Digital Declutter Challenge – Part 3

In Parts 1 and 2 I talked about my 31 Digital Declutter challenge setting out my rules and discussing how I found things through it. In this post I’m going to personally evaluate myself on how it went and changes I have decided.

I loved the month’s break away from different digital media platforms. It helped my mental state by not being part of them so much. I urge anyone to give it a try even for just a couple of days.

It has been 4 days. I’m going to be honest I was disappointed 1st April when my mind said ” I can go on social media again!” I was hoping to have moved on from that type of thinking. I have only posted on Facebook twice aside the Spoolettes page. On April 1st telling friends and family I was ok and today in my knitting group after I finished my shawl which I spent a lot of time in March and enjoying it. I have done 3 posts on Instagram which were the finished shawl, some books that arrived yesterday and a month marker photo which if you are familiar with Instagram is something people do to track when they took different photos. On Facebook and Instagram I haven’t gone through and seen what others have been up to. Part of me is worried once I start I’m not going to be able to stop again. Do I avoid them until that fear passes or do I go I bite the bullet and see how much self control I have? It sounds silly talking about social media like this but I found it an addictive medium. I know I couldn’t stop at one cigarette if given the chance.

Looking at the different types of social media

Facebook / Instagram
I didn’t miss Facebook or Instagram. I think they both have a part in society and are useful particularly in the current situation where people have to be kept distant from each other. They are a useful way to connect people but I don’t need to be part of them all the time. As useful as they are I think they can also tilt the other way and become to overwhelming. I’m still going to use them but in different ways. Previously I would look at them both several times a day. I’m not going to do that anymore. I might look at them once a day. I’m not going to be more selective as to what I post on them and how often. I’m still going to show the good and the bad but just not so much of it. Instagram is a useful tool for me to use to learn exercises and fitness techniques.

YouTube
I’m not a person to really watch mindless stuff on YouTube. You can use it just as a listening tool. I enjoy listening to podcasts and interviews on YouTube whilst working. It is a great way for me to play music if I don’t have other ways to play it. I love my music and I’m more calm doing other tasks if I have my music playing. At work you will find me chair dancing, playing air drums and singing all whilst working staring at my computer screens working away. YouTube is an incredible learning platform. During my challenge I used it to learn how to correct a knitting mistake. I was able to finish off my large shawl (pictured above) thanks to my newly learnt skill. I’m going to keep using YouTube as an educational tool and I guess you could call it an audio streaming service.

Ravelry
I like using this to keep track of projects as you can easily add important details such as needle/hook sizes and yarn type plus you can add notes so you remember how you did things. After the move when I unpack I might use it more to stocktake my stash as I have only got a portion of my stash on it at present. It is useful for me to be able to match patterns with yarns in my stash which is why I need my entire stash loaded there. I’m only going to go on Ravelry when I have a purpose. Documenting a project, looking for a new project. I’m not going to go it for mindless scrolling through patterns.

Trello / Pinterest

I haven’t been on Trello since last year. Once we move and I unpack my fabric I’m going try to log into my account again and use it. Pinterest again is something I haven’t been on in a long time. You have to be really disciplined with your time to use it. I’m going to only use it when I am looking for something in particular and not go on there when I have nothing to do. I got a new phone in February and haven’t downloaded either app yet.

Twitter
I haven’t been on Twitter since early February. I only joined in 2019. I’m going to delete my account. I found the people I followed would often post the same content on both Twitter and Instagram so it was just a repeat. I didn’t use it a lot myself

Tv Watching
This wasn’t part of my challenge but it was something I noticed when given the chance I would not have the tv on. I was happy to sit and craft in silence. Sometimes I would have music on but I didn’t need to have the tv on as background noise. Could I live without a tv? If I was in that situation and I was on my own then yes I could. We haven’t had a dvd player for a few months since I packed it and I haven’t missed that. Mr StitchNSew has some mobility issues so tv watching is an activity we can do together which doesn’t cause him too much pain. During the day he is on his own so we need a tv for him. We record things on our set top box to watch at a more convenient time but we currently don’t stream anything like Netflix. Tv watching is something I can reduce even more in the future if at times I am the only person up.

