My quest for digital minimalism has been ongoing for a number of years; Cal Newport just gave it a name. I’ve gone through several rounds of app removal, website blocking, and social media curtailing. In fact, it’s been over a year since I left all social media. Yet, as Newport points out in his latest book, Digital Minimalism, one of the biggest challenges any of us face is the “quick glance.” We fill every down moment of our lives by picking up the closest device and getting lost.
With less apps, and fewer websites to visit, I found myself just rechecking the same websites multiple times throughout the day. I hadn’t made any real progress, except in limiting the content that I was consuming.
Enter Newport’s digital detox.
For the next 30 days, I’m going to further limit my digital interaction. I’ll start by restoring my iPhone and iPad, only reinstalling the apps that I absolutely use. I’m also going to assign jobs to each device. For example, I’m only going to install my RSS reader on my iPad. The restore will also give me an opportunity to consider my settings and preferences and align them with my digital values. Once I finish that process, here are the rules that I’m going to set for myself:
When I’m home, my phone will live on the counter.
If my phone is in my pocket, I’m going to use it.
Only my iPad in my bedroom & only for reading.
Most of my reading of news and books is done on my iPad. I don’t need my phone in there.
I’m turning off all notifications except from iMessages.
I don’t need to be interrupted throughout the day. Email, shared Photo Streams, anything with a red number will be turned off.
I will not listen to music or podcasts while doing outside chores.
I will continue my morning walk podcast routine, but when I’m mowing the lawn or washing the cars, I’m going to be alone with my thoughts.
I can check my RSS feeds twice per day.
I have many RSS feeds that I follow, and those became the new social media for me. I’d refresh many times per day. Twice is plenty. Only having my RSS reader on my desktop and iPad should help with this.
I will only read news articles that I’m interested in.
I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, and they have great, voluminous content. I’m only going to read articles that interest me.
I will not read speculative news articles.
There are plenty of articles that talk about what may happen. Don’t get me wrong, this kind of background research and commentary can be helpful in understanding a story from start to finish. But if things don’t work out as expected, then I just wasted my time. From the FCA/Renault merger to the 2020 election, I’m going to skip any article that isn’t reporting what’s already happened.
I’m limiting my children’s screen time to one hour a day.
A timer will be set, and then the television will go off.