The benefits to digital minimalism and reevaluating the digital tools you use are many, including enhanced productivity, a more balanced work-life balance along with an increase in general happiness.
But how exactly do you streamline and minimize in the modern corporate world? Is the fast pace of modern life really compatible with a zen-like approach to work? These and many more questions will be answered in the following article.
A way to streamline your digital world is through digital minimalism. The author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Calvin Newport defines digital minimalism as “clearing away low-value digital noise and optimizing your use of the tools that really matter. Newport argues that having intentionality behind the technology and tools you work with can improve your productivity, partly because you then work without distractions. This intentionality is echoed by Joshua Fields Millburn, co-founder of The Minimalists, who describes digital minimalism as; “being more deliberate with the tools that we have.”
Digital minimalism is therefore not to be understood as a complete break from technology, rather it is a way to implement a minimalist approach to the tools used to work, and the work itself.
When googling digital minimalism, you quickly find that the focus is mainly on the physical; the number of apps on your phone’s home-screen or how many times you check your phone in a day. This view on minimalism assumes that you already have the tools you need in your daily life, and only through deletion will you achieve the productivity, innovation and work-life balance we all crave. While this is certainly a good way to start implementing minimalism, something has to replace all the deleted apps, and unless you have a game plan, it becomes very easy to fall into the same information overload hole you started in. Below are a few tips on how to start the process, and what to keep in mind when jumping on the minimalist bandwagon.
The first step in practicing digital minimalism is to clarify which needs you and your team has. This exercise helps clarify what you want to achieve, and with the information gathered, you can start to differentiate between important tasks and the tasks that can take a backseat without everything falling apart.
The second step is to see how the purpose of the tools you already use align with your established goals and tasks. Reevaluating the tools you already use, along with their strengths and weaknesses, starts to paint a picture of the features you need in your everyday life. This might show you that some of the tools you use are useful in theory, but in reality, they clutter instead of streamlining.
As an example, say you want to troubleshoot a new product, which requires contact with the marketing team, the software team, and the engineers. How do you normally facilitate and structure cross-department idea management? Through various email, chat and file-sharing services? While these tools do the job you want them to, the more fractured the cross-department communication, the more likely confusion is to happen. The same is relevant for HR managers, who have to be involved in several cross-department brainstorming sessions. This can easily become a very convoluted endeavor.
The third and final step we will discuss today is to delete the programs that hinder the innovation process, and considering if the role three or four apps currently do can be streamlined into one app. By replacing three or four tools with one, the risk of crosstalk is minimised while retaining the natural flow of conversation.
Implementing concepts of minimalism makes the technology take a backseat. You and your team can, therefore, concentrate on working, not on checking several platforms to stay in the loop.
The transition from digital overload to a more zen-like approach to work is not just one that hinges on choosing the best tools. It also requires a change in culture, both personal and company-wise. This culture change can be difficult, both because unhealthy habits such as consistently working overtime or always being online and available are not just acceptable but almost required by companies and colleagues.
When attempting to make a culture change, small steps is the way to go. Orianna Fielding, author of “Unplugged: The Essential Digital Detox Plan” and founder of The Digital Detox Company encourage taking micro-moments, where you relegate the digital world to the backseat. Translating this to the corporate world can not only mean instituting technology free periods but also downsizing the number of programs you use.
Removing the digital clutter of everyday office life gives you time to be productive and focus on truly important tasks. When choosing to minimise your digital footprint, you not only chose to work more focused towards important goals at a better pace, you also chose to live your life with flexibility and intentionality. Digital minimalism means making the technology work for you, not the other way around.
Interested in learning more about how you can improve your productivity? Then you might be interested in our “4 Start-up Secrets to Highly Effective Idea Management.”
• Being busy does not mean that you are productive
• Studies have shown that people who are constantly checking their phones are more stressed than their less-connected counterparts.
• There is no such thing as a true minimalist, every approach to be more in the moment is as unique as the person behind it.