Minimalism is less about the number of things you own and more about being aware of where your time, money and attention goes to. Most of us spent quite some time in the companionship of our technology. If you are into simplifying your life, you should definitely rethink your technology use at some point! Mindless consumption is a problem, even if the resources aren’t material. Constant stimulation decreases our attention span and takes our focus away from the things that matter. Being “bored” is necessary for reflection and critical thinking and also, real life is offline.
I believe that mindful approach to using technology is crucial and it starts with eliminating:
I’d start with the email because it’s one of the first things I check when I turn on the laptop. My inbox is quite empty because I don’t subscribe to many things. I like to organise topics according to different platforms. For example, I follow blogs on Bloglovin’ and environmental news on Linkedin, since my colleagues post related news there too. That way I don’t get distracted with interesting reads whenever I open my inbox to check if I got an important email.
Contrary to the popular opinion, I don’t think you are obliged to keep up with everything that is going on all the time everywhere. I limit my news input on the topics I am interested in, and yet still know about the main international events because I mingle with people and things come up. My tip is to choose your input wisely as media is not always a fair representation of the world.
3- social media
I tend to avoid social media to save myself some time and negative emotions. I keep a Facebook profile for contacts but I unfollow most things, so it’s not interesting to scroll through. If someone sends me a private message, I get an email notification. That way I don’t need to check the website all the time and risk getting distracted. I chat on WhatsApp only and don’t waste time on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter etc. There is no need to be on all of the social media channels out there. Figure out where your crowd hangs out and use only that (like Pinterest for zero waste content). Everything that wakes up any bad feelings in you should definitely be avoided.
4- digital “possessions”
I like to keep my hard drive as empty as possible. Although I like to keep the number of my material possessions low, I love looking through real photo albums. So I regularly develop photos that I like and delete all of the others from my computer. I also prefer to stream things and don’t keep movies (that I’ve already seen) or music on my computer.
Every one to two months I restore my phone to factory settings. It’s an old phone and it keeps working smoothly that way.
5- your phone
If you spend too much time on your phone, delete the apps and turn off the notifications. I don’t have social media apps on my phone, and my inbox doesn’t synchronise automatically. That way I am not constantly distracted by everything. The most interesting thing to do on my phone is to write down expenses or analyse my calendar, which is not that interesting after all!
6- one tab at a time
Multitasking is so 90’s! Lately, I have been trying to only keep a single task open at a time. Our brain loves to procrastinate, so we tend to jump from one tab to the other, not really focusing on anything. But that’s really bad for our attention span, so now I am back to one open tab at a time. Also, turn the WiFi off for an extended period when you are trying to work.
7- digital detox
Try to stay away from your devices before going to bed or right after waking up, as it’s stressful for your body and mind. To really relax try a digital detox, a full day without technology once a week for example. Read more about that here.
I tried the free Netflix trial subscription and the only thing that it brought me is wasting time scrolling through film recommendations. Now I avoid any streaming subscriptions and don’t own a cable TV either. I keep a watch list on IMDB website, which I can consult whenever I feel like watching something.
You might enjoy doing something while commuting, I get it. I sometimes read my book too. But often I also don’t, because sitting around being aware of your surroundings and doing nothing is not bad either. It’s how we used to do it a couple of years ago, so if you haven’t done that in a while please give it a try. You might find it calming!
10- green browsing
It doesn’t get any easier than this: you can support green businesses while browsing the net! Try Ecosia instead of your traditional browser, as 80% of their profits go to planting trees.
Now don’t get me wrong, I sometimes struggle with procrastinating on the internet too. Like with everything else, mindful approach to using technology takes some practice. I hope you find my list helpful!