TOBY NG

Digital Minimalism

Wow! Another blog post already!? And on "Digital Minimalism"? Seems kinda weird, no?


Well... yes and no. Yes, it's weird to put up another post so soon, but I figure it'd be nice to wonder where I vanished off to. This is more of a personal experiment based on Cal Newport's book, "Digital Minimalism". I really enjoyed his other works, including "So Good They Can't Ignore You", where he discusses that it may be better to pursue a craftsman's mindset instead of following the typical passion mindset; and "Deep Work", where he discusses how to improve productivity by putting aside chunks of time for solid, quality work, which requires no distractions, multi-tasking, etc. Both will probably be revisited in the future, and if my time is spent well with this digital decluttering, perhaps it may come sooner than later!

With this Digital Minimalism, I will do my best to follow my newly created "Philosophy for Technological Use". Obviously, this requires using technology for work and won't hurt personal relationships, but there is a lot of stuff in between. For example, I will still be on Facebook maintaining social media accounts, including my own Facebook page, but I will likely ban myself from using my personal account. LinkedIn can be used to update my profile as needed, and YouTube can be used to upload my badminton videos as needed.


However, other things are optional, including Instagram, Twitter, and other media including video games and television. These optional items may have strict operating procedures (e.g. I can only watch TV with Carmen for a limited time), whereas the rest will strictly be banned. Although this may seem severe, this is only a 30-day process which is meant to serve as a "reset", then technology will be slowly introduced over time after the 30-day period. 


The plan begins today, and here are some examples of what I am 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


Some practices that were also recommended from the book include taking long walks (solitude is important to have, where you are alone with your own thoughts and free from the thoughts of others), writing (this should count), not clicking "Like" (because it makes it feels like a connection when it really isn't), and to consolidate texting, which may mean putting the phone in DND mode and disabling push notifications (i.e. turn messaging into email). 


Additionally, Newport suggests spending more time in leisure activity because high quality leisure activity that is challenging may actually re-energize us better than low quality leisure activities, such as surfing the web mindlessly or scrolling on Instagram. I know I have been putting off learning data science for a while, but this seems like a great way to get back into it. 


Despite what I hope to do, I do have a few tools that can help me with this digital detox. I am using the Freedom app, which I purchased the lifetime version a while ago. It has definitely paid for itself when I cannot control myself, but I'm hoping I can build the right habits to not have to use it. For now, I definitely need it. It basically blocks any website or app on my phone, because I find I sometimes mindlessly open something to distract myself, often subconsciously even. Another tactic suggested was to delete all social media apps on my phone, which I have done. It was probably a wise decision.


So that's all for now! I may be back in a month, I may quit halfway, or maybe even tomorrow (but I really hope not). Regardless, I think this is an experiment well worth trying and to win back some of my time to do the things I want to do is definitely worth the effort. I apologize in advance if I stop "Liking" things and such, but frankly, I'm sure you won't even notice that I'm gone. If anything, I do recommend you check out the book and decide if this is also something for you.


Cheers!

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