It’s kind of amusing that when I began researching for this post and typed out ‘limited internet’, Google showed me troubleshooting solutions. It assumed I had internet problems and wanted to fix the speed.Β  ‘Minimal internet’ returned results on the minimum bandwidth and speed requirements for a connection.

Thanks, Google, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

You see, this struck me earlier today when I put up a status on Twitter on being up at 4.15 am this morning. Yes, okay. If you’re following me there or on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you’ve seen it already. So, don’t worry. I won’t bombard you again.

The only reason I was able to wake up that early was because I’ve started sleeping earlier. Most nights I am in bed by 10; sometimes it’s earlier, by 9.30. And, I try to switch off from the internet by 7.30 pm, maybe 8:00, give or take. These aren’t hard and fast rules. You may find me online a little later on some nights, but by large, this has worked well for me.

The seed for this habit was planted after I read Arianna Huffington’s ‘Thrive’, where she speaks of the sleep revolution and the need for better sleep. It hit me hard, especially since I used to suffer from insomnia many years ago. Now, years later, my health was in my hands, medication-free and I needed to make the change.

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Digital Minimalism and the Internet. Can you take up the minimalism challenge and make social media work for you instead of being addicted? Find some #tips to help you out. Start today.

One of the biggest causes for people to stay awake late at night is the internet. We’re either scrolling through social media updates or reading articles or watching YouTube videos. If we are bloggers, we’re either writing blog posts or reading blogs or sharing them on social media. Essentially, it can become an infinite and rather dangerous loop. (If this isn’t you, good for you! You’ve already achieved internet nirvana.)

But, what if we take things into our hands and decide that the internet does not control us? We control the internet.

Easier said than done, especially when we have information at our fingertips now. Literally. Pick up the phone, swipe up, swipe down or swipe right and you get updates from your favourite apps.

But, what if we made the switch?

  • What if, we used the internet the way it was meant to be used, as a tool instead of a distraction?
  • How about, if you used the phone only to make and receive calls and just take the occasional picture?
  • What if you used time tracking to check how many minutes a day you spend on social media?
  • What if you turned off all notifications on your phone and let the sounds of reality awaken you instead?
  • What if you had hardly any social media apps on your phone and accessed themΒ  only through the laptop?
  • What if you picked up a book to read instead of your phone when you feel bored?

Is this possible? I can tell you that it is.

In the last 2 months alone, I’ve seen a shift that has happened. I am more content, less prone to taking offence at what I read online and find myself engaging more consciously with things that matter. I’m not Zen or anything like that. I’m just trying to be more conscious with the time I spend online.

Part of the fact is that I need to be online for work. But the beauty is I can choose to completely switch off on the weekends. During the week, I can set cut-off times and do other things that don’t involve being connected to the internet.

Suddenly, the whole perspective shifts. It’s incredible.

So, my question to you is, could you do it? Could you make a conscious choice to use the internet the way it is meant to be used? Because it’s a wonderful tool, if accessed the right way. And I owe a lot of my career and professional life to it, not to mention some great friendships as well.

The point is, though, how much is too much? Take your time, think it over and let me know in the comments below.

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You may like to read these two articles for some practical tips to implement minimalism and internet use.

*Minimalism & internet use

*Digital minimalism

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*Featured & pinnable image courtesy: Shutterstock

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29 thoughts on “Minimalism and the internet: Could you do it?

  1. I’m not addicted to Internet as such, thankfully. Social media isn’t a life-changing thing for me and whether good or bad, my existence there isn’t pathbreaking anyway. I have Twitter and Instagram on my phone. Planning to do away with one of them soon. While I do like the information we get, the need to be around or take a stand is pressurising. Family time without internet on weekends is ideal!

    1. That’s wonderful! I love social media since, when it is used right, it can help you amazingly as a blogger. But I’ve become mindful of time spent online and have taken conscious and long breaks as well. Oh I have exactly two social media apps on my phone and they are neither Twitter nor Facebook. Curious? πŸ˜‰

  2. Reading this article proves to me that my choice of deactivating all my social media accounts was the right thing to do. I used to spend hours a day scrolling every social media site until I asked myself what have I gained? What skill did I master? And the answer was clear Non. Now, I have time to spend with my toddler, read books that teach me something and in control rather than being controlled.

  3. Yes, I’ve become very jaded by it all lately – sometimes it’s all too much, but I find I have to look at every notification. Surely it’s an addiction?
    Sorry – I won’t sign up for your email notification, I get far too many already.

  4. “What if, we used the internet the way it was meant to be used, as a tool instead of a distraction?” This is excellent, and yet so simple. I’ve been working on cutting back my unproductive internet time, and am actually succeeding. I started reading ebooks, so whenever I catch myself mindlessly scrolling through a social media feed on my phone, I switch over to my ebook app and read a chapter or two instead. I’m also finding that by listening to an audiobook or podcast on my way to work makes me more productive when I get to work – my mind is already “warmed up” and I don’t have to rely on a web browser to get the juices flowing. Great post!!

