The Digital Minimalism Edition

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Last week was Sleep Awareness Week

And I logged 2 of my worst nights of sleep in months. 🤦‍♀️

Besides the fact that it was my birthday week and I stayed in 3 different hotels (the topic of variable sleep environments tends to negatively impact sleep quality, although that is for another article!), the truth is:

I allowed my phone to keep me awake.

Because I am committed to getting the best sleep of my life--even while traveling (!)--these recent nights have shown me that it is time to make some changes!

Armed with a pen & an actual physical copy (shocker!) of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport (who also wrote Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, which are both equally life-changing) I have underlined, starred, and dog-eared this urgent-for-me book.

If any of you are interested in Marie Kondo-ing your digital life with me...please read on AND share with me any and all of your “Digital Tidying” tricks!

Here are some of the things that I’ve started doing in the last 48 hours!

1. “Text Message Zero”: You’ve heard of Inbox Zero. Well, I have always been fascinated with the fact that my boyfriend’s sister, Madison Eastman deletes ALL of her text messages at the end of every day. At first, I thought this was a crazy practice, BUT I just did it last night and it is oddly addictive! You get that little dopamine hit each time you swipe AWAY a conversation. It allows for a sense of completion with each social interaction versus leaving yet another digital “open loop”.

An open loop is a psychological phenomenon discovered by Bluma Zeigarnik. Open loops (called the Zeigarnik Effect) state that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.

And remembering uncompleted tasks is almost never a good thing because all of those errands and goals and desires keep exhausting any mental and emotional capacity you have. And, if left uncompleted, will constantly keep us feeling stressed and overworked.

Here’s what my text messages look like now! Very zen, right??

2. GO PRO on Social Media:

Use social media like a professional to cut through the noise.

PERSONAL CONTEXT: One of the biggest reasons for those sleepless nights I mentioned above was that I was approaching social media like an amateur. Maybe it’s the “only child” in me, but online sharing does NOT come naturally to me… so recently I joined a paid challenge on the Spar app to force me to share more regularly on Instagram.

Night idea right?

I thought so too, until we went on a 2 day of temple tour in Cambodia and when we got back to the hotel, I had hundreds of pictures on my phone and no idea where to begin. Suddenly the task of organizing, editing, and posting felt overwhelming so I put it off. I continued to procrastinate doing anything about it until I was at the very end of the deadline and suddenly at around 9pm, I found myself staring at the blindingly bright screen and getting to work.

This all might sound comical, but I cannot tell you the number of graphic designers, photo editors, and photographers that I work with whose sleep is totally trashed because of all of that bright light and stimulation before a deadline.

That’s why anytime that you are working on an electronic device that involves the need to work with an accurate color display, you need to take additional steps to ensure that it does not negatively impact your sleep. You cannot wear blue blockers or apply a screen filter because that alters the display.

Steps to take when you absolutely MUST interact with non-native blue light your devices:

  1. Take control of your calendar. Commit to editing & scheduling posts during daylight hours ONLY. (I started making this a morning activity. I have found that the blue light wakes me up and I set a timer so that I’m not exposed to the light for too long!)  ***Again, the problem with editing, posting, and working with online images is that you have to know what you’re looking at, so you cannot work on photo editing with Blue Blockers or my favorite Iris Redlight Sleep Filter on. If you do this at night, your sleep WILL suffer.
  2. Download a social media scheduler ***THIS IS KEY FOR TRAVELING / DIGITAL MINIMALISM! Timezone posting strategy and getting great sleep don’t always go hand in hand! Allow the scheduler to do this for you!
  3. Develop categories, folders, organizational systems so that you can easily sort & delete pictures (ruthlessly & regularly!)
  4. Download a powerful editing program that allows you to do everything all on one platform (I chose Lightroom and added it to both my Mac & iPhone)
  5. For whatever platform you choose, make sure that you take the time to be well versed in it! (Ex. I bought a course on Udemy to learn how to actually use Lightroom!)

Digital Tidying, Literally:

1. Clean up your digital workspace.  Example: this is what my desktop looks like now:

👆All my items are now auto-organized by the “Use Stacks” feature and select organize “By Type”.

2. Here is what my iPhone looks like after deleting around 30 apps, organizing folders, and going with my favorite New Yorker wallpaper color: BLACK. :)

3. My boyfriend, Blake just added me to the waitlist of Superhuman, the very cool, streamlined, and minimalistic email app. We are friend’s with the Co-founder, Vivek Sodera and I’m very excited to streamline my formerly messy email experience with this!

4. Finally got on the Instapaper / Feedly train which has allowed me to stop splintering my attention and instead organize articles to read when I’m good and ready! Also, loving that Instapaper will read the articles out loud to me!