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How to Declutter Your Digital Life

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen Published on November 10, 2020 in News Reel Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

Watching a documentary about being to addicted to the screen is kinda paradoxical isn’t it? Anyhow… that’s what I did.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much of my life really is digital.

I like to listen to a podcast in the morning while I hang out with my son. I work with design and programming the whole day, and then often watch a screen or listen to some kind of audio in the evening.

It’s shocking at times to assess the time you put down on certain things.

Now, I think all-things digital are awesome. The screen can hold an array of great hobbies, or a job you enjoy. But as with all good things, too much isn’t good.

A couple of Saturdays ago, me and my family decided to take a digital off-day and drop both audio and screen time for the entire day. It was such a detox, and so much easier when we didn’t do it alone.

Digital declutter day means hanging with my son. And since we’re a beanie-brand, of course there has to be a Bay Bee on the picture.

We (as a general culture) suffer from sensory overload all the time, and if we don’t get ahead of it, it can consume us. Doing a detox when you’re in a more busy period, is necessary, but can be hard.

I have at times done a few tweaks to my life that turned out helpful, and I thought I’d share them.

1. Only turn on notifications on the most essential of apps

My Facebook and my Instagram (which I need for work) always have notifications turned off. Still I don’t miss a thing, because I check them. The difference is, I decide when it’s time to do it, not digital dings from my devices.

This helped me much more than I had anticipated.

When last summer came around, I was pretty stressed out, and I decided to delete both Instagram and Facebook. It wasn’t that I never would use them, but if I did, I’d have to install them first.

The amount of times I mindlessly took my phone up and swiped from screen to screen, realizing there were nowhere to go, was outright scary.

After that detox lasting about a month, I still use both FB and IG way less (months and months later).

It kinda got out of my system.

2. Get a non-digital hobby

My mother loves knitting, as y’all know by now. Your knit products from Red Hat Factory may or may not have been knit on a roadtrip, on an airplane, during a family birthday gathering or my mom’s fun night out with friends. She knits till her hands burn, and then some more.

If you have a digital hobby, I believe it’s important to pair it with a physical one, because a screen is both a stimulant, and more straining on your eyes than you think.

Woodwork, reading or getting out in nature — whatever’s not on a screen — puts the eyes (and maybe even the soul) to rest.

Maybe it’s time to go on those hikes you watched on Instagram instead of just liking them?

You can read about a great hike in Norway right here.

Hiking Besseggen to rest
From our hike to Besseggen, Norway in 2019.

3. Decide what to do before you do it

Having a lot of ADHD tendencies, this one is the hardest for me, and I bet some, if not all, of you can relate.

I get an idea and act on it very fast. I’ll be sitting working on an article for Red Hat Factory, when an idea for a great Instagram Reel pops up, and suddenly I’m there, looking for material for that Reel. And the article… well, he is crying alone in my drafts.

It’s so easy to just pop open Instagram and start scrolling. What if instead you were intentional. No shame in wasting three hours scrolling through memes if that was what you needed. But randomly ending up in such a rabbit hole because you didn’t think before you picked up your phone, is worse.

I try to start my mornings (being self employed) deciding what to do and making a to do list. Thinking before I jump into it. And when it comes to new ideas for Red Hat Factory, I try to run them by someone else before deciding.

Man in Norwegian cabin
Map out the way before you start walking.

4. Saying “no” is actually more important than you think

One of the best things I did after this summer was going though all my side projects and just shutting them down one by one.

“No, I’ll not do that this season,” and “this one has to go…” and “you must die. Sorry…”

It might sound like you’re killing creativity by shutting down creative side-projects, but if you have too many of them, it might be just what is needed.

In my case I shut down almost everything but Red Hat Factory, and work has been more refreshing than ever since then. All my stray ideas can be snuffed out instantly, leaving space for me to go through with the “non-stray” ones, and give them the time it takes to be done properly.

This is literally why the new sweater finally came out. And two new products are already in the making.

Hand knit wool sweater in Norwegian mountains
This sweater is literally the result of carving out time for Red Hat Factory by saying “no” to a lot of other things.

Wrapping up

I am in no way a “chill out-guru,” but as you might or might not know, one of Red Hat Factory’s value statements is the following.

“Our aim is to honor handcrafting skills passed down through generations, and to reclaim that space of no-stress that gives a worker the ability to perform his or her best while enjoying the craft.”

So seeking out chill spaces is part of our core.

My mom chilling and knitting.

Speaking of staying with one activity at a time. I began (and finished first draft) of this article after beginning to watch a Netflix documentary about social media.

I got 10 minutes and 37 seconds in, before my mind started wandering, and this article came to life.

I could chalk it up to ADHD, but even if life’s various challenges are different for all of us, I still believe that we should play our very best game with the cards we’re given. And playing your best game requires putting as many distractions as possible aside.

Now, what are your best tips for decluttering our digital lives?

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