Our smartphone has a big impact on our mental health. On average, we have at least 40 to 50 apps installed and they all want something from us. The Digital Minimalism Challenge can be all the more valuable in connection with our health.
We constantly receive notifications. Even if we don’t want to admit it, this subconsciously leads to stress. Especially because many notifications use the warning colour red, which induces stress.
This leads to us being constantly interrupted and “context switching”. It has been scientifically proven that this damages our brain.
Based on the book “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport, I invite you to do the 30-day challenge he suggests. In this version, we focus only on the smartphone as a digital tool. The complete challenge also covers websites, movies and games, for example. If you want to do the complete challenge, I recommend Cal Newport’s book.
At its core, digital minimalism simply means trying to think more about how we use technology in our lives. The goal is to use these tools consciously instead of letting them distract us all the time.
Technology and digital content are often so prevalent in our lives that it can be hard to decide exactly how to start. That’s why the challenge is only 30 days long, so that you hardly take any risks or panic that you might miss something.
A few things to keep in mind about the Challenge:
- None of the suggestions should just be blindly copied and applied. Do what makes sense for your life
- The more consistently and completely you carry out the recommendations, the more likely you are to feel a positive effect.
- Many people find it helpful to tell friends or family about the challenge, so that they know that you will no longer be reachable via Instagram for the next 30 days, for example, and they can also motivate you to keep going if you ever want to stop. This can be incredibly motivating. None of the suggestions should be blindly copied and applied. Do what makes sense for your life: Auf deutsch doppelt!
So here we go:
The 30-Day Digital Minimalism Challenge in 3 steps.
Step 1: Define your technology rules
Analyse which apps and sites you spend a lot of time on, e.g: Instagram, Newsapp, Facebook, etc.
Then consider: Does using this app provide me a fundamental value? What do I get out of it? Or do you find yourself opening these apps more and more often as a habit and then getting lost in the “tunnel”?
Step 2: Reclaim your free time: 30-day digital diet
- After you have defined all the apps, go on a cold diet: delete these apps (not necessarily the account) from your phone.
- The goal is not to use the apps for 30 days.
- Now think about what you can do to fill the time you’ve freed up. Instead of browsing Instagram for 30 minutes in the evening, you could read a book on a topic you want to learn more about (e.g. speaking Spanish). This step is important: the time needs to be filled with cognitively demanding substitute activities.
Step 3: Re-introduce the technology after 30 days and evaluate
- After 30 days, ask yourself the question: do I still miss the app? If so, what exactly am I missing? If, for example, Instagram is your way of keeping in touch with friends, then that’s perfectly okay. If you notice that the profiles of celebrities, retailers, brands, etc. don’t offer you any added value, unfollow these pages and filter your Instagram stream so that only the really relevant posts shows up.
- Everything that doesn’t bring you any added value remains deleted.
- This way, you will become much more active in your use of digital media instead of simply reacting passively and letting habit take over.
Another thing you can do right away is to reduce interruptions from your phone. You create many interruptions yourself by allowing notifications, sounds and vibrations. Every notification triggers a reaction and a feeling, at least subconsciously. Most of the time it is not relevant and distracts you. What you can do right now:
- Disable all notifications that are not really important (I left Calendar and Asana reminders active, for example), this includes the numbers of unread notifications on the app icons. What does it do for you to see that you have 939 unread emails? Exactly, it just subconsciously creates unnecessary stress because an action is expected of you (read email and often answer it).
- Turn off all notification sounds and vibrations
- In the browser: Only have as many tabs open as you really need.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you report about your 30-day Digital Minimalism Challenge.