how digital minimalism has changed my life

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*this is a more non-traditional post, but i’m sharing in hopes that it might encourage and help others to find more balance, freedom, and a slower pace in their daily and weekly rhythms. P.S. keep in mind that i am a 3 on the enneagram (the achiever) which means i find pride and fulfillment in accomplishing things and being a pro multi-tasker — i’ve always loved my work but it’s often hard for me to mentally unplug from it. thus, while i hold “slow living” as an ideal, in the past it’s been extremely challenging for me to actually do in real life. until now…


ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
— dallas willard

although we’ve advanced tremendously in technology, we as humans are more anxious than ever and our mental and emotional health is on a rapid decline…

this past spring i read a life changing book called digital minimalism by cal newport. i’m a huge fan of cal’s deep work, so i was really excited to read another home run from him.

this book was everything i’d hoped it to be and more — and i was immediately on board. for awhile i’d been feeling exhausted trying to keep up with the addicting technology in my life: it was starting to feel like my iphone was controlling my life, rather than me calling the shots. the constant feeling of needing to “check in” on email, social media, and the new houses on redfin was taking a toll on my mental and physical health (tech neck anyone?). i hated how i felt at the end of each week; so tired from being plugged in all the time.

most importantly, i wanted to be emotionally present with the people in my life — because after all…

life is people
— jim collins

after reading the book, i began to take stock of the technology and apps in my life — which ones were truly bringing value, and which ones were just causing anxiety? for the past 8 months i’ve slowly been removing the ones that were causing more harm than good.

it became clear that social media and email were the biggest time suckers and these apps were becoming more annoying that life-giving. i had previously deleted linkedin, facebook, and twitter. instagram and email were still hanging on, and both were still as addicting as ever.

in my mind, i couldn’t not use instagram or email — i “needed them” for my business. until recently, this is how i justified keeping these two apps on my phone.

but i came to realize that i’m way more interested in quality of life and quality leisure (truly enjoying the things of life without checking in or posting about it) than i am about keeping up with these apps.

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in 2018 i became pregnant and had my first child. my husband and i made the intentional choice to not post about any of it, and it was the most liberating thing (no judgement BTW...sharing about a new child is the most exciting thing on earth - however publicly or privately you choose to do it). we only shared photos and the experience with the people who were closest to us (family and friends) and it made the process way more personal and real. i desired more of this in my life.

so, after 8 months of contemplation and trial and error on living the life of a digital minimalist, i actually took the deep plunge and converted my iphone into a dumb phone.

this means that i don’t have safari enabled, i don’t have real estate or news apps, i don’t have email, and i don’t have any social media apps.

freedom is the fuel for creativity
— mr. money mustache

the first few days of living with a dumb phone were some of the most joy filled and freeing hours that i’d felt in the past ten years. i felt lighter, happier, healthier, and more creative.

i was doing projects with actual scissors and paper, listening to people without being preoccupied, and noticing how the palm trees blow in the wind here in san diego (maybe for the first time ever).

one of the most shocking, sobering, and exciting realizations since becoming a digital minimalist is how much time i actually have now, and at first i was unsure about what to do with all of it.

i quickly picked up things again that i used to love doing before my iphone began sucking all of my time: reading, cooking, organizing, making mood boards, photography, paddle-boarding, writing, trying new restaurants, and staring at the clouds — because guys, boredom is actually a good thing. we weren’t meant to be constantly stimulated by notifications and technology at all waking hours of the day.

i began to feel human again and it was like almost like i could breathe and think clearly for the first time in a long time.

so, how’s my business doing? has everything completely imploded since (gasp) not checking email and social media every 15 minutes? nope. turns out the world is still running just fine and all i’m left with is more peace, joy, and contentment.

berlin skin is doing great and our strategy is to connect with people in more genuine ways, since most people don’t see our social posts anyway (the algorithms are constantly changing and IG has become more of an advertising platform than an authentic social sharing app).

we’re excited to engage with people more through our newsletter, blog posts, email, and in-person events. we’ll still keep our instagram account (the only social platform we have) active and will post very occasionally, but it won’t be our primary mode of connecting with our customers. anytime i make a post, i reinstall the app, respond to a few comments, then delete it. no time is spent scrolling or diving into the dark instagram hole.

my hope is that through this resistance to the “hustle” culture, our brand will stand out as an encouragement through a non-anxious presence in a world that is so desperately burnt out and tired.

so there you have it, my friends. my life has truly been transformed by a slower pace and boundaries around technology. have you done anything similar in your life? do you want to, but don’t know where to start? i highly, highly recommend reading digital minimalism. also, shoot me a note on your thoughts on all of this, i’d love to hear them!

from my heart,

monica


P.S. here is the technology that i still have in my life but am not addicted to:

  • netflix

  • iphone which i use for maps, texting, calls, music, and podcasts.

P.S.S. if you’re interested in converting your smart phone into a dumb phone:

  1. delete all apps that suck the time and the life out of you. yes, all of them.

  2. disable all notifications from apps you’re keeping.

  3. disable safari on iphone by going to settings>content and privacy restrictions>allowed apps>safari>disable.


Monica Watson