We’re all distracted by our digital devices. I wanted to see if I could adopt some ideas from Digital Minimalism and Make Time and I kept you up to date, too. Now, I wanted to sum it all up because the experiment is over. In a good way: I stuck with my new reduced digital life and am better off for it. It’s time for me to move on to another project. This post sums up the biggest takeaways.
Auto-unplug the internet in the evenings using a timer plug
If you want to get unstuck fast: Get a timer plug for your router. Make it switch off the internet early in the morning, so you don’t check it as the first thing you do after waking up and all evening.
Reduce TV / streaming to a minimum to free up time lost
The internet plug trick made it easy for me to stick with my new rule of max. 2 episodes of a series / 1 film per week. Since there is no internet after 19:00, I spent my evenings doing something else. This transition was super easy, I don’t miss anything and I wouldn’t go back. I have had a lot more time for reading, exercise, (cooking and) eating well, and getting a good night’s sleep. As a nice side effect, not being able to access digital devices in the evenings made me lose the habit of constantly checking something and I subsequently found it easier to reduce my phone checking in the daytime.
Get a dumb phone
If you’re ready to give it your all: get a dumb phone. But switching off mobile data by default and only switching it back on when you really need it already helped me reduce compulsive phone checking.
Reduce social media and don’t scroll
Check social media as little as possible (as little as once per day or per week). Don’t use social media on the mobile device you carry around but rather on a computer which is less instantly-accessible. Don’t scroll so you don’t fall victim to the “infinity pools” of constantly refreshing distraction.
You don’t have to completely give up on anything if you don’t want to
To sum it all up: I had to give up on none of my digital habits. I just changed the default to “not using XY” compared to “constantly using XY” from before.
Have replacement activities
But in order for this to work, you need to have things to do instead at the ready. Like for me, I mostly go climbing now, read a book or go to bed early. This works surprisingly well.
Plan for analogue quality social interaction
Make sure to set up an analogue social life so you don’t suffer from some sort of social media withdrawal symptoms. Focus on planning quality time with people who are really worth your time.
As a conclusion, I thought of something last week: This experiment was great and I prefer my ‘new life’. But at the same time, better digital habits are not a cure-all. On their own, they will not make you happy nor will they take care of your overcommitment-induced stress. This is another issue you need to tackle and it might well be the next focus for me.
I’ll keep you posted.