Digital Minimalism – an urgent cry blowing in the wind.
Though this desire has been welling up inside me for years, the immediate trigger for the urgency to pay attention is a book that I have started reading.
I have been reading Robert Green’s fascinating book, Mastery the last few days. I am filled with hope and at the same time more than a tinge of remorse and regret.
I am plagued by feelings of remorse and regret thinking about the years I should have invested to become the best version of myself – but didn’t.
Honore de Balzac’s word come to my mind. “Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn’t, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence.”
I lost a lot of time to clutter of all types. It came to me in different forms and sizes.
Physical clutter at home and office.
Clutter emanating from TV, which I consumed avidly.
The clutter that confronted me daily in my wardrobe.
And digital clutter on which I mindlessly spent hours every day.
There is clutter even in the way I approach my intake of food. Food minimalism also plays a very important role in staying healthy.
The saddest aspects of clutter are two-fold.
One, clutter in part of my life seeps into other areas through nooks and crannies. Life can’t be compartmentalized.
Two, clutter has the effect of numbing us. Exposure to its tentacles at regular intervals ensures that we rarely get into a state of flow. Being in the zone is very important to produce things of substance.
When we are in the grip of clutter, we are perennially in that zombie state where nothing of significance comes out of us.
I have written about decluttering and minimalist lifestyle in my blog post https://homesartist.com/5-steps-of-the-minimalist-to-claim-soulful-sanctuary/
What is Digital Clutter?
Research from Babson College and Wharton shows that most employees spend close to 80% of their day responding to emails, in meetings, or on the phone.
Here is another bit of alarming news. A recent study by Adobe shows, on an average, workers spend 2.5 hours every day, dealing with their inbox. And, more than 75% of time is spent on using or multitasking with communication tools.
Here are a few more staggering statistics about how we have allowed digital to permeate our lives.
· On an average, most of us email or chat every 6 minutes or less.
· Use about 50+ Apps and tools every day and switch between them frequently.
· Spend about 3 to 4 hours on phone.
· Spend at least 40% of our day, multi-tasking.
It is no wonder that we do not have time for deep thinking, productive work and finding time to live the lives of our dreams.
And very often, our mental health goes for a toss.
Isn’t it a fact that the more we mindlessly invite into our lives a barrage of attention draining apps, tools, social media etc., the less time we have at our disposal to focus on aspects of our lives that really matter?
The more we accept such a life the less time and energy we have for the kind of deep thinking that leads to big ideas, real creativity, and satisfaction.
Finally, clutter is also very costly. The devices with the apps and tools that we use are very expensive. Additionally, the loss in terms of the opportunities lost are too high to calculate.
Why we need to think about digital minimalism
The fact of our existence in these modern times is that most of us are really not in control of our lives – though we like to think otherwise.
We are hooked to digital media. It is not because we move about aimlessly in life. It is because digital media has these inbuilt characteristics.
· It is no secret that technology companies invest billions of dollars to ensure that people get addicted to digital media.
· And, these addictive features are part of the design features – deliberately built.
By regular dose of positive reinforcement
And by cleverly factoring in people’s need for social approval.
Smoking as an addiction is on the wane all over the world.
We are instead addicted to the “likes” on social media.
The “Likes” create an illusion of being surrounded by hundreds of friends from all over the world.
Sadly, this happens at the expense of fostering deep friendships among people we know. So, we have communities of hundreds of friends without experiencing the warmth and real company of friends that matter.
The more time we spend on social media, the less time we have to invest on our circle of real friends.
How to become a digital minimalist
Marie Kondo is known the world over for decluttering based on principles of minimalism. Her book, Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up have influenced millions of people all over the world to simplify their lives and tread the path of minimalist lifestyle.
In the field of Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport’s very popular book, Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World – is a rich resource.
Both Marie Kondo and Cal Newport base their finding on the principle – less is more.
According to Newport, “Minimalists tend to spend much less money and own many fewer things than their peers. They also tend to be much more intentional and often quite radical in shaping their lives around things that matter to them.”
He does not denounce the digital world. He is aware of its power to influence and as a tool to do great work.
So, digital minimalism is not about renouncing, facebook, WhatsApp or emails. It is all about creating your digital world intentionally, based on your values. This way you will have your digital tools and at the same time live in a state of flow.