  5. You raise some great points and questions here and I really am going to try to limit my usage. It is a distraction and one we need to lose as it eats away time. Good on you for working through it.

  6. This is my ultimate goal, and I think I am getting better at it. Some things are easier than the others. For instance, in my case, picking up a book instead of my phone is no challenge at all, but setting a strict cut-off time for social media is something I have to constantly work on.
    Shantala recently penned this post Wonder by R. J. Palacio – Movie ReviewMy Profile

  7. I feel proud to say that I am no more an internet addict and can live my life without the internet! I mean, I will need it for my blogging, but it no longer has me eating out of its hands. Couple months ago, I made the decision that enough was enough and that I would just stay away from the net for a particular number of hours every day, come what may.
    Since then, I shut down the laptop and the wifi of my phone in the evening at around 6:30 or 7:00 and then switch it on the next morning at around 7. I am offline again after checking any messages or notifications and do my Yoga and prepare breakfast/lunch. Then, after all other chores are done, I sit down to blog/write/read at around 11. I am again offline by 2:30 when my nephew is at home and I have to help him with his studies.
    The feeling I get when I realise how I am tuned into the world around me instead of that which is not, is fantastic. My books, my health, my hobbies get better attention now and I sleep very well.
    So glad we sail in the same boat, Shy. High five to you, babe!

  8. Even though I’m not addicted, I make a conscious effort to stay away from my phone these days. I’ve already switched off the notifications (thanks to you) and am at peace.

    It is only when I’m bored of reading or TV, that I look at my phone, and I’m so glad I’ve gotten here.

    If I could have it, I can go days together without the Internet and not bother about it at all.
    Soumya recently penned this post Action Replay: November 2017My Profile

  9. So very true Shailaja, I have seen a big difference in my feeling more peaceful after I started avoiding looking at the phone or laptop screen for half hour before sleeping and after getting up as well. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable when necessary to keep in touch with friends and family, but reducing the “general” browsing has really helped my equanimity :).

  10. I have muted all my notifications. I did work on a Sunday detox from social media for a while, but then forgot all about it. Think time to re-start from this weekend.

    The only time I’m off any social media is when I write from 9:30 A.M.- 1P.M. Thereafter I do tend to vacillate towards social media if I’m free.
    Though I have drastically reduced my Twitter and FB usage. Have not been participating in any of the twitter chats at night, as it eats up my reading time.

    I do tend to lean towards the phone before bed time, but off late I’m getting rid of that habit too and reading my Kindle instead. I turn in by 9:30, as I wake up early for my workouts.

    I think I still need to work out a more disciplined plan for better and minimal usage of the internet.

    https://natashamusing.com/2017/11/country-roads-fridayfictioneers/

    1. Love the fact that you are reading more before bed, but do try to read a paperback. Although the Kindle is still better than conventional gadgets and their blue screens, the digital device still makes it difficult to fall asleep comfortably.

  11. You know Shailaja I love how you discipline yourself and yet manage to have a presence on almost all social media. I think it’s this state of balance that’s important. Personally, social media isn’t much of a challenge for me but I could do with some discipline. Most days I sleep early primarily out of necessity, because waking up at 5 (not 4!) is a challenge. And yet there are days when I’m watching the television, or reading or scrolling through FB and I lose track of time. Those mornings are just terrible.
    Obsessivemom recently penned this post New Learnings and Kitchen AdventuresMy Profile

    1. Time blocking and sleeping early are what help me, Tulika. I just do not compromise on sleep these days. My illness earlier this year was a rude shock and awakening (pun intended). Scrolling through FB is the toughie. Kick that habit and you’re halfway to the goal.

  12. It’s quite a synchronicity that I have read your post today. Thank you for this lovely piece! I have deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts. It’s been almost a month. I am monitoring my presence on Twitter, Goodreads, and blogs. I am sleeping well these days. I haven’t slept this well in the last 10 years and I really feel liberated as though I have cracked the most mysterious life-puzzle. Now, this post is a reminder for me to not OD on blogs. πŸ™‚

    1. So glad to know you are sleeping well! I totally hear you on the FB deactivation. Used to do that regularly until I got a handle on my addiction. Now it’s a useful tool, that’s all. IG is hit or miss for me. Wouldn’t miss it even if I lose it.

