Why a Detox and Declutter?

Digital declutter. A stylised photo of a hoarder's house. Room is full of clothes and household items

Digital declutter

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimism lays out a comprehensive philosophy about digital technology consumption, in large part driven by the observation that:

“We added new technologies to the periphery of our experience for minor reasons, then woke one morning to discover that they had colonized the core of our daily life.“

Cal Newport

This sense of having lost control over the technologies we use and the idea that they are instead using us is a common theme and one I recognise in myself and others.

Newport makes three observations:

  1. Clutter is costly. We lose the benefit of each app / service when swamped with many.
  2. Optimisation is important. How we use tech is important. It should support something we value.
  3. Intentionality is satisfying. Exercising free will over how we engage with technology feels good.

This is then followed by a detailed outline of a 30-day declutter and reintegration process driven by the need to take a step back and declutter life, embrace worldly interactions and pursuits, embark on periods of solitude and move towards a relationship with technology where it serves something that you deeply value. 

The 30-day period is a benchmark for how long our brain usually needs to reset the dopamine system and break addictive cycles. 

There are a number of complex factors that mean this period may differ from person to person, but many years of experience point towards this being a sensible target. She explains the difficulty of the first 14 days where ‘you’ll feel worse before you feel better’, before the clouds begin to lift, and the pleasures of day-to-day life start to re-emerge.