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My Digital Minimalist Diet

This is it – March 2019. The month when I spend 30 days observing a digital minimalist diet and taking a much-needed step back from my beloved iPhone.

I don’t know exactly where I fall on the spectrum of addiction to my phone. I’m probably not the worst phone junkie in the world, but I definitely use my phone more often than I’d like to. The idea of cutting back on my phone usage came from a few different places: this NY Times article by Kevin Roose; this Ezra Klein interview with Cal Newport; and just the general feeling of YUCK that I get when I know I’m not living my life in a healthy and present way.

When I decided to try out this digital minimalist diet for 30 days, I got excited and a little nervous. I got nervous because I use my phone a LOT – especially when I’m anxious. I find myself checking it even more frequently when I’m in a nerve-wracking social situation, and it sometimes helps to calm me down when I’m sad, frustrated, or nervous. I got excited because deep down I KNOW I want to change my relationship with my phone, and it’s exciting to think that maybe with hard work I can shift some of my daily digital habits.

A few days before this endeavor began, I sat down and tried to think through the logistics. I definitely was not going to live completely without my iPhone – not even close. We don’t have a landline, so my phone is my only connection to Tamara, the boys, and our extended family when I’m away from them all.

I also was not going to live without other tools for technology. I’d use my laptops, both at work and at home, and I’d use our iPad. In fact, my guess is that I’ll be using the iPad more often than I usually do; I think by shifting some of my digital diet from my phone to the iPad, I’ll be able to decrease the time I spend using technology, since the iPad most definitely does NOT fit in my back pocket.

The big goals of these 30 days are as follows:

1. No social media.

2. Delete as many apps from my phone as possible.

3. Significantly reduce the amount of time I spend on my phone.

There are two major challenges I’m going to face with this digital minimalist diet. The first is my bedtime routine; I usually fall asleep listening to a podcast or a TV show on my phone, and I want to reduce or eliminate that habit. The second challenge is TV.  Recently, I’ve been using my phone a LOT – way more than usual. This is mainly due to watching TV via the Amazon Prime app on my phone.

Oh, television – I love you and I hate you. A few weeks ago, I was ready to give up watching TV indefinitely – but that was because I was so frustrated with my annoying habit of watching reruns of my favorite shows over and over when I’m anxious. I’ve been tired and stressed and subsequently watched almost all eight seasons of Monk on my phone over the course of the past month.

However, something shifted for me at the end of February. I started to remember why I actually love TV. If it’s a good show, then it’s smart and funny and highly entertaining. There are two shows  that there are 2 current shows – The Good Place and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – that I love to watch and am 4+ episodes behind on currently. I also started to watch 2 new-to-me shows via Amazon Prime – The Good Wife and House – and I’ve been enjoying them tremendously.

So when I sat down to figure out my plan for March, I got a little puzzled when it came to television. On the one hand, I want to cut down on my screen time; on the other hand, I enjoy TV and this time of my life (low energy, midnight feedings) is sort of a perfect time to enjoy some new TV shows. It would be lovely if I could just sit, holding and feeding J.J. mindfully, fully present and in awe of my baby boy – but that’s not really me. I am literally holding a sleeping J.J. as I type this blog post on my iPhone.

For now, my plan is to just focus on using my phone less. I’ll use the iPad if I want to watch one of my new TV shows, and I think just making that switch will help me  decrease my TV time. It’s harder to go get the iPad to watch a show than it is to take my phone out of my back pocket to watch something.

I’m excited, I’m nervous, and I’m ready. Expect updates on my successes and failures in my All The Things post at the end of March!

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