Marie Kondo too says the first step of starting on the journey of decluttering is clearly understanding why you want to opt for decluttering and minimalism.
For Cal Newport, at the start of digital minimalism is understanding one’s values and aligning them with step by step practices designed to bring about digital minimalism transformation.
In short, you get to use the technology that helps you to stay grounded to your values and what you most cherish in life.
According to Newport, the route to digital minimalism is focusing on “a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”
Steps towards digital decluttering
Based on what Newport suggests, I am giving below the steps recommended to move on the path of digital decluttering.
1. Be clear about your technology rules.
Decide on the technologies which you will keep and which you will abstain from. The emphasis is on, going with what creates impact in your life.
2. Take a 30-day break.
The purpose of this break is to get the confidence that you can live without technology. More importantly, during this period, you begin to indulge in the passions, life mission and higher quality activities that you have always wanted to be part of.
During the technology detox period, you begin to enjoy certain high quality activities making you feel richer and more fulfilled.
3. Select the technology you want back in your life.
Reintroducing technology should satisfy the following 3 parameters.
a) Does the technology you have chosen serve your values?
b) Is it the most ideal way to serve your values?
c) Set clear rules and operating procedure to control use.
4. Move into a zone of Solitude
New technologies like smartphones add to “solitude deprivation.” Solitude has the power to bring about self-awareness, creativity and a sense of connection with your soul. Newport suggests leaving the phone at home, taking long walks and taking up creative pursuits like writing letters to yourself.
5. Choose Conversation over Connection and indulge in leisure activities.
Conversation refers to person to person interaction, offline. Connection is about online communication. Whereas conversation leave people charged and richer. Online communication leave us unfulfilled and our social brain faculties underutilized. Newport recommends more texting, avoiding social media.
Time saved from excessive use of digital clutter can be put to use in productive ways. Indulge in strenuous activities that would pump you with energy. Also, participate in activities designed to build your skills and produce physical things.
6. Embrace slow media and dumb down your smartphone.
To ensure that we are on a continuous path of creating the best versions of ourselves, we have to be ruthless when it comes to reverting to our old digital cluttered ways. So, it is best to delete social media from our phones. It will be ideal to use a basic phone.
What do you gain by embracing digital minimalism?
Embracing digital minimalism does not mean you are shunning technology or the powers of the digital world.
On the other hand, you use the best features of technology to become more productive. You are able to separate the good from the bad.
The best part is, your chosen path helps you to stay aligned to your values.
In this way, you maximize your life. This is how less is more.
Embracing digital minimalism also means that you are fully content with what you choose to have. You don’t fall into the trap of the FOMO – Fear Of Losing Out – emotions promoted by technology companies.
You as a digital minimalist are comfortable losing out on insignificant benefits because what they gain are far more.
Choosing a life of digital minimalism is not a fad or a trend. On the other hand, it is about choosing a important things in life over trivial stuff.
That’s why minimalist fashion and a minimalist wardrobe reward you with happiness and contentment because your focus is on enjoying quality rather than quantity.
In my previous post, I have written about how Minimalist interiors are an integral part of a minimalist lifestyle.
As I mentioned earlier, life cannot be compartmentalized. When you live a life of values, these percolate down to touch so many aspects of your life.
The victory is yours because your life has more focus, greater productivity, less stress, better quality relationships and a more satisfied life.
I am Babu Vincent and I am passionate about all things related to Minimalism, Decluttering and Cleaning. We are among the very few people offering Decluttering services in the country.
Why is digital decluttering important?
It a fact that the more we mindlessly invite into our lives a barrage of attention draining apps, tools, social media etc., the less time we have at our disposal to focus on aspects of our lives that really matter. The more we accept such a life, the less time and energy we have for the kind of deep thinking that leads to big ideas, real creativity, and satisfaction.
What do you gain by embracing digital minimalism?
When you embrace digital minimalism, your life has more focus, your productivity is substantially higher, you foster better quality relationships while removing stress from your life.
Is digital decluttering about removing technology altogether from your life?
Digital decluttering is mindfully opting for the right, enabling technologies that would enhance productivity and quality of life while ignoring those that would clutter your mind and add to your stress.