Mark Johnson

    Digital minimalism

    Saturday 8th February, 2020 - 2 min read

    As someone who works in tech, some people are surprised when I pull out an my old iPhone or use a mechanical watch instead of an Apple Watch. Maybe it will become less surprising as the mainstream media comes aware of Silicon Valley execs limiting their children’s screen time.

    I’ve taken several steps over the last few years to make my life a bit quieter.

    1. No tech in my bedroom

    Probably the biggest change to my happiness has been removing my phone from my bedroom. I used to spend 5-10 minutes every morning, and far more than this in the evening, lying in bed aimlessly scrolling on Reddit or watching YouTube videos. Moving my charger to the living room and making the conscious choice to not check my phone until leaving the house in the morning helps me stop wasting my time and clears my head.

    This came with the very real implication of needing to get a replacement alarm clock. Without a phone I had to buy and start using a real alarm clock again. Justifying a £20 purchase on something that is built into my phone felt a little weird, but it’s absolutely worth it.

    Alarm clock
    My simple alarm clock

    2. Silenced phone

    I’ve been using Do Not Disturb and Silent Mode on my phone for several years. While I occasionally miss calls, removing the electric shock of push notifications from my life has been freeing, and on the odd occasion that I’m expecting a call and turn vibrations back on, I really struggle to understand how people cope with it.

    3. Remove unneeded apps

    As the title says.

    4. Screen Time

    It would probably be better to have self control than making my device lock me out at night, but phones are pretty damn addictive, so Screen Time it is.

    5. Send to Kindle

    When I’m reading articles on the computer, a habit I’ve got into is sending the article to my Kindle to read later. This has two benefits, spending less time staring at screens and more time reading a friendly paper ink screen, and filtering out low quality articles. I’ll often find myself opening up my Kindle and wondering why I possibly wanted to read a trending article from Hacker News a week ago.


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