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Digital Minimalism 101: How To Become A Digital Minimalist

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Our lives have become extremely tech-centric. Over half the activities we do in our daily life involves a digital gadget in some form or the other. Increasingly with each passing day, we are becoming slaves of technology and our relationship with it is becoming extremely unhealthy. 

But, thankfully people today are starting to become aware of the extent of digital presence in their life. There are various experts like Cal Newport who have come forward to spread awareness about the negative impact excessive digital technology is having on our society and how we can undo the damage. That’s where the concept of digital minimalism comes in. But, before we get into that let’s have a look at some digital usage statistics.

Digital Usage Statistics That Are Bound To Shock You

  • The global digital media usage is up by 50% since 2014. It has approximately doubled especially in the last three years.
  • 1 of every 3 minutes spent online is on social media every day.
  • Apple disclosed that its users unlock their phones approximately 90 times a day.
  • Smartphone usage has doubled in the last 2 years.
  • An average person spends at least 3 hours on their phone on a daily basis. 

What Is Digital Minimalism?

Digital minimalism is the key to ensuring a healthy digital lifestyle. It is a term that was coined by Science Professor, Cal Newport. In his own words, “Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise, and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.”

The main goal of digital minimalism is to be intentional about your use of technology. It involves a thorough clean up of your digital life. Ensuring all that remains is what is absolutely necessary for the functioning of your day to day life. In this process, you question if a particular piece of technology like email, iPad, social media is absolutely required or is it just an unnecessary luxury. 

We cannot completely get rid of digital technology from our life. It is impractical and unfruitful to do so. Instead, the concept of digital minimalism focuses on using digital media and technology in the most efficient way to ensure we make the most of it. 

3 Main Principles Of Digital Minimalism

This is a choice:

 Digital minimalism is a choice you’re making to still continue to use technology. But, you will only be using it with the intention of improving your lifestyle rather than for mindless leisure.

Optimization is key:

You allow into your life only what is needed. Separate needs from wants and focus your attention on the needs mainly. Your goal must be to optimize the available resources in order to fulfill your needs. 

Accept you can’t be present everywhere:

As a digital minimalist, it is extremely important to make peace with the fact that you can’t be present everywhere doing everything. Tech companies thrive in FOMO on part of the consumers. Digital minimalism takes this power away from them. You should be happy to miss out on things that don’t add any value to your life.

A 5 Step Guide To Becoming A Digital Minimalist

We have simplified the digital minimalism process in 5 easy steps that can be easily incorporated into your life. Here is how it works. 

Take A Step Back And Have A Look At Your Values

The goal of this exercise is to prioritize your core values and have a look at how technology is affecting them. Whatever your coles values might be, is technology having a negative or positive impact on them. 

This is also a good time to get your core value in check. When you take a minute and look back at the last two or three years of your life, you might notice that you’ve been focusing on the wrong things all this time. Digital minimalism helps you get a deeper understanding of your core values. 

Now that you have your values in check, focus on the second part of this exercise. This is to evaluate how the internet, digital media, and technology are affecting your values. Divide all digital usage into three categories, beneficial, unbeneficial, and distractions. While doing this, focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term satisfaction. The beneficial category is a necessity, and the other categories are optional.

30 Days Break From All Optional Technology

The next step is to drop all forms of optional technologies from your life for a set period of 30 days. The set of technologies that found to be optional and not an absolute necessity say goodbye to those for the upcoming 30 days. 

Ensure that these ‘optional’ technologies do not disrupt your daily operations in any way. As you will be effectively banning all these forms of technology from your life for 30 days. You can either trust yourself to faithfully stick to this ban or there are many applications available online that can limit these technologies and digital platforms from your life.

This might seem like a drastic step, but it is absolutely necessary. When it comes to digital usage trying to change your habits gradually won’t work. This is why you need the 30-day break.

Focus On Higher Quality Activities In These 30 Days

People doing higher quality activities

Take this break as an opportunity to find more beneficial pastimes. The goal here is to fill the void that technology has left with higher quality activities. Activities that are not only fun and entertaining but also add something meaningful to your life. Rather than spending time on meaningless leisure activities. 

You can finally engage in the hobby that you’ve been meaning to take up for so long. Read a book that you fancy. Go on an adventurous weekend getaway with friends. You can pick whatever you’d like to fill the space of technology. Use this offtime to stay away from pointless social media and focus on things that truly bring you joy. 

During this 30 day period also make a note of all the time you feel like using one of the banned technologies. This is key to figure out some underlying issues that might be triggered by digital media.

Time To Reintroduce Optional Technologies Back Into Your Life

Once the 30 days break is done, you’re going to decide which form of digital usage you will be letting back into your life. The break should have put things into a better perspective for you.  Before making the final decision, ask yourself “Does this technology directly support something that I deeply value?” 

It is important that the technology chosen should be beneficial to your core values in one way or the other. Otherwise, it is futile to bring them back into your life.

But, it doesn’t just end here. Once you let the chosen optional technologies back into your life, you can’t just use them as and when you please. You need to create an operating procedure that lets you know how and when you can use these optional technologies. Every time you come across a new platform/tool you’d like to use, it needs to pass this test.

Ignore The Rest

Once you have a clear understanding of what, how, and when you’ll be using, you need to make a constant effort to actively ignore the rest of the technologies around you. This new way of living might feel a little weird at first, but you’ll get used to it soon. But, once you start noticing the benefits of it all you’ll easily adapt to this lifestyle. 

Remember, digital minimalism is an ongoing process. As Cal explains: 

“The fact that [a piece of technology] offers some value is irrelevant–the digital minimalist deploys technology to serve the things they find most important in their life, and is happy missing out on everything else.”

If you have any questions regarding digital minimalism, you drop them in the comments below and we’ll be happy to answer!

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