Simplifying digital life

I tend to dislike New Year’s Resolutions – if you want to do a new beneficial thing, why aren’t you starting now? Still, the timing works out, and I will barely have a moment to spare between now and early January. So as a New Year’s Resolution I’d like to simplify my digital life. I need to begin with an audit – catalog every single online service I’m subscribed to/a member of, and figure out every single organisation/service/whatever that spams my mailbox on a regular basis. Try to remember my passwords, if necessary. Probably document them, too, and file them away in an encrypted location. Perform a software audit on my phone.

I’m on the lookout to find something that can lock the facebook app on my phone to certain hours. I’m already umming and ahhing about whether or not to delete accounts from certain services that I like, but don’t often use. For example, Instagram. I look at it a few times a week. It doesn’t seem to be a huge drain on my time. I sort of like scrolling back through photos I’ve taken, even though I take perhaps one or two per month. So what would I gain by deleting it? Well, the whole point of this simplification business is that if you don’t have a good, clear reason for retaining something you ought to knock it on the head. Leave space for more productive and life-affirming habits to spring up in their place, perhaps?

There are a few sources online to look at that discuss a sort of digital life audit, but perhaps fewer than I expected. This seems to be the pick of them, but there are also examples here and here. Nothing too groundbreaking. So in list form, I will try to:

  • List out all the companies that are regularly emailing me and see if I can unsubscribe from unnecessary mailing lists
  • Remove apps from my phone that I don’t want to continue to spend time on
  • Make a list of the online accounts I have, make sure I know which email address matches to each, and catalog their passwords
  • I’m going to try to redirect personal emails to one particular address, and leave the other for online accounts/notifications/spam.

I don’t think I’ll audit the programs installed on my laptop in the same way as my phone. Reason being, I don’t carry my laptop with me everywhere and don’t feel as though having utilities like Audacity tucked away weighs on my mind the same way as the games on my phone do.

If anyone has tips for doing an audit of digital life, or can share their experience of doing so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. What did you cut, how did you go about it, how did you feel after you’d finished it? Importantly, did you find yourself regressing later?


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