Realise you’re sick of it Even before my 30-day digital declutter, I hadn’t really used Facebook in months. I increasingly felt like it offered nothing and just filled up my attention with things I didn’t really care about. Since then I only checked in on it once or twice and each time there were 20+ “pretend” notifications that felt like Facebook was getting really needy. Time to cut the cord.
In November 2020 I started reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Newport’s compelling writing style alongside the logic of his argument quickly moved me into action and I decided to embark on what he calls a 30-day Digital Declutter. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport The philosophy of digital minimalism is not simply to rid ourselves of technology but to be clear on what we use and why, so that we can free ourselves of the compulsive use that apps are so effective at fostering.
My Kindle is one of my favourite gifts from my wife. I resisted the idea of an electronic reader for a long time, but after seeing Gina use hers on holiday and at home, my curiosity grew. Besides the convenience, a big selling point for me was highlighting—being able to select and save passages from what I was reading. I rarely read without taking notes, so being able to save and review notes digitally was an irresistible proposition.
Organising anything with Trello is a joy: Web and mobile versions of Trello mean you can easily edit your projects from anywhere. A lot of writing apps aren’t so portable. Simple to use: intuitive, visual and very low barrier to entry All backed up to The Cloud ☁️ Really easy to drag and drop images into cards, as well as adding checklists It’s freeeeeee You might use Trello to manage projects, weddings, holidays… but a blog?
It’s been five months since I launched this blog. I’ve written 14 articles, generated a whopping £2.68 in Amazon referral fees, and built a staggering 19-strong subscriber list. But I wasn’t an overnight success. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point of publishing these posts. For years, I amassed notes and shared nothing. I was held back by a multitude of fears that pin most people down when they consider sharing their creative work.
I recently read Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! It’s a short book of excellent advice on getting your creative work out there, and particularly on sharing your ongoing creative process rather than just presenting your final product. Early on Austin talks about the habit of reading obituaries each morning as a gentle way of re-focusing on what’s truly important to you. I have many weird habits as it is so I was happy to add this to the heap.
We are what we do, consistently: our days are strung together through the momentum of our habits, both good and bad. Well-intentioned habits can easily become stale or harmful, so being able to spot and remodel them is perhaps one of the most valuable life skills we can learn. A habit is automatic: it often flashes past our eyes before we know what’s happening. But with a little amplification of awareness, we can break the habit down into three parts:
It’s already been 2 weeks since I had my last drink, and for the next 3 or so months, I won’t be drinking any alcohol. So far my war medals include surviving an afterparty with a free bar, living with 6 bottles of leftover wedding wine, and managing to eat a delicious leg of lamb without a red wine chaser. I know, right? #FirstWorldProblems But why? I’m not here to preach or convince you—these are just my reasons for trying Sober Spring, with a little extra information thrown in for the curious.
When our own choices turn to compulsions, we suffer a loss of meaning. It’s when “I choose to” becomes “I should” or “I have to”. Perhaps a habit felt great at first, but now we’re squeezing everything possible out of it. Perhaps our situation has changed. Regardless, the inner judge takes up the war cry, constantly nagging and attacking. Keep moving, keep pushing, this is important. It can easily become a cruel tyrant, a thoughtless momentum.
Some decisions are really tough. Especially those that involve challenge, risk, and the potential for failure. As a result, we are swamped in doubt. Fear. Hesitation. Guilt. Frustration. The end result is often an awkward stumble in no particular direction. It seems so complicated. There’s so much to weigh up. How will I know if it’s the right decision? It’s not complicated. In fact, there are only two options: Act or don’t.