Digital Minimalism – how it can help your running

2 min read

Mindful Running and the joy of solitude

How is Digital Minimalism relevant to running? One word, solitude.

In our digitally connected world of the smartphone, the opportunity to find time and space to be with your own thoughts is becoming more rare.

The state of solitude can be defined as time spent free from inputs from other minds.

Netflix, Music, Podcasts, Books…If you’re reading something or listening to something you’re not in a state of solitude, as your mind is reacting to another mind.

On the other hand, if you’re just alone with your own thoughts, you are in a state of solitude, regardless of whether or not you are around other people at the moment.

Embracing simplicity, the next time you go for a run, why not leave the headphones at home and revel in the joy of solitude.

I also find that when headphones are not the automatic default, when you do use them more sparingly, you come to appreciate and enjoy the music/podcast more.

Make the most of this time to be with yourself and your own thoughts.


My entry point into Minimalism was initially through productivity. I was keen to streamline and simplify my workflow.

Going Paperless with Evernote

This started with my home office. I decided to go paperless to get rid of rogue documents, bills, misc paper clutter and efficiently store everything digitally. I use the app Evernote.

Evernote is the ultimate tool to go paperless. It’s my digital brain, used for note-taking, organising, research and more.

It’s very much a case of you get out of Evernote what you put in and initially requires a little bit of habit forming to keep recording those notes and documents as they arrive.

In those moments where you are put on the spot with an obscure, unforeseeable problem, Evernote comes to the rescue.

It’s completely searchable, so random questions like:

  • What blood type am I?
  • How much national insurance did I pay in March 2017?
  • What was the registration plate number of the car I owned 6 years ago?
  • Where’s the instruction manual for the Ikea wardrobe I built 4 years ago?

These questions could be quickly answered with a brief search of Evernote.

I’ll dig a little deeper into Evernote in a separate blog post, but the screenshots below illustrate how I tag notes and structure them into folders to be most efficient:

Evernote Desktop app – example of note tagging
Evernote Mobile App – example of folder structure

Evernote works best when accompanied with a duplex scanner. I use the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner to quickly capture & digitize paper documentation.

Reading this Evernote blog article lead me to discover the Minimalism Documentary on Netflix, and the rest is history.

Email & Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero is the process of maintaining an empty email inbox.

This can be achieved by vigilantly unsubscribing to marketing and promotional emails.

It’s best to action emails in batches at the start and end of every day, resulting in a clutter-free inbox.

Mobile Phones & Apps

  • Uninstall apps that you no longer use.
  • Prioritise apps that are most important and used most regularly at the top of the home screen.
  • Group common and related apps together into folders.
  • Try to keep all apps onto one single home screen.
  • On the iPhone, if you want to reduce your screen time, a simple lifehack is to click the button on the right side three times to set the screen colour to black & white. This makes the experience less appealing and helps reduce the urge to use the phone.
Home Screen set to greyscale

Social Media Detox

I deactivated my Facebook & Twitter accounts in 2018 because they were no longer serving me. I kept Instagram because I value the supportive running & simple living communities on the platform and it provides a visual method of documenting my training and sharing the progress to help and inspire others.

If deactivating your social media accounts is difficult and a good middle ground to test the water is a 30 day social media detox.

For the past two years, I have done this annually in November.

A 30 day break for some time away from the screen can help you to refresh & recharge. I found it to be particularly beneficial to do this before the start of marathon training – enabling me to go into the training block feeling rejuvenated with a full tank.

Matt D’Avella talks about his 30 day social media detox experience in the great video below:

If the items discussed are of interest and you would like to find out more, I would recommend the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, in various formats including audiobook.

Share in the comments your thoughts on Mindful Running and your relationship with technology & running…