A relaxed guide to digital minimalism

Instantly free up more time

VR, a new type of digital experience
VR, a new type of digital experience

If you find yourself in a hole. Stop digging.

Smart phones can now tell you if you’re over indulging in digital media. The issue is not how much time we are spending where we are spending it.

Spend digital time where it matters

I’m a technology person. Always have been. I love using technology to make things, to learn and better my understanding in new topics, and often to indulge for many hours at a time until my eyes go bright red.

In fact my right eye right now is itchy. I’m sure it’s red. I’m using a 15" Macbook with the brightness all the way down, the ‘night shift’ is on and I’m using a Google Chrome plugin to change Medium from a white background to black with white text.

But I love it.

And if I love it, it’s worth it. Because I believe you should spend your time where it matters to you.

Be productive

Is using digital devices with screens worse than using the software running on them? No, because the software is a tool, not a digital device.

Is writing this story on a digital device worse than by hand? No, because it’s more efficient.

Ultimately we are trying to achieve tasks, and in many ways digital interfaces improve our efficiency in doing so.

So use digital devices, but be sure to not let them use you.

Turning off notifications

Using digital devices to achieve tasks sound simple, but many task orientated apps use powerful loops to keep us engaged — even if we don’t want to be.

Consider this. Each productivity app you use has a team of people working on building loops within the app to keep you engaged. Why? Because if you stop using the app, you’re no longer engaged, therefore you no longer a customer.

You will notice them, they are called notifications.

I can hear you saying, yes but my notification are coming from real people, so it’s ok…is it? The notifications loop was made up, the like 👍 and heart 💓 are there to get you to pull the other user back into the app. So it that productive?

Turn your notifications off. Turn all your notifications off. You won’t miss them. If you really need them you will go back in and turn the ones on you need.

Minimal in essence

A relaxed approach to digital minimalism:

  • Email. Just use it for communication. Not shopping, updates, policy statements. When was the last time someone called you to tell you something was on sale?
  • Notifications. Just turn them off, simple.
  • Desktop. Turn your ‘do not disturb on’. Why desktop computer allow notifications I don’t know.
  • TV. Get a smart TV. Watch what you want to watch when you want too. Continue the program in bed on your phone, but don’t just watch what’s on, or recommended.
  • Social Media. Use it. Surprise…I think this one is simple, social media is a good thing. Why? Because social media platforms are full experiences in their own right. They are entertainment, they are conversations, they are life in another medium. If it’s worth it. Do it.
  • Videogames. That includes Candy Crush. Like social media I think videogames are a form of entertainment that should be enjoyed. They are games and are meant to enjoyed, like TV take it with you and enjoy it as it best suits you.
  • VR. Is virtual reality entertainment or virtual experiences? It’s still too soon to tell, but VR has a place as the ultimate digital device, and I would argue is something to experience as a medium. No notifications here, just visual and sensory experiences. Go for it, if you can avoid getting motion sickness.

Doing more with less

Minimalism is not about doing less, it should be about focusing you time and effort on what you love. If that’s a coffee and caching up with friends (who happen to be on social media) then go for it.

Just remember, it’s not the medium you use, it’s the message you create.

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