Digital Decluttering

As much as I love minimalism/essentialism, the one thing that keeps getting in the way of serenity is the digital clutter that litters my devices. Whether that be my iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro.

Yes, I am part of the Apple tribe. Even though I don’t want to be locked in to their ecosystem, I love their design aesthetic. How everything syncs seamlessly. How I can just ‘plug it in’ and it works.

In my frustration I am removing any app or software that I don’t use on a month by month basis.

I’m going to be exploring each project and what I use instead to create that serene, minimalist vibe.

When I open my tech I want the experience to be like entering a calm garden. Quiet and undistracted.

Important: When I drink coffee I end up swearing a lot. I drank a lot of coffee when I wrote this. After all this is just a space for me to talk to myself and isn’t really for public consumption!

Note: This is a work in progress, so expect the list to get updated.

THE INBOX
Oh how I have come to loathe email. It seems total strangers think they can ‘pop round for tea’ by sending me an email. Chasing me after 6 hours if I haven’t personally replied to them yet.

I’ve tried using auto responders but they simply cause problems. Maybe I haven’t written them in a way that screams into the face of the sender: “leave me the fuck alone.”

Batching is the secret to inbox peace.

EMAIL

Tempo
https://www.yourtempo.co

Beautiful, minimal and works on batching. When shown a message you have to decide to do something with it. It won’t let you proceed until you do.

Initially I found this infuriating. I love procrastinating on a message. But no, Tempo is a harsh mistress: “Robin, make a bloody decision.”

The down side is I cannot send attachments. Yet. It’s coming. If I have to send an attachment I have to login to Gmail. Urgh. That’s the equivalent of listening to bird call in a quiet wood and some idiot sits down two feet away from you and turns on death metal at full volume on their JBL boom box.

Gmail (and death metal) is enough to give you a heart attack. Certainly at my age.

EMAIL MARKETING

If you build mailing lists you need somewhere to keep your subscriber/customer contact details. I’ve tried them all Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Activecampaign, Drip, Buttondown, you name it.

If you simply want to broadcast a newsletter and do not need automation checkout Substack or Revue. They are free for as many subscribers as you want.

If you need automation and let’s face it you aient a grown-up business owner unless you do, then automation will revolutionise your world.

ConvertKit
https://convertkit.com

I’m not one for penny-pinching (see bottom of page for how I define that) and CK is an easy way to create seamless automations.

PODCASTING

Descript
https://www.descript.com

It’s a transcriber, audio and video editor. It’s revolutionised how I edit podcasts. It does a lot more but for podcasting it’s all I need.

Libsyn
https://libsyn.com

A beautiful, easy podcasting host. I’ve been with them for years. I tested Transistor.fm and my downloads halved. I suspect because Justin and co over at Transistor don’t push your feed out to as many spaces as Libsyn do.

Libsyn have just released Libsyn Five which is a major design upgrade. in my world, good aesthetics reduce friction for ‘getting things done’.

GRAPHICS

Canva
https://canva.com

Easy peasy graphic design programme for even the most artistically challenged person. That’s me by the way.

Affinity Photo
https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/

Honest to god, my eyeballs fell out when I saw how cheap this baby is. Fuck photoshop, this thing is a power horse. I’m a total beginner yet I love it.

WRITING

IA Writer
https://ia.net/writer

I’ve tried them all. Literally. And I am not going to list the ones I have because it would be too long.

IA Writer is just it. When it comes to minimalism it doesn’t get much better than this. A single one-time payment and it’s yours, with free updates.

There really needs to be a rebellion against this fucking subscription model. Artists, writers and craftisans are excluded.

NOTE TAKING

I use Obsidian for my plant research as the data is just TOO valuable to lose. Obsidian keeps all the files locally or in the cloud.

I use Roam Research for thinking, exploring ideas etc., then transfer the end result to Obsidian.

With Roam you are kind of locked into their ecosystem. Although technically you can export the files to Obsidian. I did and it was a flipping mess and you lose the benefits of the bidirectional links.

