Are you dependent on your digital gadgets? Are they always within your reach? Moreover, do they make you feel happy – or stressed? If the latter is the case, digital minimalism might be the right thing for you. Digital minimalism is a mindset and technique that helps us gain back control over our digital lives. As a result, we feel less stressed and have more time for the good things.
This post gives you a brief overview of what digital minimalism entails, where to start, and how it can lead to a happier and less tech-addicted life.
What Is Digital Minimalism?
“Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. It’s the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world” (source: goodreads).
The term was coined by Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism. He explains how our use of technology can negatively impact our lives. And what we can do against it. He suggests a 30-day digital detox challenge to reset our digital experience.
Who Is Digital Minimalism for?
Digital minimalism is a mindset and technique for all of you who …
- feel stressed and overwhelmed by their digital experience
- are willing to simplify and organize their personal lives and careers
- are addicted to digital devices and apps (e.g., social media)
- want to be more present in the moment and enjoy their real life
If you recognize yourself in any of the options above, digital minimalism is probably the right thing for you. It will help you overcome tech-addictions and regain control over your (digital) life.
Why We Should Practice Digital Minimalism
Technology allows us to be available 24/7. But research shows that multitasking and switching between tasks actually harm our productivity – e.g., according to Clifford Nass, a psychology professor at Stanford University. He says that multitasking is a myth. “If we learn to put our phones down, switch-off all notifications, and fully focus on one task at a time, we can boost our efficiency, reduce stress, and make significant progress on important projects” (source: Harvard Business Review). In other words, we’ll be less stressed and have more time for what really matters.
How to Practice Digital Minimalism
How many times was reaching out for your smartphone the first thing you did in the morning? If you’re like me, too often. And if it was only to switch off the alarm. This is why digital minimalists suggest leaving your phone in a different room – and investing in a traditional alarm clock. By this, you’ll eliminate the temptation to look at your screen first thing in the morning.
During work hours, disable notifications on your computer and set the airplane mode on your phone to reduce distractions to a minimum. Do the same when you’re with others. It will definitely increase the quality of the time spent together.
Enjoy Your Real Life
I greatly appreciate connecting with people from over the world and stay updated via social media. However, the social media boom has also resulted in the rise of FOMO. For many of us, the fear of missing out creates unnecessary stress and pressure.
But lately, there are more and more promoters of JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). They inspire us to take a break from social media and other tech-related activities and instead enjoy our real lives. Well, I can only agree.
Declutter, Detach, Rebuild (30-Day Digital Declutter Challenge)
To get started with digital minimalism, Cal Newport suggests a thorough digital declutter. In an interview with GMA, he says we should stay away from our personal tech-devices and apps for 30 days. This includes everything that isn’t essential for our job or everyday life. Then, after 30 days, we can rebuild our digital experience. But only with the apps and gadgets, we really want to re-invite into our lives.
Newport believes it takes two weeks to change our habits and even more time to realize what we want to do instead of staring at our screens. This is why he suggests this 30-day time frame. He also claims that the most sustainable changes experience people who take the detox days as a chance to reflect and rethink what really matters in their life.
Personally, I can only agree to Newports statements and recommend taking on this 30-day digital declutter challenge. It’s certainly not easy, but absolutely worth it.
Biggest Wins and Challenges
So, why should you consider applying the principles of digital minimalism or even take on a 30-day digital detox? And what will potentially hold you back? Let’s see …
Some of the major benefits are:
- More time with friends and family
- Finding ways to overcome addictions
- Feeling more relaxed and less stressed
On the other hand, some of the biggest challenges are:
- Investing the time and energy to change your habits
- Resisting the social pressure to be always online and accessible
- A lack of determination, motivation, and commitment
If you want to pursue digital minimalism, prepare yourself for a challenging journey. Depending on how tech-addicted you are, reaching your goal may take a bit longer than you expect. So, decide if and how you want to start. You can either do a complete digital detox, as Cal Newport suggests or start small. If starting small, just take one step at a time. Maybe delete some apps you no longer need or opt-out from a few notifications and services. And once you feel happy with the changes, take another step.
No matter which way you prefer, I’m pretty sure that you’ll profit from the positive effects a more minimalist approach can have on your digital experience. Because the more we focus on what really matters, the more satisfying and enjoyable our (digital and real) life will be.
More Ways to Declutter, Simplify and De-Stress Life
Lately, I shared my 6 most effective ways to de-stress life. In this post, I also looked at ‘digital simplifiers’ and their impact on our stress levels.
These posts dive deeper into digital decluttering:
- Declutter and Better Organize Digital Files in 5 Steps
- How to Declutter Your Inbox and Reduce Email Stress
- How to Declutter and Enrich Your Social Media Life
Changing our relationship to tech stuff can be tough. So, maybe my post and workbook on how to achieve even challenging goals can help:
Find my thoughts on minimalism and other emerging keywords in this post:
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Thanks for sharing this post and your thoughts!
How do you tackle the challenges of an overwhelming digital life? Have you tried Newport’s 30-day digital detox challenge? What are your experiences with digital minimalism? Let me know!