Digital Minimalism and How to Achieve it

Digital Minimalism and How to Achieve it
Photo by Alex Knight / Unsplash

Imagine someone giving you a million dollars at the crack of dawn, only to reclaim any unused portion of it by nightfall. If this were the situation, how would you choose to utilize this windfall? Would you handle it recklessly, engaging in haphazard expenditures, or would you diligently strive to spend every penny, fully aware of its impending disappearance at day's end? Most likely, you'd spend it extravagantly, meticulously planning how to allocate every cent. You might be wondering how this hypothetical scenario relates to you or anyone else in the world, as it resembles a scenario straight out of a Squids Game.

This identical scenario can be applied to each of our lives by making a small adjustment: instead of considering it as money, envision it as time in seconds. Every day, you are granted 24 hours, which equals 86,400 seconds. The question then becomes: how effectively are you utilizing this amount of time?

In truth, we are not consistently efficient creatures. Efficiency can vary depending on the task at hand, and we also require periods of rest. Aside from the time allocated for daily chores, leisure activities, and productive endeavors, what are we doing with the remaining time? Much of it tends to be occupied by tasks related to preparation or waiting for something productive, such as walking to the bus stop, doing laundry, or tidying up our surroundings. While these tasks are essential, there are moments when we have free time and should be accomplishing something meaningful.

brown hourglass with blue sand on shore
Photo by Immo Wegmann / Unsplash

When we take stock of our time, we often discover that a significant portion is squandered, often by the allure of social media and the digital world.

Despite being aware of the time-consuming nature of social media, we cannot ignore its numerous benefits. Social media has undoubtedly simplified our lives by facilitating communication with friends, inviting people, collaborating on projects, and streamlining tasks like booking taxis or ordering food – all of which save valuable time. These services are undeniably valuable, and we all rely on them to some extent.

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Everything can be an intentional choice.

So, how can we retain these positive aspects of the digital world while curbing the time-devouring aspects, particularly within social media? We often encounter individuals who attempt to disconnect from social media, only to return after a short hiatus. Why does this happen, and is it genuinely possible for someone to completely sever ties with social media and the digital realm?

While it's theoretically achievable with determination and careful planning, it's not a path everyone is willing to take. This is precisely why we're transitioning towards a concept known as digital minimalism.

Coined by computer science professor and best-selling author Carl Newport, the concept of digital minimalization primarily involves reducing the unnecessary time spent in the social media sphere and instead channeling one's focus towards more productive digital activities. This approach allows us to maximize the benefits and functionalities of digital tools and services while steering clear of the time-wasting and stress-inducing elements.

To embark on the journey of digital minimalization, you can consider implementing various methods, not necessarily in a specific order. Here's a suggestion:

1. Monitor Your Time

Keep a close eye on how you spend your time on social media apps and other digital platforms. Often, we find ourselves mindlessly scrolling or repeatedly watching videos without gaining much value. This behavior is akin to a cat chasing a laser pointer, leading to aimless binge-watching of irrelevant content. By monitoring the time spent on each app or digital task, you can pinpoint the activities that consume a significant portion of your day. This awareness allows you to distinguish between time-consuming, unproductive activities and those that provide real value.

By understanding how your time is allocated, you can take targeted steps to minimize digital distractions and optimize your digital interactions for productivity and personal growth.

2. Turn off Notifications

Many tech companies rely on the allure of notifications to keep users engaged with their apps. Whether it's food delivery apps or online games, they frequently send notifications, attempting to grab your attention, even for things of minimal importance to you. When you hear a notification sound, the temptation to check what's going on is strong. However, this impulse doesn't stop there; you'll often end up spending anywhere from 1 minute to hours on the app.

person holding black iphone 4
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov / Unsplash

It's essential to recognize that these notifications are not true reminders; reminders are meant for essential tasks. Notifications, on the other hand, can often wait. As a first step in practicing digital minimalism, consider disabling these notifications. Only open these apps when it's genuinely necessary, rather than succumbing to the constant stream of notifications that can disrupt your focus and productivity. This simple adjustment can help you regain control over your digital habits and allocate your time more intentionally.

3. Clear the Clutter

In those moments when you find yourself waiting in an elevator, at a bus stop, or while savoring your coffee at your favorite cafe, our natural inclination often leads us to reach for our smartphones and indulge in mindlessly scrolling through YouTube or Instagram. However, you can make better use of these moments by redirecting your attention.

Take a few minutes to skim through your emails. Delete those that are not relevant or important to you. Additionally, unsubscribe from mailing lists and newsletters that no longer serve your interests. Use idle moments to clear out digital clutter that may no longer matter to you. This can involve tasks like deleting unused apps, organizing and backing up old photos, and creating more storage space on your device. These small actions may not seem significant individually, but over time, you'll notice that your phone or device becomes a more useful and less cluttered space, akin to a well-organized room rather than an overcrowded auditorium.

4. Choose your Social Media

It's common for most of us to install various social media platforms when recommended by someone or out of curiosity. However, it's essential to assess the actual usefulness of these platforms to you. Often, your closest friends are concentrated on just one or two of these platforms. Instead of spreading yourself thin across multiple platforms, consider sticking to the ones where your core social circle resides. This approach can save you time and reduce the constant distraction of notifications, as well as the pressure to build an audience on every platform.

clear hour glass on white table
Photo by Milad Fakurian / Unsplash

5. Set Screen Time Limits

Limiting your screen time can have a positive impact on various aspects of your life, from work to your sleep patterns. Keeping your phone or devices out of sight during work or away from your immediate reach can significantly reduce distractions. Many distractions in both work and leisure activities originate from our phones. You may have experienced lying in bed, wondering if you received an important email or message, leading to the urge to check your phone. However, these time-stealers can negatively affect your mental and physical health, as well as your overall productivity. Setting boundaries on screen time can help you maintain focus and balance in your daily activities.

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Basha Yes

Basha Yes

India