A Guide to Digital Minimalism

A Guide to Digital Minimalism

– All right, guys, so this is a video that I’ve been putting off
for way too long (laughs) because as mindful as I am
about my media consumption, I’m a devout follower of the
path of least resistance, and unless a problem becomes so big that I just can’t ignore it, I’m just gonna keep doing the same thing, and I imagine that maybe you guys have a similar approach to technology. I’ve got junk folders
and miscellaneous files all over my computers, and useless apps that
have filled up my phone. Just like counters that
clutter with random things, knick-knacks, and recycling, unless you have a system
for where things go, they’ll continue to pile up. So I finally decided
to take that extra step and declutter my digital life. Over the past week, as I’ve
taken stock of everything, I’ve found a lot of room for improvement, and I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve discovered through that process. Now, when people talk
about digital minimalism, they’re usually talking
about two different things. (jazzy music)
One, how we can create an approach for being more mindful with how we use our technology. If that’s what you’re looking for, I suggest you check out my video, “Four Rules for Digital Minimalism.” There are a lot of really
great tips in there. But I want to talk about the second thing, which is going more into
the tactical approach and talking about the exact
apps, plugins, and services that have helped me
untangle my digital life. So this is my guide to
digital minimalism in 2020. It is for sure going to
change in the future, and it’s also for me, so
this might not work for you. It might just give you some
inspiration and some ideas for how to organize your own digital life. Of course, I am open to
suggestions, so if you guys want to start a conversation
down in the comments, definitely let me know what has helped you in terms of digital minimalism. With all that said,
let’s get right into it. (jazzy music) All right, so I have
four devices in total. One laptop, one desktop, an iPhone, and an iPad. My 2015 MacBook Pro is keeping up well. I get the most use out of this computer than any other device. I use it for writing, emailing,
all my business stuff. I also use it to watch movies in bed. I have a 2017 MacPro trash can. I use this for all my video editing. My editor, Oscar, uses the iMac Pro, which is a beast, and will
likely be what I upgrade to next. The new Mac Pro just seems
a little bit overkill and too expensive at this point. I have an iPhone XS that I got at the beginning of last year. I use it to communicate with my team, message with you guys on Instagram, as well as send quick picks. I’m sorry, um, dick pics. (jazzy music)
I have an iPad that’s mostly used for
entertainment while I travel, but I also use it to access Notes while I’m working on videos. So I have these four devices that I need to be able to
keep in sync at all times because I’m constantly
going from one to the other, sharing notes and documents, and I needed to make sure that the system wouldn’t slow me down, that things were instant. The moment that I changed
something on my phone, I could see it on my computer. This is a common need for most people, but surprisingly, there are a lot of apps that are just kind of slow and buggy and don’t really work the right way, so that was definitely something that I looked at over this past week as I started to find the
right solution to my problems. All right, so this is my desktop here. As you can see, it is very clean. (laughs) There is absolutely nothing on it. There will at times be like anywhere from five to 10 items. I really like the Stacks
feature with Apple now. So basically what that does is just combine screenshots, images, PDFs, into essentially what looks
like a folder on the desktop. This is definitely something
that I need to share with Natalie like immediately. Let’s take a look at some
of the shortcuts that I use, up top, here. So this is just QuickTime,
which is what I’m using to screen capture everything
that I’m recording right now. This is Dashlane, which
is just quick access to all my passwords. Adobe, here. I don’t use Adobe Cloud, but I do use the apps
that are built into it. This is my Google Drive quick link. I’ll talk about that
more a little bit later. I’ve got my Bluetooth, my Wi-Fi, my audio. All this stuff is pretty basic. I find myself using them very often, so I just keep a quick access
of them at the top bar, there. Then, in my dock, I have it pretty clean, just with my most useful apps. Final Cut Pro for when
I’m editing on the road. I’ve got Google Chrome, Spotify, my Notes app where I do
most of my note taking. I’ll talk about that later, as well. Slack, and these are just the recent documents that I’ve used. If it’s not something that
I use on a weekly basis, I do not keep it as one of my shortcuts, just to make sure it’s nice
and clean and organized, and I think it’s just really important to think through these things, just to kind of make your
system as efficient as possible. So let’s go to Google Chrome. You can see I’ve got quick access to my calendar, Google Drive. This is my TeuxDeux app. The one interesting
thing is this link here. It actually doesn’t take me to my inbox. This takes me to a Compose Email form. So this is for when I’m scheduling email, say once or twice a day. I don’t want to have to go into my inbox, but I want to finish up a task and I want to move the
needle on a project. Let’s say I want to send a video to one of my producers or one
of my filmmaking partners. Now I don’t have to go into my inbox, getting distracted with
other people’s priorities. I can just move along to
the next item on my list. This has been hugely helpful for me. The link for it, it’s a little bit tricky and it took me a little bit of time to figure out how to do this. So what I’m gonna do is, I’ll provide a link in the description. As long as you’re logged
into Gmail on your end, you’ll be able to just
simply copy and paste that as a bookmark for yourself, and you’ll be able to use it. One thing that I’ll mention is that, for everything that I
