Embracing An Analog Lifestyle: Opt Out Of Overwhelm

embracing the analog lifestyle


Choosing to embrace an analog lifestyle in a world where you can balance your savings account, check your security cameras, then order a pizza all with a few taps of your finger may seem like moving backwards. However, as our lives become increasingly digitized, it’s crucial that we intentionally manage our relationship with technology so we don’t neglect our real lives.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

As a guy who was living and working before the age of the internet, I’m used to a life with less tech. Integrating analog lifestyle habits back into my daily routine has allowed me to rewind and mimic a time when things were slower and I was more present.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Does It Mean To Adopt An Analog Lifestyle?

What Does It Mean To Adopt An Analog Lifestyle

Analog living means living a life with less technology and devoting more time to activities that use your hands, mind, and creativity. Living an analog life doesn’t mean forgoing tech altogether, but, instead, managing your relationship with tech in a way that improves your presence and mental clarity.

find ways to remove dependency on technologyAdopting an analog lifestyle means two things. First, an analog life means devoting some of your time each day to being fully tech free and finding other small ways to remove dependency on technology from your life.

Second, an analog life is one that devotes more time to practices that increase your presence in the here and now. Analog living doesn’t need to be some complicated, grand action that uproots your entire life. Instead, the analog lifestyle shift is more about identifying easy, simple practices that can be added into your life.

How To Go Analog: The Habits Of An Analog Life

The Habits Of An Analog Life

I don’t want to make the claim here that technology is inherently bad. It isn’t — there are immense benefits that have come out of the internet age. The digital era has given us life-saving medical technology and opportunities to connect and communicate, expedited the information sharing process, and allowed our needs to be met faster than ever before.

analog life is slower and more deliberateHowever, I do believe that if we aren’t intentional with how often we use technology and how deeply we depend on it, it can take over our lives. One of the major facets of living an analog lifestyle is reducing dependency on technology and, thus, dependency on what technology represents. This includes things like speed, constant multitasking, or instant gratification.

Analog living lets you embrace the exact opposite of these things, without missing the nonstop action and convenience factor too much. Going analog allows us time for a life that is slower, activities and projects that are long labored, and a focus on the things that are right in front of you as opposed to those far ahead or behind.

Block Out Time Away From Devices Each Day

One of the most classic ways to live an analog life is to block out intentional time each day when you aren’t using any kind of tech. In my own life, I have this time set as part of my nightly routine.

Every night before bed, I take at least an hour or more away from any kind of technology or blue light to let my brain unwind. There is lots of science out there that supports the benefits of doing this before bed, but there is value in taking time away from tech at many other times of the day as well.

minimalist daily routine

Simplify Your Phone, Then Invest In Real Tools

Relying solely on our smart phones for every singular need that we have is an easy way to never put our phones down. It’s smart and intentional marketing.

Dumb phones are simple devicesThe more that your daily needs are met by your phone, the more time you’ll spend on your device, the more ads you’ll see, and the less time you’ll spend present in the real world.

The best way to simplify your phone to its basic function is by adopting the dumb phone movement. In a nutshell, turning your smart phone into a dumb phone means deleting features from your phone that don’t relate to its main function: communication.

Then, use your smart device less by depending on real tools. That’s right — I’m saying use a physical calculator, buy a paper calendar, wear a watch, and keep a physical notebook. As you start to rely on physical tools instead of your phone, the magnitude to which you rely on your device will become clear, and you will be able to rely on it less.

Analog Tools That One Smart Phone Replaces

  • Phone
  • Watch
  • Calculator
  • Alarm Clock
  • Stopwatch
  • Timer
  • Pedometer
  • Compass
  • Ruler
  • Recording Device
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Photo Album
  • Wallet
  • Map
  • Calendar
  • Address Book
  • Notebook
  • Encyclopedia

Observe Your Immediate Surroundings

Technology is a mechanism that is constantly vying for our attention. One of the best ways to combat this demand is simply by paying more attention and daring to look up and around instead of down at our devices.

Total presence allows you to live slowly and be exactly where you are, in contrast to technology which pulls us anywhere but where we are in real time. Observe the color of the shirt of the person walking next to you, the species of birds landing in your backyard tree, or the way your hands move when cooking.

tips for living the simple life

Seek Out Information At Your Local Library

No matter how advanced Google Home, Siri or Alexa become, they will always feed you information through a highly refined algorithm. Embrace the analog lifestyle by calling upon the ‘90s and seeking information at your local library.

seek answers in a library bookThis may sound a bit too old school, but there is a level of personal power to be gained by knowing that the exact information you’re seeking is the exact information you’re getting, without any algorithmic overloads trying to sway your mind.

The next time you have a pressing question that requires in-depth information, try seeking out answers in a library book and see where it leads you. You might even come across lesser-known information or stories along your search. Today, everyone gets all of their info online, so it’s a unique and personal experience to search for information on your own.

