The Distraction of Digital Technology

Email, chat apps, social media, and other tools can be just as productive as they can be distracting. How do we get the most out of the good parts of technology while protecting ourselves from the bad?
To be a digital minimalist means you accept the idea that new communication technologies have the potential to massively improve your life, but also recognize that realizing this potential is hard work.

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Self Improvement

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We spend all day staring at screens, read books on Kindles or iPads, and come home to relax by watching a movie or TV.

Digital technologies lump together the good with the bad.

Digital minimalism defined

As Cal Newport defines it, Digital minimalism is:

“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

  1. Choice and intention. You’re still using technology, but only what you want and only in ways that connect to your values.
  2. Optimizing the tools you use. What you allow into your life needs to work for you. This means separating the good from the bad.
  3. Accepting you won’t be everywhere all the time. Tech companies survive on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). But digital minimalists are happy to miss out on the things they know don’t bring value to their lives.
  • Set aside a 30-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life. Work email is not optional. Twitter probably is.
  • During this break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors you find satisfying and meaningful.
  • And after the 30 days are up, reintroduce the optional technologies you want back into your life.
  • Determine the value it brings you and how specifically you can use it to maximize that value.
  • Bing optional technologies back by first creating rules on how exactly you’ll use them and when.

Ways to rediscover non-digital activities you love that will support your newfound digital autonomy.

  • Spend Time Alone without your digital technology. Try leaving your phone at home while you go for a walk, journaling, or simply spending more time alone.
  • Don’t Click Like or allow yourself to be always available.
  • Reclaim Leisure. One of the reasons we lean so heavily on digital technologies is that we’ve lost our hobbies and leisure activities. 
  • Join the Attention Resistance. Reduce the number of entry points. Try deleting social media off your phone or treat it like a professional task—something you do as needed and not more.

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RELATED IDEAS

Digital minimalism

Digital minimalism is a "philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimised activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else."  - Cal Newport

Use technology to "support" your personal goals, rather than letting it "use" you.

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IDEAS

It is probably not possible to safely evaluate your media consumption, while you’re in the midst of it. Steppring away for a month may be necessary to see your habits objectively.
Values, Not Lifehacks

Tech is only a tool. How you use it can make it good or not so good.

We don't need a lifehack to control our phone. We need values to ensure that technology serves us, and not the other way around.

Find out what you value in life. Then ask how technology supports those values. Set rules that work for them. If you don't, tech will fill that void by default.

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