It’s time for a better leisure life

It’s time for a better leisure life

Overcoming our digital addiction starts with a better leisure life

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In last week’s book notes on Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism I didn’t get to cover one key aspect of the book. And that is the importance of a healthy leisure life. 

The premise is simple. If we want to be able to minimise the role of technology in our lives, we need to fill it with other, better activities. Without this, we’ll inevitably succumb to the temptation to fill every bored moment with more glances at our screens.

Newport actually argues that we should make plans for a better leisure life before we start digital decluttering.

As to a higher quality leisure life, we should focus on demanding activity over passive consumption. Binge-watching Netflix is not high-quality leisure. Sorry!

So what is? Craft is a good example. And this doesn’t have to be making something. It could be behaviours too, such as learning a song on the guitar. Fixing or building things is good too. Newport suggests we learn new handy skills on a regular basis.

What else? Rich social activities. This could be playing board games. Social fitness. A charitable project with others.

There are two criteria for these rich social activities. First, it’s about spending time with other people in person. And second, there is an activity with some sort of structure that goes with the social interaction. 

In other words, it’s about doing something meaningful with others. 

How do we move towards this kind of richer leisure life? Join stuff! A volunteer group. A choir. A social fitness group. A theatre group. A church. There are lots of opportunities. And, ironically perhaps, technology makes it easier than ever to find out about them. 

What about lower-quality leisure, like Netflix? It’s fine. To a degree. But we should schedule it. Have set times – and a set amount of time – where we allow ourselves these moments of lower-quality leisure.

If this all sounds challenging, it’s because it is. For me at least. But I’m convinced the rewards of better leisure life are worth it.

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