Minimalist Living – My Plans for a Digital Fast

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One of my favorite life hacks is intermittent fasting. Most weeks I try and fast for 16+ hours at a time … generally 3 to 4 days per week. I have found this gives me more energy and improves my quality of life.

Intermittent fasting may not be for everyone … but it has allowed me to live a healthier life.

There are other forms of fasting too that I think can benefit many of us.

For example … I have found that social media can take over hours and even days of my life … without me realizing it.

Logging on and quickly checking Facebook often leads me down a black hole of hours and hours of wasted time.

The same can be said for checking email, shopping on-line, and even checking the scores of my favorite sports teams. All of these minor activities can lead me on a downward spiral of wasted time.

So as we get ready to start the New Year … I am challenging myself (and hopefully others) to go on a digital fast.

I’m not giving up the internet and social media completely … but rather doing an intermittent digital fast … similar to how I eat.

Digital Fasting Can Free Up Time in Your Life for What is Important

My Plans for a Digital Fast

I have a job in the IT Industry. I recognize many of the benefits that technology has brought to our lives.

And overall … I feel very fortunate to be living in the technological world that we do.

But I also feel that technology can consume us if we aren’t careful and mindful about it’s impacts.

So I have put together plans for doing a digital fast as we head into the New Year. Hopefully, by creating small daily habits … I will find more time in my life to do the things that really matter to me.

Here are my digital fasting rules or habits I plan to start in the New Year. Keep in mind … this is a working list of habits that will probably be adjusted in the future.

Digital Fasting – Creating Daily Habits

The following list includes actions I plan to take in order to be more mindful about technology in my life.

With 3 kids still living at home … I hope to lead by example so maybe they become more mindful about technology as well.

1. No Electronics Between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM (Sunday to Thursday)

I will likely have to adjust this habit … but for now … I plan to do my digital fasting between 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM during the week. That means I will start my fast Sunday evenings (not Monday evening).

I am keeping the weekends open for now and we will see how it goes.

Starting out … the digital fast includes everything other than television. I have some logistics to work out with my wife on the television still.

Even allowing television … I will still make drastic improvements just giving up my phone and tablet during these hours.

2. Limit Checking Personal Email to Once per Day

I have multiple personal email accounts and have a bad habit of checking them all multiple times per day.

There is absolutely no reason for this … so limiting checking these to once per day should help de-clutter part of my digital life. And emails can only be checked during my digital consumption window (see #1).

3. No Facebook Monday through Friday

I really don’t find much value in Facebook anymore … with the exception of a few groups I belong to. We really don’t post much on Facebook to begin with and I guess I really don’t care much about how great all of our kids friends are.

So heading into the New Year, I plan to limit my Facebook time only to the weekends … and that is to allow myself some time in those groups I mentioned.

I have already deleted the app from my phone and tablet. The only opportunity I have to check it now is sitting at a desk behind a computer.

Eventually, I could see myself totally eliminating Facebook altogether from my life.

4. Remove Social Media Apps from My Phone

One of the worst offenders for me is checking my social media accounts throughout the day on my phone. Doesn’t matter what day it is (Monday through Sunday) or the time … I have a bad habit of always checking for updates.

So my plan is to delete the apps from my phone … just like I did with Facebook (mentioned in #3).

I still would like to use social media tools like Twitter and Pinterest for business purposes … but I realized I don’t do that from my phone. When it comes to using these tools for business … I always use my computer.

When I get into trouble is when I access my personal accounts from a cell phone or tablet. Deleting the apps should help me from going down that black hole.

5. Put My Phone Up After Work

I need to do a better job when I get home from work each night.

Too many times I am still on my phone … usually texting or scrolling my twitter feed.

My goal is to put my phone on vibrate and leave it in another room. If anyone needs to reach us in an emergency … those people know our home phone number anyways and can reach us there.

I would plan to only check my phone after the kids go sleep (but before 10:00 PM) to see if there is anything I need to take care of – like returning phone calls or texts.

This little step will allow me to give my family 100% of my attention … not just part of me who is distracted by whatever is going on with my phone.

6. Limit Checking my Financial and Credit Card Accounts

One things I do even more than check social media is constantly checking my brokerage accounts, bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.

I’ve become obsessed with this activity and I need to start putting some constraints on the time I’m spending on it.

I am all for being on top of our finances but checking accounts every single day is probably too much.

This new habit will need to be clarified a little further. For example, maybe I check our brokerage accounts once per week? I provide monthly dividend income reports here on the blog and want to stay on top of what is happening with our stocks. But I certainly don’t need to do it every day.

I will likely spend the first few weeks of this digital fast experimenting with the frequency and timing of checking these accounts.

More to come!

7. Delete Apps I Haven’t Used in the Past 30 Days

I want to have less clutter in my life … and not just the physical kind.

As part of this digital fast, my goal is to delete any apps on my digital devices that I haven’t used in the past 30 days. I may eventually change this to every 2 weeks … but 30 days puts me on a monthly cycle.

Like several of the other habits … this is a work in progress.

The Benefits of a Digital Fast

I already know that this digital fast will improve many parts of my life.

First, I will be won’t be wasting as much time surfing the web or scrolling my social media accounts. Checking email only once per day will remove a ton of distractions and give me some time back.

Also, by eliminating my hours in the evening past 10:00 PM “should” help me get a better night’s sleep. No more nights looking up at midnight from my tablet wondering where the past couple of hours went.

Speaking of more time … I can now focus on activities that add value to my life. Like reading or building a business – like this blog. I want to create more content instead of consume it.

Finally and most important … I can be there more for my family. I can set a good example for my kids by not always being on my phone.

I look forward to this challenge in the New Year and hopefully can expand upon the good habits I start.

Have you ever done a digital fast? What did you give up? Did you form any new behaviors that turned into habits? How did it change your life?

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