Are you concerned about your phone usage? Do you feel consumed by the screens around you and find yourself in a vicious circle of tech usage?
Digital Minimalism is the way to go!
The minimalism movement inspires the philosophy behind digital minimalism. The minimalist movement entails a lifestyle that questions people about things that add value to their lives. It involves clearing clutter from life and making room for other vital things like growth, passion, health, relationships, and contribution.
Digital minimalism works the same way. It makes people question their technology consumption and dependency on it. It pushes people to introspect their reliance on the use of digital tools, social media, smart devices we are surrounded by and more. In his best-selling book, “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World,” Cal Newport defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy that helps you decide which digital communication tools (and behaviour around these tools) add the most value to your life. It is motivated by the belief that intentionally and aggressively clearing away low-value digital noise and optimising your use of the tools that matter can significantly improve your life“.
Our relationship with technology has come a long way now. Most of us have failed to define it and create boundaries, and as a result, we have reached a point where it has started to take control of us. Internet development has been pacing at an increasing speed, and that brings us newer technology even before we need it. For instance, many social media platforms are consuming most of our time without adding value to our life. Scrolling on the feeds and watching content on YouTube that auto-plays the following video is a trap. It creates a vicious circle that induces addictive behaviour among users leaving them to reach out to these platforms frequently.
The underlying philosophy behind digital minimalism informs us about how these technologies affect our personal lives and their role in them. Technology in work is a different area, and it is subjective to the nature of work. We cannot deny that technology has become an essential part of work culture for good. Still, its widespread use in personal life negatively impacts human life in all aspects. Practising digital minimalism can be the way out, as it allows us to benefit from technology and not be controlled by it. It makes room for other, equally essential things, decluttering the unnecessary digital time expenditure.
To understand how digital minimalism can help us bring positive changes in our lives and how to pick the technology that adds value to our lives, let’s look at its core principles and how it can help students below.
Cancel out the FOMO
Most digital behaviour is coming out of the fear of missing out. First, understand that it is normal to miss out on things. People who are immersed in apps, scrolling, and clicking usually justify this behaviour by the potential benefits they would miss out on if they limit their online activity. For instance, people who use social media or other information apps continuously justify their behaviour by saying they want to stay up-to-date with the news or current affairs. However, the information will make rounds even when you take a break to sleep or do any other activity. Also, there’s an infinite number of activities that will bring some value. If you label every activity as value lost, then it is not possible to tally your daily time expenditure against the value it brings. A more pragmatic approach would be to measure the value gained from the activity you embrace and then maximise the ones that get the most positive value.
Be cautious where you pay attention
Tech giants are invested in creating software and platforms that can hijack as much of your attention as possible. A saying goes, “when you don’t have to pay for something, you’re the product”; it seems true in the case of social media. The way people are constantly using social media platforms is scary. Social media platforms are designed to be as addictive as possible. As consumers, we must be careful with their usage and draw a line to which it doesn’t deteriorate the quality of our personal life. Social media isn’t the villain, they’re helpful for many reasons, but they’re addictive as users constantly feed data to these platforms. Your attention is fragile and limited. Be cautious of how you decide to spend your limited quota of attention each day. If you aim it carefully, it can bring you great value and satisfaction. Consider setting limits to time expenditure on social media platforms to limit activity.
Celebrating how cheap data is, how pervasive ICT technology is, how deep mobile penetration is and how free our speech and expression are…is all fine and dandy, but it’s worth reflecting whether a digital-induced pandemic is threatening our way of life!! #DigitalMinimalism https://t.co/DcHr3BZmrk
— Rajiv C. Lochan (@RajivCLochan) November 27, 2022
Less is more
You have limited daily hours and must avoid wasting time and attention on low-value online activities. Instead, focus on several activities that have better value returns. A basic 80/20 analysis can help. Doing less but focused higher quality activities can generate more value.
Digital clutter induces stress
Just like physical clutter, digital clutter is also stress-inducing. Incessant scrolling, giving in to the click baits, and mindless online activities lead to anxiety. Reducing your online time expenditure can have calmer effects on life. Try to reduce your digital activity by 20 per cent, and you will feel the difference.
Now reading 👓 #DigitalMinimalism
“A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimised activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.” pic.twitter.com/aTi97xHilD
— Cristobal Cobo (@cristobalcobo) June 25, 2022
Avoid using tools that do not solve any problems for you
Technology has solved many problems for us. For instance, GPS solved the long-existing problem of real-time directions and maps. Similarly, digital education platforms have made education accessible to all. Contrary to these, Snapchat, which has over 363 million daily active users, does not solve any real problem. Tools like Snapchat creates addictive behaviours that thrive on ad sales.
Also Read: Screen Limit Tips For Adult Learners
Minimalism can help students in the following ways:
Save time and energy: the online world has opened doors to many opportunities to learn and grow. You must be mindful of the time you spend on the internet. Give time and attention to essential things, concentrate on things that matter and remove unnecessary distractions.
Improve physical health: Many studies have linked heavy social media usage and long screen time with mental health problems and lower fitness levels. Social media can promote feelings of inadequacy and negative experiences. Using digital media, especially social media, for prolonged hours induces anxiety and cutting down on time expenditure on social media will help stay calm. Reducing screen time helps improve sleep quality and effective time management and adds value to your life. It enables you to declutter your mind of unnecessary thoughts and bring clarity.
Make room to engage in activities you enjoy: When you cut down your time expense on digital media, you make room for other things you enjoy. It could be sports, painting, crafts or any other hobby that digital media took over. If you start to practice digital minimalism, you will have time to engage in activities you enjoy. Start spending time doing things that bring you joy.
— Satoshi Doodles (@SatoshiDoodles) August 9, 2019
In our opinion, to be a digital minimalist, you do not need to go against the idea of integrating technology but use it mindfully. Identify the need for it and fulfil it with just what is required. Technology has the potential to improve your life and add value to it. Still, it is equally essential that we differentiate between the need for it and using it incessantly mindlessly. Striking a balance is hard work, but it’s worth it.
We recommend you check out this list of must-read books on digital minimalism.