I am not a huge fan of the notion of digital minimalism, or minimalism in general. The slippery slope for either of those ends in a sort of ascetic lifestyle. Especially in digital minimalism, there seems to be a prevailing theory of there must be only work.
That said, I have worked on adopting Intentional Computing. The basis for this is you sit down at the computer and focus on the activity you want. This can be productive or just playing a game.
Like everyone who tries to be intentional about their computers, I fail a lot. I will look up a reference video and end up watching a video about muskrats or something. To help with this, I have a brute force Shortcut — Apps — I use to help me focus. This shortcut allows me to choose from a list:
- Quit All Apps: This is a complete system reset and, well, quits every open app. I use this a lot to clear out clutter of open apps and resets my view to allow me to begin an activity I want to focus on. I also use this as part of my nightly shut down routine so I have a clear pallate in the morning.
- Work Start: This launches the apps I need for the day job: Things, our VDI application, Teams, Webex, and OneNote. It also quits all running applications at the start.
- Work Quit: This shuts down the work-specific apps. Things will stay open for personal stuff, but the jobby job stuff gets quit.
- Work Refocus: This to help me recenter if I feel I am drifting to far away from work. Like, if I take a break and Discord and Tweetbot are still running. This one quits all non-work apps except Overcast stays running since I will listen to a podcast while working.
A few Thoughts on Gaming
I likely spend too much non-work time playing games. Some of this related to what Greg Morris wrote about “Making Friends as an Adult Sucks”. My main time wasters are online games like Final Fantasy XIV. A large amount of my friends aren’t physical friends but people I know in these games. Especially during the pandemic when we were really in a lockdown, these relationships were a lifeline. Virtual Worlds let me leave the house when I am unable, or unwilling.
I do often think of just uninstalling all the games, especially online games1, and really having that ascetic, there is nothing but productivity lifestyle. This is fool’s errand. The reasons I’m not creating, and this is the first blog post in over a year, have nothing to do with gaming and more about my own headspace at the time. You could lock me in a cabin in the woods and if I don’t want to create, I won’t.
The thing that does work, and I need to go back to, is the notion of using my leisure activities as more of a reward for good behavior. Did I create something that day? By all means, play a game. Did I bust my ass during the day job and have earned a mental break? Play the game. Creating does a lot of heavy work in that requirement. Working on a model for my model trains for a little bit counts.
- I am not even going to mention how often I have uninstalled and reinstalled World of Warcraft this week. ↩