I can still very well remember a time without the web and the smartphone, but I fell for these new technologies as soon as they became available to me. And, I still do appreciate them a lot. But it is no secret that the ways we cling to my phone and frantically check our Facebook, Instagram or any other feeds do affect our sanity.
I came across this 2013 a piece by Rebecca Solnit called “In the Day of the Postman” that phrases this issue quite brilliantly:
“Nearly everyone I know feels that some quality of concentration they once possessed has been destroyed. Reading books has become hard; the mind keeps wanting to shift from whatever it is paying attention to pay attention to something else. A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing, or doing at least two things at once, or going to check some other medium. It’s an anxiety about keeping up, about not being left out or getting behind.”
It is precisely this restlessness that bothers me the most. Especially in my free time, I have a hard time to focus on one thing and catch myself indulging in mindless scrolling way too often. More and more I feel an urge to disconnect after I leave the office. While I am not a fan of digital detox weekends, I’d instead prefer a set of small measures that I can integrate into my daily life.
I don’t want to disconnect altogether – I do read the news online, I use the weekends to research new blog ideas or to prepare blog posts, and on rainy Saturdays reading other peoples blogs, a cup of tea in my hand and good music in the background brings me a lot of joy.
Instead, I do want to use the web more consciously and be able to consume content in ways that keep me sane. I am still in the process of trying out different ways to do this, and I do break the rules I set for myself way too often. However, sharing my thoughts always helps me to stick to a project, and maybe my ramblings will even inspire you to change the ways you consume content on the web.
Use the Web to Interact & Create
Instead of consuming all those Instagram stories or trying to grasp all content in the feed of pictures it presents to me, I want to use the time I spend on the web more consciously. It’s getting more and more about quality content for me, so actually I do spend more time reading blogs and online magazines. Also, I take my time to comment on peoples posts and limit the number of people or brands I follow to those that produce content that I genuinely like and that inspires me.
Another way I want to use the web is to create something, so a significant amount of the time I currently spend online during my free-time goes towards this space.
Only Keep a Handful of Apps
I only keep Apps on the phone that I truly need. By now I deleted any Facebook Apps, as well as Snapchat. I did hold on to Instagram naturally, as well as Pinterest and other tools I use for blogging. Also, quite a while ago, I decluttered my phone’s home screen. Now I only keep a handful of utility apps up there. Additionally, I turned off almost all notifications on my phone.
Get a Watch
This post in no way sponsored by the watch industry, but I genuinely believe that getting an analogue watch will help me to disconnect even more. In fact, most of the times I pick up the phone and get sucked into the endlessness of the www, I just wanted to check the time. I have not found the perfect watch yet – I am looking for a very minimalist, black number – so if do you have any suggestions, go ahead tell me in the comments below!
Create “Offline Spaces”
In the morning before getting up or in the evenings before turning out the light, I’d always spend around 30 to 60 minutes on my phone and it was not necessarily any quality time that we’d spend together. So, now I leave my phone outside of the bedroom on weekdays. On weekends I allow myself to pick up the phone from the living room after 9 a.m., so I can read blogs and can consume other online content while spending some more time in bed, but otherwise the phone or any other technology is a no-no for me in the bedroom.
Another technology-free zone is the (dinner) table. During meal times I’d instead cherish time with others than with my phone and just leaving the phone in another corner of the room helps a lot to immerse yourself in a good conversation fully.