Simple digital habits
I find it difficult to recall a time before the internet, social media and smartphones. It’s hard to believe that they’ve only been around for a quarter of my life – that’s over three decades that I survived without them!
Before I share how I manage my technology, I’d like to say that I think the online world is pretty awesome. It has enabled me to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and market my coaching business. I met my man at the Oxford Flickr meet, so you could say that I’m pretty invested in the benefits that the digital world can bring!
What I realise, though, is that without setting a few boundaries, technology can eat away at our time and in some cases, impact on how we feel – believe me, I’ve been there! For this reason, I often find myself reviewing my processes and putting some simple digital habits in place. After all, even the best-laid plans can fall by the wayside when those cheeky social media platforms take hold!
Sharing my creativity online
When I started blogging and using social media in 2008 my motivations were to share my creative work, engage with like-minded folk and unwind after a busy day at work. After years of carrying my artwork around in a portfolio, it was wonderful to curate a space to showcase my creative projects – from styling and photography to home improvements. I’ll always be grateful for this, and the mind-blowing opportunities it has brought to my door.
Nowadays my website, newsletter, blog and social media channels are where I connect with my clients and online community. My blog posts are inspired by the things that come up in my life and work, and I use the social media channels as and when I have something of value to say or share (though I must admit, I find the developing algorithms and the onslaught of advertisements can make this a challenge).
As a small part of my job involves sitting behind a computer and being online, it’s important to me that I implement some simple digital habits and put a few healthy boundaries in place. This isn’t, by any means, the only way to approach things, but it works for me. As with everything I share here, please feel free to take the ideas that resonate with you.
1. iMac and iPad
This one is simple. I only use my computer and tablet when I’m working. Otherwise, they’re stored away in my office. On my computer, I keep my desktop clear of files and I regularly tidy and remove the things that I no longer need – files, folders, bookmarks and so on. I’m also fairly ruthless with my photos, I download everything from my camera and phone, and I delete the photos I don’t want to keep. I’d rather have a few carefully chosen photos from a day out or holiday, than hundreds that I’ll never look at again. A simple digital habit that I’m certain my future self will thank me for!
As with everything in life, I like to keep my phone as simple as possible. I’ve removed all the apps that I don’t use and anything I can’t remove, or I find distracting, I store away in a folder. When the social media apps get the better of me, I delete them from my phone. This resets the balance and when I re-install them, I tend to use them less.
I use phone calls and text messages, as well as, Zoom, Skype, Signal and WhatsApp to keep in touch with my family and friends. With the exception of phone calls, I’ve turned off all the phone notifications. This enables me to check things in my own time and in my own way. I find it’s a more productive way of responding to people.
I like to keep my phone usage in check by monitoring my screen time. If I’ve clocked up a lot of screen hours, it motivates me to use my phone with a little more intention. During the week, I don’t look at my phone until I start work and at the weekend, I barely pick it up. I also regularly use the do not disturb setting. In the evening and at night my phone is put on silent and stored in my office. I use a traditional alarm clock because I prefer to keep my bedroom a technology-free zone.
3. Website and blog
I check my website and blog every weekday and I currently publish one post each month – you can subscribe here. This has changed considerably since the early days of blogging and as a minimalist, I welcome a less but better approach! Here are a few of my recent articles:
January: Setting my intention for the new year with a word
February: Simple everyday rituals to support your creative work and life
March: How to organise your schedule, surroundings and digital life
April: Simple digital habits that support my life and work
4. Social media
Social media is an area that I’ve struggled with the most. Over the years, I’ve definitely had a love/hate relationship with it. In fact, I’m sad to admit that the quick hit of likes and instant feedback has occasionally knocked me off my creative path. For this reason, I definitely feel that social media can hamper creative growth.
Things are very different now, and many of the platforms aren’t as joyful as they used to be – which, for me, makes them less addictive! For my business, I use Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook and I tend to only visit them when I have something of value to say or share. I deleted my personal Facebook profile last year which felt pretty liberating. I’m always evaluating what I use and I’m not afraid to drop something if it’s no longer working for me.
5. Inboxes and email
My inboxes are valuable spaces and I work hard to keep them free of clutter. I have three inboxes (personal, coaching and creativity/blogging) and I process them on average once a day. I also regularly unsubscribe from mailing lists that no longer resonate to keep my incoming emails to a minimum.
In addition to my monthly blog post, I send a monthly letter to my clients and online community. My letters contain inspiration and motivation, with links to my latest blog posts and updates about my coaching. I also share personal insights that I wouldn’t usually publish on my blog. If you’d like to receive them, you can sign up here, and please feel free to unsubscribe when they’re longer working for you! Here are a few of my recent letters:
January: Embracing failure and my word for 2019
February: Morning pages, podcasts and a new address!
March: Let’s get organised for spring
April: Let’s make ourselves accountable to our dreams and goals
7. Time offline
I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember, and I’ve noticed that my ideas can suffer when I consume too much content. It’s important to me that my inspiration comes from my relationship with the real world rather than the online one. For this reason, I love and value spending time offline.
Switching off provides me with some uninterrupted thinking time. It helps me to silence the noise and distraction and connect with my creativity and inner voice. Nowadays I take my evenings, weekends and holidays almost entirely offline. I champion regularly switching off and limiting who I follow and what I consume. This helps me to be fully present and to truly engage with our amazing world and the inspiring people in it.
How to process your inbox and free up more time
The benefits of taking a week offline
How to set digital boundaries when you’re running a creative business
Thank you, as always, for stopping by. If you’re planning to implement some simple digital habits I wish you the best of luck. Until next time, I’ll see you over on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.