reference in this video, as well as in future videos, I’m going to leave links
in the description below. This is something new that I’m doing. I want to make it as easy
as possible for you guys to get the references, the books, the things that I mention. Maybe it’s past projects
I’m talking about. All that’s gonna be in the description in every video from here
on out, so you’re welcome. I have connected my
phone to my MacBook Pro via the Messages app, but I disabled the notifications. There are times when I want
to get to a message quickly or access a photo that
I need on my desktop, this just makes it easier
and reduces some friction. I will say that it is vital for
me to turn off notifications for everything on my
computer and my desktop, so when it comes to the
Messages app, FaceTime, anything like that, I turn
off all notifications. I can access this stuff if I want, but I don’t get interrupted from my work. Another messaging app I use is Slack, and I use it for a
couple different reasons. The main reason why I
initially started using it was to communicate with my team. I now have two employees that I work with, and so getting straight on
the projects we’re working on and making sure there’s different channels to communicate through, and not just having it be
in the black hole of email has been super helpful. The other reason why I’m using Slack is because we just started an Inner Circle for our Patreon members, which is definitely a shameless plug, but for those people who are contributing at the Exclusive Videos tier, we wanted to be able to create
this community experience where people can help each
other work towards their goals, whether they’re building habits, trying to figure out ways
to improve productivity. For me, what I’m trying
to do more in the future is create more of like
a tight-knit community of people who can help support each other, because we all need a little bit of help. Again, with Slack, I disable
notifications on my computers, and I only have notifications
come through on my phone. I set up Do Not Disturb on my phone from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., so I’ll only receive push
notifications while I’m working. And I usually keep my phone flipped over when I’m editing or writing, just to make sure I don’t get distracted. Now, before I go any further, a quick message about our
sponsor for this video. (gentle music)
One of my favorite platforms on the internet is Squarespace. I’ve used them to build every website over the past eight years, and I trust them to help me push my ideas out into the world. I remember a time when I first started making things on the internet
and building websites, and it was impossibly difficult to bring your ideas to life. I (laughs) remember, I made a Limp Bizkit fanpage back in 1999. I swear to God, it took me over a year to develop the whole thing, and to answer your question, yes, I did do it all for the nookie. But now, with Squarespace,
if you have an idea, you can use their beautiful
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accounts, and much more. Or just keep things crazy simple like me, and set up a website with an
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purchase of a website or domain. It’s sponsors like Squarespace that help me to reinvest
back into my videos and hire awesome people to work with. Thank you, Squarespace. So I
think one of the biggest things that I had to figure out
through this whole process was cloud storage, and when I really took
(laughs) an assessment of my cloud storage accounts, it was completely embarrassing. So I had two Google Drive accounts, two Dropbox accounts, I had a WeTransfer account
and an iCloud account, and I’m pretty sure I had an Adobe Creative (laughs) Cloud account for storing files, as well. It was just entirely too much. I just kept getting these notifications that would tell me like, “Hey,” like, “You’re over on your
storage limit, upgrade now,” and just me being lazy, and again, just following
that path of least resistance, I was like, “Ah, I’m just,” like, “It’s fine, I’ll
figure it out next month,” and then I never did, and now I did, and it feels really good to
actually have a solution. After some research, I decided
to choose Google Drive. Since I already use Google Docs, spreadsheets, calendar, and email, it just made sense to keep everything in that same ecosystem. Google Drive has improved a
ton in the past couple years, and I’m really happy with them. So I have a Google Drive folder here on my computer that syncs online, so any changes that I make
within these files and folders will be changed online. It’s where I store documents, financial information, media. This is for my wedding. Anything that I need access
to across all my devices. I’ve used selective sync
on files and folders so it doesn’t eat up too much storage. So for my phone, it actually
works in the opposite way. If there’s one of these folders or any on the files within ’em that I want to always be on
my computer and kept offline, I just need to choose which ones they are. Easy to access and easy
for me to change accounts between my business and my personal. So I also have Google Photos
installed on my phone here. This is how I woke up. That looks good, doesn’t it? That’s me. I really like this app. I think it’s really, really good. I think it’s really easy to make searches, to look things up, to find past photos that I’ve taken. For me, personally, it is
way better than Apple iCloud. I find that the syncing is automatic. It just happens right away
across all my devices, where my experience with
Apple in the past has been, it’s been a little bit laggy, like 15 or 20 minutes, which can be very frustrated, frustrating if I’m working on a video and I just want to maybe
take a photo of something or shoot a quick video on my phone and then put it on my computer, I have to do all these things and like shuffle things around. I just want to be able to take the photo, go to Google Photos on my phone, done. Done. Let’s see what else here. Oh, look at that. This is me doing karate. I don’t know if you guys know this, but I’m actually a black belt. That’s true. (laughs) That’s not a joke, I’m not even kidding. I’m actually a black belt. I mean, I don’t know,
