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30-Day “Digital Declutter”: What I Learned From This Experiment


As an online entrepreneur, I used to think that if I wasn’t connected 24/7 it would negatively impact my business. That was until I undertook a 30-day ‘digital declutter’ as recommended by Cal Newport in his book, Digital Minimalism.
by: Joséphine Anselin
photo: Pexels

Listen to article (Part I)


The whole point of this type of experiment is not to completely eliminate technology from your life. Instead, it is to identify bad digital habits accumulated over time and to replace them with a more intentional set of behaviors. In other words, to make technology work for you rather than against you.

Below are the 3 most important lessons I learned throughout this process and some practical tips for applying them to your own business and life in general.

LESSON 1: NOTIFICATIONS DO TRULY KILL YOUR ABILITY TO FOCUS

All day long, a never-ending flow of messages is competing for our time and attention. Whether it’s a WhatsApp message from a friend, an email from a client or a new comment on a Facebook post – our phones are constantly buzzing. Each notification interrupts us from the task at hand and before we know it, we get to the end of the day feeling like we haven’t achieved anything.

I’m going to be honest; I used to think that I had enough willpower to just ignore notifications. But during my digital declutter I finally decided to turn off all notifications from my phone.

For the first few days I was constantly worried that I would be missing out on a project opportunity or that I would be turning away clients by not instantly replying to their emails. But I very quickly realised that no one cared whether I was replying within the hour or a little later.

As a direct result of not being distracted by constant notifications, I was able to complete work projects in half the time it usually took me. This left me with more time for prospecting, resulted in a number of new clients and even gave me some free time to get out on lunchtime runs.

Action step: turn off all notifications on your phone and schedule specific times each day for emailing, texting and social media posts and interactions.


Listen to article (Part II)


LESSON 2: YOU DON’T NEED TO BE ON EVERY SINGLE SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNEL

When you start a new business it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to be on every single social network out there to grow your brand and expand your client base. I certainly felt like that.

But through my digital declutter experiment I discovered not only that this wasn’t the case but also that this approach could actually do more harm than good. In fact, if you don’t have a large marketing team at your disposal you risk spreading yourself too thin. The end result will probably be a lot of time spent creating and publishing content across all of your social media platforms with only mediocre results achieved on each channel. As I realized, a much better tactic is to pick 1-2 channels on which to focus your time, efforts and marketing budget on.

I used Apple’s Screen Time app to measure how much time I was spending per week on every social media app. Based on that number, the amount of reach, engagement and new customers I was acquiring through each channel I calculated an ROI value for each social media network. It quickly became clear that in terms of real business results, certain social media channels just weren’t worth my effort, at least not at this point in time.

Focusing on just two channels for my business gave me the time to develop a much more targeted social media strategy and to create higher quality content. Which, surprise surprise, lead to much better results by the end of the month.

Action step: Based on the traffic each of your channels is already generating, your target audience, your favorite content format and your marketing objectives, choose the social media networks that make the most sense for your brand. Whatever number of channels you end up selecting, make sure you have the resources available within your team to effectively manage them.

LESSON 3: UNPLUGGING CAN MASSIVELY BOOST YOUR CREATIVITY

This one was the most unexpected for me. In fact, before going through the digital declutter process, I hadn’t quite realized how much information and media I was consuming each day and how this was affecting my headspace.

During my 30-day digital declutter I decided to stop listening to any podcasts, audio books or YouTube videos. In the first few days I felt frustrated; surely running and listening to a podcast at the same time was more productive than just running. But then I noticed that I started to feel calmer and less anxious throughout the day. Reducing the sheer amount of information I was absorbing on a daily basis also helped come up with more novel and creative ideas for my business. And I even began to look forward to my runs without earphones, because I often came back from them with more clarity, focus and new ideas.

Action step: Go for walks without your phone or music and avoid turning on music or TV as ‘background noise’. If you want to take it to the next level, make an inventory of all the media you consume and then commit to letting go of it for 30 days. It’s worth it, I promise!

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