“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss, Writer, and Cartoonist
We are all addicted to the digital world, but no one forces us to use all these digital devices and services. As mentioned above, we always have a choice to live in a certain way. The same is true for all the gadgets we are addicted to or the services offered to us. The Economist published an article titled “Facebook is the world’s most addictive drug” and that pretty much sums up the effect of social media on its consumers.
Distraction is what we all face by the overwhelming use (or is it abuse?) of smartphones, television, and other gadgets that keep us awake well into the wee hours of the night. In his book “Indistractable,” author Nir Eyal has stated that distractions stop us from achieving our goals, and traction leads us closer to them. Digital Minimalism is probably the best cure to the scenario mentioned above. So, what it is all about and how it can be used in our favor? Let’s get started with knowing what it actually is.
Minimalism, let’s see…
Minimalism is not about living a life like that character of Tom Hanks in the movie “Cast Away” as abandoning everything to live like a monk is an extreme case. While one can explain minimalism, or digital minimalism in several ways, I think of the following definition as a simple and comprehensive one. Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, also known as “The Minimalists,” explain Minimalism as,
“A lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
What can one do to make our lives sane again without becoming isolated? The following 3 factors will help you to reclaim your life out of the digital fortress in which we all live now.
Avoid Technology in the Mornings
We are most active in the morning after a night’s sleep. That’s where we can be most productive, but unnecessary use of technology is a hindrance that we face each day. Working on a laptop or looking at your tablet or smartphone even while running or having breakfast can be easily avoided. By doing this, you can cut back at least one hour of mindless screen time.
Turn Off Notifications and Alerts
It is good to turn off notifications to minimize interruptions. You can turn-off everything leaving just text messages or calls from selected contact on the cellphone in case of an emergency. This one simple act can make a world of difference to minimize interruptions. On average, it can take about 15-20 minutes to return to a task after you’ve been distracted.
Last Resort: Delete the Apps and Data
Self-discipline can be really bitter to swallow, especially in the beginning. Deleting the apps and unwanted data is the first step in the right direction. Delete apps that you compulsively check or waste money on and use the desktop site instead (doesn’t solve everything, but it at least curbs usage frequency). Delete them to save yourself from overexposure. So, how many things are you willing to delete right away? The answer will determine how much digitally minimalist you want to become in the coming few weeks and the long term.
But digital minimalism isn’t all about desktop decluttering or turning off notifications. As Newport points out, it’s your prerogative to both clear away “low-value digital noise,” and optimize how you use “tools that matter.” You need to use technology, but you need to limit it only in ways that connect to your values.
Use of Tools and Software’s that Boost Productivity
Optimizing the use of all the tools we use is another important aspect. What we allow into our lives must work for us. This means separating the good from the bad. Use of productivity management software like TaskQue can help you professionally in any organization or workplace.
Finally, you need to accept the fact that you can’t use every app or tool all the time. As a digital minimalist, you must feel happy to miss out on certain aspects that don’t offer you real happiness or good leisure time.
Related Read: 10 Don’t-Dos That Everyone Should Avoid At Workplace
- Start and Maintain a Digital Minimalist Lifestyle
Sounds easy, but it can be hard to implement. For this, you need to tame the biggest monster of them all, the Internet, which we use daily. The time we spent alone can be utilized correctly in learning new skills rather than looking through feed on Facebook or literally stalking a celebrity for their latest picture on Instagram. You may have a fear of missing out (FOMO), but with time, you will learn that it was worth it.
Your resistance in using less of social media and all the features of your smartphone will have a positive impact on you in not just professional life but also your personal life. Digital minimalism is not about living a life cut off from everyone. It is rather using all the technology around us in a better way so that we don’t get addicted to it. If you can’t delete several apps from your phone, try using them as a professional task, something you do as needed and not all the time!
Over to you
I want to conclude this blog with another of Dr. Seuss’s quote, which is all about being you and feeling happy and content. And that’s what the ultimate goal of digital minimalism is.
“Today, you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
Please offer your valuable feedback as I will be happy to know what my readers think about my take on this topic. You can also ask any questions by using the comments section below.