Let me start by pompously proclaiming something important to know: I have been killing it this year.
I say that as an Enneagram One who thrives on being perfectionistic, but has realized she can’t be perfect and knows that what she is already doing and accomplished is good enough 🙂 Being a One is HARD, but it’s also really awesome. I am laughing as I type this. God bless the people who have Ones in their lives and still love them, just as they are (think Monica from FRIENDS, that’s basically who I am) 🙂
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I have not done things perfectly because like I mentioned, that is not possible (much to my Type One dismay), but I am delivering my sessions in about 24 hours now (or less)… I am spending LOTS of time with the girls, Mike and I are BFF’s as usual, I am journaling, reading, painting, working out and ALL the things… and then sometimes I do “nothing” which is nice, too. What’s changed? Some of these positive changes started up a couple of months ago slowly but surely but in the past few weeks, the best parts of life have been amplified. I simply made one major mindset & philosophy change (that includes a bunch of small, DOABLE changes) – I changed my relationship with technology, ENTIRELY.
My friend Abby is such a diligent reader of really life-giving books and on her Instagram stories one day she mentioned an author by the name of Cal Newport. She loved his book Deep Work (which is on its way to me now!) and she mentioned his other book Digital Minimalism as one she loved and I was instantly drawn in by the title.
I heard the word minimalism and I was already on board. Although we aren’t technically minimalists in my house, I would venture to say we probably own less than most of the people we know. We do NOT keep tons of things, we are really picky about how much we allow belongings to fill our small 3 bedroom home because we want things to be easy to clean, manage and find. We know the truth that physical clutter, for us, equates to mental clutter and when we learned that YEARS ago, we decided to do something about it.
We created Lifeflow lists, we decided NOT to own a bunch of crap and it has been so life-giving. I always felt so light in our environment knowing we owned so much less that we used to – but there was another kind of clutter I didn’t realize was accumulating. Maybe I did, subconsciously? But I never saw it the way that Cal Newport presented it to me and it has been absolutely LIFE CHANGING.
If at the end of the day you think to yourself that you wish you could have been on your phone/computer LESS… but you TRULY don’t know how you ended up spending so much time there, THIS IS FOR YOU!!!!
FIRST THINGS FIRST THOUGH – I LOVE that this book is not anti-technology. Not at all. I love how insistent the author is on that and how he repeats that with accurate statements to back it up throughout the book. It’s really about cultivating a healthy relationship with technology, something we could all benefit from while not missing out on the value it has to offer our lives.
BELOW – I’ll share TWO major things:
1) What the biggest and most powerful lessons were
2) What I changed, altered and what I DELETED off of my phone within the first day of reading
* DIGITAL MINIMALISM BIGGEST LESSONS *
1) We literally stumbled backward into smartphone addiction and we never saw it coming. Slowly but surely as our technology continued to become upgraded year after year, little by little, MORE bells and whistles were introduced. All of a sudden, there were SO MANY MORE APPS, you could check email from your phone, you could download anything and bring it on the go. Social media is (in my opinion) the biggest kicker of all when it comes to this, the intermittent positive reinforcement of “like” buttons that keep us continually logging on over and over to check. Many of the whistleblowers in this book mention how big social media companies use the study of addiction to fuel how they will keep users logged on for longer, because that’s how they make their money. That honestly scares me but you have to admit, they are pretty good at it because everywhere I go people’s heads are down, thumbs are scrolling and everyone is majorly disconnected to the physical world around them. I loved the old days where we all looked up and took the world in more. I have been making a great effort to NOT be the one on their phone in the room lately and it’s been nicer to have a book in my hand.
2) We can STILL USE technology, smart phones and social media but only in a way that EXTRACTS VALUE… and then disconnect from those things and get back to the world around us. Extract value. This was one of my most favorite simple sentences in the entire book. Our phones can do SO many things nowadays, but that does not mean we have to let them take over where it’s just not necessary and it does not mean we have to abundantly get TOO much use out of them, just because the possibilities (and apps) are endless. We have bible apps on our phones but we have physical bibles that haven’t been picked up in forever. We have all of the same apps on our phone that we can access from our computer, so why do we need double, why do we need them to be mobile, too?
We just don’t. What if we only used technology to extract the value from it and LEFT THE REST!? How many hours would we save? I am saving a ton. And it’s glorious. The best stuff is waiting for us outside of technology use time 🙂 (At the end of this blog post, I’ve shared the apps I’ve deleted and why.)
3) Be mindful of your tech hours and remind yourself that some benefit is not reason enough to use/stick with something. Digital minimalists know the truth that if something isn’t adding a deep amount of value to your life, it’s not worth spending time on. This is why they are mindful about the minutes and hours they spend on their phones and on technology, usually intentionally scheduling them in – and only spending time on the apps that they can extract value from and that will benefit their lives in a great way. One way to make SURE technology and smart phone use isn’t taking over is to create rules and guidelines that will honor this.
I LOVE what Nancy Ray mentioned on her recent podcast!
