How Digital Minimalism Can Improve Your Health and Wealth
How much time do you spend looking at your phone or a screen in general? Well, just like mindful spending will improve your quality of life, being mindful of how you spend your time can have a similar effect. I recently read a book titled “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport. It got me thinking about my relationship with technology in my life. Specifically, how technology was affecting my money, and more importantly, my time. What I discovered was surprising…
To discover if I needed digital minimalism in my life, I first took a look at my iPhone screen time. I discovered I was spending between 2 – 2.5 hours per day looking at my phone. This was higher than I expected but lower than the average of 3 hours and 15 minutes per day people look at their phones. I also discovered that the 1.5 – 2 hours I spent watching television per day was higher than I expected, although it was only about half what the average consumer spent watching TV. The area that was least surprising to me was my social media usage. I spend less than an hour per week on social media even though the average usage is about 2.5 hours per day.
Even though my usage was less than the average in each of these three areas, I realized I was spending too much mindless time on these passive activities. So, I decided to do something about it! For the new year, I resolved to shift some of my screen time (passive activities) to more enjoyable active activities. Since I love playing disc golf, I opted to spend at least 20-30 minutes per day working on my game. I also decided to be more consistent with my workouts, which added about 90 minutes per week (about 15 minutes per day). Additionally, I wanted to create space for a daily hour of mental and physical rest to recharge my batteries. This “rest time” was not to include screens because I often feel MORE tired when passively looking at a screen!
To accomplish these goals, I only needed to free up about 2 hours per day. I ended up reducing my phone screen time to around 1 hour per day (freeing up about 1 hour per day) by not using it to browse the internet or check my email. When looking at my iPhone screen time, those were the two biggest time sucks for me. I also reduced my television time to one show per day, which freed up an additional hour per day for me.
Shifting my time in this way has not only allowed me to focus on my hobby (disc golf) and wellbeing (extra workout and daily “rest time”), it has also forced me to be more present when I am with my daughter and wife. Since I cut my phone screen time to the bare essentials, I’m usually not looking at my phone in the evening after work, which allows me to spend uninterrupted time with my family. I also feel less stress and anxiety, and I’m starting to feel increased energy levels.
From a financial perspective, my reduced screen time allows me to save a little money in a few areas. First, I think I will save money on cell phone upgrades because I truly don’t need the latest phone to handle the basic tasks I need it for. Second, I don’t need to spend as much on cable or streaming services because I only watch one show per day! Finally, since my “play” activities are all outdoors, I don’t need to spend any money on video games, which is an area I considered spending money on.
Overall, I feel I am now more conscious of where I spend my time, which has allowed me to choose where I allocate it. I have often struggled with this feeling of busyness and lack of time, but focusing on where I am spending my time has allowed me to “create” time for what is important to me. Ironically, this is the same advice I give clients about money! First, I have them focus on being conscious spenders so they can then choose to allocate their money toward what is important to them.
So why did I share all of this? I think saving money is important to achieve goals, but what I realized by reading Digital Minimalism and taking a hard look at how I spent my time is that saving time is just as important, if not more important! I hope this inspires you to look at how you spend your time. If you or somebody you know wants to talk about ways to achieve their financial goals, please click here to schedule a complimentary consultation today!