I feel like I have the physical stuff part of minimalism down pat. Give me clutter and I can conquer it! But the mental part, that part for me is much harder. I constantly want to fill my day with emails and websites and checking Instagram and Pinteresting ALL THE THINGS! Those things add little value to my life. Those things only add stress. To live a simpler, happier life, I need to let some technology go. Maybe one day, I’ll let all the technology go, but for now, here’s some ways to reduce the stress of technology.
- Stop “checking” email first thing
I’ve developed a habit of checking my email first thing in the morning. Sometimes I check it before I even get out of bed. Eeek. It does nothing but set a stressful tone for the day. I recently took my work email off my phone. If it was an emergency, they’d call me. And I no longer check any email until I get to work. I now start the day in an easier way.
- Stop email alerts
I also stopped email alerts. No more annoying email “pings” that distract me from the task at hand. I’d love to eventually only check my multiple email accounts once a day, but with my job I’m expected to be available during work hours.
- Par down your email
Unroll.me is one of my favorite services. Sign up and you see all of your subscription emails in one place. You can easily “unroll” from email subscriptions without having to sort through your inbox. It’s incredibly easy and only takes a few minutes.
- Stop watching/listening to the news
I don’t think we all need to live in a hole and be unaware of social injustices or important events that are happening in our community. I do think we’re being bombarded with news. I adore NPR, but I recently stopped listening to it on my commute. When I’m sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic and/or attempting to decompress after a long day, it’s too mentally difficult for me to process the news. Instead, I’ve been listening to music or an audiobook* on my commute. I’ll allow myself to check a news site once a day to scan through, but I’ll never be on a news site for more than 15 minutes. Which brings me to…
RescueTime is a “personal analytics service that shows you how you spend your time and provides tools to help you be more productive.” You download it into your browser, tell it what websites to block and how many minutes a day you’re allowed a “distraction.” I have mine set to block all social media and news websites after 15 minutes. It also gives you an overview of where you use your time at the end of each week. It’s eye-opening and I wish it was available on my phone.
- Don’t use it as a distraction
Speaking of phones, I have a terrible habit of distracting myself with my phone. “Hey, I can’t think of the word I want to use… hello phone! Hey, I’m waiting in line at the Post Office… hello phone!” I don’t want to be that person that is so distracted that they don’t see the
worldbeauty around them. Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to put down the phone and observe the world around me. We don’t have to be productive every minute of every day. We just don’t.
- Hide your phone
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I have to hide my phone from myself. If not, I’ll mindlessly check it. I use the excuse “what if there is an emergency!” for having it with me at all times. But if there was a real emergency, someone would get in contact with me through my husband or my work phone. I don’t need to have my phone permanently attached to my hand. If I’m at work, I’ll hide it in my purse and sit it across the room. If I’m at home, I’ll put it just out of reach. It might be childish, but it works.
- Delete your account
I recently deactivated my Facebook account. (It’s more difficult to truly delete your account.) Facebook was my least loved social media site and I did nothing but mindlessly “check” it. For a long time, I was concerned with losing all the pictures I had posted to the site. But did you know you can download all your information from your account? Once that was done, I happily clicked “deactivate” and I haven’t looked back.
I had no problem deleting Facebook. But Instagram and Pinterest? Those will be much harder. Until I decide to cut the cord on those sites, I severely cut the number of people I follow. I told myself that following certain people was aspirational, but really it just contributed to feelings of jealousy. I would constantly compare myself to other bloggers my age and it hurt. I don’t need to do that. So I unfollowed them. I also unfollowed a lot of people on Pinterest that I never remember adding in the first place. Tricky, Pinterest!
What are ways you reduce the stress of technology? I’d love to hear your strategies in the comments!