA, have many phone conversations with friends, and get closer to shipping a project I have been working on since January. For my partner, she has spent the majority of her time creating art, working on calligraphy, and building out a detailed plan to demolish her student loans.
What we found is that we do not miss these platforms and life has gone on just fine without them. Yes, it was really nice finding inspirational photos on Instagram, but was it worth the several hours of browsing to get there? It was also nice to get updates on how your friends are doing, but a phone call works just fine for those whom I am closest with.
Something else that was enlightening to me about Digital Minimalism is how the “attention economy” really works. For these services, our attention is the product and eyeballs drive their revenue. The designers and creators play on our base instincts to keep us coming back as frequently as possible. To me, it is now a game not worth playing.
Axe by Misbahul Munir from the Noun Project
[…] On this blog I’ve discussed the hypothesis that concentration is the knowledge workers super power, and my results from trying Cal Newport’s 30 day digital declutter. […]