Obsidian
https://obsidian.md

Roam Research
https://roamresearch.com

ARCHIVING DOCUMENTS

Surfing the net and find an article you want to keep to process later? Got an email you want to plagiarise? Don’t want to save an entire web page, just a small section. I use…

Evernote
https://evernote.com

RESEARCH

Zotero
https://www.zotero.org

Ever highlighted or made notes in a book, journal, blog post, article etc.? Want to be able to strip out your highlights and annotations and know exactly where they came from?

Need a PDF reader that doesn’t demand a subscription ransom? I have thousands of science papers that used to litter my hard drive? Zotero was my ‘sanity saver’ and is one sweet baby. Kiss. Kiss.

It revolutionised how I research. Give it a spin. Price = free, although you do have to pay a measly amount to store those PDFs in Zotero’s cloud service (if you want that functionality)… which is worth it and a heck of a lot cheaper than buying an over priced PDF reader.

Talking of which. If you do need one, I’ve been using PDF Expert for years, but I rarely use it these days since Zotero added their own reader.

BOOK PUBLISHING

Scrivener
https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview

If you write books this will help you loads.

Vellum
https://vellum.pub

Forget farting around with a Word doc template that you’ve downloaded from KDP. Vellum does what it says. There isn’t a huge amount of design options but if you mainly publish text and don’t require funky graphic layouts then Vellum does it – beautifully.

Note: It only does the book interior. If you want book covers designed either create them yourself using Canva (see above) or pay someone.

SPREADSHEET

Mac For Numbers
https://www.apple.com/uk/numbers/

It’s a spreadsheet and looks cool. Which is saying something considering its only a sodding spreadsheet.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Just don’t. Really. As a former drug addict, I know the bullshit rationalisations we come up with as to WHY we need a fix.

Social media is just a massive dopamine/endorphin fix. And like any decent drug it will eventually fuck you up and destroy your life.

Go cold turkey. Remove it from your life. You do not need it. Pick up the phone to speak with real friends.

I only have social media accounts to advertise. I have a twitter account to keep up with experts in my field. Actually that’s bollocks. I don’t. I follow cool people and never get involved in conversations.

Talking on social media is the nemesis of sanity. It also deeply plugs you into the fallacy of FOMO (fear of missing out).

MESSAGING

Most people just don’t care who listens in to their conversations. They reveal information about themselves they would never write on a postcard and send through Royal Mail.

Signal
https://signal.org

Secure, private communications even Edward Snowden trusts. I like Ed, he fucked off the US government big time. A hero of the people unless you are a patriotic, flag-waving neanderthal.

WhatsApp
https://www.whatsapp.com

Until all your chums have got the message and moved to Signal, you’re kinda stuck with this Facebook owned piece of junk.

WEB DESIGN

I know everyone hates WordPress but it does some seriously cool things. You’ll need a theme. A really fast, mobile responsive theme. There’s only one kid on the block for that.

GeneratePress
https://generatepress.com

Tom and his team are super duper, lovely people. Shout out to David and Leo.

In twenty years of running a self-publishing business online, their level of support leaves most companies in the dust.

Although the theme is on an annual subscription, it’s so cheap that’s its not really worth mentioning.

GenerateBlocks
https://generateblocks.com

Another gift from Tom and Co. Forget outdated page builders like Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi etc. No-one on a mobile device is going to see all those fancy graphics so it’s a complete waste of time to use them.

If you want a minimalist site, this thing will help you but it’s not essential. The GeneratePress theme however, is a must.

WEB HOSTING

I’m at the top of the search engines for every single keyword phrase I have optimised. One bit of the SEO puzzle is your website needs to be blisteringly fast. Don’t penny-pinch here, Google will spank your bum if your site is like a snail.

For WordPress hosting with 24/7 customer support that is gold-standard look no further than…

WPX Hosting
https://wpx.net

VIDEO PRODUCTION

iMovie is NOT simple. It’s unintuitive but does the job.

Recently I discovered DaVinci Resolve. Oh. My. God. Hollywood functionality for dummies. I don’t use anything else. The price tag is free.

DaVinci Resolve
https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/

DaVinci Tutorials
https://youtu.be/63Ln33O4p4c

VIDEO HOSTING

Vimeo
https://vimeo.com

They are good. Yes there’s tons of other options but I am not into penny-pinching. If you are, do your own research.

Penny-pinching = “I do not love myself enough to invest in myself.”