If you are using an app because it’s fun or because it’s something everyone else uses, but you know if your heart you could do without it – feel free to let it go and see what that makes room in your life for that brings GREAT benefit, and not just some. Your time is more valuable than that. You don’t have to color code in your Simplified planner like me – but giving yourself a certain window daily to check in, extract value and then happily miss out on the rest could be absolutely life giving.
4) Social media connection is great, but it’s just not real conversation. Connection is only a tool to move toward real conversation. We need to hear voices, see facial expressions and/or read body language. So, one thing I am guilty of is worrying about the impression I’ll leave if I don’t give someone a thorough, enthusiastic enough answer via DM, text, etc. I know how important it is to me to understand what someone is feeling when they’re messaging, so people who end joyful messages in periods (Congrats.) or use none at all (I am doing great) deeply disturb me, LOLOLOL. It’s because I CAN NOT HEAR/PICK UP on their tone, their vibe, etc! At the same time, we are just not meant to be connected to this.many.people – and it gets INCREDIBLY overwhelming to take time to respond to everyone.
I (and many of my friends) need to remember this: social media can be a wonderful tool but it is not real connection. It can turn into that but at some point it has to move past the double tap and occasional comment.
The hurried comments and like button have shortcut potential real life, deeper connections into quick “fast food” like interactions. There is also an entitlement that comes along with social media conversation that worries me: because anyone can connect to anyone, they are entitled to information or a conversation, simply because they can make the connection with the click of a couple of buttons. This is something I am VERY passionate about fighting against. This is not okay. The day you send someone you have never met a message and think they owe you something back is the day you need to log off and check that entitlement.
* CHANGES I HAVE MADE IN THE FIRST COUPLE OF WEEKS *
This is going to sound extreme to most people I know because… we’re so used to things being one “general way for everyone and when you go against the grain, it’s a dramatic at first. If you are seeing it and saying “oh, I could NEVER do that!”… just imagine what a life of not looking down at your phone all the time would be like. No amount of keeping up with these apps gives me what looking up and seeing the world in front of me does.
Oh, the joy of missing out on the digital world to be in your own real life more often.
1) I DELETED EMAIL OFF OF MY PHONE. This was by far the hardest and the one I was putting off for a LONG time. I truly thought I needed it but I was honestly just refreshing it like a madman and spending too much time checking throughout the day. I have a computer that I check in the morning and in the afternoon for emails, Monday-Thursday and there is no reason for me to go outside of those hours, ESPECIALLY on my phone, on the go.
2) I deleted my Bible app. Because…I have a bible. And I like it more than a glowing screen bible, no matter how convenient it is to save and search. Real highlighters and a book in my hand are so much more heartfelt for me.
3) I deleted my Amazon app. Because that is something I can access from a computer and there is no reason I need this on a phone!
4) I don’t have Facebook OR Facebook Messenger on my phone – but that actually started BEFORE I read this book! DEFINITELY worth noting though. When I told Mike about this book, he deleted Facebook on his phone because he didn’t like the time he was spending on it. He also deleted games that required you to “just check in once daily” so you didn’t “lose your place/progress” – talk about the ULTIMATE manipulation and hold on someone to log into their social media! I was telling him about this book and the addiction psychology and he was like whoa, what is the point of me having that game at all? He was so glad to get rid of that.
5) I turned off notifications for ALMOST everything. Most of the time, my phone stays on Do Not Disturb now with the exception of Mike bypassing it with his calls and texts… but I have no other notifications on at all.
6) I deleted Trello off of my phone because that’s another that’s better used for me on the computer.
7) I only have FOUR apps at the very bottom of my home screen (Phone Calls, Clock, Text & Camera), everything else is tucked away in folders…which means it takes every time and swipes to get there. That usually is a nice buffer of seconds to help me go wait, am I doing this out of habit or do I intentionally need to open this? I like to work harder to get there to give me that “behavioral buffer”.
8) On my computer, my Facebook is only bookmarked RIGHT to my notifications page… so that means NO HOME NEWS FEED. This has been the biggest gift to me. Mike and I always talk about how disappointing it is to see depressing news or political Facebook fights and drama in the home feed, and I fixed that by simply bookmarking my notifications page so now I only am directed to what needs my attention, and then I leave! It’s made it SO much easy to log right off and not peruse!
9) We also sold the TV in our room. Because we can watch TV in the living room or my office if we want to, but it’s nice to not have the option to in bed. It was such a blessing to the people who ended up buying it, too – their story was so sweet and we knew it was meant to be!
WHEW…from whistleblowers to behavioral addiction psychology to people recently decided to convert BACK to flip phones, this book is just one giant takeaway of brilliant and necessary information that everyone I know can benefit from. This is so much different than a social media break or hiatus (which I’m currently on from my main Instagram account)… it’s an entire mindset shift where you get to create your own philosophy on tech use and learn how to adapt to honoring that so you can live a fulfilling life outside of tech use, too.
I hope if you’ve been looking for a solid, consistent change in how much a screen ends up in front of your eyes – this book is what helps YOU to make the big change toward the life you’re actually wanting that includes technology but doesn’t based most of its moments around it 🙂
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