In Digital Minimalism, author Cal Newport makes a strong case for why we should think about the digital form of minimalism, and he is right. I know many people who never invested in optimizing this part of their lives, and they are now paying for it.
To put it into perspective, on average, a professional in the US receives around 120 emails a day. Of these, it is likely that 5-10% are really relevant to their job or life, and the rest are unnecessary time-wasting or spam.
Fortunately, many email providers offer an easy way to organize these emails with folders, notifications, and spam filters. For example, Gmail has an easy drag-and-drop system, which can mark an email as important or spam depending on who is sending it, forever changing the folder in which this email will appear.
Sure, some emails will occasionally slip through this system, but after setting it up once and maintaining it over the years to come, you will mostly only see the emails that you care about, saving you time, energy, and focus, which you can reinvest into things that matter to you.
The same idea applies to smartphone notifications. Most apps will consistently remind you about themselves, and most of these reminders are pure spam since we don’t really care about some random update they send.
Still, occasionally, there are apps that require our full attention, such as messaging apps, where all messages are relevant by default. As such, many people tend to either ignore all notifications altogether or go through them one by one, wasting precious time and energy. A well-set up notifications tab will highlight only the most important updates, creating a laser-focused efficiency in our lives.
This holds true for almost any device, application, website, or anything else that can be organized in order to make the most out of its functionality, only focusing your attention on the things you care about. This is especially the case with social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, which the majority of people use extensively in their lives.
Personally, I receive around 10 emails and notifications every day due to my carefully configured email and notification systems. I can go through them in a few minutes. It did take me some time to set it all up, and I have to maintain the system daily, but the time and energy I expended is nothing compared to the freedom I have gained in return.