      And don’t OD on anything, nope, not even blogs. (Except mine, of course) πŸ˜‰

  13. I would love to reach your stage Shailaja but I have a lot of progress. I don’t have any notifications on phone. And I switch off all data/wi fi before I hit bed. And it truly helps. But I need to take a lot more steps to be present. While sleeping is fine, sometimes there is this feeling that too much time is being wasted checking the feed. Great reminder and timely post!
    Parul recently penned this post FramesMy Profile

    1. Thanks Parul πŸ™‚ My stage came after a series of epiphanies and setbacks and I sincerely hope nobody else has to go through that. Health is wealth. It’s important to care for ourselves and good sleep is top of the rung for me.

  14. I’ve been practicing this, Shailaja. And I do everything you’ve listed. I also recognize the importance of sleep. Occasionally, though, deadlines force me to stay up–although I try and minimize that trend. My main guilt is staying up and reading…with the long list of fab books… not guilty at all, though.

    Months ago, I knocked off all social media from the phone except Instagram. For one thing they were eating space and also, I realized I don’t even go there so why have them at all. Only when I go out, I install them and then remove them the moment I get back home.

    Social media is great, but only for a short burst of time. I am fortunate to have so much going on offline, that I often forget to check in on Twitter and Facebook. Amen to that.

    Minimalism works in all aspects of life. And “Thrive” is a fantastic book.
    Vidya Sury recently penned this post A Letter to My SonMy Profile

    1. Staying up and reading sounds delightful πŸ™‚ But had to cut back on that as well when I started sleeping earlier. I am so protective of my sleep time it’s not funny. Phone goes on silent mode after 9.30. People can’t reach me πŸ˜‰

      Oh and yes, isn’t ‘Thrive’ beautiful??

  15. It IS possible, it is super SUPER necessary in this day (to switch off, to learn to use it as an aid, rather than a crutch) because of how much social media + internet have penetrated into our lives, and it is not that difficult either (this is me saying this, the same me who will panic herself into a tizzy if she can’t find her phone for a minute). I know firsthand how much a difference it makes when I live more consciously and less with half a head floating in the virtual world – time-wise, productivity-wise, focus-wise.

    And doing it is as simple as (for one) deciding to leave devices out of the bedroom and then DOING IT. It has to be an enforced personal choice. I go there when I find myself reaching for my phone during conversations with people (this is annoying, to say the least, so I know that a threshold is crossed when I’m that distracted by technology).

    BUT HOW WILL I PLAY FARMVILLE IF I SLEEP AT 9.30?!?!?!?!?!
    πŸ˜›

    1. Oh speaking of which, I used to be so obsessed with Farmville that I started setting alarms for the middle of the night and change the time on my phone and all. Then I deleted the game twice. But I was determined to not let a silly game rule my life, took it as a challenge, and fixed it by disabling notifications and allotting a certain amount of time for it each day. Now it is just a bit of mindless entertainment for me to relax with after work.

      Seems like a small thing, but it was a win for me in terms of how much I let a game/an app/technology dictate.
      CookieCrumbs Inc. recently penned this post Wordless Wednesdays – 1My Profile

    2. Ha ha ha, I never got on the Farmville band wagon but I’ve heard it can be addictive. Not judging πŸ˜‰

      And trust me, don’t do it all at once. Wean yourself gradually, do one thing at a time. Start with getting a regular alarm clock instead of your phone’s alarm. Turn off phone sounds and leave it in another room. Baby steps. But they will add up to the big picture soon.

  16. You know what! I have been doing a few of those things myself. I keep the wifi on my phone off and have muted most notifications on my phone. I stay connected to work via email and hangouts hence it is a mercy that I can keep WhatsApp muted. My time on social media is already pretty low. I enjoy Instagram and I browse about half an hour in the morning. The rest of the day, hardly at all. FB has almost fallen off my radar. I only put up updates there and twitter also is sporadic. So wrt social media, I feel in a good space.

    I generally keep aside some time to read daily for blog posts etc. And as you may be aware, I’ve dedicated 15 days in a month to reading, no watching any TV series online then. You are right, all these have made me more at peace, calmer and happier. And frankly about social media, I really don’t care any more. People are free to think what they like about me. Except for a few close friends whose opinion matters, it really does not matter.

    How much is too much? Well, like you said, if one is just glued to their smartphone at all times, it gets annoying for others close to them too. If one can go without hours and sometimes days without checking any social media account, I think they are doing it minimally and as needed. As you pointed out, it has to be a conscious choice or else we will all just drown in the incessant chatter and our time on it online.

    I am so glad that you have figured out your way to do what works best for you and that you have found peace and calm in that. That is what each one of us must aspire to do.

    1. I love the fact that you always leave such long comments on my post. πŸ™‚ You’re absolutely right. We do what works for us, based on our individual circumstances and needs. The conscious choice makes such a difference to the way we relate to social media and the internet. As long as we view it as a good tool and not a crutch, I think we’re just fine. πŸ™‚

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