When I was sick recently and lying in bed checking my email on my cell phone, it dawned on me that a large number of emails that I was receiving everyday included daily newsletters, updates, discussion group updates, etc., many of which I don’t even recall ever signing up for! Besides, I realized that I hardly read most of them. So I decided that this was a good time to clean up the clutter in my Inbox. While many emails give you a simple unsubscribe link at the bottom, there were many with an “update your preferences” link and when you click on it, the link takes you to a login/password screen! In other words, I have to login and then unsubscribe. I don’t even recall ever having registered at many of these sites, let alone remember the password. Every time you register at any website, you are unknowingly signed up to receive one or more email updates, newsletters, and the like. It’s easy to register at these sites and be bombarded for life, but it’s hard to stop the flood when you want to. In any case, lying sick in bed has the advantage of time, so I went on a rampage, and unsubscribed from all and sundry. I logged into LinkedIn and turned off “all” notifications. Now I am no longer notified if X endorsed Y for a skill, or if A changed jobs, or XYZ posted an article, or ABC liked another article.
These changes to my digital life happened shortly after I moved to a Google Nexus phone. While I am not a great fan of the user interface on Android phones, the Google Nexus is the best when it comes to limited number of apps. Unlike other phones, it does not come pre-installed with hordes of apps. You have a minimal number of apps that are sufficient to get you going. It was such a refreshing change. My previous phone, an HTC Android, would not let me uninstall the Facebook app! Talking of Facebook, another drastic step I took in the process of this partial digital detox is that I decided not to access Facebook for as long as possible. I don’t have the app installed on my phone either, so it was a complete break from Facebook. It’s close to three weeks now and I am managing to survive just fine.
I can’t describe what a wonderful difference I have observed in a matter of few days. I have started to receive only relevant emails. The task of cleaning up my Inbox has become so much more simpler and less time consuming. I feel like I have more time on my hands to be productive. My head seems that much less cluttered. I have even started to remember friends’ birthdays. I seem so much more efficient with my to-do list among other things.