I recently finished “Digital Essentialism” by Cal Newport. As part of my resolution to get more value from the books I read, I will be conducting his recommended “Digital Declutter” experiment for the next 30 days.

As such, here are the technology rules I will follow from 2019-02-19 to 2019-03-21.

The Rules

  • Email
    • My personal email will be checked once per day.
    • I already do this, but feel like it is a useful habit, so I am continuing it.
  • Text messaging / message services
    • All group threads will be muted.
  • Reddit
    • I will not use Reddit during this time. It’s a black hole!
  • Streaks
    • I will not use my habit tracking app during this time and will pause all habits it is tracking.
  • Streaming Video Media
    • Includes:
      • YouTube
      • Netflix
      • Amazon Prime
      • etc.
    • I will limit this to no more than 5 hours per week. It must be with my wife or friends. I will track it with a sticky note next to the TV.
  • IMDB
    • I will not use IMDB during this month.

Exemptions and Operating Procedures

This a list of apps or services I which are exempted from this experiment.

  • Anylist
    • I use this service to keep track of my grocery list with my wife.
    • I do not get distracted by it (and its notifications are turned off), so I will continue to use it.
  • Audible
    • I love reading and this is one of my primary consumption methods.
  • Evernote
    • I’m planning a trip to Argentina and am using it to help organize my trip.
  • Google Maps & Transit
    • These allow me to get around the city.
  • Insight Timer
    • It’s how I meditate.
  • Meetup
    • This is how I will participate in meetups and in-person events.
  • Spotify
    • I listen to this at work to block out noise or while I am cooking at home.
  • Things 3
    • It’s how I fulfill on my commitments in life.
  • WhatsApp
    • I will continue to use this because my friends and wife and I are using it to plan our trip to Argentina.
    • All group threads will be muted to reduce the amount of notifications I receive.
  • YNAB
    • This keeps my financial life sane. :)

High Quality Activities

What? You say that full energy given to those sixteen hours will listen the value of the business eight? Not so. On the contrary, it will assuredly increase the value of the business eight. One of the chief things which my typical man has to learn is that the mental faculties are capable of a continuous hard activity; they do not tire like an arm or a leg. All they want is change - not rest, except in sleep.

- Arnold Bennett

Guiding Principles:

  1. Prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption.
  2. Use skills to produce valuable skills in the physical world.
  3. Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions.

The List:

This is a list of the high quality leisure activites I will actively pursue during this experiment.

  • Socializing
    • Go out to coffee with people
    • Attend Meetup events
    • Cook for people
  • Gym
    • Work out 5 times a week
  • Fix or improve 1 thing in our apartment or life per week. Ideas:
    • Leaky faucet
    • Loose door in hallway
    • Fraying car seatbelt
    • Burned out lights in car’s dashboard
  • Read books
  • Puzzles
    • Complete a puzzle with Sinah