In our final part on minimalism, Gresë Sermaxhaj speaks to Leslie Watson about how we can work on our digital and eco-minimalism.
No one enjoys receiving no reply in their emails.
Well… this was not exactly the case with me when Leslie Watson replied a month after I emailed her. This was because she was having an ‘analog year’ and was also taking a break from social media.
Indeed, her delayed reply and the reason behind it inspired me to write this piece.
And you will also feel inspired after reading this article and knowing the journey of Watson, an eco-minimalist who has written for Becoming Minimalist, No Sidebar, and Zero Waste California.
She speaks exclusively for Youth Time and discusses the benefits of eco-minimalism and digital minimalism in her journey toward a better life.
Watson’s favourite benefit of minimalism is the ability to spend most of her time and money fulfilling her chosen life purposes.
Everyone has their own journey in life, but this encouraging story might help you find yours too.
How is our Screen Time Reflecting?
First things first; what is ‘an analog year’ and why pausing from social media helps her live a better and more satisfied life?
An analog year, she explains, is a break from unnecessary screen time to explore less addictive low-tech alternatives whenever practical, she highlights in the beginning of our conversation.
“Digital entertainment is easily overused and the consequences to our time management, relationships, mental health, and attention span can be severe.”
Also, acknowledging that social media is an important part of our lives, jobs, and relationships, she shares her thoughts on how we can draw a healthy line and use them in favour of us and our well-being and not against it.
Used in a healthy, balanced way, technology is a valuable tool, she acknowledges.
“It is up to us to reflect on whether our screen time is helping accomplish our personal goals or interfering with them. My own social media use was distracting me from higher priorities so I took a yearlong break. This has freed up time for other interests and I’ve enjoyed focusing more on direct communication.”
“By limiting unfulfilling purchases and technology use, I have extra time and funding for my highest priorities,” Watson adds.
Digital Minimalism as Watson Sees It
On this note, How I Got Digital Minimalism Right the Second Time Around is a piece where she acknowledges that her quarantine experience taught her to abandon all-or-nothing thinking about technology.
Watson, who has avoided the physical clutter that distracts her as long as she can remember, elaborates more for us.
“It is unrealistic to say that no one should use social media or there’s never an appropriate time for a Netflix binge. Changes in our schedules and work requirements require adaptability with technology use. Determining which apps and devices are beneficial and when to use them is an ongoing process and highly personalized.”
A system, she goes on, that is perfectly balanced during summer vacation might need modifications for the school year.
While we were closing this interview, Watson had a message for our young audience.
“The youngest generation will be most impacted by hazardous environmental changes, so alternatives to excessive consumerism greatly benefit youth. Resist over shopping by maintaining a spending log and analysing which categories of purchases would best be adjusted.”
Marketing messages aim to create dissatisfaction with our current possessions and encourage a never-ending quest for new products, she further highlights.
And the remedy for this is contentment, Watson adds.
“A daily gratitude practice, such as a journal or roundtable discussion about each day’s blessings, builds appreciation.”
She suggests developing a priority list and brainstorming ideas for using time and money accordingly.
“Once we learn what is important to us, it feels freeing to let go of anything that gets in the way.”
The Benefits of Eco-minimalism
A crucial part of her activism is eco-minimalism. Let’s see how Watson sees it and why it benefits her.
Given the context of this issue, she brings into discussion that developed countries are depleting valuable natural resources to manufacture, package, transport, and dispose of trinkets that don’t contribute to our overall happiness.
“Eco-minimalism opposes the mindless overconsumption that causes so many problems for our earth and its inhabitants. An eco-minimalist lifestyle opts out of excessive consumerism in order to reduce environmental harm.”
The benefits of eco-minimalism are many and empowering.
“Shopping less frequently and more responsibly promotes a healthier environment for everyone to live in.”
There are personal rewards of eco-minimalism as well: greater financial freedom, less clutter to clean, and fewer distractions, she emphasises.
Bringing Together Two Wonderful Journeys
Here, Watson speaks about how she brought together two wonderful journeys-
digital minimalism and eco-minimalism and how these two go hand-in-hand.
“Deciding how to allocate finite resources is central to every branch of minimalism. Whether the resource in question is time, money, closet space, or a habitable planet, it is important to make choices aligned with our personal values.”
She also shares her say on what are some of the best practices one can follow to reduce screen time.
She recommends anyone seeking a healthy relationship with technology first evaluate their current use and determine if any adjustments might be helpful.
Some ideas include:
Taking a break from specific apps, setting time limits, establishing conditions for use (i.e. only after work is finished), turning off app notifications, and designating certain rooms in the house or times of day as device-free.
Readers interested in those topics might enjoy some of her other articles which can be found here.
Leslie Watson is an elementary school teaching assistant also pursuing environmental journalism. She writes about sustainability, low waste living, minimalism, non-consumerism, and daily uniform dressing.
Contact her at lesshasteandlesswaste.contactin.bio.
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