I've been struggling lately to find that balance with being active in an online community, but also pulling back and taking time for myself or to connect in real-life. The struggle is real especially when majority of my days is in front of a computer, writing, interacting, emailing and connecting with others. I'm in the process of taking a more proactive approach of how I am using technology these days with the goal of being in the moment more. Here's what I'm currently doing. Time will tell how many of these I will stick to because I've had my shares of full on going offline and full on being constantly online.
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I Keep It Simple
I only have a computer and an iPhone. No other gadgets. We do have a TV without cable because no cables saves us money and time, but the TV allows us to watch and stream movies occasionally via Chromecast that barely gets used also.
I Went Analog
Yup! I scoured my parents house and found an analog clock to keep in our bedroom. It's quiet even with the secondhand ticking on. It runs on a single Double AA battery. I opted for this because I normally would use my phone as the clock, but I really wanted to stop relying on my phone so much. This clock also provides the temperature and humidity, not that those are that critical, but it will at least get me to stop checking my phone often.
If you can't find a secondhand analog clock, check out Etsy and these truly vintage alarm clocks.
I Am Deleting Apps
I have deleted apps on my phone to reduce mindlessly scrolling through or checking something. All of my apps are now in this one folder so I have to explicitly search for an app if I want to use it instead of going directly to the homepage absentmindedly clicking on the app icon. It's surprising how much junk we end up installing and having to wade through if we are not conscious about it.
I No Longer Charge My Phone At Night
I used to fear running out of battery. I still do sometimes, but instead of charging my phone overnight, I unplug it from the socket completely for two reasons 1) stop draining energy 2) reduce strain on the battery. When I grab my phone in the morning and head out the door, I now have to be conscious of the battery life and reduce the time I spend wasting time on it to conserve battery. I may put it into airplane mode or keep it in my purse so I don't readily reach for it. Not the best solution, but sometimes, we have to put barriers to modify behaviors.
I Have Unsubscribed
I've unsubscribed to a lot of things. Mostly emails. Lots of marketing emails. This helps in a few ways. Cuts the digital clutter in my Inbox. It reduces temptation especially from those marketing emails that advertise sales. Reducing the amount of emails, when done at scale also means less work for global servers around the world to process and store because the internet is not zero waste. It's probably one of the mos wasteful industries out there if we stop to look.
I Have Notifications Off
I have turned off notifications on my phone for text/messages, email alerts, news alerts, etc. so I have to be explicitly checking my messages to find something new. I figure that if it's very important, someone will call me or find another way to reach me. This is good and bad sometimes because I don't realize that a message is waiting for me until after a few hours. This actually means less distractions for me and I no longer hear those phatom pings coming from my phone.
I Only Have Instagram Installed
This isn't the best win because it seems I still access IG pretty often, but I at least I no longer have may of the other apps on my phone. No Facebook, no Pinterest. I still have accounts, but I mainly use it when I'm on the desktop to reduce the scrolling and I do use scheduling apps to schedule content across social media for my websites, which means I don't have to be constantly on the phone to push out content.
No Phone, No Problem
I've been challenging myself to not rely so much on the phone. Whenever my husband and I drive somewhere, we try to reduce our need for Google Maps and Waze and instead focus on signs to find where we need to go. We sometimes go on coffee dates where we go phone free for a period of time while we drink coffee. We go on walks without our phones. It's important to reset once in awhile and understand that people that are in front of you are what matters.
I Have Do Not Disturb Setup
The iPhone has a feature called Do Not Disturb that allows you to setup times when calls can be blocked. I have this enabled for majority of the day, but I've set it to allow calls from my Favorites which includes family and close friends. Anyone else trying to call me unless I have a specific appointment will most likely not get through.
I Don't Have Icons On the Desktop
With regards to my computer, I mainly use it to conduct business on the internet, truthfully so it's rare that I would need to install software and even with some of the software I have, I try to keep the desktop free and clear to reduce clutter and reduce bootup lag time.
I Leave My Phone In Another Room
To further reduce my phone usage, I leave it another room at night. It no longer comes into the bedroom which reduces the temptation to check on something one last time or to check it first thing in the morning. I used to be a big Kindle fan, but have gone back to books borrowed from the library to do light reading before bed. This helps reduce my exposure to blue light which disrupts sleep. If you are constantly on the computer at night, consider investing in special glasses like these that reduce the blue light emitted by electronic devices which can cause sleep disruption, dry eyes and macular degeneration
Life Is Pretty Good Without Technology
The one thing too that I have slowly come to realize is that life moves on and life is sometimes better without technology. It's a slower life. It requires more actual face time with people. It's more purposeful and it's a life with a lot less distractions. I feel like that more I disconnect, the more I can focus and in the end, I actually end up getting more things done.
What about you? How have you minimized your digital life? What tricks and tips do you have for others?