Updated: Sep 18, 2021
It’s no secret that the digital Age we’re living in provides tremendous value in everything we do. It’s also no secret that it can create chaos and overwhelm in our daily lives. With so much information floating around online it’s easy to get caught in the research trap, or overconsumption of content. Let’s explore how digital minimalism will bring peace to your life in the digital age.
Technology can be overwhelming
It wasn’t too long ago that rolodexes, notebooks, and desk calendars were our system of record before new apps, software and websites replaced non-digital systems. We also didn’t have new and evolving social media apps popping up left and right to keep up with. Now, we have busy schedules managed by online calendars, endless social media notifications, and a never-ending inbox of emails calling our name.
It doesn’t help that the glorious digital world can be both overwhelming and distracting yet endlessly helpful to our everyday lives. With so much constant tension between deciphering what is helpful and what is excess, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s no wonder we get swept away for hours consuming social media or news sites. If you’re into the latest new technology it’s also easy to get caught up in exploring all the ins and outs of the new tool. There is no doubt technology can be overwhelming.
This is where Digital Minimalism comes in
Cal Newport, the author of Digital Minimalism; Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World coined the term. He describes digital minimalism as using our technology from tools, software, and apps with intention and purpose, rather than just wandering aimlessly for hours on end whenever we feel like it. In essence, putting structure and guidelines in place to ensure you’re getting the value you need, rather than wasting time.
When it comes to getting work done, the apps and tools available to you are designed to help you work more efficiently, create value, and save time. If you’re not careful, they’ll do the exact opposite, leading you nowhere fast and decreasing your productivity levels every day. By adapting to digital minimalism, it solves this problem by reducing what you’re using and how you’re utilizing it.
How to be a Digital Minimalist
You may favour minimalism in other aspects of your life whether it’s in home design, your expenses, or your lifestyle in general. Whether you do or not, I’m going to provide you with direct knowledge on how to become a digital minimalist to simplify your life and create more time for what matters most. Having more stuff doesn’t always lead to greater happiness - intention creates purpose in life.
The first thing you need to know is that digital minimalism isn’t about deleting all of your technology, it’s about cleaning up the clutter to clear the path for intention and purpose on a daily basis. Sounds great, right? It is, but it may feel challenging at first. Don’t give up!
Think about when you spend time on social media. How long or how many times per day do you get caught in the scrolling trap? It can easily become an addiction if you’re not careful. Too much screen time can lead to increased anxiety and depression and also leave you feeling burnt out. It’s easy to feel like we’re achieving something because we’re consuming, clicking buttons and staying up to date with current events and those we follow.
Although technology can lead to big break throughs in new developments, it can also take away from quality brainstorming and creativity that fuels those developments. Digital minimalism involves only participating in a small amount of technology that supports what you value and ditching the rest that doesn’t provide value to your life.
Pointers to help you get started:
Be deliberate with your intentions: Define a list of your core values. Write down your beliefs and what creates value in your life according to them. Do any of these values require technology? If so, identify which and only use technology that will support your intentions and values. This will create structure around how you use technology.
Optimize your digital tools: Review how you use technology today for hidden time wasters. Make a list of each tool you use and why you use it. Is it adding value and creating efficiency in your life? What is the purpose for using the digital tool? Only use tools that will optimize your life, not create wasted time.
Adapt and accept new beliefs around technology: You can’t be everywhere all the time and you shouldn’t be. Can you imagine what that would do to a person? The thought alone is exhausting. Technology is developed to pull you in and make you feel like you’re missing out if you’re not consuming it 24/7. Remember that everything you do is for a greater purpose. Only participate where it ADDS value to your life, not takes away from it.
Create alone time for yourself: It’s easy to get caught up in life’s demands and not have time for yourself but creating alone time is crucial for your mental and physical health. Ditch the technology and do something that won’t have you “spending time” with the rest of the world online. Take a walk or try meditating for 15 minutes without your phone nearby.
Turn your online presence status off: You know those online statuses that show everyone when you’re online on social media platforms? Turn them off. This will reduce the number of messages you receive, which will limit the time you feel the need to be online.
Get a hobby offline: Remember when you used to do things like read books, practice a musical instrument, or explore the outdoors? Whatever your hobby of choice is, it will inspire creativity and remove the distraction of outside noise that’s unnecessary to our everyday lives.
Delete unnecessary apps: You know those apps you keep on your phone or computer “just in case?” Delete them! There’s a good chance you have only opened them once and haven’t returned to them since. If you delete them, you won’t feel the constant pull of guilt to use them every time you open your device and see them. Eliminating temptation is a great way to practice digital minimalism.
Think about it in terms of money: What if you had to spend $1 every time you took action on technology? Think about it, if you had to spend $1 every time you liked, commented, opened, responded, etc would it be worth it? No. You’d be out of time, energy, and money. Envisioning these actions as if they had monetary value assigned will definitely help you cut back and choose wisely.
Summary: Finding peace in Digital Minimalism
Remember, becoming a digital minimalist doesn’t mean you’re permanently ditching technology. It means you’re finding meaningful ways to use technology that add value to your life. It’s ok if it doesn’t happen overnight for you, work on one digital tool per day to identify where you can cut back or eliminate to give yourself some much-needed time back in your day for what’s most important. Understanding your values will help you on your digital minimalist journey. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, you’ll have increased productivity and intention every day.