In an increasingly electronically-saturated world, it can free up valuable time and energy to practice digital minimalism. A phrase coined by Cal Newport, an author and Georgetown computer science professor, digital minimalism refers to:
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.
The opposite of FOMO (fear of missing out), digital – or any form of – minimalism is about letting go of superfluous habits, things, and activities as a means to live in greater harmony with our values. However, getting to that point is a process in and of itself.
Here are 4 key strategies to get started:
- Know (and live) our values. A life informed by digital minimalism starts with being clear about what we value – or those things/people/activities/outcomes which are most important in our lives – and making choices about our digital usage that reflect those values.
For example, if we value healthy family relationships, we might make it a priority to eat dinner together in the evening. From a digital minimalist perspective, this might also look like turning off notifications and/or physically separating ourselves from our devices during family time.
- Create digital efficiency. A digitally efficient life is one in which we minimize the number of digital artifacts we deal with on a daily basis based on their level of importance and/or need. This might entail taking a critical look at our use of devices, applications, and correspondence.
Sending fewer emails means we’ll get fewer in return – for some, a dream come true. We can also spend a few minutes each day unsubscribing marketing emails that are cluttering our inbox. Fewer superfluous emails means we can focus on the ones that are actually important and/or time-sensitive.
- Do a digital declutter. Whether it’s filing away everything on our computer desktop, organizing our Google drive, or deleting rarely used smartphone apps, discarding digital artifacts we no longer need can help create both digital and mental clarity. When we are no longer holding on to things we don’t want, it is easier to locate and utilize what we do want.
- Go analog. When our fingers tire of typing and our eyes glaze over from too much screen time, there are ways to be productive sans electronics. Handwriting notes in a composition book, or on index cards or post-its are fun ways to be constructive without a machine.
Put down the Pinterest! Flipping through a magazine or coffee table book can also help fill your visual cache with new ideas.
When we practice digital minimalism, we can become more grounded in and focused on what is truly important in our day-to-day lives and relationships. We may also realize that a digital activity (hello, doom scrolling!) was taking up too much of our time and attention.
Have you tried practicing digital minimalism and what was your experience?
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