Digital minimlism in my line of work is tough. I’ve been looking for ways to tailor and focus my use with more intention. I’ve learned if I can strike a balance between digital and analog, this is for the best. There are days where I might lean one way or the other. But, I use both analog and digital in my life. I realize there are probably times where I’m not as aware of what time is being stolen from me than others. This is where I want to spend some time today exploring what I found to help restore the balance again.
I found for example, introducing FB back into my life again on my digital devices, I picked up about 2 hours of extra digital use per day. Unreal. So, I set a usage block up that if I exceed on FB more than 30 minutes in a day, it blocks my usage unless I override it. Which, is a pain, but a saving grace as it makes me think twice before overriding the block. This is just one example of many that you can use to curb your digital usage. Look into a screen time manager.
It used to be that devices I needed about 20 years ago were just for telephone calls, my calendar, and music. These all existed on different devices. Now, they’re converged more than ever on one device. Most of the time, completely integrated with one another. Which, can make it hard to separate them all. I know my usage is bad when I have to have an external battery pack to make it through a day of usage. I don’t think today’s technology was ever intended to be used the way it is being used today. That’s why we have many tech companies trying to figure how to make us better stewards of the uses for tech.
Less can be more though. Not unlike Kondo-ing your home life, we can do the same with our technology uses. Does that app really bring you joy? Does it really serve the purpose you want it to in making your life better? If not, why? Does it really support you the way nothing else can? If that’s a honest no, listen to what that is telling you. If there’s an opportunity to lesson the use, you may want to get rid of it all together. An example I can take you through is my use of Twitter. I just asked myself honestly, does Twitter and my use of it clearly benefit my career? No. So, at work I put Twitter on notice by setting a Shortcut that I ask Siri to silence Twitter notifications when I arrive at work. Now, I don’t feel the draw of Twitter notifications and pick up my device less. This makes me far more productive with less interruptions.
“The average Facebook user, by contrast, spends around 350 minutes per week on this company’s services.”
– Cal Newport
First it might help to understand what actual minimalism is about and a little history on a community that uses the approach of minimalism as a way of life, the Amish. There are three principles to minimalism that I have found: clutter is costly, optimization is important in achieving success, and intentionality mastered is satisfying because you get your life back. Like me, you probably look at how the Amish live and think they are anti-tech. They don’t reject anything without testing and questioning it first. Technology applied through their filter didn’t serve a purpose, so they banned it. That’s a way watered down version of how they practice minimalism. We need to place the same value based decisions they place on things to our own though. If it doesn’t support your values and what you’re ultimately trying to do, you need to ban it.
If like me, deleting apps and working through your technology gives you anxiety and is hard to do, give yourself a 30 day break from it. Then come back, reintroduce it slowly back into your flow. If it has a very positive and impacts heavily towards the positive, then bring it back. It’s like dumping my pop addiction. I went 30 days with out pop. Came back to my favorite brand Coke to try it. I hated it. The syrupy taste was a complete turn off. I kicked it to the curb because it wasn’t worth it.
Same principle with your digital detox. When I quit FB for 30 days, I found the same thing. I didn’t need it. I brought it back after being absent from it for over 2 years as a platform only to get IBtP and the The Well out to more people. It was easy for me to slide back into overuse of it, but noticed it right away, set the usage 30mins screen time manager up on it, and kept myself from falling back into the bad habit of overusing it.
Leave the phone at home for walks and runs. This was a great break. I found to many notifications while I was running were to distracting to my entire run. Thanks to the technology in my watch, I was able to still listen to music playlists with out the distractions of the actual phone while I run. It wasn’t the phone that made my runs great, it was the outdoor scenery that I got reconnected with that I really enjoyed. Sometimes I don’t even go with music. Walks or runs with out tech to interfere I have found some of my best ideas come in that solitude.
“To live the good life, one must have the downtime needed for deep contemplation, for no other reason than to enjoy the activity itself.”
Digital minimalism is a way of life that you can adopt that attempts to make you more intentional in how you use your tech. We need to frequently check in with our relationships with our digital lives to ensure its truly not in the way of our best creative selves. We can reclaim our attention to what’s present and in the moment which can increase the sense of satisfaction that we get from our lives or those around us. Hope it helps.
Thanks for reading and trying some of these best practices. Love to hear about some of yours or how the above might have helped. Have a great week!