My Digital Detox

photo-1423666639041-f56000c27a9a.jpgThe internet is a wonderful place, but spending 40+ hours a week on it has lead me to the point of information overload. While I love consuming information, eventually it’s gotten to be too much, and I’ve had to start limiting my consumption. Much like decluttering phsyical clutter, reducing the constant flow of information has now become a bit of a hobby for me.

Step 1. Purge

The first thing I did was unsubscribe from things ruthlessly. If it wasn’t bringing value (or joy – Hi Marie Kondo fans) to my life, it had to go. This meant unfriending people on Facebook or at least hiding their posts, unfollowing people and companies on Twitter, and unsubcribing from subreddits and RSS feeds. I also paid careful attention to people and companies I happened to be following in more than one place.

Step 2. Eliminate Unnecessary Distraction

I removed all social media apps from my phone with the exception of Slack, which I use for work purposes, and Instagram, for sharing photos. Now I have no need to mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit from my phone. (I’d get rid of Instagram too, but I’ve yet to find a way to post photos without the app.) If I want to check up on my accounts, I can do so on my computer and focus my time away from my computer on who I’m with and what I’m doing.

Step 3. Establish Ground Rules

Eventually I decided no amount of filtering my Facebook newsfeed would be enough to remove the negativity it was evoking. I haven’t deactivated my account as I still feel there is some merit to friends including me in events, but I have decided I won’t be checking notifications and messages regularly. My last status update pointed people to other ways they can reach or follow me that don’t involve flooding me with negativity – these are my “ground rules”:

  • If it’s important, the best way to reach me is to text me.
  • If it’s photos they want to see, there’s Instagram.
  • If it’s random tidbits of my life on the internet they enjoyed, there’s Twitter.
  • If they want to send me things to check out or see what I’m reading, there’s Pocket.
  • If all else fails, there’s email or talking to me in person.

The benefits of these rules are numerous:

  • I have fewer places to check for updates, and the places I am checking are already part of my preferred workflow.
  • The information that comes to me is more of what I actually want to see and less of what people are telling me to see.
  • I’m more mindful of what I’m doing when I’m on my phone – no mindless scrolling through content.
  • The places I’m sharing content are all public which is a great incentive to focus on sharing content that represents me as I truly want to be represented.
  • The services I continue to use all allow me to cross post to other services easily. If I want to share an Instagram photo or an article from Pocket to Twitter, I can do that easily.
  • There’s now one less service in the Share menu on my phone and computer.
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