Mobile Off Silent
Something as simple as having my phone off silent meant I didn’t touch it as much. This is something I am going to continue. I learnt to ignore certain notifications but I could hear the ones I needed to. I wasn’t handling my phone during the day as much to check if I had missed something.

I can be pretty determined when I put my mind to something. I stopped eating chocolate over 4 years ago so if I can do that I can pretty much do anything. For my own mental state I know too much social media isn’t good for me. Like anything in life it is all about balance. There is a role for it in my life but I am also happy doing things which don’t involve it. Spending less time on social media allowed me to focus my crafting projects and enjoy the process more. I want to use social media in a productive way and not a mindless way. This is just my own feelings. I am not being judgmental to anyone who uses social media. If you are happy using it the way you are then by all means keep doing what you are doing. For me it was wasting my time and making me feel bad using the way I was. I’m never going to get through my “To Knit/Sew” lists if I spend all my time looking at what others are doing.

Cassiy

 

Digital Declutter Challenge – Part 2

This is part 2 of my 3 part series on my Digital Declutter challenge. You can read part 1 here.

One of the biggest problems faced during the challenge is what to do with the extra time you now have that would normally spending using the digital mediums. One of the reasons we use so much digital mediums is to fill in time. The author Cal suggests before the challenge think ahead and plan out what you would like to do. The book has lots of examples of activities others who have done the challenge took part in during their challenge. I’m a crafter so finding things to do wasn’t such a big deal but I did think about things and decided I would like to

  • Sew gifts or items for around the house
  • Knit and gifts and things for me
  • Spend time blogging and preparing for the blog
  • Exercise more

The Challenge Begins

The night before the challenge begun from the home screen on my phone I removed Instagram and YouTube so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at them. I couldn’t find a way to turn off notifications easily for each one so throughout the month I did get notifications for them but I just ignored them. Mid January I gave up smoking cold turkey. Day 1 of the challenge felt like giving up smoking. I was constantly thinking about the online world. It was like having withdrawals. The home internet went down and I went into a panic even though I didn’t actually need it. I was trying to keep myself occupied but I was surprised at the similarities to giving up smoking.

For the first 10 days or so I was keeping like a diary of activities I did, conversations I had or things I noticed. I’m not a diary person so that novelty factor soon passed and it wasn’t something that I had set out to do for the month so I stopped. As the days passed less time online became my new norm and it didn’t feel like such a big deal anymore. I wasn’t feeling withdrawals, I was getting used to ignoring daily notifications from Facebook or Instagram. My routine changed. I stopped going for my phone if I was out and had time to fill. I started people watching again which is something I had stopped doing. It is interesting just stopping and observing others around you. I would leave the house and not switch the internet on through my phone as I didn’t need it. If anyone really needed to contact me they could send me a text which I could hear without needing to check my phone as it was off silent.

The way I did my craft changed. I was focused more on the gift I was making and the process of it. I actually enjoyed my sewing as I was focused on that and not photographing the steps of it to post on Instagram. I must admit it did feel weird to finish a project and not post a photo of it to Instagram. When I faced challenges in my crafting such as holes in B’s sock normally I would take a photo posting it to Instagram. People really don’t need to see every craft mishap I have. I believe you should post the good and the bad on Instagram as no one is perfect but you don’t need to post everything. I was pleased and proud of the stuff I created, I didn’t need to show others to feel that way.

