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PC Publican Newsletter (#8)

August, 2019

Digital Minimalism

Our lives are flooded with digital inputs.  Computers, smartphones, TVs, and other connected devices provide us with a potentially continuous stream of data and entertainment, but also unlimited opportunities to be distracted from tasks at hand and endeavors that are more important and meaningful to us.  I think everyone needs to ask (and answer) these two questions:

  • What technology do I really need in my life?
  • How do I engage with that technology so that I control it rather than it controlling me?
This newsletter will attempt to provide a framework for you to answer both questions.

What Technology Do I Need?

I own 7 computers, a tablet, and a cellphone.  I have two "smart" TVs with Amazon Fire sticks for viewing my Netflix and Amazon Prime video content.  I have a Nest thermostat, 6 Amazon Echos, and an A/V receiver with 5 speakers.  Some of this excess is certainly occupational, but a surprising amount isn't used for work and is non-essential to my life.  How do you determine this?

I recommend starting by creating an inventory of the devices and technology you regularly interact with.  Don't just sit down and try to recall everything at once -- you'll come up short.  Make notes as you move through the day.

Once your inventory is complete, keep track of both the amount of time spent on each device per day as well as the tasks themselves.  For example, how many minutes per day are spent talking on your cellphone?  Checking e-mail?  Browsing social media?  Also try to make note of the quality of the interactions: are you "mindlessly" checking the phone, or "mindful" of when/where/how you use it?

Once you have collected the information above, the hard part begins.  One by one (perhaps from the least used device to the most) go through the list and remove that device from your life.  Not permanently of course (not yet, at least!), but try for at least a week without it.  This will give you a chance to push past the initial discomfort of absence and understand better its role in your life and how you might be able to get along without it (or perhaps in a greatly reduced capacity).

This process will take some time for most, especially as the initial inventory is typically much larger than they had anticipated.  Once complete, however, you will know which technology is essential in your life and which is optional.  The question then is, for those essential devices, what is the "best" way to interact?

How Should I Engage With Technology?

Consider these statistics about the "typical" person's daily technology use:

Cal Newport has written a book called (not coincidentally) "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World."  You can find it here for purchase.  It in he discusses how we can wrest control of our digital lives back from the myriad devices, apps, and websites which consume our limited attention.  What follows are a distillation of some of his ideas as well as those of others.

I believe the most important aspect of a healthy, productive relationship with technology is to spend time away from it.  I don't mean being away from your e-mail for 15 minutes -- I mean leaving it behind for hours at a time.  Use this "digital isolation" to do something that requires focus and generates what psychologists call "flow."  Or, even better, go out and interact with people and give them your undivided attention.  Be present for them.

Be mindful of your reasons for connecting to technology. Revisit the inventory you made and how (and how much) you interacted with each device.  Make sure that your interactions are purposeful and support things you value, and are not simply reactions to stress, anxiety, or boredom.  Prioritize your digital needs and engage only for the time needed to complete the most important task(s) and no more.  Live in ignorant bliss by leaving the digital trivialities behind!

When you've gained control of your interactions with technology, the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is minimized.  You can actually enjoy unfettered leisure time, pursuits that are often considerably more challenging than tweeting or texting, but infinitely more rewarding. 

Reviews & Referrals

Finally, if you have used our services in the past and were satisfied, please leave a review on Google and/or Yelp.  If you weren't happy please call, e-mail, or text and let us know how we can do better.

Recommended Products

Below are links to products I frequently use and recommend:

Antivirus & Anti-Malware External Hard Drives Wireless Keyboard/Mouse
Wireless Routers/Mesh Cloud Storage Providers DNS Providers VPN Services Computers Business E-Mail Domain & Web Hosting Internet Of Things/Smart Home


PC Publican is a limited liability company dedicated to providing residential and small-business customers with affordable, high-quality computer care. We strive for the highest level of customer service and satisfaction.



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