Tag: minimalism

I have unsubscribed from most (all?) of the daily newsletters about news. I am already bombarded with news that’s mostly about world’s burning. I do not want even my inbox to welcome me all the crazy updates from the world, but especially US. Most newsletters cover that and it’s the same news repeated in all. Same essays, editorials from same sources. The Atlantic. NYTimes.

I had already done a similar exercise with tech newsletters. And podcasts. Again, it’s same stories that I have already seen someplace else. Why read them again in the inbox? It just fills my newsletter to-read list.

I want to feel relaxed, open to read some meaningful words. Some essays that mean, matter for those who wrote them. Not a quick rewrite of what’s already been told zillion times.

I’m being very selective with what I subscibe to now. I want to read something that’s heartfelt. Not something that’s link log of trite news updates. Most daily newsletters deliver the later.

Logging out judiciously from social media

I am on a journey to consciously reclaim focus from the shambles of the distracting digital world. As part of the process, I have started actively following one more routine – I log out of every social media service once I have used it.

I have, since long, not had any social media apps on my mobile device. This has helped me reduce the subconscious pick-ups of the device. At the same time, it was really easy to access the service in a browser. Especially because it is just one tap away in my favourites. That’s as good as having an app on my device.

To deter these, I now log out of every service from my browser once I have used it. So, every time I am tempted to access any of these services, an additional step of logging in is needed. There’s also an added barrier of two-factor authentications for the services that support it. Cal Newport aptly captures this sentiment of mine.

By removing your ability to access social media at any moment, you reduce its ability to become a crutch deployed to distract you from bigger voids in your life.

All and all, this one step alone of logging in every time is enough to fool my lazy mind to stay away from these crutches”. And hence not subconsciously spend any time on the services.

Update: I have already gotten rid of every social media platform I do not need (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat). I am active only on Twitter and Micro.blog. To reiterate, my logout routine is applicable to every site that serves feed of some kind. Including email, feed readers, instant messaging platforms etc.

Besides, I have started accessing these social services only at my desktop browser in Private mode (the Incognito mode in Firefox). So even if I forget to logout, it does not matter. Once the window is closed, all my session information is lost.

I believe this change should also help me from a privacy perspective. The belief is the cookies from these data-hungry social media services would not follow me as I browse around the Internet.

Can’t they? Won’t they? That’s a whole different discussion. But overall am spending a lot less time absentmindedly scrolling these stupid feeds. I feel a lot less burdened thanks to that.

Update on the no-news experiment

It was exactly a year ago that I had posted an update on my then-recently undertaken no-news experiment. It primarily involved –

  • consuming news only through the morning newspaper
  • no news related apps on my phone
  • no notifications from social apps (including messages, WhatsApp)

I am pleasantly surprised that the things begun then have more or less stayed the same. I still consume my news primarily from the morning newspaper. I still avoid visiting the news website. I still have the notifications from social apps disabled. For that matter, I have become more aggressive in disabling notification access to any app.

The only deviation has been that I have installed a few news apps on my phone. I always had that urge to open some editorial on the browser when my mind was momentarily free. This minor change has quenched that.

Of course, I am still extremely picky about which apps get installed. I have installed only a couple of news curating apps (also known for doing their job well). And The New York Times app.

Digital Detox – No YouTube

I have also recently undertaken a digital detox experiment. I want to check which additional service I can get off my routine. It should be something that I carelessly spend a lot of time on.

I had recently been consuming a lot of stupid content on YouTube. I used to open the app every time I had some free time at hand. Or for that matter even when I was busy doing something else. It garnered a subconscious tap. Such absent-minded behaviour is never healthy.

So I have planned to be off YouTube for at least a month to reset the terms of my relationship with this service. It has been 15 days now and I already feel better. I no longer have that urge to tap into YouTube any more. I have observed am following my routine a lot better.

However, YouTube has become too important a destination for all kinds of videos. That includes videos relevant to my work too. So it is difficult to completely get rid of the access to the service.

Of course, then, I plan to allow access to the app in a controlled manner. This time, however, I will set the terms again consciously. I am also planning to clear the YouTube view history before I do that. I believe this will help me reset the recommendations. I am, however, yet to decide the exact terms under which the service will be allowed back.

During this month of digital detox, I also plan to indulge myself with some analogue activities that I had never done before. I have started doodling more. Sure, am not good at it. But I hit the web for inspiration and try to simply emulate.

I am also spending dedicated time with my daughter without any digital devices around. It can be as less as 15 minutes. Involving simple talks. Or some silly games. But it has to be focused time.

It is too early to see the effects of all this. One thing is for sure, though. I feel a tad less burdened on the inside.

Are podcasts wasting our time?

Chris Richards, putting his perspective through, does kick a hornet’s nest. Something even I have done earlier.

