HomeArticlesHow to Prevent the Internet From Taking Over Your Life: Digital Minimalism 06
How to Prevent the Internet From Taking Over Your Life: Digital Minimalism 06
October 16, 2019
Time is the most valuable resource that you have and very few of us seem to remember that. I created this series on digital minimalism for this very reason. We spend so much of our lives now connected to the internet. I don’t think this necessarily a bad thing, in fact I’m really grateful for what the internet has contributed to my life, but I do think we have to learn how to manage and maintain our digital spaces much like we do with our physical spaces. Today I wanna talk about having the right habits with regards to technology. A quote that I recently read in the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman really stuck out to me. “Endless pleasure becomes its own form of punishment.” As I’ve spoken about before, I got a little bit of traction with my videos online recently and this has presented a new issue I never had before. I went from being able to easily read and respond to every message I got to literally receiving thousands a day. This hilariously bad acting isn’t really helping my case. I’m super pumped about it actually. It just came as a little bit of a surprise. Even with the digital minimalism that I had set up in my life, I realized that I was overwhelmed, and that I had some really bad habits with regards to technology that I needed to change. Being constantly connected, constantly checking your phone, or social media, and email is immensely destructive to productivity, to mental clarity, and for me, well-being. Something needed to change. So I decided to create a series of rules and guidelines to live by that I physically wrote down. These are rules that I now follow that have restored a sense of well-being in my life that is absolutely priceless. You may not be able to apply all these rules to your life depending on what you do, but I think we can all do at least some of these things. So we are just gonna dive in. “Do not check social media or email until noon.” This started off as a fun, little challenge that I shared on Instagram. What I wasn’t expecting was the incredible impact that this had on me. Having a parameter like this allowed me to focus on me, and start off my day in a calm and centered way. Before doing this, what would happen to me was that I would maybe check comments or emails and then 5 minutes would turn into three hours as I got sucked into the cycle of responding to people, and you know problem-solving. I feel like when I start off the day that way, I set the tone and, you know, a pattern that is so hard to break out of. I usually wake up between 6 and 7 AM and so with this rule, it basically means that I spend the first 5 to 6 hours of the day not even thinking about what’s going on online. I love this because I can say that the morning is mine. I can do what I want at that time. One minor exception to this is the fact that I do sometimes post content on social media in the morning. And the way that I kind of navigate this is by preparing things usually the night before and then going in with the mindset that I’m not checking comments or messages or anything. I’m just there to upload, say a photo on Instagram, and then right back out. “Do not check social media, email or any messages while in bed.” In an attempt to differentiate what I do for a living with my personal life, which by the way the two got completely blurred. I’ve been looking for ways to kind of separate the two. Creating boundaries is huge. And that’s how I came up with the idea of this rule. Having a physical location where the chaos that happens online cannot follow me is a really comforting thought. Either my phone is on airplane mode when it’s next to me on my nightstand OR I’ve been experimenting with placing my phone on the other end of the room, so that there’s that extra bit of added distance. “Do not take your phone with you to the bathroom.” This goes hand in hand with the previous rule. We all do this. Okay? But once again it’s really nice to have breaks in moments throughout the day where you’re not constantly connected. Make it an opportunity to just take a moment for yourself. “Look at your food when you’re eating.” Far too often, I sat down to eat and pulled out a video to watch and before I knew it the food’s gone and I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it. My focus was elsewhere. Food brings me a lot of joy and I just feel like it was such a shame that I was doing that. This is just something that I’ve been doing and I think it could be really powerful to try and apply this to your own life. But I like to think about where the food came from, what went into preparing it, everything that took place for this place to end up in front of me, if that makes sense. Once again, it’s another opportunity to practice mindfulness. “Track and limit your time on email and social media.” I recently created a video on my experience tracking on all my time throughout an entire week and that was a really eye-opening experience. More than anything, it gave me perspective on where my time and energy is going, and to be perfectly honest with you, the results were pretty disappointing. Since then, I’ve been a lot more intentional about limiting my time on social media and email to at most an hour a day, usually in two half-hour long pieces. What this usually means is that I ONLY have enough time to read through the messages that I received in my inbox. It’s pretty incredible to think about this but almost NONE of the message that you receive require an immediate response. At least for me, it’s easily under 5%. So what I started to do (and this has had a huge impact so far), is to take only one day a week, and dedicate a couple of hours or a few hours to responding to all of my messages. I started doing this on Saturday morning, which I’m really liking because I don’t get responses until few days later when Monday comes around. This has been spectacular. I probably shouldn’t get this excited about email, but I would highly, highly recommend trying this out, if you can. “Set a deadline everyday.” Finally, much like not checking email, or social media until noon, I like to cut things off at a certain time. This is really important to me because I find that if I don’t do that I go to bed with my mind still wired up and it makes falling asleep a lot more difficult. Now, I would treat these guidelines like a list of suggestions. Make it a little personal experiment, and see what works for you. These might be difficult changes to make at first, but trust me when I say that it definitely does get easier. And making these changes has given me a measure of my own personal life back, which is fantastic. And just remember this: Endless pleasure becomes its own form of punishment. I think that’s a fantastic reminder when I get a little bit off track with things. I really hope that you found this video helpful. Like I said, this is part of an entire series on digital minimalism where I’ve been sharing all the things that I’ve done to organise, and just basically have a healthy relationship with my digital life. If you found this interesting, consider checking that out. Also, I have a bonus episode that I created a few months ago available only on my Patreon page where I share how I organize my music. You can also follow my progress on Instagram, where I do live streams every Sunday to answer some of your questions. Finally, you can sign up to my newsletter to get occasional updates and additional resources to go along with some of these videos. And yeah, thanks for watching.