Are you feeling tired, irritable, burnt out? Do you long for a simpler life, free of the stresses and strains of the daily grind. Are you constantly glued to your screen? Do you feel compelled to check your phone every five minutes? Are you addicted to tech? Well then why not try digital minimalism! (Results may vary. Please consult your head of IT before using digital minimalism. Side effects may include increased productivity, better working relationships, increased concentration, better work/life balance, unexpected joy, better time management, a greater sense of freedom and autonomy, effortless focus)
Minimalism is a big word these days. Whether it’s Marie Kondo sneaking into your apartment to spark joy or the pared-down aesthetic of your favorite cafe—less is most definitely more. So, in our tech-obsessed world, it’s perhaps no surprise that the minimalist movement has slowly infiltrated the way we manage our digital lives. In fact, with the Tsunami of digital devices, tools, and platforms flooding our every hour, it’s a wonder that it’s taken this long to make an impact!
But what exactly is digital minimalism? And what kind of benefits can it bring to your working day? Here, we take a look at how digital minimalism can help you live and work better with less technology, giving you the chance to build stronger relationships and boost your collaborations through real human contact!
What is Digital Minimalism?
Arguably, the father of digital minimalism is acclaimed author and computer scientist Cal Newport. In his book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, he defines the concept in simple terms:
“Digital minimalism is a philosophy that helps you question what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding 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 optimizing your use of the tools that really matter, can significantly improve your life.”
So far, so simple.
Anyone looking to embrace digital minimalism only needs to separate the “noise” from the stuff of real value. However, in many cases, that’s much easier said than done.
You might love email’s asynchronous approach to communication, but your clients insist on staying in touch through a team chat app. You could share all your work through the cloud, but your boss wants everything stored on the company server. You might even think about ditching your social media presence, but there’s always that one friend who insists on communicating through Facebook. And only Facebook.
That’s not to say it’s impossible to reduce your reliance on tech, and simply taking yourself through the process of identifying your current usage, focusing on your intentions, and evaluating how extract the maximum possible value from your devices and apps can be a liberating experience in itself.
What Are the Benefits of Digital Minimalism?
Ask any hardcore digital minimalist, and the benefits of ditching an over reliance on tech are clear. On the surface, simply spending less time glued to your smartphone, tablet, or computer screen will ensure you have more time to really connect with people. Whether at work, at home, or while out and about, putting down your devices to speak face-to-face can boost collaboration, understanding, empathy, and comprehension.
Using your devices less also means your downtime is likely to be significantly more regenerative. For instance, the simple act of taking your smartphone to bed has been linked with poor sleep—whether you use it or not. Additionally, there’s already been plenty written about the damaging effects of blue light, the increased stress caused by the always-on mentality, and the breakdown of communications between families and partners.
Now is as good a time as any to point out that digital minimalism is not about ditching technology entirely. Rather, it should be about decluttering your approach to tech usage. When you must use your devices, it’s important to make the experience as straightforward and seamless as possible, with minimal distractions to ensure you remain focused on the task at hand.
Finally, ditching the silos of information and consolidating your everyday tasks into a single app can work wonders. App switching (and the accumulation of apps linked to this practice) is a real drain on productivity—and for anyone juggling multiple tools and platforms, it is extremely frustrating at times. Digital minimalism loves apps that fulfill multiple functions, so combining things such as your email, team, chat, calendar, shared to-do lists and notes is an instant productivity and collaboration booster.
Digital Minimalism – The Process
We’ve already touched upon the fact that digital minimalism is more of a process than an objective goal, and this process should be something you continually practice to ensure you maintain a healthy relationship with your tech. Rather than simply list the ways you can “achieve” digital minimalism, here is a set of guidelines for you to follow that will help kickstart your journey towards a more manageable digital lifestyle.
A Digital Minimalism Checklist
- Identify Distractions – If you’re regularly spending hours trawling instagram or twitter when you should be working then it’s time to put a stop to it. Identifying your main distractions, whether its web surfing or simply a compulsion to pick up your phone every five minutes, is the first step. Be mindful of your habits and make a list of those with the biggest impact on your daily life.
- Declutter Devices – Remove apps and software that you don’t use or that are a distraction. Clean up your home screen on your phone and your computer’s desktop. Remove and archive photos, videos, messages, emails, and anything else that is unnecessary to you. Decluttering keeps you focused, helping you to rid distractions and optimize your workflow.
- Consolidate Apps – Consolidation is king! In an ideal world, there would be one app to rule them all, combining all of you most important tools and functions into a single UI. Wherever possible, you should try to move away from silos of information and single-function tools in favor of apps or software that allow you to perform multiple tasks.
- Organize Files and Folders – Good organization is a key piece of the digital minimalism puzzle. The goal is to be able to search for everything using easily recognizable terms that can be entered quickly and efficiently—saving you endlessly trawling through folders. Of course, you’ll need an advanced search function to do this, but this approach will save time and keep your desktop, file system, or cloud service platform clean and tidy.
- Reset Each Day – How many times have you flipped open your laptop in the morning to find that unfinished article still open in your browser? Of course, you’re going to finish it, ruining your schedule for the day before you’ve even begun. The key is to close down all apps, browsers, programs, and other portals at the end of each day and reset. That way, you’ll wake up to a fresh, clean user experience each day.
- Put it Down – Sometimes, all it takes to kickstart your digital minimalism process is to step away, put it down, or turn it off. Everyone needs a screen break from time to time and using your technology only when absolutely necessary is likely to reap huge rewards.
Spike is made for the digital minimalists of the world. We’ve consolidated your most frequently used tools into a single app. That’s email, instant messaging, group chat, calendars, and much more. So, if cutting down on tech is your aim, Spike is the place to start. Stay tuned to the blog for all the latest updates on our 21st century communication tools or tweet us @SpikeNowHQ and tell us how you’re living better with less technology.