does that stuff go away? I was a black belt in like college. That’s good, it’s like eight years. I could still kick your ass. Depends how big you are. I probably can. So in addition to storing all my files, photos, and
media on Google Drive, I also bought this little guy. It’s a Samsung solid state drive. It’s only 500 gigabytes, but
that’s really all I need. All of my photos and videos ended up being about 60 gigabytes, and then like the documents that I had were maybe a gigabyte,
probably not even that much. What was great was, like before I did any of the transferring, before I was moving stuff
from iCloud and from Dropbox, I got this, and I put everything on it, because I wanted to make
sure that it was secure while I was doing these things. It can be very nerveracking
to switch these systems and move where all of your
photos and videos are stored, and I could have potentially
lost five years’ worth of images and memories if
I hadn’t done it this way. Luckily, I didn’t. (laughs) I didn’t screw up on the process. But this has been super helpful. And it’s also just like
reassuring to know that, in the future, I’m always
gonna have my stuff backed up on this hard drive, a physical copy. Solid state, it’s definitely
a lot more reliable than a typical hard drive
that has moving parts in it. I’ve now set up on my calendar
to remind me every six months to just make a backup. I don’t expect that I’m gonna lose any data through the cloud. I’ve never had any problems losing data through any of these servers through companies like Dropbox or Google, but just like peace of
mind every six months, to make sure that I’ve
got my stuff backed up. So let’s talk about note
taking and task management. In terms of note taking, I keep track of all my video
ideas, flesh out concepts, and store everything outside
of my brain into Apple Notes. And I use that across all devices. I’ve created separate folders for each item here that I’m working on. (laughs) As you can see, I need
to look at that Videos tab. I’m telling you, there
are not 206 great ideas. A whole bunch of shit in
there, maybe three good ideas. But then I just kind of order this in a way that makes the most sense to me, according to the things that I use most, and then I have this Archived
folder down at the bottom, and this just allows
me to keep those ideas and keep that text that I might need, but filter them out of
my actual main folders. And this system works really well, syncs instantly across all my devices, and I’ve gotten a lot of value from it. Now, for task management, I keep track of all my tasks
in an app called TeuxDeux. There is a mobile app, but I
also use it on my web browser. As you can see here, these are the items that I haven’t gotten to yet. Yes, Natalie and I are planning on going horseback riding for her birthday. That’s not a joke, that’s a
real thing as well. (laughs) These are obviously the things that I have gotten done today. If I wanted to add a new item, I’d just click Add New Item, and then I say, “Call The Rock.” Done. Boom, it’s on the list. Let’s say I can’t do that today. I’m like, “Aw, I’ll just
push it to tomorrow.” It goes to tomorrow. If I don’t actually do
an item on the list, it’s gonna automatically
push it to the next day. It’s just a way for me to easily manage the things in my life, and just to basically organize
it on a per-day basis. And finally, what’s still
a work in progress for me is figuring out what to do
with all of my local storage. Now, when it comes to my hard drives, this is not even the tip
(laughs) of the iceberg. It’s a problem. (jazzy music)
I have terabytes and terabytes of footage, and every time I want to move footage from one drive to another, it takes me about six to seven hours. While I don’t get very sentimental
about physical objects, I like having a copy of all my
work from the past 10 years. Some of it makes its way
into current projects, but considering all the work that went into these
projects on these drives, I don’t mind the tiny amount
of physical space it takes up. We are currently working towards getting a bigger RAID system, about 240 terabytes, basically a server to connect to multiple computers at an office that we
haven’t (laughs) yet gotten. If you guys are interested
in how that will be set up, I imagine that maybe 2%
(laughs) of you will, I’m going to probably be sharing a video about that process as it gets
built out on Instagram TV, so if you guys haven’t already, just follow me on Instagram,
it’s @mattdavella, and that’s gonna be the
place where I share that. I just think that’s gonna
be the most boring thing for me to talk about on this channel, and I just think that
there’s (laughs) gonna be so few people that are interested in, it’s not even worth it, but anyway, there’s other
good shit on there as well. I don’t just talk about servers, trust me. And that right there is how
I organize my digital life. I’m gonna be going into even
more detail into future videos about what’s on my phone,
how I manage email, and other topics that might interest you. If there’s something in particular
you want to see from me, be sure to leave a comment below. Of course, subscribe
if you haven’t already. So that took me about three or four days to go through and do all of this. I would say most of the
work was done in a day, but then it just took
me an extra couple days to start to like work through
all these physical hard drives and transfer everything over. I gotta say, now that
I’m through all of this, it was oddly satisfying. Like just clearing the
clutter of my computer, it felt really good. It was like ASMR for people with OCD. That’s a really good idea. I’m gonna, hold on a second. Wait a minute. What do you guys think about that idea? Is that a good idea? Thanks for watching the channel, guys. I’ll see you next time. This has been Matt D’Avella, whispering into a microphone, bye.