Take A Break From Social Media

I was reading an article recently that said one of the most revolutionary acts you can do in the 21st century is to do something extravagant, then tell no one. This really got me thinking at length about the impact that social media has had on us over the last decade.

Mental health effects aside, social media has such a stronghold over the events and activities we choose to participate in our own lives. How often have you thought about how cool a post about an event will look on Instagram afterwards, while experiencing that event in real time?

Time away from social apps is a wise way to live an analog life. A social media break will encourage you to do things purely for the sake of doing them, not for the sake of showing them off.

social media detox

Ten Simple Activities To Live An Analog Life

Simple Activities To Live An Analog Life

Going analog isn’t only about reducing your tech time. It’s also about increasing your time devoted to activities that are tactile, tangible, and natural. A minimalist living an analog life is someone who sets time aside for activities that use their hands and increase their focus and presence. There are lots of easy, enjoyable activities you can use to integrate analog living into your daily life.

1Play Or Make Music Without Streaming

While there are many advantages to the music-streaming era like speed, accessibility, and increased musical variety, this shift in the music industry has also taken away from the more foundational elements of music that enhance our mood and give us creative autonomy and control.

Play Music Without StreamingI’m not saying you have to kick it like the cave men and make sounds with rocks and sticks, but there are tons of psychological and emotional health benefits associated with making music with your own hands. You don’t have to be a pro to try out an instrument! Pop into your local music store and try something easy and basic, like a ukulele.

If creating music just isn’t your thing, consider using a more tactile way to play music out loud. Try spinning a vinyl record or listening to your local radio stations (yes, local radio stations do still exist).

2Cook A Meal From Scratch

It’s funny how something that was once integral to our daily survival like cooking our own meals has so quickly become a rarity. In a world where you can order fast food directly to your door in minutes, what better way to go analog than by cooking a meal from scratch?

There are a few approaches you could take to make your cooking experience feel more analog. One way to do this is to simply cook or bake something entirely from scratch. Another way to cook analog is to turn steps that are dependent on digital appliances into hands-on activities, like using a hand crank mixer or manual food processor.

You might also try using an actual, physical cookbook, or your grandma’s handwritten recipe instead of looking up a recipe online. There’s something real and comforting about using a handwritten recipe.

off grid kitchen

3Take A Walk Without Headphones

Have you ever tried taking a walk down the street and taking note of how many people have their headphones in? When I do this, I tend to find that the majority of people I see have the world blocked out and their music or podcast locked in.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing this, I challenge you to leave your eyes and ears fully open the next time you take a walk or run an errand. Instead of feeding your ears and mind with media, let your surroundings be your soundtrack. You’ll be surprised what little auditory nuances you notice.

4Paint, Craft, Or Try Another Art Form

Creating things with your hands is one of the best ways to lean into tactile, sensory activities. There are numerous ways to integrate art into an analog life. Painting, sculpting, pottery, knitting — anything that uses your hands and gets your creative juices flowing. You might even consider creating your own craft room to devote a specific space to these artistic pursuits.

great hobbies for small spaces

5Build Something DIY Style

My entire life changed when I started building things on my own. When I first set out to build my own tiny house, I truly had no idea what I was doing.

However, there is something so rewarding about using your own two hands to build something that you will use or live in.

You don’t have to build an entire house to get your hands dirty. Start with a simple DIY building project like a birdhouse, a small shelf, or even something simpler like a serving tray or catchall box.

The next time you have an urge to go out and buy a specific houseware, try making it yourself and see how you feel!

tiny house tools

6Take Time To Read And Write

Funnily enough, several studies have shown reading physical books as opposed to digital ones is actually better for your mood, comprehension, and overall brain health. I have nothing against audio and eBooks, especially when it comes to reducing book-related clutter in your life. However, there is something about turning the pages of a physical book that is grounding and good for our minds.

The same thing goes for writing. Try investing in a nice, leather bound journal and pens for everything from your emotional ramblings to your grocery lists, as opposed to the notes on your phone.

Taking Time To Read And Write

7Plant A Garden Or Just A Few Houseplants

Gardening is a hands-on activity that is entirely off the grid and has numerous benefits for our bodies and minds. The process of caring from something living, providing your plant with the nutrients, soil, and water it needs, is a fully-integrated process that will likely improve your mood immensely.

Another great thing about using gardening as an analog activity is that it’s not a one-time occurrence. You’ll have to tend to the plants you grow over time, and work on your garden throughout many seasons, giving you inspiration to continue the analog lifestyle long-term. Gardening encourages patience and a slower life as you wait for your plants to grow and thrive.

easiest vegetables to grow for beginner gardeners

8Shoot Photography With Real Film

It’s hard to imagine a world without the ability to take a picture in a matter of seconds. If you’re in the business of capturing memories, trying film photography as a creative outlet might be an awesome way to embrace an analog lifestyle.

use a film cameraCapturing photos on film as opposed to on an phone or other smart device will encourage patience, precision, and an overall slower approach to the snappy art form. First off, you only get to take each photo once instead of hundreds of times.

