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Digital Minimalism 101: How to become a digital minimalist

How technology became so exhausting

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.

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Digital Minimalism 101: How to become a digital minimalist

Digital Minimalism 101: How to become a digital minimalist

https://blog.rescuetime.com/digital-minimalism/

blog.rescuetime.com

6

Key Ideas

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.

How technology became so exhausting

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.”

Elements of a digital minimalist lifestyle

  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.

How to do a Digital Declutter

  • 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.

Maintaining a Digital Minimalist lifestyle

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.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & 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 val...

The principles of digital minimalism
  1. Clutter is costly. Digital minimalists recognise that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.
  2. Optimisation is important.To truly extract the full potential benefit of a technology, it’s necessary to think carefully about how you’ll use it.
  3. Intentionality is satisfying. Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies.
Our relationship with technology

"The underlying behaviours we hope to fix are ingrained in our culture, and […] they’re backed by powerful psychological forces that empower our base instincts. To re-establish control, we need to move beyond tweaks and instead rebuild our relationship with technology from scratch, using our deeply held values as a foundation." - Cal Newport

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Digital minimalism

This philosophy is guided by the idea that we should be in control over what kinds of media we consume, not have our habits dictated to us by technology.

This applies to the office as ...

Taking Leisure Seriously

Instead of defaulting into the low-quality obsessions that leave us wondering where the time has gone, we should cultivate high-quality hobbies that lead to lasting satisfaction.

Re-evaluate your relationship to technology:
  • First allow for a period of abstinence.
  • Follow this by a selective re-introduction of only those tools and technologies that pass a more rigorous cost-benefit analysis than you typically impose.
Addiction and Modernity

They go hand-in-hand.

Addiction seems to be the inevitable consequence of our culturally-created environment changing faster than our biologically-hardwired brains.

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Digital minimalism
Digital minimalism

It means using technology with more intention and purpose.

It's a “philosophy of technology use” rooted in reclaiming control and intention back from the devices and platforms that hav...

Techno-maximalism

It promtes the basic idea that technological innovations can bring value and convenience into your life.

It just looks at the positives. And it's view is more is better than less, because more things that bring you benefits means more total benefits. 

Putting FOMO into perspective

If you want to maximize the amount of value you feel in your life, you want to put as much of your time and effort as possible into the small number of things to give you huge rewards. 

When you think about it that way, fear of missing out looks like, just mathematically speaking, a really bad strategy.

Surviving Screens In Isolation

There are many people self-isolating due to the escalating pandemic, with their phones being the essential link to the outside world. Technology becomes a double-edged sword, connecting and isol...

The Distraction Spiral

Technology, just like the mind, is a very good slave, but a bad master. The technologies by itself are life-giving and useful, but if we are spending the whole day on Twitter, fighting with whoever we don’t agree with, we are ruining our psychological health.

We tend to spiral into the news black hole for hours, but just looking at the front page of the New York Times or Washington Post once or twice a day should be enough.

Accidental Benefits Of Technology

Technology is neutral by itself, and how we use that tool matters. 

  • An email is a great tool, which completely transformed how an office works, though it wasn’t designed for offices.
  • Similarly, the Facebook Like button was designed as a shortcut to writing a good comment, but it unexpectedly turned out to be a tool to measure the popularity of a post.

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Cluttered digital lives
Cluttered digital lives

If people's physical lives were anywhere near as cluttered as their digital lives, their kitchen sinks would be full of dishes, their closets would be jammed, and their houses would be in chaos.

Become a Digital Minimalist

We can reclaim our time and our attention. Unlike a physical space, we can wipe the slate clean in our digital environment.

If you clear apps from your phone, nothing will happen. You can always reinstall the ones you use.

Digital Declutter
  • Clear your browser history.
  • Unsubscribe from newsletters, podcasts, blogs, and anything else you consume.
  • Delete all the apps that are currently on your phone and desktop or laptop (as long as you don’t have to buy a new version of anything).

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Cut down on your digital dependence
Cut down on your digital dependence
  1. Schedule your internet and email use. To train yourself, try waiting five minutes after a buzz, beep, or ding before reaching for your device. Then increase this to 10 minutes...
Core Factors In A Happy Life

Research shows 70% of your happiness comes from quality relationships with your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

Yet, the biggest factor that interferes with your relationsh...

Reverse FOMO

FOMO is the fear of missing out, especially the latest internet hysteria. But FOMO is not the real problem - Reverse FOMO is.  By always being online, you are missing out on real life. An overwhelming online presence is replacing all the things that really make a good life.

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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Time blocking
Time blocking

It's the practice of planning out every moment of your day in advance and dedicating specific time “blocks” for certain tasks and responsibilities.

When you fill your c...

Time blocking and focus

By scheduling every minute of your day you not only guard against distraction but also multiply your focus.

Also, focusing on one task at a time can make you up to 80% more productive than splitting your attention across multiple tasks.

Cons of the time blocking practice
  • It takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Few of us (if any) have the same schedule every day.
  • We’re bad at estimating how long tasks will take to do.
  • Constant interruptions and “urgent” tasks can destroy your system.
  • Flexibility is key in most workplaces.
  • You can lose sight of the bigger picture if you focus just on each day.

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Ancestral health movement

This movement argues that over long periods of time, evolution adapts species to their environments. It follows that when it comes to human well-being, we should pay attention to how we ate and beh...

Ancestral drives
  • We have evolved to build strong social connections with the community through face-to-face interactions;
  • Our brain requires regular periods of “solitude”;
  • We have a strong drive to see their intentions manifested concretely in the world.
A side effect of our current techno-culture is that it radically diminishes these ancestral drive in our daily lives.
The decluttering process
The decluttering process

To live a simple lifestyle, you’ll need a simple living space. Focus on keeping things that you value deeply, and toss things that you don’t need any longer.

Giving yourse...

Minimalists live intentionally

If there is something in your life that you don’t love, change it. Cutting out the things that aren’t serving you is the first step for creating the life you want.

An exercise that really helps is to write down what an ideal day would look like for you in five years time. Then work toward that goal.

Applying minimalism to your relationships

Going minimalist also means spending time with only the people you want to spend time with and focusing your social time on people who lifted you up.

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