Looking back at my rules for the month I did adjust things a little. This wasn’t too cheat this was due to things that happened and I needed to be a little more flexible. The biggest was using Messenger to contact B more frequently. We both had personal things happen and Covid hit Australia which impacted both of us so I needed to have more contact with her just to keep us both going. I had 2 friends contact me through instant messaging platforms so I had to briefly use those just to let them know I was ok. I didn’t use the services for anything else other than those, including accepting a friend request from a relative. During my testing lockdown I did order a couple of books online which I wasn’t really supposed to do. Not using this as an excuse but the books were on topics that would help me become more frugal and save money. They weren’t frivolous reads. At times I also googled a few items to learn things so once again it wasn’t frivolous or meaningless internet time. I used YouTube to learn a knitting technique but using that new skill I was able to salvage my knitting project which was a big shawl after I made an error.

Full confession we actually had a disrupted internet connection for most of March. We actually lost our strong wifi connection mid February and full connection wasn’t due to come back until the end of March. Did reduced internet mean that I was cheating? The times I was home and would normally use it we seemed to have wifi so I don’t think so. The times when I was out of the house and would normally scroll through my phone I wasn’t. When I did have access to the internet at home or work I wasn’t rushing to use it. For about 10 days I had to use the internet from my mobile phone at home and I was having to hotspot Mr StitchNSew so he could use it. I did go out and buy a wifi dongle to give us wifi at home only cause it was costing too much as I have very little data included in my mobile plan. It was interesting when I was forced to pay for my internet connection money talked and it made me think double about my internet usage. I never looked at blog posts the week I was using my phone data as it wasn’t a necessity. I think you get into the habit of taking wifi for granted, it is a first world problem.

The most embarrassing observation I discovered was I had forgotten what I routinely buy from the supermarket. For over 5 years I have been doing a weekly grocery shop online which would be delivered. One of the features is that you can see all the items you have purchased before and reorder them. On autopilot I just click away doing my grocery shop in about 10 mins adding the odd thing differently each week as we need it or it becomes on special. Due to Covid I wasn’t able to get deliveries anymore so had to go instore each week to do my shop. I had to look up online what I would normally buy to ensure I didn’t miss anything.

Do I really need an App?

It was interesting to see how much you were encouraged to use the digital world in areas that in previous times you wouldn’t. Just prior to Covid causing the lockout laws for gyms I started at a new gym. The staff kept encouraging me to download their free app and use it around the gym. The gym is my one time a week where I focus just on me. It is my break from the world. Due to work in times past I would need to have my phone near me as I was on call but in recent times I wasn’t and I could leave my phone in my locker. This was before I started the challenge and it was good to be away from it for that short period. I asked my trainer if I really needed the gym app. It was mostly if you wanted to keep track of your progress or review back your performances. I’m not interested in that. My OCD would lead me to become obsessive if I started looking at that. I just want to use the gym equipment and train hard which you can still do without the app. Now due to the lockout laws I might reconsider the app as there are some workouts available through it to do at home but there are also other resources available to get information like this such as Instagram or YouTube and of course my trainer himself as we can still train outside.

In part 3 I will evaluate how I went and discuss changes I am going to make with entering the digital world again

Cassiy

 

 

Digital Declutter Challenge – Part 1

I decided to do one of the exercises in Digital Minimalism which was a Digital Declutter challenge. Originally I was just going to write one post about but it would have been a huge post so I decided to do a 3 part series. I hope after reading it you decide to do your own challenge as I have found it very interesting.

What is a Digital Declutter Challenge?
It is up to each person to decide how long they wish to set the challenge for and what they would like to include in the challenge. Essentially you are taking a break from whatever digital platform or modifying how you use it for the duration of your challenge. It might be particular social media sites, streaming services, some people have even included regular tv watching. Whatever you use in the digital world that you feel perhaps you are using too much of unnecessarily and it is eating away at your time without you even realising it. It is something we are all guilty of. If you read the book you will see more examples from others who have done the challenge.

To be successful in the challenge the author Cal suggests

  1. Setting clear rules and boundaries prior to starting the challenge
  2. Have activities to occupy yourself planned ahead of time and complete the challenge
  3. At the end evaluate how you found the challenge and ease back into the digital world

My 3 part series is based on each of these points.