You’ll be encouraged to train your eye to notice angles, spacing, and object placement. Film photography also encourages patience and trust as you wait for the film to develop instead of seeing your photos in an immediate feedback loop. If you want to take this hobby to the next level, you even try developing the film yourself afterwards.

9Move Your Body, Even In Small Ways

You don’t have to take up a new hobby or habit to embrace an analog life. One of the simplest, easiest ways to live analog is by using the tool you always have with you — your own body.

The next time you’re inspired to wake up and increase those endorphins, try a routine with no digital equipment, relying on nothing but your own body. You’ll be surprised how much you can gain from simple workout routines like yoga, stretching, or simply going for a walk.

10Spend Time Outside, Simple As That

Lastly, in my opinion, the best way to go anti-digital is to increase your time outdoors. There’s nothing like taking the time to fully unplug in the middle of nature.

While planning a long camping trip or hike through nature trails may be most ideal, you don’t have to do something huge to have a positive experience with nature. Something as simple as spending time offline and outside for as little as 15 minutes each day can improve your mood and help you embrace analog living.

places to go to clear your head

Why Pursue An Analog Life In A Digital World?

Why Pursue An Analog Life In A Digital World

The greatest benefit of turning to an analog lifestyle is the way the practice challenges us to slow down and let things take their time. We live in a world obsessed with instant gratification, whether it be from social media likes, food from drive-through windows, or Amazon packages shipped straight to our doors.

slow down and take your timeAspects of daily life used to take much longer. Intentionally adopting analog lifestyle habits into my days has forced me to slow down and understand that things were not always meant to be instantaneous.

It has allowed me the room to make things with my own two hands and experience the fruits that come from slowing down and being present.

Your Turn!

  • Which digital devices or habits can you cut out of your daily life?
  • Which new activity will you try to live more of an analog lifestyle?
  1. I planted my pepper plants in the garden, dug in the dirt, watered from our rainbarrels.
    I sat and had coffee with my cat instead of checking emails or other nonsense. You can’t connect with a pet (or a human) on a “smart” phone.

    I have a paper calendar/date book.

    I don’t respond to my phone when I’m working in my shop. It can wait. Or when I’m riding my bike or exercising. That’s my time!

  2. I loved reading this article and am very interested in figuring out how to implement as many of these ideas as poaaible into my life. Thanks so much!

  3. I took notes in my notebook and am now trying to figure out how to disable the clock on my phone, haha! Thank you for writing this, I feel so inspired. (:

  4. I’m so glad I found this article. It’s a reminder that I’m not going mad! It’s also horrifying because it shows what is being lost and so quickly. I’m moving much od my life into the analogue myself. I’m learning to play the gong, I’ve trained in yoga, I’ve bought a 45 year old film camera (it’s a Nikon f2 and it’s built so much better than todays new gear) and I’m playing records again. So much of technology has been sold on the lie of convenience and ease of use when in reality it often creates myriad layers of complexity and horrible behaviours and dependencies. Even now I can feel the resistance in myself to using my phone less – than helps me understand I’m on the right track. I guess in the perfect world, I’d be reading your article/website as a physical newsletter!

  5. Fortunately it seems – I had my arm paralysed by my not so smart phone – cured by Health Kinesiology. Then inner ear injury from 5G masts at the Glastonbury Festival 2019, then radiation from a not so smart TV in a hotel room shot up my arm, into my body and hit my heart resulting in frightening palpitations, and then a 360 degree xray machine at the Dental Hospital damaged my deltoid muscle. I gave up the smartphone and got a 3G Doro flip phone for car emergencies – and then discovered that 3G phones were the only phones health tested – they caused brain and heart tumours in rats – so the Telecoms Industry stopped doing health tests. I mainly use a landline. Anyway – this meant that I continued my “analog life” doing all the things you recommend – as I have always done – drawing, textiles, cooking, gardening, reading – I have collected a small library about Women’s Culture – writing poetry & starting to write books, singing and occasionally playing the piano, yoga, t’ai chi, cycling, and a spiritual path as a Nature Mystic combined with Women’s Mysteries. I have all the ‘analog’ equipment you recommend. I always thought of myself as ‘low tech’- and would certainly never bank online. I like people and paper. Now I am very pleased to have a contemporary name for my lifestyle. Thanks.

  6. I’ve recently acquired a 13 week old German shepherd puppy…that’s going analog!

  7. I use a physical clock, write things down paper + pencil, physical calendar, cook from scratch, bike and hike and spend time in nature as much as possible, deleted all my social media, use an old phone with only few apps, and I hope to implement more in the future slowly.

    It was nice reading this because it gives me hope that there are more people out there who are tired of tech mania and how it’s not healthy for us as well as our society.

    I hope to find a community of people like this in my area one day, so we can be a village of analog folks and not be the only weirdo in your family/friends network.

    If anyone has ideas or they have done that in real life- please share tips 🙂

  8. great info about analog alternatives.

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