I always thought of myself is a bit of a digital minimalist. As an IT guy people always gave me a confused look when I told them I don’t really use Facebook. Or that I do not have all the latest apps like Waze. But it turns out I was lying to myself. I may not be using a lot of social networks but I was far from anything called digital minimalism.
What is Digital Minimalism?
I guess I should start by defining what digital minimalism means to me so we are on the same page.
Digital minimalism is about disconnecting and removing the technology that adds little or no value to your life. Then focusing on the things that really matter.
It is also about carefully considering the pros and cons of adding new technology and services to your life. Such as how much online privacy you will lose when using a service.
In this way we can keep our digital lives clutter free and enjoy them more!
How my journey started
It all started earlier this month. I was taking some vacation time. Part of the vacation plan was to cut some ties to the digital world. Nothing too extreme. I simply wanted to make a conscious effort to spend quality time with my family. This is one of the reasons I have not posted anything this month. But in the process, I re-discovered how nice life can be when we unplug!
The Epiphany! Digital M
It was not part of the plan but while on the trip I started getting data warnings on my phone. So I sadly turned off mobile data in order to save money. Then I decided I would only check up on my digital life when I found wifi. But that turned out to be a blessing. It is hard to describe but I got a sense of relaxation that I have not had for a long time. Even after we got back from our trip and I returned to work. There was something nice about not being connected 24/7.
Being alone with your thoughts is nice!
So I started thinking about it and I started to realize how little time I give myself to just think. At work, I always have 3 screens full of websites, e-mails, and other work items to keep me busy. When driving to and from work I have a podcast or music playing. Then when I get home and walk into the door my son is ready for me to play with him. We always have the TV on, my wife and I are working to get the house chores done, and of course are smart phones are never far from our hands.
I have not been allowing myself any downtime just to think and reflect on what is going on in my life. No time to enjoy what is going on around me as life was passing me by.
How did this happen?
I used to love being alone with my thoughts. I fully enjoyed just sitting down and thinking about things. But it seems the digital world has been slowly stealing that from me and I did not even realize it!
Research – Benefits of Digital Minimalism
Now that I had all this time to think I started wondering if all these digital interactions and interruptions were healthy. Maybe there was some benefit to digital minimalism?
I did some digging and I found some interesting post like “The Virtues of Isolation” and “Why More Technology Does Not Equal More Productivity“. Plus many more.
Maybe because our lives are so digitally connected we no longer have times of isolation like we used to? And maybe our brains need that time? It is kind of sad that most people can not even go to the bathroom without their smartphone.
But I don’t know I am not a psychologist. I can only speak about my own experiences and I feel a lot more peace and less stressed.
Making a change to digital minimalism
In light of this new insight, I have decided to make a few simple changes to see where they take me.
One thing I have done is I sometimes turn the radio or podcast off when I am driving. I have a 40-45 minute drive to work and this gives me lots of time to think.
I have also started to turn notifications off on my phone. The only thing I really need to know instantly is when my family is trying to contact me. Anything else is not important and it can wait.
I have even started leaving my phone at home on short outings. Such as when I go on a walk with my wife. The thought of that seems kind of scary but I grew up without a phone and never had an issue.
I believed we should have total control over our technology and that technology should not have control over us. We do not need to