Well, it's Monday as I write this, and I already feel overwhelmed. My grocery order…
A little over two years ago, I read Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism (#affiliatelink), and it made a huge impact on me. I immediately did a digital minimalism experiment by setting rules regarding my phone and laptop. In fact, I wrote about it in a blog post back in March 2019, “Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.”
Here’s a snippet:
“Scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and various news sites often eat up precious evening hours. And I couldn’t tell you what I’ve gotten out of all the mindless scrolling! Another problem I have? If I’m working on my laptop and check in on Facebook, I feel anxiety over unanswered private messages (I don’t use Facebook Messenger on my phone and only get private messages from my laptop). Ditto for unanswered emails–even if I get them at 10pm!”
I also went on to describe the actions I was taking to combat the digital takeover of my free time.
“I haven’t started the 30-day detox, yet. But I already set rules around my cell phone usage.
- I deleted about half the apps on my phone–many of them were there by default anyhow.
- I also set times (and limits) when I could check in on my favorite sites.
- I have an auto-reply set up in Facebook Messenger to let people know I don’t check my messages after 5pm or on weekends. They’re welcome to email me, though.
I also jotted down a list of activities I can replace my scrolling with. This will be the hardest part for me–sticking to things that require more effort than a quick swipe of the phone. One particular chapter in the book really stood out to me, and it was about physical work. It’s convinced me to add 30 minutes of cleaning, baking or organizing on weeknights. I hope I get the satisfaction promised!”
So where am I at with this digital minimalism experiment now that two years have passed?
Some things stuck. Others didn’t.
- I’ve kept Facebook off my phone. I have it on my laptop. I only check it on weekdays, and I keep my time there short. This means I DO miss out on opportunities and news from family/friends, but I’ve learned to live with it.
- I’ve deleted Twitter. It wasn’t adding anything positive to my life.
- I still have Instagram and Pinterest on my phone. I spend very limited time on Instagram, but I use Pinterest as a browser for recipes and projects.
- All those apps I deleted? Didn’t miss them. In fact, I’ve only added a handful of apps since then, and they’ve been to order takeout. I also purchased a better weather app, which I rely on a lot.
- I set up coffee dates with friends when I feel lonely instead of scrolling on social media sites.
What still challenges me?
- I have news sites I enjoy reading, so I read articles at lunch or in the evening. No matter what website or app I’m on, I easily get sucked into scrolling, so I have to watch myself.
- Picking up my phone is still the easiest way for me to combat boredom–even a twinge. After dinner, when I’m tired, I tend to reach for my phone to decompress. If I’m not careful, I can be on it for much longer than I intended.
- When I check in on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, I often don’t like the way I feel. It’s terribly easy for me to see a post and get envious or to feel left out. However, as mentioned above, I often miss out on announcements and news because I don’t check into those sites often enough. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing for now.
- My attention span seems to shrink the more time I spend on my phone. I used to love leafing through a magazine or going through a cookbook to find recipes. Now? I get antsy after a few pages.
Overall, my experiment with digital minimalism has been a success. I’ve set much-needed limits on Facebook and Instagram (my two main social media site), and over time have found I don’t enjoy them as much as I did years ago. But they are still the best way to connect with readers, and I enjoy doing that too much to quit.
I’ve implemented several things to get off my phone in the evenings (but I still tend to default to that phone to decompress).
- Read a novel for at least 20 minutes.
- Stretch or do light exercises.
- Handwrite tips/recipes into a journal rather than printing them out.
- Watch a recorded television show.
- Take long walk with my husband if weather permits.
It will be interesting to see what the next two years brings. Not everyone in my life likes that I’m not as accessible or connected. That’s okay. I like my life better now that I’m not “on” 24/7. I couldn’t imagine going back to what my life was like 4-5 years ago. Being that connected at all times was a rush, but it was also exhausting. It took away from my real life. No thanks!
How do you decompress? What helps you get off your phone if you’re a scrolling fool like I am?
Enjoy your week!
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