Digital declutter week 1 recap: An OK start to my digital cleanse

I started a 30-day “digital declutter” on Thursday, Sept. 1, as part of a long-term plan to better control how, when and where I use technology in my life. Here’s how my first week went.

Wins & Losses

Let’s start with the things I didn’t do as well as I had planned.

My toddler came down with the flu the day before my digital declutter was set to begin. This meant I had to balance working with childcare at home for three days, a recipe for using technology in ways I had hoped to avoid during this 30-day stretch. So, yes, I did check my work email/chat while watching my son, which I had aimed not to do, and I used Google more than I needed to, but I didn’t scroll Facebook or Instagram. So, let’s call that even.

Overall, I significantly reduced my use of social media last week, and I credit that to removing social media apps from my phone a month or so ago. I can, however, still access Facebook via the browser on my phone. I did this a couple of times last week, but I’m trying not to for the rest of the month.

Otherwise, I’ve mostly adhered to the plan to not use optional technologies, and, so far, I miss Wordle and Spelling Bee the most.

My problem lies with technology I consider mandatory. Some days have been better than others, but I haven’t closely followed the standard operating procedures I set for myself for non-optional technologies. I’m also trying to limit how often I’m carrying my phone on me. I’ve had mixed results with that effort, but I’m at least more aware of when I’m picking up my phone and bringing it with me than I ever have been before. I think that’s progress.

I also think turning off notifications for all apps on my phone and setting blocks of time where my phone is automatically set to “Do Not Disturb” have both been key in cutting back how often I reach for my phone.

Week 2 Changes

Heading into week two of the digital declutter, I plan to more closely follow my standard operating procedures for non-optional technology. Specifically, I’ll only check work email outside of normal work hours once in the morning and once in the evening, and I’ll only use Facebook and Twitter on a computer for work.

My Thoughts So Far

I think this has been a worthwhile exercise so far. I’m definitely more aware of my technology use during the day than I ever have been, and I’ve reduced my use of social media, which was the primary way I wasted time.

In addition to limiting my use of technology, I’ve also been using a daily planner for the past two weeks, and I’ve been time blocking. I’ve found that combination boosted my productivity over the last two weeks. The planning process is definitely a time commitment in and of itself, but I’ve found planning each day helps me work more efficiently, particularly on creative tasks and longer-term projects. I am better able to maintain focus on a specific task when I know I am only going to do it for a set period of time.

Also, as a woman balancing full-time work and mothering a 2-year-old, I’ve found mapping out my days in detail gives me a much more realistic picture, and therefore a much more realistic plan, of what personal goals I can accomplish in the limited free time I currently have.


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