Digital minimalism : Becoming the person I like

I’ve been enjoying going through all the blog posts about digital minimalism, I find it comforting knowing so many people are struggling like I do, and it’s inspiring that people are so self aware : Self awareness and self reflections are the antidote to the struggles we face.

Like most people, I have tried to take social media off in the past. My work is deeply intertwined with my personal life, people I meet from work often adds me on facebook or instagram, clients follow my personal account…and so on. For the longest time I didn’t know how to separate the both, I’d go on my personal instagram, then toggle to my work instagram, then I get on my facebook account, then manage my facebook page from there….I could list so many examples, but you get the idea.

Turning on the screen time was definitely a huge turning point for me, at the time, I was averaging at 3-4 hours a day…to say I was shocked is an understatement. From then on I started become more mindful of how much I use the phone..and still, it always comes up to about 2 hours daily. By this time I was researching on how I can be more efficient with social media for work, I started using planners, and only work from my browser. Once I developed a flow, I started working on my personal account…which was much harder than what I anticipated.

Most of the people I admire aren’t even on social media. I remember how agitated I feel whenever someone picks up their phone obsessively when I sit across them, sometimes I look around during red lights, and I swear, almost every driver I see are looking at their phones, if that is not an addiction, I don’t know what is. I self reflect alot, what am I doing? Do i want to become this person that I hate? Irritable, anxious, constantly looking for entertainment after entertainment, mindless scrolling and browsing, posting every food that I eat, I couldn’t concentrate on reading my book because I have this fucking urge to take a picture of the book and post it to instagram to show people that I am “well read”. I would take intermittent breaks, but I always go back. I’d justify my behavior by saying things like “I’m just going to use it for the information.” But who am I kidding? Out of all the posts that I see, perhaps 10-20% are actually useful to me…compared to the harm it causes me, it just makes no sense to keep using it.

In just a week, I’ve listened to more podcasts/audiobooks than I’ve had in the past few months combined. I read, I write, I invested time in my swim practice, I am much more focused and relaxed and I am actually pretty happy being bored. I only have to charge my phone every 2-3 days, and my screen time is reduced to under 30 mins a day…slowly, I am becoming the person I like, the person who is confident, productive, and not constantly comparing herself to others. I used to look at older folks and admire how they’re able to just sit and do nothing at parks (which is a rare sight these days), and slowly, I am becoming one of them. (Well…not as old, yet)

This is a learning process for me, and I am just getting started, I strive to do a little better everyday.

Personal development : Digital minimalism, kicking off social media addiction

For the past 3 weeks or so, I’ve started paying more attention in how I use the internet. I began deleting apps on my phone, limiting my screen time, decluttering my facebook feeds, I then moved on to re-organising all my back ups and external hard drives. I did it very progressively and methodically, I’ve picked up so many great tips along the way, and I want to share a few things I have learnt which has helped me tremendously.

Work/Instagram feed

Since I do use social media for work, (instagram/facebook), I set them up so I can manage it on my desktop instead of my phone. Google chrome has a instagram extension where I can access my instagram online. I’ve also started using feed planner, so I can schedule my posts, and have them posted automatically. (Buffer or planoly are great)

This has greatly reduced my impulse of mindless browsing, I do admit as photographers, I do enjoy viewing other photographer’s work, but instead of having access to it all day long, I allocate a time for it, via dekstop only.

As of this point I am uncertain whether I want to keep my personal instagram feed, while at the moment I am keeping it deactivated, I am formulating on how I can use it better to benefit me, as of this point, it is a form of distraction that doesn’t add value to my life. (such as posting half naked selfies, and try to justify my behaviour by writing super long captions that no one is ever going to read. 😀)

Facebook

After cleaning up my feed (including removing tons of old photos), and saving only those which adds meanings and values to me, I’ve also installed another chrome extension for facebook (newsfeed eradicator)  Now my facebook feed looks like this :

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Again, this completely eradicate my behaviour of mindless browsing, but if I do want to see what my family and friends are up to, I’m still able to do so. I also removed facebook app from my phone. Although I can still access it through browser, it just isn’t as appealing to me anymore.

Inbox 0 

Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty — or almost empty — at all times.
Inbox Zero was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. According to Mann, the zero is not a reference to the number of messages in an inbox; it is “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” Mann’s point is that time and attention are finite and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity suffers.

 

After learning about Inbox 0 via Nathaniel Drew, I cleared up my inbox…and was horrified to learn I keep old emails from as far as 2013…again, this doesn’t mean I don’t hold on to things, I only want to keep things that adds value to my life. I labeled my folders accordingly, and archive as many emails as I can. Here’s how my inbox looks like now.

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I perform the same decluttering process with my dekstop / macbook / iphone, removing unwanted apps/files, keeping only the essential, and honestly, I already feel like a huge load is off my shoulder.

While I do the same with my physical stuffs (one in, one out), donating stuffs I don’t need / use, I am far from achieving minimalism, however, I can certainly strive for essentialism : keeping only the essentials in my life. I will definitely log my progress here.

