As previously described I’ve made some changes for the month of March in the use of my phone, social media and the internet overall. It’s working, and the positive effects are already evident.
I refer you again to Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism which I finished a day after I started the process. It wasn’t necessary to get through the whole thing to get started, but the later chapters, based on what to do with the time and mental energy freed by staying off the “smart” phone, were excellent. He expands on the important things many people have lost or lessened lately: solitude, face-to-face conversation, walks, attention to family, even just voice calls instead of all communication being through text. And my favorite, reading.
I’ve already done a lot more reading in the last five days than I had recently, and I can feel an actual difference in my mind and attitude. I’m more focused and just that little bit calmer (I’ve also been going to the gym consistently, so I can’t really isolate the effects of that).
Newport’s digital minimalism is designed to be individualized, given each person’s unique pattern of digital usage. For reference, here are the seven principles or actions that I’m doing now:
- Off Twitter until April 1. During the break evaluate how to use Twitter as a tool for making life better; maybe only tweet about books, and/or only original tweets, and a definite time limit (no more spending an hour a day “owning the Progs” with retweets).
- Not even looking at the phone until after 8:00 am, and then only to check personal email.
- No bullet chess on the internet (an activity that often burned intervals of 15 or 20 minutes playing several games and left me with an increased heart rate and mild adrenal fatigue).
- No Drudge Report except between 1200 and 1300 hours, and then only one pass through to check on the developments of the day, and after that let those troubles lie until tomorrow. I realized I don’t really need to know about the latest tweet from Trump or “AOC” or the latest blabber from Adam “Bugeye” Schiff (D-Cloud Cuckoo Land).
- No radio when driving (this is more of a concentration exercise based on that grand old book The Power of Concentration but it fits into the program).
- Substitutes for the time previously spent looking at the phone: playing music, walking, working out, conversation with family.
- No Twitter, news or other distracting websites during work hours. The temptation to take a “break” and visit various “interesting” things was definitely affecting productivity. I’ve cleared a lot of minor, backlog projects that were hanging around and feel better about work, lighter.
To summarize, this digital cleanse procedure is already adding value and making an actual, positive difference in my physiology, which is remarkable. I recommend Cal Newport’s book highly, but you can find much of the information at his blog, which also has a lot of other terrific material for you edification.
I’ll post something here in another week or so and let you know how it’s going.