Our over obsessive relationship with technology and craving for it has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. The Internet has become limitless, and our technological dependence all-consuming and overwhelming. Ironically, the social network has made us rather unsocial and passive towards life, as such.
On a typical day, I mindlessly pick up my cell phone several times a day, which is like my hackneyed appendage, to be honest, doing nothing. I have instinctively admonished my children for indulging in screen time for more than the acceptable 60 minutes a day. Then I thought, how hypocritical of me! After all, I’m the one who wanted them out of my hair for a few more hours just so I could get my work done uninterrupted. What I didn’t see coming, however, was how easily gadgets make addicts out of kids and adults alike. My iPhone’s screen time function showed a shocking revelation of 3 hours and 15 minutes a day. I am somehow irked to be nonchalant realizing it’s a staggering 49 days a year of aimless news feed scrolling and social media browsing.
So, I consciously decided to be technologically mindful without resorting to practicing extremities like putting away all devices from my eyesight. A few days back I read “Digital Minimalism – choosing a focused life in a noisy world” by Cal Newport and it inspired me to free myself from the shackles of over-dependence on technology.
Digital minimalism is a mindset where I intentionally chose to declutter the excesses in my life which in turn gave me more time, energy, and attention to focus on things that truly mattered. That is, I have the liberty to make deliberate and thoughtful choices that add value to my life.
Here are a few ways to adopt digital minimalism and declutter your life:
1) Eliminate the unnecessary
Delete all apps that you have not used in the last couple of months and probably never will. I deleted about 12 such apps that just occupied space and prompted me to upgrade my iCloud storage for a fee. This also helped me quickly access the apps I needed without wading through the clutter of unused ones. We can always download them again if needed.
3) Mindful following
Last week while scrolling down my Instagram feed I realized I was looking at fat loss recipes I will never recreate, and the intense HIIT workouts I will never attempt. So, I started unfollowing accounts just like emptying my crowded inbox and it definitely made a difference towards a better focus on my life goals. I find myself more productive at work and also interact with people outside the virtual realm.
3) Restrict social likes
Cal Newport asserted that we should stop hitting likes on social media to eliminate fake ways of connecting and explore real options instead. I tried this approach and I am loving it. Whenever I’m tempted to like someone’s post, I ask myself, “Is this association relevant and nourishing for me?” However, I replaced the curb with some positive changes too. I called a friend who I hadn’t spoken to in 2 years and realized we missed out on a lot. We decided to have more regular phone calls from now on.
4)Turn off notifications
It has become a habit to check notifications every time our phone’s screen lights up. We do that while working, while face-to-face chatting, working out, and worse,even while driving. And for what? Most of them are not even relevant. Keeping notifications on only for necessary apps where time-sensitive communications matters saved me from any unwanted distractions. Not to mention saving battery power!
5) Social media Happy hours
Quitting cold-turkey on digital essentials aka social media might cause a sudden shock to your system. Instead, we can notch it down to an hour or two and resist the curiosity of seeing what others are up to online. Avoid them after lunch when you’re struggling to meet your deadlines and, in particular, before hitting the sack. Following this, gave me ample free time to indulge in activities outside the digital realm.
6) Your phone isn’t an appendage
Technology dependency and our perception of truth are manifested by having a phone in our hands wherever we go. Instead of using it while walking like a sloth on a treadmill, I decided to leave it in the gym locker. Now my workouts are more effective and guess what? I lost almost 4 pounds with no phone distractions. We often end up checking our phone from time to time out of habit. Some of us never had smartphones and tablets at our disposal when we were growing up and did just fine. The point being, refresh your memory on what you did back then to occupy yourself. These days, I consciously don’t flip it out of my bag, unless and until there’s an emergency phone call or text to attend to.
Digital minimalism made me appreciate the finer things life has to offer. It was unsettling at first, but eventually helped me realize that selectively renouncing the all-pervasive internet connectivity can actually be the key to self-rejuvenation. I am now spending quality time with my kids who, in turn, have developed a relationship with technology We bake, water the plants, take long walks, paint, and do yoga together. My under eye dark circles have almost disappeared after I consciously started putting away all digital devices after 10 pm. Now I call my relatives and closest friends once a week instead of greeting them twice a year on birthdays and anniversaries on WhatsApp. I have time to ponder, time to unwind, without the interference of who posted what.