When I’m writing this post, I have 5 tabs open on my computer. It’s YouTube, Google browser, Facebook, Gmail, and Youth Reporter. The phone is laying by my right side always ready to be checked. And Kindle is still in the bag, waiting to be turned on for reading in the late evening.
I’m aware, it’s not just my problem. If we check statistics from research we can see the total digital media usage is up 40% since 2013; smartphone usage has doubled in the last 3 years; 1 of every 2 minutes spent online is on “leisure activities”, such as social media, video viewing, entertainment, and games; 1 of every 5 minutes spent online is on social media and the average person spends almost 3 hours per day on mobile.
It's kind of worrying where all this is going. The technology was meant to be the one which helps us to do things faster, better and easier-in one word to be more productive. But these distractions aren’t just unproductive, they’re anti-productive. They create more work than they replace because due to our non-stop distraction we need much more time to finish the task we set to do. Also, with so much offer on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook it’s really hard to decide on which kind of content should we focus on-and also stay focused. Ultimately, entertaining and not useful information gets us addicted because it is pleasing, easy and it numbs a lot of our day-to-day stresses and insecurities. The same way the consumer economy of the 20th century called upon us to invent the nutritional diet, authors believe that the attention economy of the 21st century calls upon us to invent an attention diet.
People and scientists are asking themselves how can we be more mindful around our technology? They found the answer: digital minimalism.
Digital Minimalism embraces the same philosophy to be intentional with our use of technology. It helps you question which digital communication tools and behaviors surrounding these tools add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally clearing away low-value digital distractions, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.
Here is some advice on how to start and try digital minimalism on a computer, phone, and internet.
Personally, I think the computer is the easiest way to start.
1. Clean Up the Desktop: remove all the files and programs that you don’t need from your desktop.
2. Choose a Clean Wallpaper: your wallpaper can have an impact on your productivity. Pick a photo that won’t distract you but rather help you focus. I use basic Windows background.
3. Uninstall Programs: go through your apps and delete everything that you don’t use.
4. Install Updates: after clearing your unused apps, check for updates on the ones left and actually install them. The computer will work much faster afterward.
5. Work in Full-Screen Mode: most programs offer full-screen mode, a perfect way to block out distractions.
1. Remove Apps: as with the computer, start by deleting all the apps you don’t use anymore. For apps, you use but not frequently consider using the browser version.
2. A Mindful Home Screen: place the 4 most used apps on your dock at the bottom. Put everything else into a single folder.
3. Clean Up Contacts: browse through your contact list and delete numbers you won’t need anymore.
4. Delete all music, documents, movies you don’t listen and watch anymore.
5. Remove Notifications: leave phone calls and text messages but remove all the other notifications. In my opinion the best advice on how to avoid checking your phone every 5 minutes. When you want to check something, open the app and do so but Don’t let the app control you to open it with red notifications.
6. You can schedule Do Not Disturb after working hours so you can relax, such as from 8 PM to 8 AM
7. Leave phone out of the bedroom at night. It will prevent you to check, browse on your phone and you will definitely sleep better!
1. Know Your Time Wasters: the first step is to figure where you spend most of your web browsing. You can use the Time Tracker.
2. Unfollow and unfriend people on social media: Our feeds are full of distracting posts from people we’re not particularly close to. Unfriend anyone that doesn’t add value to your life
3. Use social media 30 minutes to 1 hour per day: my advice is to set a time limit that will warn you when time is up.
4. Delete Social Media: you can also decide to delete platforms you don't use so often or you just use them out of boredom or habit. Keep only the ones that you love.
5. Block Websites: temporarily block websites that aren’t essential for work. In Mac use SelfControl; in Windows Cold Turkey; in Chrome StayFocusd; in Firefox use LeechBlock. That will help you to focus and get the work done.
If you decide to do something about digital minimalism and reduce some of your activities on the phone, internet or computer-congratulations, but the fight is not over yet. The scientists noticed after time people are coming back and grab the old habits of technology usage. Therefore, you need to become a better gatekeeper of what you allow in your digital life. Constantly purge anything that doesn’t add value to your life and you should live a better life with more purpose.