  1. Hi Matt! To keep everything in the Google ecosystem, you can use Keep notes. It works really fine and sycs instantly.

    Love your videos!

  2. I'm keen to hear how you manage email. I hate email, I wish it would go away. I am constantly unsubscribing from things I didn't subscribe to in the first place.

  3. Mr Matt I love Ur vids and all but then please realize it not X S. It's is 10 TEN when u say. It is written X but please. It hurts hardcore Apple fans.

  4. I removed all apps that I've used to just kill some time – ex. facebook, instagram, feedly (news). Now I'm trying to carry a book with me, or pdf file on my smartfone. Seems like better use of my time.

  5. Why Apple Notes over Google Keep or Evernote?
    as most of the apps are from the google ecosystem so why not GoogleKeep?

    thanks for the soothing ASMR! ❤️

  6. I just got an iPad because I don’t use my MacBook Pro much anymore and I don’t want a newer/heavier iPhone, so the iPad mini is great for a lot of things. Love having it. I love using iCloud for my photos.

  7. 📋 Table of Contents
    My Devices: 1:41
    My Desktop: 3:01
    Desktop Shortcuts: 3:27
    Chrome Shortcuts: 4:44
    Messaging Apps: 5:58
    Cloud Storage: 8:43
    Organizing Photos: 10:16
    Backup Storage: 11:35
    Note Taking & Task Management: 12:57
    Local Storage: 14:32
    ASMR: 16:34

  8. Hi Matt,
    Your videos are just inspiring in the work that i do.
    I have a book which I am publishing soon which contains practical implementation of the books,tedtalks and videos that i read quite similar to what you do.
    I wanted to add your video "do the work" and what is my practical implementation as a part of it. Wanted to have a little chat over the same on the mail as well.
    Thank you

  9. Matt, first time posting here – but you got me with this video. I have a very bad experience with auto syncing, backup, cloud solutions etc (frustrating)
    I'm trying to find a way to manage my photos in my iPhone and frankly I haven't found any easy way – the only way is to connect the phone and go in each folder and select photos to backup – delete etc. But I haven't found any desktop application to manage stored photos in iPhone – how do you manage that? (just google photos?)
    Thanks for the great videos – keep going ( love from Greece)

  10. Awesome video! Quick tip on notifications on your Mac: if you don't ever want to receive notification for any app (like myself), instead of disabling it for every single one, you can go to system preferences -> notification -> do not disturb -> and then enable it automatically. I have it set up to enable automatically from 4:01am until 04:00 the next morning (that's the only way I figured out to always keep it on).

  11. Hey Matt, how many different email accounts do you have? E.g. do you use separate accounts for personal and business use? Do you use a separate one for just logging into online websites?

  12. ALL IN SPANISH! I LOVE THIS GUY! Primero lo encontré raro pero la traducción es bastante correcta así que PROPS! 👍🏻

  13. 1. yes, I want to watch how yo do the server, 2. omg that asmr 3. greetings from Costa Rica.. would sent you coffee and a handmade notebook if you let me

  14. I deffo turn off notifications so I’m not distracted but I also do it on my phone for most apps including twitter and instagram and find I barely use them anymore and only when I’m interested in going there rather than being dragged there by a notification

  15. I didn't realize how much I needed this. I keep a clean and synced media foot print myself, but I loved hearing someone else's approach in a logical method. Makes me feel sane haha great video !!

