Today, there are millions of apps to download from mobile app stores. We have the world at our fingertips and an abundance of distractions to fill our time.
I remember when the first iPhone was released. I was so excited to discover applications that added even more functionality. I thought I was living in Star Trek.
Over the years, I’ve gone through many cycles of installing and deleting apps. I was overwhelmed and felt a conviction to delete things I wasn’t using. It’s especially convicting when you realize you’ve been scrolling through Instagram for HOURS. 😬
Applications exist to help you in your life, not consume it.
Make Something Do Something Else
You really need to consider more than just how often you use the apps, but why you are using them. The formal definition of an application is as follows:
“The action of putting something into operation.”
Making something do something else.
But with the rise in social media, publishing platforms, RSS feeders, blogs, news feeds, and more, all of our apps exist for us to consume. We have become a cog in the content machine. I’m part of it too! I’m writing this blog post, and you are consuming content.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying consuming content is bad. But we need balance, as in every other aspect of our life.
Wisdom from the Web
Anton Kraly, the founder of Drop Ship Lifestyle, revealed his rules for consumption. His method of consumption involves only consuming content that you intend to take action on. I agree somewhat with his premise but not his method. It’s unrealistic to only consume the content we can act on. We keep up with our friends and family on Facebook, we watch a video a co-worker sent us, or we listen to the news just to be informed. However, you can set boundaries for yourself and practice being aware of when you’re going into “vegetable mode”.
We all have goals and dreams that we aspire to, but they require work and focus. Gary Vaynerchuk did a video where he recorded a phone call with a fan question regarding accomplishing goals but watching others on Instagram have everything she wanted. It can be motivating to see others accomplishing what we would like to accomplish, but if you aren’t careful, it can completely immobilize you before you event start.
Hubspot did a study of the impact of having too much technology, tools, and applications have on our productivity. They found that though survey respondents indicate they have a manageable number of tools, 82% are still losing hours a week due to managing different technologies. More technology and apps exist today than ever before, which means more things to distract us from what we truly want.
To get what we truly want, we have to put away the distractions and develop the habits to get there.
You’re might be thinking, “Ok, I get all of that but, how can I maintain a balance?”
#1 Be Aware
You simply need to practice being aware. When you sit down to watch TV, give yourself half an hour to an hour, and then go do something else. When you check your social media, have a set time (not before bed) to catch up on anything you missed (FOMO?) and then read a book.
Technology is not moving any farther out of our lives, but I do see a shift in design, functionality, and UX. Things are getting easier to do. Companies like Apple and Google are making their software and hardware experiences easier to use when used across the board. Unfortunately, there are industry spaces where the tool bubble is so bloated it’s hard to keep up (I’m looking at you MarTech).
Try not to be overwhelmed by everything that’s available. There’s never going to be a shortage of technology, only your attention span. Simplify your life but understanding this simple concept:
What you do every day determines the rest of your life.
Your daily habits add up quickly! Who do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?
If you want to be fit, you have to battle every day with your food choices, being active, and auditing your habits related to your health.
#2 Practice Self-Control
The second thing you need to practice is having self-control. Social media, blogs, and other websites have made it SO easy to stay on their websites and easily consume content for hours. They’ve designed their sites with endless scrolling on purpose. If for a split second you don’t see content, it might break your concentration enough to navigate away. That’s why things like page speed are also strived for in modern design.
Remember yourself and know the difference between when you are consuming content to just past the time and when you are purposefully catching up on friends, family, or the latest news. Have a goal in mind when you pick up your phone and then have the self-control enough to put it down!
A good way to practice self-control is to consider what other things you could be doing with your time.
The other day, I had lunch and put a movie on. It would’ve been so easy for me to just pick another movie and scroll through my phone while I passively watched the movie. Instead, I thought to myself, “I have a few hours that I could dedicate to my blog that I don’t normally have during the work week. I should devote a little time to that.”
When you have other goals in your life that you want to accomplish, it gives you a sense of direction. I want to accomplish my goals, but I know I cannot get there by watching another movie on a Sunday afternoon.
#3 Live Intentionally
When we live intentionally, we are actively making choices with everything we choose to do. This is contingent upon self-control and as with your muscles, making better choices is an everyday discipline and practice. You know what you need to do in order to get what you want.
You are the only person standing in your way.
These three things are the foundation of practicing digital minimalism, but as with everything, it’s about balance. Take a hard look at all the technology in your life and ask yourself these questions to determine whether an app is hindering or helping you become the person you want to become:
What am I using this app for?
Is this helping me become the person I want to become?
How many hours do I spend using this app weekly, monthly, yearly?
How else could I be spending those hours?
Remember, even if you have an app that you use but only once in a great while, you can always delete and re-download it later if you determine that you require it. If you are unsure, do a trial run and delete all apps off your phone.
#4 Test Yourself
Over the next week, develop the habits that you’d like to have (reading, working out, blogging, etc.). Then at the end of the week, determine which apps you wish you had had over that week that would’ve helped you accomplish your goals faster.
For instance, I often get ideas randomly and need to be able to quickly put them somewhere where they will be backed up. That’s why I keep Evernote in my phone—I can quickly add notes and they are automatically backed up. Another great app I’ve discovered recently is called Strides. Strides helps you set custom goals so that you can track your daily habits. You can also create custom notifications to stay on track.
Are you currently practicing digital minimalism? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments below how you are trying to do less in order to do more in your life. I’d love to hear from you!
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