Digital clutter

I have been feeling unbelievably overwhelmed these days. As I decided to investigate further,  I realized that the source of my angst is the digital clutter that I have around me. At any given time, there are so many things going on (personal email, work email, Twitter, blog, Google Reader, chat, Buzz, Skype, Flickr, LinkedIn, iPhone...) that it has become very hard for me to focus on the task at hand. The Internet is very addicting and being in the digital space you always need to be connected, aware of trends, new technologies and so on. I have a constant feeling of lagging behind. I feel I always need to catch up. That is not a good feeling.

I had to make some serious decision on how I manage my time. It started by getting rid of all the stuff that doesn't serve me:

  • I have unfollowed several people on Twitter: People who don't add any value and people who post too much
  • I have deleted several feeds from my Google Reader account. I kind of felt that I had to subscribe to specific blogs but I have decided to keep only the ones that I like (and read) the most
  • I have set up my LinkedIn account not to send me automatic updates
  • I have officially given up Facebook
  • I have configured my iPhone to only look for new emails every hour. I have disabled the incoming mail notification
  • I only access Twitter twice a day
  • I have "email time" at work and I try to keep Outlook offline when I am trying to get work done
  • I only check my personal email twice a day (ideally, I would like to check it only once)
  • I have deleted lots of accounts that I had and was no longer using (Tumblr and Posterous)
  • I am trying to spend less time watching TV. I have decided to learn French instead
  • I try not to use email if can talk the person either on the phone or in person
  • I try to post on my blog at least once a week and no more than twice a week

These are fundamental changes for me. The Internet is an amazing medium but being connected all the time can be stressful and overwhelming.  As the world becomes more digital, we need to be aware of how we are spending our time. It is very easy to waste massive amounts of time online doing nothing. We should not forget that there is a world out there. Real experiences can never happen online. At least, that's what I think.