Digital detox is a process in which a person stops using tech products such as social media, smartphones, computers, and televisions. You cannot get rid of technology entirely because you have to use technology for work and other aspects of your life.
Basically what you are trying to do in digital detox is to reduce technology use to improve your physical and mental wellness.
Digital Detox Challenges: Why is it Hard?
Technological devices have become so important to our life in our day-to-day activities. So abstaining from using them is quite hard.
In a TIME Mobility Poll, 84% of smartphone users said that they couldn’t go a single day without their mobile devices in their hands.
And we know that most people keep their smartphones within reach at all times even when they’re sleeping.
And a study by CareerBuilder revealed that 77% of working people keep their phones within reach at work, which greatly hinders their productivity.
Even if people know that they can be productive and earn more money it is tough for them to keep away from tech devices.
In a survey by B2X, 56% of Americans said that even if offered a 10% salary increase, they still wouldn’t give their phone up for a month.
Many people even have fear of missing out or feeling lonely and depressed when they’re not using a smartphone. So we need a solid plan and proven method to have a real digital detox.
How to Digital Detox:
People are making online searches such as: How to do a digital detox? Digital detox tips that actually work, etc.,
On the internet, you can find so many digital detox tips.
Many people take some challenges such as digital detox challenge, 30-day social media detox, etc.,
Some people observe a digital detox day, a holiday in which they go to a spa or travel to a cabin in the woods. Some people even go for a digital detox retreat (a tech-free retreat) which is like a summer camp for adults to disconnect from tech devices.
One common problem that comes with all of these methods is that all of them are temporary solutions because they all have a quick fix approach.
Once the challenge is over, you return to your daily routine from your retreat or holiday, slowly you go back to your old life and technology catches up to you.
Digital Detox with Digital Minimalism
Digital detox is not as simple as just taking a break from social media, or deleting social media apps & accounts. It’s because all of the methods above address the problem on a surface level.
If we want to fully detox from technology we must apply some deeper methods because our lives are deeply intertwined with technology.
That’s where Digital Minimalism makes a difference because it is not a one-time thing but a lifestyle.
What is Digital Minimalism?
Digital minimalism is a philosophy for using technology based on your deepest values. So you can filter technology use through your values. It’s like eating mindfully to avoid junk foods and eating only healthy foods.
Digital Minimalism tries to work out a balance between the negative and positive aspects of technology.
It is not just about reducing how much time you spend on your screen but being intentional about why you have to do what you are doing and how you can do it in the best way possible.
The philosophy of digital minimalism and the term was invented by Cal Newport, which he talks about in his book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.
If you want to learn about this philosophy in detail you can read his book, which is available on Amazon, Kindle (ebook), Barnes and Noble, and many other popular online bookstores.
Digital Minimalism Practices
Here we list the steps to practice digital minimalism in your life. These proven practices are taken from Cal Newport’s books and other digital minimalist practitioners.
Step – 1: Identify what adds value – Decluttering
Make a list of all the devices and applications that you use. Find out what value each tech product that you use offers. It should be able to connect to any of your values.
If it doesn’t connect to any of your values then let it go. Separate the good from the bad. If you have many devices, remove the unnecessary ones.
How can you filter technology based on values?
The value that technology provides differs from person to person. FaceTime offers precious family time to a soldier who is on duty in a faraway place than to a student chatting with his friends.
A comedian’s Twitter feed offers beneficial relaxation time to a person working in a high-stress environment. Whereas Snapchat helps in keeping friends posted on what you’re up to and doesn’t offer much value.
So it is left to yourself to decide what technologies add value to your lives and how much time you could spend with them.
Step – 2: Then optimize the tools you use
With the tools that you do use, think about the maximal benefit that you can get from the technology you use. Be careful about how and why you are using it. The time you’re spending on the tool needs to match with the benefit it brings you.
Turn off all notifications
People feel that they need to be “on-call” for whatever notifications that they receive and need to respond immediately. Email, text, and other notifications split your attention and limit your ability to stay focused.
You can select a few times of the day and respond to texts and emails in that time only. You can tell people or send an automated reply like “If it is urgent please call me”.
- If you have to send work email directly compose an email without checking your inbox, for example – (Gmail Create Email Shortcut)
- Connect multiple devices that you use for work, to save time spent in migration
- Have a clean desktop/main screen.
- Limit the shortcuts on your screen.
- Delete old/unnecessary files in your devices and cloud backup (Google Drive)
Step-3: Take 30 days break from optional technologies in your life
Take 30 days on a break from optional technologies in your life. It is similar to the 30 day social media detox challenge. If its removal does not directly harm you or disrupt your professional or personal life, then it should go.
Fear of missing out (FOMO):
Most people who start digital minimalism will have this fear of missing out. You have to accept the idea of missing out.
You need to accept the fact that you won’t be everywhere every time and it is OK to miss out on things that don’t bring value to your life.
Step – 4: Spend time alone – Solitude
Spend one hour a day alone without your phone and other media devices. Either go for a long walk or a bike ride alone or practice a hobby. This can strengthen your ability to concentrate and increase your productivity.
Step – 5: Reclaim your leisure time
Stop using devices during leisure time (downtime). You have to ask yourself: “Is spending time on this device the best way to enjoy my leisure time?
Once you free up your time from digital life, you will find more leisure time. In this time you have to do
- Demanding activities like exercising and learning a new hobby. You can gain energy by spending energy. Learning new skills in leisure time can be valuable in real life.
- Skill‐based activities like cooking and drawing. These activities more stimulating and rejuvenating than social media
- Structured social activities that require real-world social interactions like playing board games with family and having coffee with a friend. You get better satisfaction than social interactions in the digital world.
Step – 6: After 30 days reintroduce optional technologies
This is a very important step. You have to be intentional in reintroducing optional technologies. You have to organize the access to these technologies so that it reflects the value it brings. People have different ways of doing this.
An example of digital minimalism is organizing apps on your phone based on your values.
Step – 7: Switch to minimalistic devices
If you’re not able to strictly follow minimalistic practices with your existing device, you could switch to using minimalistic devices. These are some popular minimalistic mobile phones
- The Light Phone
A pure & simple phone with calling, texting, and a few simple tools – designed to cut out unnecessary distractions like social media, addictions, and advertisements.
A modern minimalist phone with a mindful design comes with essential functionalities and an eye-friendly E Ink display.
Rules of Digital Minimalism
You have to follow some strict rules to practice digital minimalism in your life. The rules can change from person to person. But the rules can be as simple as this:
- No device/screens in bed
- Schedule all emails/texts once(maybe 3 times) daily
- Limit social media use to 30 minutes per day
- Limit all streaming to 1 day a week
You can make rules to fit your digital use, based on the digital minimalism philosophy.
Benefits of Digital Minimalism:
Besides helping you recover from digital addictions, digital minimalism also offers many other benefits such as:
- Increase your ability to focus and be more productive
- Have time to learn new things and focus on your passion
- Can get new ideas and establish yourself
- Develop a better understanding of the self
- Better physical and mental health
- Have valuable relationships with friends and family
- Get out of debt
What do you think about this article? Are you trying to become a digital minimalist? What are the practices you follow? Let us know in the comments section.