I decided to do the challenge for the entire month of March so 31 days. I set the following rules

  • No Instagram
  • No Ravelry to look up new patterns for personal use – Gift making patterns acceptable
  • Grocery shopping only on phone
  • Messenger at night only (except Mr StitchNSew)
  • Mobile to be off silent during the day to hear calls and texts
  • Facebook – Only do Spoolette’s page nothing else
  • YouTube – At home only whilst sewing or on p.c unless it was a learning tutorial
  • Blog reading once a week

Some social media was easy for me to give up completely. I didn’t even bother listing some social media sites as I had recently stopped using them. Facebook was a little tricker. I’m an Admin in the Sydney Spoolette’s group which means I have responsibilities as part of that. I would only respond to notifications from that group all other Facebook was out. The phone off silent was a big one as it was to reduce how often I touched my phone during the day to check the screen. At night my phone is on silent to help me sleep. The alarms on your phone still work even if your phone is on silent.

I wrote the rules out so I could refer back to them but to be honest I knew what they were in my head so I didn’t need to look back. It was good to see them clearly before I started. I actually add a couple more bits of detail after I took this pic. I’m a visual person so I need to see things written.

31 day actually seams like a long time ago. When I first contemplated doing this at the back end of February Australia had just recovered from the bushfires and Covid 19 was talked about overseas but not locally. In just a matter of weeks it has changed our country. As I will talk about in part 2 it did change some of my rules a bit.

Cassiy

Digital Minimalism

As you know in Australia this summer we a lot bushfires and drought which meant a lot of people and animals lost both their homes and their lives. It was such a tragic event but the community response to it was amazing. Everyone rallied together particular the craft community to make things to assist those effected. Every time you went on social media you saw something about it whether it be an injured animal or something someone had made. It seemed like all of a sudden everyone was crafting for the animals which was fantastic. I however started to feel guilty that I wasn’t making items. I actually mentioned this to a friend in November and as the bushfire disaster continued the guilt I felt became worse. It got to the point where I discovered in Facebook you could hide posts from your news feed without actually leaving a group and I did that for at least one group so I wouldn’t feel so lousy. I tried to logically tell myself “it is ok not to be making items, you have been making items for years but this summer you need to focus on packing and culling ahead of the move” Even though social media was making feel terrible I strangely kept going on to it out of habit. Silly I know but I repeatedly was putting myself into an optional situation which was having a negative impact on my mental state. Nothing was really making me go on there yet still I did.

In my last post I talked about minimalism in the traditional way of physical things around you. Something I had never really thought of until I came across the book Digital Minimalism was how much we consume in the online digital world. It got me thinking and I realised a few things.

Mr StitchnSew used to say at times that I was addicted to my phone. Before I would deny it and say of course not that is ridiculous. I would consider myself late to social media. I joined Facebook mid 2011. I got an android phone maybe a year or two after that. I would text and use the common apps like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest plus last year some new ones such as Twitter, Starbucks, Trello and 1 SE. In 2019 I was actually doing a challenge of recording 1 second of my day each day then mashing them up to create a video each month and eventually at the end of the year. I was certainly using my phone a lot more due to that but I had no concept really how often outside that I was using my phone. I know I would play on my phone whilst I was bored, waiting, tired, smoking, any time I had a few minutes or more to kill. I can’t keep still and my phone was what I turned to if I didn’t have craft or if I was too tired for anything which required a lot of brain power. One occasion that comes to mind was one day at work on a smoke break I was a “phone zombie” when a friend walked straight past waiting for me to look up and I never did. When he said hi I replied back without even noticing who it was due to my full focus on my phone as I scrolled aimlessly through it. That incident worried me as I never thought of myself a “phone zombie” until that point. I also thought I was security conscious being constantly aware to what was happening around me at all times, clearly not as it was proved in this instance.  Aside from the apps I use my phone a lot more these days to do tasks that I would traditionally do on a desktop PC out of the convenience that I can do it from my sofa such as my weekly grocery order, checking emails or looking things up on Ravelry. When I got my first mobile phone in 2000 I accidentally kept referring to it as my camera and ironically 20 years on I use the device now more to take photos than to make phone calls. Yes I laugh about it but it also shows we are running around with these complex computers at our fingertips using them 24/7 and we don’t even realise it. I’m guilty of using my phone as my alarm clock so it is pretty much near me from morning to night.

