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2019-10-05

Thoughts on digital minimalism

Put that screen down!

Ah yes, yet another article on the internet on this beaten to death subject. But this is inherently different, since it’s my opinion on the matter, and my technique(s) to achieve “digital minimalism”.

According to me, minimalism can be achieved on two primary fronts -- the phone & the computer. Let’s start with the phone. The daily carry. The device that’s on our person from when we get out of bed, till we get back in bed.

The phone

I’ve read about a lot of methods people employ to curb their phone usage. Some have tried grouping “distracting” apps into a separate folder, and this supposedly helps reduce their usage. Now, I fail to see how this would work, but YMMV. Another technique I see often is using a time governance app—like OnePlus’ Zen Mode---to enforce how much time you spend using specific apps, or the phone itself. I’ve tried this for myself, but I constantly found myself counting down the minutes after which the phone would become usable again. Not helpful.

My solution to this is a lot more brutal. I straight up uninstalled the apps that I found myself using too often. There’s a simple principle behind it—if the app has a desktop alternative, like Twitter, Reddit, etc. use that instead. Here’s a list of apps that got nuked from my phone:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram (an exception, no desktop client)
  • Relay for Reddit
  • YouTube (disabled, ships with stock OOS)

The only non-productive app that I’ve let remain is Clover, a 4chan client. I didn’t find myself using it as much earlier, but we’ll see how that holds up. I’ve also allowed my personal messaging apps to remain, since removing those would be inconveniencing others.

I must admit, I often find myself reaching for my phone out of habit just to check Twitter, only to find that its gone. I also subconsciously tap the place where its icon used to exist (now replaced with my mail client) on my launcher. The only “fun” thing left on my phone to do is read or listen to music. Which is okay, in my opinion.

The computer

I didn’t do anything too nutty here, and most of the minimalism is mostly aesthetic. I like UIs that get out of the way.

My setup right now is just a simple bar at the top showing the time, date, current volume and battery %, along with my workspace indicators. No fancy colors, no flashy buttons and sliders. And that’s it. I don’t try to force myself to not use stuff—after all, I’ve reduced it elsewhere. :)

Now the question arises: Is this just a phase, or will I stick to it? What’s going to stop me from heading over to the Play Store and installing those apps back? Well, I never said this was going to be easy. There’s definitely some will power needed to pull this off. I guess time will tell.

Questions or comments? Send an email to ~icyphox/x@lists.sr.ht—my public inbox.


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