Of course we were convinced when Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. In the world of architecture and design, there’s a phrase they call “less is more”.
And a lot of us agree that “to add value to life, think subtraction”. So now let us talk about digital minimalism.
You have heard digital. You have heard minimalism. But what do these two words mean when combined as one?
I believe, with all the various definitions we see, digital minimalism is about living with intention. We make room, give enough space and time for the things we love and eliminate whatever that distracts us from them.
With that mindset, we become intentional with what we choose to do and how it impacts our way of living and thinking, and our perspective on digital life and life in general.
There is this very timely and eye-opening book by Cal Newport entitled ‘Digital Minimalism – Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World’. I have not read it yet but it is one of the inspirations why I chose this topic to be my last.
Yeah, you read it right.
A review by the Evening Standard says it is the “Marie Kondo of mobile phones”, as this book has shared quite a lot of encouraging thoughts and ways of “tidying up”.
Newport, in his book, shares how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude. You will surely agree, this book has a lot of ways to simplify and minimise our digital presence.
But how can one achieve the “minimal digital life”?
You should probably start with questioning yourself with, “does this particular piece of technology – email, social media, internet browsing, and phone – add or remove value to my life?”
You will either get a yes or a no. Not a maybe, definitely not a sometimes.
In a medium.com article written by Dan Silvestre, he has discussed some ways to declutter and hit the target of living a minimalist kind of digital life.
Start with the easiest one: computer setup
Reminder, the goal is to remove anything that is not adding value and double down on what we use on a regular basis.
Clean Up the Desktop: remove all the files and programmes from your desktop. Use Spotlight to open them instead.
Choose a clean wallpaper
Uninstall programmes and applications you barely use
Install updates of the remaining applications
Work in full-screen mode to block distractions
Next up, let’s tackle something a little bigger: our phone and social media
Here’s a step-by-step instruction for digital minimalism on your phone and all-around a better experience:
Remove apps: as with the computer, start by deleting all the apps you don’t use anymore. For apps you use but not frequently consider using the browser version
Remove social media: trust me, you’ll survive. Social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s definitely a bad habit
A mindful Home Screen: place the 4 most used apps on your dock at the bottom. Put everything else into a single folder
Clean up contacts: browse through your contact list and delete numbers you won’t need ever again
Delete: the prime candidates are podcasts and music you don’t listen to anymore. Stream instead of downloading
Now use search: you can use spotlight not only to find apps but also content within them, like finding someone’s phone number by typing their name. Search is your new best friend
Remove notifications: leave phone calls and text messages but remove all the other notifications. Trust me, the world won’t come to an end. When you want to check something, open the app and do so. Don’t let the app control you to open it
Do not disturb: schedule Do Not Disturb after working hours so you can relax, such as from 8 PM to 8 AM
Silvestre’s article ends with a reminder that the process of decluttering or minimising everything is also a process.
It is not temporary and should not be a fleeting emotion. It is a choice and when you decide to choose it, there is no other way but ahead. No u-turns, no side trips.
Therefore, we need to become better gatekeepers of what we allow in our digital lives. Because there is a big possibility that what we keep online, reaches our personal lives. And it is already evident, the online world is literally dragging our reality often causing delays and gaps, and even trauma.
RHR Signing Off
I wrote more than one piece about this but here is a reminder to all of us, fellow online dwellers, “Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support our goals and values, rather than letting it use us.”
To close this, someone great once said, “minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough”.
Folks, I don’t mean to break it this early but I believe Social Oxymoron already shared enough for the past months. Well, I could still do more but choices had to be made and obviously, a choice has been made.
It was a short but definitely a worthwhile ride with Good Times2. All thanks to the people behind. Think of this as Rafii H Ramon choosing the minimal life; living in a more focused world.
It was worth every piece.
Until then. For now, RHR is signing off.
Thank you Rafii H Ramon. The Good Times2 team will certainly miss you. We’ll see you when you’ve completely decluttered and minimised.