Minimalist in the City – Living in the “Now”

Did you realise your mind are constantly engaged even though its about time to sleep or even while having lunch with your friend?

Did you realise that you are still checking your work phone on a weekend or while on a holiday?

Did you realise that you are constantly waiting for the next email or phone notification even though there are actually nothing showing up on your phone?

Did you realise that the first thing you reach out for in the morning is actually your phone? Just to check if you missed any emails, messages, news or even social media alerts.

I guess you are not alone and probably it already manifested to almost everyone in your family. Working From Home (WFH) during Covid-19 makes it worse by blurring the line between work and family and we are guilty of passing the screens to our kids in order for us to work more efficiently. All these small habits led to the rise of myopia among the kids – Singapore being among the highest in the world due to a lack of outdoor play as reported in a Straits Times article.

Minimalist in the City – Living in the “Now” — Engage

Another Channel News Asia article also pointed out that Asian parents are usually time poor due to our busy work routines as quoted in their article as below:

“Time-poor parents are not putting sufficient emphasis on activities for children and relying heavily on electronic devices for the children’s activities and even child minding. COVID-19 has worsened the situation.

“Our young children are kept at home more, have fewer social interactions and physical activities, using electronic devices for longer periods of time, and sleeping less.”

Minimalist in the City – Living in the “Now” — Engage

And of course, the adults were not spared from this Covid-19 ordeal. An increased number of adults reported they have dry eye disease and one of them happens to be my ex-colleague where she was forbidden to look at the screen for prolong period of time. This might also affect her employability going forward as most jobs out there do involve the screen in one way or another.

Minimalist in the City – Living in the “Now” — Engage

Mental health is also another big issue among us where you find yourself unable to cope with your emotions at times and you became unsure of what makes you happy any more which led to the rise of anxiety and depression as mentioned in this article “How Covid-19 changed the way we live, work and shop in Singapore“.

To cope with some of the above issues, my morning routine nowadays includes sending my kids to school before I start a morning walk around my estate where I will try to engage all my senses consciously. They include closing my eyes for short period of time to listen intently to distinguish that there are indeed different species of birds chirping, feeling the gentle breeze that brushes past my face and looking at the distant clouds moving slowly across the sky. These simple actions do allow me to feel truly alive, practice gratitude and living in the “Now”. As we do allocate quite a lot time glued to our screen, be it for work or leisure, we do lost our awareness towards our surroundings and people. We became fixated to the online virtual world where we are constantly engaged with all the the online news, social medias, online shopping and of course, the entertainment like your favorite Netflix etc.

When I was walking past some people during my walk, I always tend to say “Hi” or wave at them just to acknowledge their presence and greet them which I think its basic human civility. But a lot of people are usually plugged into their earphones or probably scrolling through their smart phones while “walking” and avoided eye contact with me. It became even more obvious when I step into the public transport nowadays where I guess almost 95% (probably an understatement) of the commuters are looking at their smart phone. One of the saddest reality came when I step into a restaurant to notice that the family of four having their dinner sitting next to me were all glued their individual devices. In my mind, I was thinking what is the point of going out for dinner with your family or friends when you are not talking to each other physically.

Sometimes, I really do feel that people close to us are drifting further apart even though we see them everyday but they seem to be more familiar with their virtual friends or acquittances (like in a Metaverse). I guess everyone is probably aware of this phenomenon and mine probably started 15 years ago since the first iPhone launched. With the WFH routine due to Covid-19, everyone seems to be entrenched into this habit which might have long term irreparable damage to our quality of life.

I started to do some digital detoxification by reducing my apps on my phone, switching off some unnecessary notifications and also unsubscribe from quite a lot of automated emailers. The main aim is to remove the unnecessary “Busyness” in our daily lives, being present and spend quality time with my loved ones. I tried to include a lot of off-screen reading with books from the library, physical fun time with kids at home like starting an aquarium, planting, boardgames and lastly encourage outdoor activities with family and friends. I also try not look at the screen for prolong period of time in front of my kids and hopefully this will cultivate a good habit for them. My bedtime routine consist of a silent reading session with my daughter before we go to bed and put my phone outside the bedroom to make sure we have uninterrupted sleep.

Minimalist in the City – Living in the “Now” — Engage

Minimalism does help me to filter out all the noise, regain awareness of all these issues to a large extent and also recognizing that something should be done to address them. But I guess this will always be a work in progress and I will probably share some future updates again.

Do you face such issues too? Are you aware of it? And how do you mitigate it?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Minimalist in the City – Living in the “Now” — Engage

Important: The information and opinions in this article are for general information purposes only. They should not be relied on as professional financial advice. Readers should seek independent financial advice that is customised to their specific financial objectives, situations & needs. This advertisement or publication has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Published By:

David Wu

With more than 20 years professional experience in various industry sectors, I had spent the last 10 years in banking and finance with a strong interest towards personal finance which led to my current role as an independent adviser and financial coach.

I strongly believe in cultivating a life-long relationships with clients and helping them to reach their financial goals and objectives through holistic financial planning. I am also actively involved in bringing financial literacy to individuals who are currently underrepresented through financial education and speaking engagements.

I am also the founder of a financial blog – Minimalist In The City (www.minimalistinthecity), which advocates minimalism and financial independence. The aim is to promote living a simple and meaningful life with less yet achieving financial success at the same time.

Outside of work, I am a family man who enjoys adventure and endurance sports and aspire to scale one of the seven summits Mt Kilimanjaro.

You may reach me via email davidwu@fapl.sg

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