Do you know that Malaysia is ranked among the world’s top 10 countries spending the most time on their screens?
It was revealed by web application services provider, Sortlist that the average Malaysian person spends nine hours and 18 minutes a day browsing the Internet, which equates to 141 days a year.
The study also revealed that Malaysians also spend three hours and one minute a day on social media, equating to 46 days a year.
Between packed calendars, overflowing inboxes, and the constant notifications from social media and news, it is difficult to control the amount of time we spend looking at our phones and social media.
Being around technology prevents you from being in the present, causes stress and sleep deprivation, disconnecting you from the real world and social media often portrays false reality of other people’s lives.
The use of technology should make our lives easier, but at the same time it can add stress and unnecessary, hence the term ‘digital minimalism’.
The term digital minimalism was coined by author and computer science professor, Cal Newport in his book of the same name in 2019.
It is a philosophy of technology use based on the understanding that our relationship with our apps, tools, and phones is nuanced and deserves more intentionthan we give it.
Newport encourages his readers to apply the minimalist lifestyle to focus on those digital things that bring value to life.
But why follow a philosophy?
Newport argued that if you tie your philosophy to your values, it’s easier to see why you should change certain behaviours if they don’t align.
Instead of the occasional digital detox such as turning off notifications or deleting social media accounts or even clearing out email inbox, he argues that the philosophy stems from identifying which technologies serve you and which don’t.
Digital minimalism is about intentionally shaping your digital life around your values so you can feel good about the apps and tools you use on a daily basis.
Three steps of digital declutter by Newport;
1. Spend 30 days on a break from optional technologies in your life; to find the optional tech in your life, “consider the technology optional unless its temporary removal would harm or significantly disrupt the daily operation of your professional or personal life.”
2. Rediscover hobbies, activities, and behaviors you enjoy and find meaningful.
3. After 30 days, reintroduce optional technologies intentionally (this step reminded me of the reintroduction phase of Whole30, or any elimination diet).
As the main aim of technology is to make our lives easier, we can make the choice to minimize what we use and how we use it, and set the example for generations to come.
In the book, it was noted that one of the aims of digital minimalism is to make room for more high-quality time while limiting low-quality activities.
High-quality time referstoactions that provide a source of inward joy are vital to a satisfying life, while Newport refers to distractions such as social media and absent-minded binging “low-quality recreation.
Among the recommendations by Newport includes fixing or building something each week, schedule low-quality leisure time and join clubs or groups.
The key to staying away from attention-sucking technologies is to fill that time with other, more meaningful activities.
However, as most of us spend our time scrolling and tapping away on our phones, it is not always an easy thing to do.
Digital minimalism is a way to not only clearly define what technologies you let into your life but how you use them.
It helps you pare down to the things you need, the things you use every day, while not adding to your stress levels, hence decrease your stress levels and save you time.
Once you understand your true values you can build your technology use around them.
Thus, rather than feeling overwhelmed, you become more intentional, empowered, and productive.
As the digital world is chaotic enough, perhaps this is an opportunity for you to practice digital minimalism.