First of all I have to say if you can get your hands on a copy of the book it is worth the read. The book isn’t anti social media it is more about discussing the concept that some social media programs are designed in a way to control our brains so we consume more of it without us even realising it (the attention economy), the impact consuming so much social media is having on our brains and behaviour patterns and strategies to use social media in a productive way where we are in control of our usage and not a slave to it. Whether you believe this or not it is a very thought provoking book. It certainly opened my eyes and got my brain ticking. I certainly was able to relate to a lot of the things that were mentioned in the book including the high usage of social media can have on our mental health. I wasn’t the first person who was getting depressed and anxious whilst using social media, a thing which was meant to make everyone happy and connected. I am also a little bit worried if this is happening to me, someone who is nearly 40 and isn’t consuming social media as much as some people than what is it doing to the younger generation who have only ever known a life with social media? What impact is it having on their brains and social development? Social media and online usage certainly has a place in modern day life but there needs to be a balance so it doesn’t control our lives and that is what this book is about. Full confession this book does use some big words which I had to “Google” to get the meaning of as my physical dictionary is packed away at the moment but it does highlight how we can use the online world efficiently.

Initially I borrowed this book from the library. I don’t really like purchasing minimalist and decluttering books as it kind of defeats the purpose of the concept of having less stuff. Within a week of picking it up from the library I went to my local bookshop and purchased a copy. I want to try some of the exercises in this book and I want to refer back to it at a later point. After getting so much from just the initial few chapters to it was a no brainer to go and buy this book. This is a keeper.

Oh coincidently Green Day has a song “Oh Yeah” which is about social media and falls within the concept of this book which is really interesting.

Cassiy

Flirting With Minimalism

Each person has their own concept or belief of what minimalism means and what it consists of to live a minimalist lifestyle. To be honest when I first heard about it I automatically had the stereotypical image that a “Minimalist Lifestyle” = selling all your possessions and living in tiny house that is kept like it is a showroom for a lifestyle magazine with nothing out of place, that is not my kind of home. Investigating more into it the way I understand it now (and this is just my grasp of the concept) it is about living your life with less stuff and borders along the same concepts of Simply Living where you make use more of things you already have without going out to the shops and continuing to buy more. We are all guilty of owning more stuff than we actually need, often you don’t even realise it. First world problem. I’ll be honest if wasn’t for our move and the need to pack everything in boxes I wouldn’t have had a clue of the amount of stuff around us. I certainly never paid attention to things we used and what we didn’t. I used to be pretty frugal but my simple living ways have lapsed a little in recent years.

Can you be a minimalist and still be a crafter?
I have pondered this idea. Crafters have a stash (insert your preferred craft here) You always have supplies and tools for whichever craft/s you part take in. How many tools or supplies you need on hand is up to you. I know personally I have more than I actually need and that is after I purged heaps. So it is possible to be a minimalist crafter? I think yes but you would have to show a little discipline. You would have to decide on a limit to how big you want your stash of supplies and tools to be and try then to maintain that level so it doesn’t get out of control. Some people could be a minimalist crafter. Certainly knowing all the supplies you have on hand would be more cost effective as you wouldn’t be buying duplicates of supplies you know you have “somewhere” but you can’t locate when you need them so you purchase more.

