TOBY NG

Digital Minimalism: 3 Week Update

It's been exactly three weeks since the start of my "Digital Declutter" and it has been going fairly well overall. I really think it's because we are all creatures of habit, and over a bit of time, we learn to adapt to our situations. So despite trying to make changes, doing your best to stay consistent will eventually get you to where you want to go.

So here's a bit of a recap of what I was trying to do:

- Facebook: 1x per day from 10 AM to 1 PM

- LinkedIn & YouTube: as needed for work ONLY

- Instagram & Twitter: BANNED

- Video Games: BANNED

- TV/Movies: only with Carmen and limited to 1 movie, 2 long episodes, or 5 short episodes

I have been fairly consistent with a few of the guidelines I set, some not so much at first but improved over time, and some that have not been effective at all. Take a guess and see if you can figure out which ones are more difficult? Which would be the hardest for you?

Facebook was a bit of a hit or miss. I unfollowed as many groups or pages that I did not connect with, but stayed loyal to any athletes or personal pages as a show of support, although I was not allowed to interact very much at all. I think I might have left one comment over the past 3 weeks, and I did not have any "Likes". The reason for this is so that I would have to connect with people in person, and holding a weak social media connection sometimes would feel like it was enough, but it really wasn't. Or at least that's not something I want anymore. Although I caught myself surfing a few times and still automatically typing it in my web browser every time I was facing a lull in my work or studies (i.e. a BIG red flag), I'm happy that most of the time, Freedom kicked in an blocked Facebook from loading.

LinkedIn & Twitter were easy as one wasn't needed and the other was banned, so I'll just leave it at that.

Instagram was originally banned, but I adjusted it so I would directly log into Carmen's account via web browser. I deleted the app (which honestly functions WAY better, but I didn't need the extra features). As she was on a trip out of town, it would be nice to catch up every now and then to see what she was up to. I also stopped following popular accounts which post extremely frequently and have scrolled only a few times before catching myself and stopping. I have been fairly good with not looking at any stories other than Carmen's (sorry!) and I believe I only liked a single post (it was too much of a feel good post as it was a post on someone being cancer free). Despite the original ban, I'm okay with my progress with Instagram. I figure I should post something, but then again, what's the point if I'm not going to be on very much anymore?

Video Games were banned originally, but starting off with Carmen away for the weekend and not establishing my high quality leisure activities yet caused some problems (i.e. what? I haven't gotten all 5 medallions in Raid Mode for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 for all 200+ levels yet? I better get those done!). Despite my weird OCD for game completion and trophy collecting, I finally was able to stop after I finished a majority of the levels (including Code Red i.e. hardest levels) and I put the game away. Fortunately I have not downloaded any other phone games and have not relapsed, but writing about it here really feels like there's an itch I want to scratch. I better stop now.

Lastly is YouTube. Again, I will bookmark my favourite channels (e.g. The JazzHop Cafe) so that I will bypass the main page. I used to spend some time on Trending, which leads down a rabbit hole of time wasting, so I have been fairly good at that. Unfortunately, every now and then, something happens and you read about something, and then you want to see if it's on YouTube. Last weekend I was stuck in that feedback loop where I read something about the "Worst Contestant on Family Feud" so I had to YouTube it to see for myself (if you're curious, search: "Family Feud mommy"). However, I do still watch badminton on YouTube, so I will have to readjust as needed. I guess watching badminton is technically some aspect of "work", right? Right?!

Despite some of these adjustments, I would say that my work and studies have been a lot more focused. I have paired up my noise-cancelling headphones + Brain.FM (music) + Freedom (website/app blocker) to help and it has been working extremely well. Even as I'm typing this now, they are all being used. Although I haven't really had too much time for HQ leisure time, I've still had moments where I was able to do some reading and I have FINALLY started to go back to learning R again, although it's more of a review because I have forgotten a lot because it has been a while since I was more proficient. I suppose my learning is more cyclical than it is consistent, but I'm growing to accept that as more common than not. Perhaps it's more about having chunks of time for deep work, instead of being routinely consistent to do something the same way all the time. At least with the things I need to do, I need that flexibility.

It has also changed the way I have done a few things. I no longer need to take pictures of my food AND share to Instagram. I can sometimes take a photo for myself, but I don't feel the compulsion to post on Instagram. I also had the chance to see people in person more often than before, although it might possibly just be due to chance. I've also tried to make phone calls to shorten conversations because waiting for someone to text back actually wastes a lot of time. I have disabled most notifications on my phone, including Messenger, so I only see messages when I open the app, kind of like email. I've also disabled my Gmail notifications so that I can check periodically, or just on my computer when I'm actually working. Lastly, I'm typically on DND mode, so nothing really gets through unless I actually check my phone. It feels pretty good, actually.

I think I'll extend this another 2-3 weeks instead of the 30 days because I kind of ruined the first 4-5 days. I'm liking where I'm at right now, but we will see what else might come up in the next little bit. I still have a lot of work to do, but I guess that's something that might never end. If that's the case, then I better maximize what I can do on the other end to ensure I can work productively without distractions.

For those who may be wondering, here are some HQ Leisure activities that I've settled on:

- Read physical books in order to downsize: I have probably 30 physical books which are taking up considerable space at the moment. Despite having more than 300+ books in my Kindle library, I can take those wherever I go.

- Clean room / Minimalism / KonMari Method: sometimes it's easier to think when things are in order, but I do understand that the best way is to be able to adapt to all situations. However, that's typically a very difficult thing to do.

- R Courses via edX, DataCamp, & digital books: I'm working on "Beyond Spreadsheets" published by MEAP. Slow and steady. I'm learning more Excel too, but I would love to learn R to go even further down the road.

- Writing: this kind of counts. However, is it the way I write or the way I think that is more important? Or maybe I need both -- one to have interesting thoughts, and another to be able to communicate that thought to share with others.

Thanks for visiting and if you followed my advice, you shouldn't be reading this! But don't let me tell you what to do. Find what works for you and do what you need to do.

Cheers!

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