Life is full of distractions. And within the new age of social media, it’s now easier than ever to lose track of what is important and get sucked into the online world: flashy adverts, an infinite amount of cat videos & seeing the most aesthetically pleasing parts of your friends’ everyday lives are at our disposal.
As a minimalist, I feel the need to simplify my life in order to appreciate the more important parts. Did you know that most young people spend somewhere around 4 hours a day looking at their devices? And as a 21-year-old millennium, I know how easy it is to be sucked into the addictive digital world of social networking and spend more time than I should scrolling mindlessly!
In this blog post, I will be letting you guys know how to simplify your online presence as well as decluttering your devices.
Side note: this is simply WHAT I DO & you are in no way obliged to follow if it does not resonate with you.
Minimalism is a journey to which every person creates their own individual path & set of guidelines to follow. What you are about to read is what works for me and has brought more happiness and clarity into my own life!
This one is a bit of a longer read, so put your devices on silent, grab yourself a cup of tea, a fluffy blanket & let’s get started!
I for one, am on my phone too much sometimes, so I try to find ways to limit myself to get my eyes to the sky & off the screen! Too much phone screen time is basically digging yourself a hole to which you throw into & wave goodbye to time and productivity.
I know oh to well when my iPhone gets full of photos & videos, and I constantly get pestered by the iCloud to upgrade to more space! I personally own a huge hard drive on my computer so I refuse to buy more iCloud storage unless it is a complete necessity!
I always move the things that I really want to keep over to my hard-drive.
However, as a minimalist, I believe that I should live more with less.
So what should you declutter on your phone?
Firstly, delete the apps you don’t need. And yes, this includes social media! Be sure to delete any apps you hardly/ no longer use.
You can use a method where if you have not had a need to use a particular app for more than a few weeks or months, then delete it. This is very similar to not having ‘just in case’ physical items in your home.
I personally keep Instagram & Pinterest on my phone as marketing tools (but I will get onto that later). However, I have deleted my Twitter account permanently and I no longer have the Facebook app on my phone.
When I post on Insta, I set the posts to share on Facebook too, so I no longer need to post things on my Facebook pages from my phone, meaning that the Facebook app no longer needs to exist on my phone.
The next biggie that clutters up your phone (and your mind) is media such as photos, videos, documents and the other noise such as screenshots & memes.
Yes, I know that those 100 cat memes might be absolutely hilarious, but you’ve gotta let that digital clutter go!
As a teacher, my phone gets filled up on pretty much a daily basis with lesson material that I have to download for printing.
On top of that, I usually take anywhere between 10 to 30 photos every time I take photos of my food for my Hello Vegan Bee social networks.
As you can probably imagine, I am always going through my phones media, deleting everything that I do not need.
Although this one may take a lot of time & energy, it is completely worth it. Afterwards, you feel so free, just like letting go of physical possessions.
Any photos & videos that are really worth keeping can go onto your external storage device.
This one may seem a little harsh, but I have deleted most of my contacts on my phone. My phone now only stores the phone numbers of my family & close friends.
I am very picky about the people I have in my life (and I think everyone should be), so I only keep my closest & most valued people at my closest call of contact.
I no longer keep people who I have spoken to just a few times or those ‘just in case’ numbers such as my local GP or organisations that I hardly call. It simply seems pointless, when I can look up any company phone numbers I need in under 30 seconds.
Next, we’re going to talk about how to minimise your social media usage!
This is probably the nest big biggie for most of you ( and it definitely is for me)! Thankfully, so much of the work is already done for you now you have downsized your phone & social media, therefore removing so many distractions.
The most obvious thing you can do next is to stop notifications from popping up on your screen. There is nothing more enticing to get back scrolling than to be constantly bombarded by notifications.
Make it so that the only way you can check your notifications is by purposefully going onto the app. Believe me, this will stop you from picking up your phone as much.
If you own an iPhone, the next thing to do is to put it on to ‘sleep mode’. I very rarely take my phone off of sleep mode now unless I am expecting a phone call. If you are not an iPhone user, put your phone on silent without any vibrate settings.
Finally & possibly one of the most effective things I have done to remove distractions is to put your phone on greyscale. Having a phone with bright flashy colours is the equivalent to being a kid in a candy shop.
You can put it on greyscale and suddenly, Instagram and your other colourful apps don’t look as exciting, basically removing the appeal. This is why putting your phone to greyscale is so awesome!
Here is a link to the method I use to turn my greyscale on and off with the click of a button (well, 3 to be specific). I do this because I regularly upload pictures of my food to Hello Vegan Bee, which means I need to be able to quickly turn my colour settings on and off to edit photos.
Social Media Priorities
This is possibly going to be the hardest steps for most people!
As mentioned previously, my social media platforms are purely used as advertising tools for my businesses. Everything that does not enhance & promote them has been deactivated & is gone for good.
If you are like me, and you want to get more serious about how to use social media as a business tool, rather than a place to show every detail of your life, then these tips will be essential to you.
On my Instagram accounts (go follow me), I deleted everything that was irrelevant to my career. For example, my music page (@jazzyheath) was completely full of things from my personal life, from almost daily posts about what I was up to & I was to posting on my story constantly. I almost felt obliged to let my followers know what I was doing in my daily life.
