Don't digital detox - just digital declutter
As anyone who’s seen my handbag, my car or my desk can tell you, I’m a shameless hoarder.
I hadn’t realised just how deep the problem went though until I packed up my room this weekend ready to move house.
Over the course of two days an ungodly amount of out-of-date paracetamol, receipts from 2014 and a set of unused Davina McCall weights emerged.
Unfortunately I take the same approach to my digital life and it’s becoming increasingly counterproductive.
The more I think about the twenty time-wasting apps on my phone, the thousands of shows on my Netflix account and the five million (rough estimation) daily email newsletters I subscribe to, the less likely I am to actually use, watch or read any of them.
This is the problem – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by technology and, especially in the wake of Mental Health Awareness Week, we need to take some realistic steps to tackle this before we all flush our phones down the loo and push our computers out the window.
So what’s the answer?
Increasingly people are ‘digital detoxing’ to remove tech from their lives and, although it would make my job as a tech writer somewhat challenging, it’s an idea that really appeals to me.
But I also don’t think that going completely cold turkey on tech is particularly realistic nowadays, and shutting yourself off from the benefits it brings would be just as frustrating.
On Sunday I received my weekend edition of lifestyle newsletter Emerald Street. Its headline was ‘I will never digital detox’ and, of course, I nearly deleted it.
In the email Anna-Marie Crowhurst talks about how she spent two weeks internet-less and why, although it’s a nice idea, going fully ‘offline’ is actually expensive, time-consuming and stressful.
Basically, we’re too used to living with digital to put Pandora back in her Wi-Fi box.
Last year the intrepid Rachel Fish ditched her phone for a week and she found that moderation was key.
Realistically it’s unlikely that many of us are going to completely give up on digital. But getting rid of the things that – if we’re brutally honest with ourselves – we aren’t using, could be the way to go.
I’m never going to use my Davina McCall weights and I’ve accepted that.
Equally, I’m never going to read the Wall Street Journal newsletter that I’ve religiously deleted, unopened, every day for the past year.
It’s easy to forget that you have control over the tech in your life but the fact is that – for now at least – we’re still the ones in charge.
Now that my bedroom is decluttered I’m going to streamline my tech too – for example, I’ll keep the Google Maps app that I’d literally be lost without but get rid of about half of my email newsletters.
It’s definitely possible to enjoy the good bits of tech without it getting on top of you, it just takes a bit of planning.
So, today is the day I unsubscribe to feeling overwhelmed by technology.
And also to the Wall Street Journal.