  16. Hello Matt. I from Russia, and i don't speak English. But i love your blog. Please, add russians subtitles in your blog ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  17. I really need to get rid of my excess computers, because I was kinda 'collecting' ThinkPads and I've now got too many. I can list the ones I use first:
    I have my "best" ThinkPad, a T440s that i bring with me when I travel. My X220 that I use at home on the couch because of the neat size and the dock which I charge it in. My Yoga S1 that is at my parents' house whenever I visit, so that I don't have to remember bringing a laptop. Also my X201i which is a dedicated music PC in my bar at home. And that's about it. This does not include my two desktops, my main minimalist blacked out "gaming rig" (rarely play games anymore) and my HTPC for my TV.

    I also have a couple of T420s, couple T61, a T43 and an X301. These are never used and could probably be sold, although the T43 is a novelty being a proper IBM and rare to find. So I might keep that… maybe. help. Oh and also an L440 at work which is my private laptop that I can install custom software on since our corporate ThinkPads are locked down. Working as an automation technician I use a lot of different programming software in the field.

  18. There are already USB-Stick with 500gb for <30 bucks.. That might be of interest for people who wanna make regular backups, but don't wanna bother with external drives and their specific software and processes and shit…

  19. Hey Matt (or if anyone knows!) how did you set it up so that you have a google drive folder on your Finder that syncs automatically to the cloud? I can't figure it out and would love to access my files offline from my desktop. Thanks!

  20. A FREE software that I use to organize my drives and also syncing specific folders instead of the regular GDrive folder is called FreeFileSync.

    It works around a data base so the program knows what to delete and what to update based on file size and edited date.

    It also has a real time sync feature that works with Google Drive natively and also FTP.

    Overall I have never been more organized than right.

    Discovered this great piece of software while searching for a way to sync my newly bought laptop and the home pc without having to move folders around or having an external drive always with me (in addition to the laptop).

  21. 5:56 I felt that bad immediately as if I had done something wrong 😂 So, better later, than never, thank you Matt! 😁😘

  22. You are using an iPhone and don’t know how it’s called? You should say it’s a ‘10s’ not xs. It’s not a letter it’s a number…

  23. Hey Matt. I don't have the same organisation, but this definitely helped me rethink the way I use technology today and to trigger some changes. Well done!

  24. I think no one is gonna place their things on OneDrive. It deleted my files when I work between Windows and Mac. Google Drive is the best option.

  25. I use an extension which makes the new tab completely blank
    Desktop, taskbar and start menu is empty too
    Recommend the extension: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/dark-empty-new-tab/ibhbphfpfmpihppoipbejdicimnhmndh

  26. Actually, my computer's the only place I could be kind of considered a "minimalist". I just like a clean desktop, 's all.

  27. Hmm..

    Approach of mine will be more of an extension then being different:
    Like, I too use the stock Apple Notes App but don't create folders and start organisation right there though make sure to have a heading or a title everytime (that's it) – because at the end of the day, I organise it like a student would …in Evernote -> with tags, highlights, hypertexts, fonts etc where folders are my last of my option with the intention to avoid them. For ex: As in having permanent reminders for inspiration then as a todoist.

    Likewise, organisation also extends to Cloud Storage:
    PDFs will be restricted to the 5GB free cloud storage under Adobe PDF App – it will only have PDFs
    Use Google Photos too and Google Drive for obvious as important documents that seems like everybody does but I use Dropbox to exchange common files with clients instead of a Google Drive link for possible exposure access to hackers & malware. Google Drive will be strict for personal usage only and Dropbox with 16GB of storage is enough for any files which can be increased for free. Box is another cloud storage platform that gave 50GB of storage right away on signing up – I use it up to store large media during travels or when getting a new device to backup for the purpose of transferring files. I keep iCloud the way it is with turning off Photos and iCloud Drive and just let it backup Messages to Settings, Passwords, Browser History, App Purchases etc the usual stuff of iOS that wouldn't be handled by any other third-party anyway – in that case, the 5GB will be a Universe.

    Also, there are finer ways that I can keep going on, like saving Instagram Hashtags in the Darkroom App to keep backups in one category instead of having the same thing in Google Drive, Dropbox, Adobe etc. If you capture in HEIF – Google Photos will save them in Original quality even when you've kept the free version (High Quality) On.

  28. Hey Matt I am a huge fan of your videos! I have a question: I use google photos to sync all my photos on my phone to the cloud but somehow i am scared, that some important photos and videos will be deleted that haven't been synced once i delete the photos from my phone. Do you think it is helpful to use a second cloud-sync system (and if which one?) as backup or is this just stupid? appreciate it!

  29. Hey Matt – Check out the app called Hazel. You can set up the app to move files around automatically. You create rules on how you want them organized. It's pretty great.


  30. I really like Bartender app, it allows to hide apps from menu bar and leave the ones you need to be always shown

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