When I turned minimalist and started really thinking about what I wanted my social media to be & how I could use it in a way that brought me more joy. After a hard think, I decided to delete any content that was not relevant to my music career.
The same went for Hello Vegan Bee; I deleted everything that didn’t fit my aesthetic and both my pages looked so much better because of it.
On top of that, I unfollowed most of the people that I was following to make my feed less noisy.
Now I only follow my close friends and pages that are relevant to my businesses.
At the end of 2018, I decided to completely downsize my personal profile on Facebook. I started by deleting & untagging any photos relating to me that I didn’t want people to see.
This included pictures of me and family (don’t worry, I saved them to my hard drive instead), to pictures of me partying at uni (I definitely didn’t want my future employers & business partners to see them)!
This is a step I would really recommend doing at the end of every ‘era’ in your life. For example, when you finish school or a job, go through your Facebook and have a purge of things that no longer fit who you are.
This stops your profile looking & feeling flooded & overwhelming. It also keeps your private life private, while letting people know things about your life on your own terms.
The way I see it, if someone really wants to know about my life, they should be close enough to me to be able to meet up for coffee and have meaningful conversations. If the relationship is not that close, why should they be able to know my personal life? Just saying.
After that, I purged my friend list! Back before my first major friend list ‘cull’, my friends’ list was a whopping 1,200 people, over half of which, I hadn’t spoken to since high school!
It seemed completely pointless to let them all have access what was going on in my life when we didn’t even know anything about each other any more and we certainly weren’t even making an effort to communicate with each other!
I spent an entire evening deleting and deleting, until finally, my Facebook friends made up of just over 500 people, whom of which are mainly, family, close & long term friends, promoters & people who I do business with.
Another point I should make before moving on is that, since moving to Japan, I am always discovering new things and going to new places. Instead of posting it to Facebook, I send my endeavours privately to my closest friends & family via WhatsApp.
I have found that this works so much better than posting to Facebook as it means I can communicate directly to my closest people.
After that huge Facebook declutter, my head felt so much clearer and I felt so much more in control about who had access to my personal life.
Now you have completely minimised your phone and social media! Congratulations!
Now let’s move on to tackle your computer!
Clean Up the Desktop
The first thing to do when on the computer is to move everything from your desktop into folders. There is nothing more brain frazzling than a desktop that is full of folders, pictures and general noisy clutter.
Start by putting your files into the correct folders off of your desktop. We will get to how to do that in more detail later, but for now, just get them off of your main desktop screen.
The next thing to do is to get yourself a simple, minimalist wallpaper. Some people like pure block colours, which I sometimes do too, although, at the moment, I have this simple textured photo of an unfinished painted wall. It is still super simple but adds a bit of personality to my laptop.
Another quick thing you can do is to only have the essential apps on your dock and make it invisible to your desktop until you bring your mouse to that area of the screen. You can do all of this in your System Preferences.
Below is a picture of my desktop to inspire you. As you can see, the only things I have on my desktop are my hard drives.
My final tip for your general computer display is to use full-screen mode whenever possible. This removes distractions and generally looks a lot cleaner.
Digitalising Physical Possessions
As previously stated, I have a hard drive with a HUGE amount of storage. As someone who creates a lot of music, my internal hard drive gets full very quickly. This is why everything that is on my computer is stored directly on my hard drive. This is great because it means I can create as much as I like without having my storage getting full all of the time.
I would seriously recommend investing in a hard drive to store everything on your computer on and then spending a good amount of time transferring everything onto it.
After that, regularly go through your computer to transfer everything over. If a hard drive doesn’t seem a good option for you, think about investing in iCloud storage.
This leads me nicely onto my next point…
Organise with folders – less is more
Pretty much my entire hard drive is ordered to perfection with well-labelled folders. I have a lot to store because I have so many things from memories, to music, to blogging documents & books which means, I need everything simply ordered & laid out to navigate around my storage with ease.
Some easy ways to do this is by numbering, colour tagging & having obvious names for things.
What Should I Digitalise?
As a minimalist, it’s not ideal to have scraps of paper & books lying around, making your space untidy. This is why I recommend digitalising lots of these kinds of items by taking photos or scanning them.
These things could include documents, bills & receipts.
For things like books, newspapers & magazines, you can go to your local library or get online subscriptions to read all of your favourite content. I personally love my Kindle tablet for this reason.
Another thing you can digitalise is music. Streaming has rapidly become the most popular method of music consumption. You can stream & rent your favourite music for a monthly fee. Alternatively, you can rip your CD’s onto your storage device.
Finally, I want to talk a little bit about decluttering your inbox. If you’re anything like I used to be, I was overwhelmed with thousands of emails that I had looked at once & not deleted, letting them collect digital dust over the years (they were literally being saved since my high school days over 6 years ago)!
Decluttering my email was the first thing I did when I started downsizing my online life (ironically it’s the last thing I feel the need to discuss), and it was probably one of the most time-consuming things to do! So make sure you give yourself lots of time to complete this!
To declutter your inbox, simply go through all of your unnecessary subscriptions & unsubscribe to everything that you definitely don’t need or want. This saves me so much more time every day not being bombarded with advertisement emails.
The next, final & most obvious step is to go through & delete, delete, delete! It feels so refreshing when you have gone through your entire inbox to only keep what is important!