I know the saying is “a leopard cannot change its spots” but I’m flirting with the idea of a minimalist lifestyle when we move to the new place. I know a new building won’t instantly mean old habits are forgotten but it is a fresh chance to try things. Clutter stresses me out. Too much stuff around me stresses me out. My brain just thinks of it as clutter even if it is useful clutter. I want to have less things around me in every room not just in terms of craft. Less things around gives visual clarity which I like. Less stuff means less to clean, although Mr StitchNSew does most of the cleaning. Less stuff means less options to choose from (I do get overwhelmed with too many options) With less things in cupboards or on shelves it means you can put things away easily without playing a juggling act or having things fall on you as you try and stuff it in. I will be honest unless I can put something away easily in one go than I don’t put it away and it will sit on a bench/table/chair creating another pile which needs to be sorted out at some point. I need to find a better way to handle my stuff and that better way might just be to have less stuff in the first place.

What We Actually Use In Pantry

At the moment our place is about 2/3 packed up. We are not down to just the essentials yet but we are not far off it. It has really shown what little we actually use all the time as most of our stuff got packed early January. After I culled the dry goods pantry I noticed really it was to only about half a dozen storage ingredients plus breakfast stuff that we used regularly. The only packed item we have missed is the carving fork for a roast dinner so we used a regular fork. For crafting I have come up with substitutes for cutting out things like using old fashion scissors instead of rotary cutter. I’m not to get rid of the carving fork or rotary cutter but they are examples of how you can be resourceful and use other things when in a situation of not having the right “tool or gadget” to perform a task. It will be interesting when we unpack to remember what we actually have and to rethink if we actually need it or not. The minimalist concept is very appealing.

Cassiy

 

 

 

 

The Big Declutter

I have mentioned that I have decluttered a lot of craft supplies and clothing in recent months but my decluttering has extended to our entire unit. In 2018 Mr StitchNSew and I first started talking about possibly moving at some point. I decided then I wasn’t paying to move crap (not that stuff is crap but you get my point) I started to look at all that was in our place and only keep stuff we were actually going to use or need. If it wasn’t something we needed, were using or liked out it went. I hadn’t had a chance to tidy up or declutter in like 10 years so as you can imagine we had gained a lot in that time. I started to take lots to a charity shop at my work for them to sell at their brick and brac stall. Bag by bag I took books and nic naks we didn’t need over time. For a long time I was afraid to visit their stall as I knew I would see our stuff. Ironically I accidently gave away a cookbook Mr StitchNSew wanted so I am now visiting it to see if it there to buy it back haha.

In recent months I have opened up every cupboard, every drawer, every wardrobe and have gone through things removing items that we no longer needed/used/liked. Sadly I must confess some items did go into landfill however where possible I recycled items or donated items to charity. I even listed items for free on Facebook and got rid of them that way including an old fridge that was nearly 20 years old but still worked. It was actually the fastest thing to go.

I have always given stuff away for free, if I have something you can use then I must give it to you from the goodness of my heart because that’s what friends do. For the first time I tried selling items through Facebook Marketplace to complete strangers and made a few dollars that way. Some people sell items via Facebook as an extra cash earner on a regular basis. It was good to get rid of the items I did but I couldn’t do regularly it. I don’t have the time to answer questions or wait around for people to get back to me on deciding if they want items or not. Also I found everyone wants everything dirt cheap so really there wasn’t much room for me to make money. I sold some items for less than I wanted too just so I could get them out of my place. However it was good to see items I wasn’t using go to a new home where they would be used and not stuck in a cupboard or box like I had them in. The extra cash was a bonus.

Looking back on how much stuff I have removed from our place it has been a real eye opener. I had no idea how much stuff we actually had and what we were actually using. I like the emptiness spaces less clutter or stuff around us is leaving. Yes I know I have packed up a lot of our stuff so that is leaving empty spaces too but in areas I haven’t packed yet you can see empty spots and I like it.

Cassiy