What is Digital Decluttering?
It's almost January, and I am tentatively stepping back into the world of online social media.
For the past month I have undertaken a 'cold turkey' approach to my social media, TV and messenger services.
This means I have deleted the apps of Instagram and Facebook off of my phone and had my partner change their passwords, so I couldn't check them on my laptop. I'm not allowed to watch TV by myself, during the day, and on weekdays Whatsapp can be checked after 11am and before 6pm.
"Why?" Many of my friends have asked me. "Why be so strict with yourself?"
But an equal number of them have said "That sounds lovely. I wish I could do that."
So what did I learn?
The importance of presence
For me, as a self-employed person, a lot of my work happens at home on my computer or phone. And a lot of this online work is crucial to the working of my business. Even blogging here now on my computer, I see as essential - in one day, the online world puts me in front of many more people than the physical world.
But, I also see myself sitting on the fence about the trade off we do online. The trade off between time spent scrolling, and actual connection to the world outside.
This especially rings true to me as Yoga, a practice I teach and that guides my life, is rooted in the concept of presence.
Much of the time I spend online drags me out of the present moment, and into a hyper-fast, multi-thought, comparison-loving world. The opposite of what I try to achieve in my practise.
So this month of taking time away from my phone, social media and TV, enabled me to be more present through activities like painting, walking my dog and reading.
2. To do things that are uncomfortable
Being away from my phone and the habitual patterns of checking, scrolling, posting and clicking, has allowed me to reflect on what I am avoiding when I do these habits: often I reach for my phone in moments of boredom. Or when I wish to be distracted from a challenging task.
Not having these distractions at first made me feel uncomfortable, but I soon got used to not following my first thought. Not doing my mind's bidding.
Being uncomfortable and observing our reactions is a foundational yogic principle: the 'Niyama' of 'Tapas'.
Tapas refers to the strength we can cultivate to ignore harmful thoughts, have courage to be steadfast in our own inner knowledge, and trust ourselves.
3. Remember to SLOW DOWN
The world inside my head is a busy place, which is one of the reasons I practice and teach yoga: it helps me to slow down. I suspect that in this day and age, this is pretty normal.
But the online world is even more hectic, loud and distracting than my brain (sometimes I question if that is possible!) So taking a break from the noise has reminded me the importance of slowing down.
To me this has meant simple, intentional acts of slowness. Like a morning meditation, an evening Yin practice, saying no to a last-minute invitation (all of these things especially important during the winter.)
All of which I believe I am too busy for during times of constant scrolling.
Prioritising rest and relaxation, strength and stillness, nourishment and nurturing are some of the most valuable things I have gained from this mini self-led experiment.
So, what about you? Are you thinking of making a change to your digital habits? Would you be interested in doing a Digital Declutter?
If so, I highly recommend the book Digital Minimalism - pictured.
Let me know in the comments if you do decide to take one, and what your personal experience is.