Jul 2, 2019

The highs and lows of embracing digital minimalism

As I said in an earlier post, digital minimalism is an important focus area for me this year. Today, let me share how my progress has been so far and what I'm planning for July. 

April this year was a more productive month for me. After reading "Digital minimalism", I had cut down my phone usage to an hour per day. Also thanks to Internet downtime for over a week in April, I was able to read quite a few books and did other offline activities that I enjoy. Then in May, I traveled to Chennai and I was there for 10 days. Feeling quite bored, I returned to my old ways. Phone usage went back to 2-3 hours a day. The same continued after I returned home. 

In June, after the school reopened for my daughter, I had set a few daily habits for myself and tracked them diligently in my journal. One such daily habit was "No phone use after 8:30PM". After finishing dinner and winding up my kitchen work, I check my phone one last time around 8:30PM and set "Do not disturb" option. For most weekdays, I was able to follow this habit except for a couple of Friday and Saturday nights. Since I usually like to read a few pages before going to bed, 8:30-9:30PM is reading time, when both my daughter and I would read our respective books. Last 3 months, I managed to finish reading around 10 books and a few are in progress.

Towards the end of June, as I looked through my usage stats in Android's "Digital wellbeing" app, I realized that I have been spending more than 60% of my phone time on Instagram. Though I no longer use much of FB or Twitter, I knew my Instagram use is quite high.

As I was planning my goals for July, I decided to take a break from Instagram for the whole month. The main reason being that I wanted to avoid constant checking and mindless scrolling whenever I feel a tinge of boredom. Also, I realized I was spending more time explaining myself or defending my posts, which is totally a waste of time, especially with people who don't want to hear you out. Though I tell myself I wouldn't be bothered by such comments, I have to admit that my subconscious keeps chewing on the same. 

As Mark Manson says in this article titled Outrage

"It isn’t that our beliefs have changed, it’s that the way we feel about people we disagree with has changed.
In short, people have become less tolerant of opposing opinions. And their reactions to those opinions has become more emotional and outrageous."

I have uninstalled Instagram from my phone for now. The break will give me perspective on how I want to use this channel productively in a way, it adds value to myself and to others. 

Speaking of Mark Manson, I highly recommend this brilliant article "The attention diet". As I'm consciously thinking of ways to optimize my time online, this article couldn't have come at a better time. I just loved the way he has compared nutritional diet (for our body) and attention diet (for our mind).

"The same way we discovered that the sedentary lifestyles of the 20th century required us to physically exert ourselves and work our bodies into healthy shape, I believe we’re on the cusp of discovering a similar necessity for our minds. We need to consciously limit our own comforts. We need to force our minds to strain themselves, to work hard for their information, to deprive our attention of the constant stimulation that it craves."
He also explains beautifully why we should embrace boredom.

"They say necessity is the mother of invention. Well, boredom is the father. Every great burst of creativity or action is inseminated with the wiles of boredom."

Do read the whole article, lots of relevant insights to note.

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