Digital Minimalism 101

Digital Minimalism 101

Are you ready to take a crash course in digital minimalism? Great! Let’s get started.

DEFINING DIGITAL MINIMALISM

It’s definition time! Aka let’s define “digital minimalism.” According to the author of the book (Cal Newport, our digital minimalist hero and founder), digital minimalism is: “A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.” To me that means this: “Let’s become aware of our mindless scrolling, choose a few things we can’t live without online, and then spend more time with real humans.”

THE THREE PRINCIPLES OF DIGITAL MINIMALISM

How do we transform this definition into action? Cal Newport gives us three principles of digital minimalism.

  1. Clutter is costly. Splitting your attention between many devices, apps, and services has an overall negative cost that reduce any positive benefit you receive from said apps, devices, and services to almost nothing.

  2. Optimization is important. Think carefully about how you’ll use technology.

  3. Intentionality is satisfying. It’s satisfying to know that you’re using technology mindfully and carefully. You aren’t mindlessly scrolling through feeds—and that feels really, really good.

BECOMING A DIGITAL MINIMALIST

Step 1. Define your technology rules. You can use this worksheet. The best rule of thumb is to make your devices single use. That means, you use your phone to make phone calls and send and receive texts for scheduling chats. For me, this means removing Safari from my phone (you can do this by going to Settings -> Screen time -> Content restrictions -> allowed apps -> and then turning off Safari); removing all social media from my phone; and removing all streaming services from my phone. Things that I’ve kept on my phone are email, Spotify, Goodreads (because tracking books is fun!!!), and a few other miscellaneous apps that haven’t really ever taken too much of time.

Step 2. Take a 30 day break. And really take that 30 day break. Don’t think of it as a detox—it’s a complete restructuring your digital life and your approach to screentime.

Step 3. Reintroduce technology. After 30 days, reintroduce optional technology back into your life. Ask yourself: Does this technology serve something I deeply value? Is it the best way to use this technology? How can I constraint the use of this technology so it doesn’t take over my life?

Okay, crash course in digital minimalism complete. You’re ready to start being a digital minimalist.

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