Do you find yourself almost stuck to your digital devices? When you find yourself bored, do you scroll endlessly on social media for longer than you mean to? For many of us in the modern world, this is just the reality of how we live. But, as many also know, this can be damaging to productivity and mental health.
If you feel like your digital world is taking over your real one, there is some actual science behind why this happens, as well as a way to prevent it. You can still live a balanced life with technology, there’s just some alterations and restrictions you need to make to do so.
What is Digital Minimalism?
Digital minimalism is the act of reducing or erasing much of your time behind a screen, and using your digital devices in a way that aligns with your values and goals. The book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport describes this practice and the steps to implement it.
The first part of digital minimalism is determining what technology you use could be considered optional. These are things that, when gotten rid of, would not have a significant impact on your professional or personal life.
Then, you can pick some hobbies or interests you might be able to replace the time usually spent on these optional technologies with. For 30 days, you should use these activities to stop yourself from going back to technology. Then, you can slowly reintroduce them while being mindful about how and why you are using them.
Another point of digital minimalism is to create more time for real interaction with friends and family. Activities with people outside of social media have enormous mental health benefits. Even quick phone calls or video calls can work as well as spending time with someone.
Why Should You Consider Digital Minimalism?
Most social media is designed to keep you on their platforms as long as possible. They do this by providing your brain with rewarding feelings. Each time you get a new like or comment, or you see a new picture of something interesting or funny, your brain gets a hit of dopamine.
Dopamine is one of the chemicals that are thought of as feel-good chemicals. However, it is a short-lived feeling.
This means that to get that feeling again, you have to keep using social media. That’s why, sometimes, it can feel almost like an addiction. And for some people, that’s what it can become. This is why it’s important to put an end to that reward cycle, in order to increase your productivity and just feel better in general.
Practicing digital minimalism is a great way to stop that cycle. It will give you more time to be productive, and allow you to be more mindful about how you’re choosing to spend your time. In the long run, you’ll also see improvements in your emotional well-being. You may find that you are happier overall and more fulfilled, and more in tune with yourself.
Ways to Practice Digital Minimalism
If starting digital minimalism sounds like too much of a daunting task on its own, there are plenty of ways you can slowly ease yourself into the lifestyle and help you lessen your screen time.
Screen Time Trackers
You might not be aware of it, but many devices now have ways to track your screen time and how much time you spend doing certain activities. For example, on iPhone, you can go to Screen Time in your settings to access a whole bunch of features for managing your smartphone use.
Use Smartphone or Desktop Apps
There are a lot of apps out there you can install onto a phone or computer where you can set time limits on certain websites or apps. A good example of this is Cold Turkey, which you can download for Windows or Mac. This app will allow you to block websites during certain times to help you get more work done and deter procrastination.
Shut Down Devices
If you feel like you have a compulsion to check your devices, completely shutting them down may help to discourage you from this. If the brain is used to getting a quick reward, circumventing that by making it harder to get the reward feeling will decrease those compulsive feelings.
Becoming a Digital Minimalist
Although removing yourself from your digital and social media presence might seem daunting, the more you can do so, the more benefits you’ll discover in your life. It might be unrealistic to cut out all unwanted technology use right away, but using certain methods and tools it’s very possible.
This sort of change to digital minimalism doesn’t mean doing away with technology forever, but simply being able to recognize when its use is causing you more harm than good.