I have a new ambition in life. It’s not to run a marathon or bake sourdough bread from scratch. It’s simply to master my technology so it doesn’t master me.
I want to become a what author Cal Newport calls a “digital minimalist” so I can live undistracted and create good and meaningful work. Several years ago I read his bestselling book “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life In a Noisy World.” While I wish I could say I immediately implemented his ideas, the reality is I still let my phone and technology steal too much of my one valuable and precious life.
During my work days, I confess I have been in a pattern of incessantly checking email looking for a new distraction which keeps me from producing what Newport refers to as “deep work.” The reality is I only need to check and respond to email once a day, but instead I have been constantly hanging out in my inbox and am in a reactive rather than a creative mode. That means I am responding to other people’s demands and requests instead of creating work I am passionate about.
So, in case it’s helpful to you I want to share three new guidelines I have already implemented or am working to implement in my life to help me master my technology so it doesn’t master me:
1) Delay Checking my Inbox
I am going to try waiting until 11am to check my email (or social media) for the first time. This will give me several hours of undistracted and focused time to spend on my most important work whether it’s writing, tackling a project or woking on our podcast.
2) Only check and respond to email two times per day
Okay, this is going to be a hard one but I am going to keep my inbox closed except around 11am and once in the afternoon. There will be exceptions of course such as when I am waiting for a time-sensitive or urgent email to come through. I’m excited to spend more time creating work I believe in.
3) Continue Keeping Social Media Apps Off My Phone
I have major boundaries with social media which have really benefited me. You can read more about a few of the strategies I use in my article “How to Have an Instagram Account and Maintain Your Sanity.”
Ultimately managing technology comes down to stewardship. How are we going to spend this one life God gives us? Are we going to live distracted, unproductive and be envious of other people’s lives or are we going to invest in our dreams, goals and be responsible with the time entrusted to us on this side of eternity. I don’t want to get the end of my life and regret wasting so much of it on social media, scrolling my phone or hanging out in my inbox. Instead I want to create meaningful work, invest in relationships I care about and chase the dreams God has put in my heart. Let’s live wisely and wide awake the life in front of us.
What is your relationship to technology like?