The resources that has helped me tremendously

Jamesclear.com

Nathanieldrew.com

Dr.Cal Newport

There’s a ghost in our house

This post is dedicated to my lovely partner, Andrew

I have long suspected there’s a ghost in our house. As I do most of the cleaning and tidying up, I noticed things are still always being misplaced.

So one day…I told him

“I suspect there’s a ghost in our house…”

He looked at me shockingly, ghost is not a subject to be joked about with him, he is rather scared of ghosts…I can never convince him to watch a ghost movie.

“Why did you say that?”

“Well you know how I always put the comb back to where it’s supposed to be…but everyday when I wake up, it’s always either on the floor, or the couch, or the dining table…or the coffee table, if it isn’t ghost, I don’t know what is it.”

He laughed sheepishly.

He doesn’t do it with just things. He’d leave cupboard and wardrobe doors open, clothes and socks on the floor..etc.

Authoritatively, I always tell them to put things away.

“Anya, what do you put on a dining table?” I asked

“Hmm…food?”

“Correct…now why are there toys on our dining table?” I’d sneered at my husband.

The key thing to being organized is quite simple really, you simply need to put things back where they are, a trait my husband never learns. 15 years is a long long time…no matter how many times I’ve told him, he remains unchanged.

I remember once, I picked up a book at the airport by Dalai Lama. He mentions how if certain things bothers us, we need to change it ourselves. Simply put, if things are being misplaced and it bothers me, not him, I should be the one to put things back.

Now Dalai Lama, I respect you and I agree with you on many things…not this one.

Men are such a peculiar creature that I’ll never be able to figure out. I am certain the makeup of their brain is entirely different compared to women’s brain.

I did some diggings…purely for entertainment. This point resonate with me alot, I suspect he simply doesn’t hear me

The male ear is weaker than the female counterpart. That is why women can hear subtle intonations and men – not always. Also, in terms of tactile perception, men lose.

 

 

Head under water

I put my head underwater,
I held my breath until it passed
Crossed my fingers and concentrated
I closed my eyes and I was free at last – Jenny Lewis 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a fear of being under water. I had a near drown experience in my life, and after that, I never had the courage to learn how to swim : not anymore.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This is exactly what happened to me. The public pool is just minutes away from my house, and I bumped into a gym friend during one of my daily early morning walks. Casually, I told her I don’t know how to swim because of my fear of water. Long story short, she introduced me to a swim coach who works at the pool.

Years of irrational fear of water, dissipated after my first lesson with Connie, my swim coach. She was urging me on :”Come on, Simmy, you can do it, you can.” There was hesitation, I couldn’t do it in the beginning. I would breath, and exhaled, breathed, and exhaled, repetitively. Untill finally, I dived in.

As soon as I put my head under water, I knew the hardest part is over, I thought to myself instantly, “You got this in a bag.” I’ve crossed the biggest hurdle, the rest will be a piece of cake.

I was elated. Beyond elated. Like a baby first learnt how to crawl.

I can’t believe I am deprived of this for years : The experience of being under water. Everything feels so calming and serene under water, even in a dirty kids pool, possibly filled with urines and snorts. Nothing matters as soon as I get under water. I love everything about swimming, I love how you can’t float if you’re not relax, I love how so much concentration is needed, to the point that I cannot be distracted by other things anymore.

It is meditative.

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Peanut butter kaya jelly

It was one of those mornings again : the dreaded holiday. I have the best intention not to rush through the morning, but with Anya around, things just don’t go as planned.

She was whining on the sofa, she said she was hungry.

“Eat the Horse Ear bread I bought you, you said you wanted it.”

“No…I want to bring that to Kid’s Cove.”

“Just eat half of it, and save half for Kid’s Cove.”

“No….” she proceeded to moan and cry on the sofa, with TV noise blaring in the background.

I was annoyed, as I was rushing up and down the stairs, the “light” came on. It’s one of those many instances where another being is talking to me internally, I call them “the light”.

“Pay attention to how you are behaving, you’re not a 6 year old, she is.”

I paid attention to my breathing then.

Grabbed her shirts, and I went to her, still whining on the sofa.

I drew in another breath, and I said. “Ok, so tell me exactly what you want.”

“Grandma’s bread with peanut butter and kaya.”

“Ok, now I know what you want.”

I prepared the sandwich for her.

“You see ? You gotta verbalise what you want. I don’t know what you want if all you do is scream and yell at me. We’re not animals, we don’t talk to each other like that.”

(It’s crazy how it always feels like I am talking to myself, whenever I talk to her. )

Eating her sandwich, she replied calmly, “Ok.” as if nothing has happened.

It’s so hard to believe, just minutes ago, she was screaming bloody murder at me. It’s like the switch is now turned off.

Her half eaten sandwich, wrapped in a tissue paper and placed on our car dashboard.

 

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