7 Effective Principles of Digital Minimalism

Digital minimalism is on the rise. As people become more and more aware of their infinite screen presence, online mindfulness starts to gain momentum. To enhance your relationship with technology, here are 7 effective principles of digital minimalism. 

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Smartphones, laptops, and tablets are ubiquitous in everyday life. They undoubtedly make our lives better, but they also create new forms of stress. 

Consequently, we need to form a healthy relationship with technology. 

What kind of relationship?

The challenge resides in utilizing the perks of technology without letting smartphones take over our lives. The answer is digital minimalism. 

My 7 principles of digital minimalism

With a few well-tailored norms, we can establish a mindful approach to technology without forgoing its advantages. On this basis, here are 7 effective principles of digital minimalism. 

Principles of Digital Minimalism closed laptop and smartphone - featured
Picture by Guillaume Issaly / Unsplash

1. The use of technology should be intentional

Much like consumption, our use of technology should be intentional

In this context, self-defined norms should regulate our screen time. As an example, set a daily time limit for the use of your smartphone. Lots of apps enable you to track your screen time on any given day. 

The benefits are twofold. 

First, regulating your use of technology enables you to determine how much time you spend on specific devices. You’ll be able to adapt your general usage rate. 

Secondly, you’ll see how you use technology. You’ll get a better view of the mechanics of your usage. 

Are you using the right apps? Are you spending too much time on social media? Are you using a certain device deliberately?

All of these questions and answers should forge your rules. In the end, you’ll use your devices intentionally, not spontaneously. 

2. Technology should supplement, not replace human interaction

 The human element is certainly among the most important principles of digital minimalism. 

If you want to enhance your relationship with technology, you need to focus on human, not digital interactions. As such, technology should always supplement, not replace human contact. 

Talking to someone face to face should be prioritized. Technology should come in when human interactions are impossible. 

Don’t let Facebook posts ruin family events. Don’t miss an important gathering because of a streaming session. And finally, don’t tarnish your business’ reputation with click-baiting. 

In short, technology should not come before people and personal values. 

3. Technology should not be a source of kudos

Technology should make your life better without becoming your sole source of appreciation. 

Your appreciation in life should come from friends, family, and acquaintances, not just virtual connections. 

Of course, sharing your creativity online can help other people, and they will hopefully show their appreciation, but this should never replace a healthy social life. 

Don’t use technology to escape from problems in your life. 

By seeking kudos online, you may obtain short-term emotional gratification. But in the long run, this brief appreciation will exacerbate your problems. It offers an escape without solving your problems. 

As an example, you might face a tough situation at work. By escaping into a video game, you may receive appreciation for your gaming skills, but you won’t tackle your professional issues. 

4. Limit screen time to the necessary

Most of us work on computers. We spend the majority of our days in front of a screen. That majority should not turn into integrality.  

The point is to balance screen time with physical activity and human interactions. 

Try to limit your screen time to what’s necessary for your job and personal life. 

Use your phone when you have to, not when you’re bored. Use social media to further your interests, not to scroll down aimlessly. 

5. Never lose track of your platforms

Intentionality focuses on the why of your usage. 

Identify your reasons for using platforms. You’ll be able to measure the merits of different sites, apps, and platforms once your reasons are clear. 

As an example, if you improve your fitness with the help of a running app, you have a fruitful reason. 

If you, on the other hand, read dozens of imbecilic tweets without any clear goal, it might be time to get off Twitter. 

Make a list of all your apps and write down reasons to use them. If you can’t come up with satisfactory results, uninstall a couple of apps. 

6. Technology should make our lives easier, not more complicated 

Use technology as a means to simplify your life, not to make it more complicated. 

If technology leads to procrastination, you’re not using it deliberately. 

If you endlessly check emails and texts during business meetings, your phone works against, not in favor of your business’ growth. 

If you are unsure about your digital habits, ask yourself the following: is this act simplifying my life or making it more complicated? 

Principles of Digital Minimalism - use technology as a tool to create, not a distraction - old cameras
Picture by Cristofer Jeschke / Unsplash

7. Use technology as a tool, not a distraction

Finally, technology should serve as a tool to create, not to be distracted. 

As Cal Newport writes in his excellent book Digital Minimalism, “humans want to create.

Technology should foster our creativity, not hamper it. 

A few effective habits can secure your productivity in this respect.

Whenever possible, turn your devices into single-purpose tools. If you use a laptop, create a guest account with a few selected apps. A photographer’s account would, for instance, contain Lightroom and other editing tools, but nothing else. 

Another minimalist digital habit is to turn off all notifications. Most of them aren’t important anyway. 

Finally, define the goals of your devices. Use your tablet to read. Your laptop to work. And your smartphone to connect with people. 

Final thoughts on principles of digital minimalism

  • As with everything, practice makes perfect. Akin to intentional consumption, it takes time to adopt your rules for technology. 
  • The idea is not to throw away your devices and live in a cave. The main goal is to use intentionality to enhance your relationship with modern technology. 
  • By implementing a certain set of rules, you retake control over your digital life without losing the benefits of social media and technology. 

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