How Digital Minimalism Helps Focus, Attention, and Productivity

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Olivia Scholes
Olivia Scholes



How much time do you spend online each day?

If we're honest with ourselves, we know it's probably too much. In fact, one recent study found that we spend 6 hours and 42 minutes online every day.

Imagine if you could put that time toward accomplishing your goals.

That's why we love the digital minimalism movement.

Below, let's learn more about digital minimalism, from how to become a digital minimalist to the tools you need to improve focus and productivity.

Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

In his 2019 book, "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World", Cal Newport theorizes that to live a more purposeful life, we need to be intentional with how we spend our time.

For example, we all know that the internet can get in the way of other activities. We may spend hours on social media without talking to family members or meeting up with friends.

In general, minimalism seeks to simplify your life in some way. Digital minimalism can help you simplify the tech in your life.

This may simply mean spending less time on social media or deleting it from your phone altogether. Or you could choose to set specific hours each day for your online activities to free up time for more purpose-driven tasks.

Improving Focus and Productivity with Digital Minimalism

It's no secret that interruptions impact your concentration. But today, we aren't just dealing with an occasional ringing phone or a cubicle neighbor dropping by. Between chat, text, emails, and phone calls, notification overload is extremely limiting productivity.

The problem is that 43 percent of the country's tech users never unplug. That means those notifications are finding you whether you're working on a big project or having dinner with your family.

Work-life balance isn't the only victim of this constant connectivity. One expert says every distraction takes our attention off our task for about 25 minutes.

Even if you think you're better at shifting from an interruption to your work than others, you probably aren't. Research has shown that multitasking can drop your productivity by as much as 40 percent.

If you look back on your day and wonder where all your time went, constant interruptions could be the culprit.

So now that we understand how digital minimalism can help improve focus, you might be wondering, "How can I implement this strategy in my day-to-day?"

How to Become a Digital Minimalist

Becoming a digital minimalist isn't an overnight switch. It takes discipline and work.

To get started, try the tactics listed below:

  • Participate in a digital fast, where you take a 30-day break from one or more pieces of optional technologies.
  • Use the time you would put toward technology to engage in offline activities you enjoy.
  • Refrain from liking social media posts.
  • Delete social media from your phone.
  • Treat online activities as work tasks, combining them with other to-do items each day.
  • Use the right tools to maximize your productivity.

Tools to Help Achieve Digital Minimalism

Digital minimalism isn't about staying off your devices altogether. It's about maximizing the time you're on them to make that time as productive as possible.

Below, let's review some online tools that can help you eliminate digital clutter, boost productivity, and improve your overall work-life balance.

1. Shift

Switching between accounts and constantly logging in and out can kill your workday. With Shift, you can have all of your tools in one place. It functions as the operating system for all your work, by putting your email accounts, apps, and tools together in one productive, streamlined workstation.

2. Time Doctor

Before you can start streamlining your online activity, you need to first evaluate it. With Time Doctor, you can pull reports that show where you're spending time each day. From there, you can set alerts to remind you when you're on a specified site for too long.

3. Gmail

Many people aren't aware of the productivity tools built into the email platform they use every day. You can set up canned responses for emails you send on a regular basis, set up Priority Inbox, or use one of the many plugins to help you take your Gmail game to the next level.

4. Trello

Trello is one of the most popular productivity tools for a reason. You can set up your projects and assign tasks all in one tool. You can use this alone or set it up for your team, adding team members to cards so that they can complete specific tasks.

5. Monday

To stay motivated, it can help to block out your time on your calendar every day using a tool like Monday. You can set aside a chunk of time for tasks like checking personal email and online shopping. Additionally, you should dedicate time blocks to getting work done, just as you do for meetings and appointments.

6. Zoom

Zoom lets you interact in real-time, whether via videoconference, phone, or instant messaging. You can even set up a virtual conference room that allows you to easily invite team members and clients to join you for a quick chat.

7. TimeHero

TimeHero pulls all your tasks, projects, and calendar events into one, visually-based chart to give you a picture of exactly what you need to do to get things done. Once everything is imported, you can see deadlines and juggle your tasks so the most pressing things get done first.

8. Hootsuite

Often when people refer to "digital minimalism" it's in direct reference to the time they waste on social media platforms. But if you need to use them to promote your business, staying away from social networking isn't an option. Hootsuite lets you schedule things in advance, and displays all your social feeds in one dashboard.

Just paying attention to how you spend your time online is a great start. Once you're aware of how much time you spend and where you spend it (social media, email, etc.), the next step is to adopt some tools to help.

Then, you'll be well on your way to becoming a digital minimalist as you start spending your workday with a clear purpose, and intention.

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