Part of my work includes helping people create social media strategies for their brand using the principles of digital minimalism. But honestly, probably the one question that I get asked the most during consultation calls is “but what exactly *is* digital minimalism?”
So let me explain!
People often think it’s an anti-technology or anti-social media philosophy, but as a social media strategist, I hope you’ll believe me when I say it definitely isn’t!
It’s a choice. It can be a lifestyle choice. A marketing choice. Or both.
I heard an interesting analogy on the Rich Roll podcast that I want to share that may clear this up. It’s like food, on the whole cause we’re all human (the same applies to technology so remember that), some people choose to eat food that is good for you versus eating junk food all the time. That doesn’t make you anti-food, you just don’t want to eat that. And that’s because junk food might taste nice initially, but it’s not good sustenance for your body, or rather it doesn’t add any nutrients to your body, and what you value is your health.
The same applies to areas of tech, which for most people is social media, or at least certain platforms. You don’t want to consume that or spend all of that time on it because it doesn’t add to the things you value in life.
And this is where it gets interesting (if you like to geek out about stuff like this like I do). Digital minimalism is about enhancing what you value in life. The focus is not necessarily on restricting what you use, it’s about only using what supports or enhances what you value.
On a basic level, an example is a kindle enhances your reading. WhatsApp enhances your connections. That sort of thing on.
The popularity of digital minimalism as a concept, or a philosophy, is largely credited to computer science professor Cal Newport and his book “Digital Minimalism”. If you follow me you know this book was a real turning point for me in my career, but if you may also know that I have mixed feelings about its effectiveness, especially for those of us that run a business!
Here is a quote from Cal Newport on his definition of digital minimalism:
“A philosophy of technology usage in which you focus your online time on a small number of selected and optimised activities that strongly support things that you value and then happily miss out on everything else”
It’s basically an approach to be more mindful with our technology. And it’s an approach to forgo the things that don’t add value to our lives.
But why does it matter? Why should we embrace digital minimalism?
Well, digital minimalism acknowledges that we as humans only have a certain number of hours in the day in which to divert our attention to, and a limited amount of energy to use that attention for certain things. Therefore, when we allocate our limited time, attention, and energy to unnecessary tech or online activities, we have less time, attention, and energy for what might actually matter more. A digital minimalist is by definition more intentional about how they spend their time.
So you probably might be thinking, I enjoy watching Netflix, why are you forcing me to be productive Cassie? But that’s not it at all, by talking about allocating time and energy, this is not some productivity hack. We’re talking about what might actually matter more to us.
So ask yourself - how do you want to spend your time?
I imagine most of us don’t say we want to allocate two hours a day to being on our phones.
So if that is not how you would choose to spend your time and energy, this is where digital minimalism can come in to help you essentially create the lifestyle you want to live. It goes pretty deep I know, but it really does look at what you value in life, what you want to be doing with your time, and what you want to dedicate your energy to.
So being intentional about how you spend your time online can improve your physical life.
Research also shows that less time on social media also enhances focus and concentration. This is so crucial to our ability to create, build or serve. And creating something, building something, or serving are our purpose. And without purpose, most of us wouldn’t be happy!
Cal Newport once said that his books, I think he has written like 7 now, could have sold more copies had he been on social media. But he would have written fewer books!
Now for most of you, you may run a business and you have to market it. So while I’m talking about lifestyle, you might be thinking about your business. But we started our business for a better lifestyle didn’t we?
Digital minimalism in your marketing is also about “focusing your online time on a small number of selected and optimised activities that strongly support things that you value and then happily miss out on everything else”, as Cal says.
So what do you value? These are usually your goals that support your definition of success. And this is important - your definition of success may be more time for your kids or financial freedom. This is what you value. Your business should help you achieve that.
And how do you focus only on activities that strongly support these? Well, I’ll answer that in my next blog post, which will ask the question digital minimalism and running a business, can you have both?
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