I started the year with half of my stuff gone.
A winter coat went to my friend, a bike rack made my co-worker happy, and most items were donated and sent to the Philippines through balikbayan boxes.
After the tiring purging, I started the balikbayan box shopping ban. What a relief. What else is there to do next? (I somehow dreaded answering that question.)
Next challenge: digital minimalism.
I’m not sure if Marie Kondo (heads up: she’s on Netflix) can help me in decluttering my digital mess. So what is digital minimalism? It has something to do with decluttering what’s inside your gadgets and spending time on the Internet particularly on social media.
To explain it better, I’ll enumerate how I plan to embrace this lifestyle.
Steps in Becoming a Digital Minimalist
I am still a newbie and may take a long time for me to adapt the habit but I’ll give it a go.
1. Go paperless. I make sure to sign up for downloadable bank statement that I seldom get letter in the mail except for credit offer like lower interest rate for a TD line of credit.
2. Scan documents. Nowadays, I often use my printer for scanning than printing:
- School documents and certificates
- Personal record like birth certificate, passport, and IDs
- Income tax return (I should keep the hard copy for 6 years according to Canada Revenue Agency)
- Tutorial notes (from financial books like forex and stocks)
- Receipt (remittance, gadgets)
3. Purge mobile devices. My motivation in doing this, is to recover a higher storage capacity for my Apple devices.
- Delete apps that I seldom use.
- Use default apps by Apple like Mail and Safari instead of downloading apps.
- Install app to a gadget with more storage. I downloaded some apps only in my iPad which has 32 GB.
- Subscribe for higher iCloud storage (50 GB for $1.35 per month). I back up my photos on iCloud then I copy the photos to my desktop computer. Others suggested Google Photos and Dropbox.
These are the mobile apps in my phone:
Default apps often use: Notes, Calendar, and Camera
Travel: Google Maps, maps.me, and Transit
Communication: Gmail and Viber (free text and call)
Social media: Facebook, Messenger, Facebook Page for blogging, Twitter, and Reddit (my favourite)
Spanish Lesson: Google Translate and Duolingo
Photography: Snapseed and VSCO
Reading and Writing: The Free Dictionary, Goodreads, and WordPress
Entertainment: , YouTube, Netflix, and Overcast for listening to my favourite podcasts
Others: Bank apps, Stocard, and Weather Network
Removing the notifications keeps me from constantly checking of emails and messages resulting to higher productivity. For more tips on how to declutter your phone, watch the video by Matt D’ Avella.
A year later Matt has a new video about digital minimalism. Although, the video is longer than what I prefer to watch (like short videos of Lefie), I finished it. It’s easier to watch than declutter, isn’t it?
4. Back up files on cloud. This I haven’t finished. I’m concern about security and learn of encrypting the files before uploading on the cloud. Before I do this, I’ll declutter my desktop first, delete files and software that I’m not using.
Tip: If you want to clear all the files on your computer, reset it to factory settings. This is what I did to my laptop; it is faster just as the day when I bought it. Clean slate.
5. Back up on external hard drive or USB drive. Besides having a backup on the cloud, I will also save all the files in a hard drive with at least 4 TB storage capacity like Western Digital My Passport or Seagate. USB drive is catching up with external hard drive that you can now buy it with 256GB. That’s close to the storage of my first desktop computer in college.
6. Manage your time on social media. I often use Facebook to reach out to you guys. Ask away. And I linger on Reddit to learn and share my thoughts to the following subreddits: personalfinanceCanada, philippines, phivest, work online etc.
7. Organize photo albums. Be selective on printing photos and delete shots you didn’t like. I even threw some photos because I knew I have a digital copy; this wasn’t easy so I waited till I’m emotionally ready.
8. Borrow books from the library. I love listening to audiobooks for free using my library card. I’m currently listening to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Before that, was a Year of Less by Cait Flanders.
Related Post: Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki
9. Avoid downloading freeware. I stop myself from downloading free software (on CNET). It doesn’t mean that if it’s highly recommended then I get to keep it; I will if it’s worth it or even buy the premium.
10. Schedule decluttering. Choose the time that works best for you. This is what I have to work on becoming consistent. One task that I get right is deleting photos and reading emails while waiting for a train or bus. But once I am on board, I don’t glance on my phone or maybe listen to a podcast instead.
Update: I forgot to add having inbox zero, a task that I’m struggling to accomplish. One way to approach this goal is to unsubscribe to stores and newsletter. Who has all the time to read and response to emails everyday? How do you tackle this gargantuan goal? I could use some tips in this arena; turn me into a victorious gladiator.
Becoming a digital minimalist is tough. I was inspired by hardcore digital nomad who work wherever with portable gadgets and minimal documents like the YouTuber Kraig Adams.
Like with every endeavour, I’ll tackle the challenge one step at a time.
How do you handle digital clutter? What challenges you the most?