I’m against podcasts. I think they’re tedious and samey and sedative, and when I’m feeling especially cranky, I consider them an enemy of music. Most podcasts are conversations for people to eavesdrop on — recorded talk that precludes real-life talk about real life with zombie talk about podcasts. Also, I like music. With all of the world’s unheard songs beckoning us with their endless mystery, why would anyone choose to waste their precious listening hours on a podcast?

Yeah, the topic is a pretty polarizing one. Most vocal voices on online forums may not agree with the Chris’s perspective. I myself believe this medium of entertainment or infotainment” needs some control to make it useful. As I had quipped earlier.

I hate podcasts, because the medium is demanding. It demands so much time from me, demands focused attention to follow along. I wish I didn’t find them so damn useful to keep giving in to the medium’s demands.

Yes, I have put some measures to not let podcasts be the static noise in my ears all the time — voices and perspective of others on everything. But the reason for that isn’t that I do not like those voices. Or the fact that they don’t sound good”, as Chris seems to argue.

I disagree. On the contrary, I believe they sound too good, too polished for my liking. I feel the recent interest in the medium from all the big production/media houses has brought in a lot more investment and so the production chops. The medium does not need that. I tend to stay away from all these new shows.

Anyway, for me, the reason that I put restriction on the amount of time I allow podcasts is simple.

I have lately felt hindered by the time I am listening to the same repetitive thoughts from other people on podcasts. Experts talking about, dissecting, the tech news. Or blabbering about something I would not be interested in typically.

I have realized the measure I had put in place to limit the medium has worked well for me. I listen to music more. I listen to the audiobooks more. Are they better at not wasting” one’s time? Now that’s purely subjective.

On Podcasts, News and Well-being

I have lately felt hindered by the time I am listening to the same repetitive thoughts from other people on podcasts. Experts talking about, dissecting, the tech news. Or blabbering about something I would not be interested in typically.

I realised it had become a problem when these podcasts kept playing as static noise in the background — irrespective of whether I was working or driving or eating breakfast. In that sense, I agree with CGP Grey’s thoughts on podcasts as he dialled down his consumption on the internet.

But podcasts have taken too much ground in my mind: any moment of idleness can be instantly filled with the thoughts of others.

I firmly believe that boredom is good for brain health, and I’m banishing podcasts for the month from my phone to bring boredom back into my life.

I had cut back on my podcast subscriptions just a week before CGP Grey first talked about his experiment on Hello Internet. And the way, he worded his reasons for why giving up on podcasts was a key part of his experiment to reduction just persuaded me to go ahead with my plan.

So I have 10 subscriptions (down from 35) now, with just 3 technology related podcasts. One releases on Monday, another on Wednesday and the last one on Friday. That’s it, the week’s quota of the technology news is covered. One podcasts is a microcast, arrives on Monday. There four are the only ones that are set to auto-downloads. All the remaining 6 are released without any fixed schedule. I decide whether to listen to them only after I read what they are about and if that interests me.

I have been on this diet plan” of podcasts consumption for at least a month now and I am already observing significant differences. I am listening to music, a lot more, again. My mind has become curious again – there is space for some thought experiments. There are times when I just don’t carry my headphones with me even when I am going to places alone. Anyway, with nothing to listen to, there is no incentive to carry them along. So I either read on my phone or just talk to people around. Surprisingly, I find it a lot better, more effective use of the time.

However, this also means I have some time to fill during my drive to office or the morning/evening runs. To address that, I have renewed my Audible subscription — listening to Audiobooks would at least be better than podcasts. Or so I think, for now.

No-news Experiment

I was also on an experiment 3 months back where I had decided that the only way I would consume news would be via my morning newspaper. And my hypothesis was I would feel a lot less burdened to know what’s going on and so be a bit more focused on the work at the hand.

As an extension, I had also uninstalled all the related apps. No Twitter. No news apps. No notifications from social apps (Messages, WhatsApp). The idea was it is just better to stay away from the temptation to check what’s going on.

I am glad that I have following the set rules for 3 months now and I thought it would be right moment to update on that experiment.

It indeed is a not less burdensome to be away from the news. I do not think I have missed anything major or urgent in these last few months. Newspaper provides me with the detailed reporting and not just blurbs. Opinion pieces provide better context on the important ones. The useless news, whose whole purpose is to satisfy the need for the news website or TV channels to keep reporting” something, anything new, get filtered out by the editors. After all, there is a limited pace to fill in the pages on the printed paper.

So I am no longer bludgeoned with a constant stream of everything that’s negative. With that, I think there is a lot less crap in the world than I was made to believe.

Is it bad out there? Sure. But at least I ain’t bogged down by the insignificant drivel that the world is full of.