How To Embrace Digital Minimalism
The way we consume information has changed how we think, react to other people, and even deal with stress. When we are online, our heads are filled with vast amounts of information, clutter, and distraction. But what if we embraced a minimalist view about our time online?
Take a step back for a moment and look at all that you read or click on in a typical 30-minute span:
- Tik Tok
How much time every day do you lose checking these apps each day? Now, how many times have you said you just don't have time for yourself, for exercise, or for family time?
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What is Digital Minimalism, and Why Does it Matter?
Digital Minimalism means that you change how you use technology to maximize time saving so you can use it less.
Coined by author and computer science professor Cal Newport in his book of the same name, this idea calls on us to remove distractions, address our relationship with our apps and technology, and put more intention into the time we spend online.
There are so many blogs, websites, videos screaming at you for attention. I used to feel so overwhelmed at how much content was driven in my direction that I had huge files of articles and posts that I wanted to get to but never had enough time.
Friends, take back your time. I mean it. If you find yourself spending countless minutes watching videos, scrolling through the comments on new stories, or playing digital games that suck the time away, you can take back this time. But it won't be easy.
Don't Let The Internet Tell You How To Spend Your Time
In my blogging industry, there is a push to out more content and drag the attention into our “funnels” that generate income. This means that marketers spend day and night trying to find more ways to get you to stop scrolling and read their emails, their ads and spend money.
I’m going to say something controversial. I know it won’t win me friends, but take a few minutes each day and UNSUBSCRIBE from emails, social media influencers, and groups you don’t enjoy and take up your time.
Our time is limited, and you shouldn’t be wasting it by spending hours each week sorting through junk mail or junk content. So get rid of it!
Turn off notifications and let go of the string that keeps pulling you back in.
If you looked at your computer “desktop,” can you see where you start to collect clutter? A quick way to sort through that clutter is to clean it up with grouping things into files.
How to Declutter Your Digital Life
Getting rid of digital clutter is hard!
Just like getting rid of physical clutter and learning how to minimalize your home, sometimes letting go of digital clutter can also be emotional.
How much time are you spending looking at social media feeds that actually make you feel bad? Do you continue to follow exes, co-workers, or neighbors you don’t like, wouldn’t want to spend time with, or are just doing it because they liked you first?
Trust me, we all are guilty of accepting “friendship” invites that we don’t really want in our lives.
Take some time to go through your follower and friends on social media. Get rid of the connections made to people who aren’t there to love and support your journey to a better life. Fight your stalker tendencies and get rid of Exes and their friends that you no longer enjoy spending time with. I had a young woman who was the ex-girlfriend of one of my sons on my Facebook for many years. It had been a friendly chat here and there, catching up about life after the high school relationship had ended. But sadly, I realized that this connection wasn’t healthy for either of us. It was painful, but not all connections need to stay in our focus and draw out uncomfortable thoughts and conversations.
Digital Minimalism Starts With A New Mindset
Log Off and Connect To The Outside World
I want to challenge you to log off and take some time to connect with your home, your family, and the world around you.
Yes, this is a huge conflict between what I would want as a digital creator and a person who actually believes in a minimalist life.
On the one hand, as a creator in this space, I want you to keep reading, keep sharing my content, and yes… make purchases through my links, so I make a commission on those sales. That’s how I earn a living, besides coaching and helping other content creators.
But I’m going to be honest with you, and it’s likely going to cost me money. I would rather that you take the next 30 minutes and go outside and plant a garden, walk your dog, or call a friend, than to keep reading my content.
Why would I say that?
Because I would rather know that your mental and physical wellness was your priority rather than staying in this space with an overloaded mind.
I set up Do Not Disturb hours on my phone from 8pm to 9am. I don’t get any notifications except for certain family members. Everything else can wait until morning.
Start With A Hard Reset:
Every summer, I take a few weeks off to spend time with my family and log off the computer. In past years, we would go to the beach and nap in the sun. Last summer, we did some big home remodeling, and I’m excited to enjoy the new pool. At the end of my break each year I discover that either I don’t want to stop and go back to my daily grind OR I’m so excited by the things I’ve been waiting to share that I start sneaking back early.
But I never regret making time for self-care, family moments, or resetting my mind from all of the digital clutter I’d consumed up until the break.
The heart of Minimalism is to appreciate what you have and get rid of what serves no purpose.
Digital Minimalism Forces You To Let Go Of FOMO
You don’t have to keep up!
One of the most annoying tactics that I’ve seen online has
been targeting people with the fear that if they don’t stay online, connected to
the flow of content, they will miss out on a big opportunity. They build on your FOMO… or fear of missing out.
Give yourself permission to let go, and discover what’s beyond the internet.
Apps like Clubhouse prey on the idea that if you aren't logged in or getting the notifications, you could miss something big. But the truth is, that information is always available somewhere. There are no new ideas on Clubhouse or any other social media that can't be found somewhere else in the right time for you. Don't let them lie to you and make you believe that you have to be there all the time, at the cost of your work/life balance.
Be creative and find ways to connect with friends and family again
In 2020, we all had to rethink how we met up with friends, spent the holidays, and even how we learn and work. The tech world celebrated that people were trapped inside and needed social media and technology even more than ever.
Every platform has a place to connect, be heard, share stories, and create safe spaces. I love that there are spaces for everyone.
However, we as humans need face-to-face connection time as well. We can learn how to create safe, healthy ways to socialize again. We need to make an effort to creatively have safe gatherings, share smaller intimate moments of reconnection. We can meet up with friends, walk our dogs, sit on the porch, and talk about our lives. More importantly, we can relax and refocus with the people we love without being connected to the internet.
Set Limits You Can Live With
Set the intention to create space in your day and be intentional in how you fill that space.
Letting go of things that absorb our time and thoughts is hard work. Letting go of the idea that our time online is more valuable than our self-care has to go. Your follower count doesn’t define who you are or how important you are.
Throw out influences that control your life or your finances. Stop searching for satisfaction in your life by scrolling through the lives of others.
Control the content you consume, both online and in-person.
If spending time online is wasting time, why do I do it?
Yep, that’s the question I ask myself from time to time. And the answer is this: Writing is how I express myself and connect with my mental health. I love being creative with my photography. Sharing those photos and making connections through Instagram gives me a happy and content feeling.
I was born to be a writer, and I love sharing the things I’ve learned with my readers. This never feels like work to me, and I actually find that when I’m stressed that coming to write something like a recipe or a gardening tip brings me back to a good place.
Whatever you choose to do that brings your thoughts to a better state of mind, keep doing that!
But make sure you are doing it with the right intentions and keep pushing to remove the clutter.
For My Fellow Creators and Business Owners:
We know that your time is valuable, and it's hard to stay on top of your social media while trying to reduce your screen time. That's why we use Tailwind to schedule our Pinterest and our Instagram posts. Now in just a few minutes, I can do a whole week's worth of Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest Pins. I can even create new images that are Pinterest perfect right from the app.
By saving time and effort, I'm reducing my digital time and making more time for the things I love offline!