Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport is a book about learning how to draw the line with technology, taking more time away from digital devices, while focusing your online time on activities that support your values and goals.
The book centers on 3 principles – clutter is costly, optimization is vital, and intentionality is satisfying.
It encourages readers to plan downtime events which are a source of inward joy and deep contemplation. Quick fixes and “life hacks” might prompt a healthy new habit, but they don’t promote sustainable change.
The book also provides advice on how to reclaim your time, regulate/improve your mental health, and use social media like a professional.
It suggests deleting social media from your phone, turning your devices into single-purpose computers, embracing slow media, and dumbing down your smartphone.
The main themes of Digital Minimalism are that people should be in control of their technology use, rather than the other way around.
It encourages readers to focus their online time on activities that support their values and goals, and to plan downtime events which are a source of inward joy and deep contemplation.
It also emphasizes the importance of being intentional with technology use, and avoiding quick fixes and “life hacks” that don’t promote sustainable change.
Clutter is costly – you can’t change habits without changing the environment, so clean & delete before changing habits.
Optimization is important – pay attention to your triggers (i.e., when you check email; when you open an app) – make critical triggers faster and stop bad triggers. Don’t linger because you will get sucked in.
Intentionality is satisfying – take pride in choosing your time and develop a distaste for algorithm and automation.
Reclaim your time – schedule what you want to do and when you want to do it.
Regulate / improve your mental health – our devices blur the key difference between autonomy and agency. Autonomy without agency is draining. Don’t just make choices – design the menu.
Use social media like a professional – think of your personal wants as “business objectives” and use social media to those ends – i.e., use Facebook to schedule meetups – but don’t waste time scrolling and stalking.
Delete social media from your phone – the smartest people on the planet with unlimited resources are gunning for your attention. You can’t win that battle, so don’t play.
Turn your devices into single-purpose computers – use them as tools, not leisure devices.
Embrace slow media – you will never win against AI and computers when it comes to digesting & sorting information. Use agency to choose worthwhile material and use it to develop better judgement.
Dumb down your smartphone – dig deep into the Settings and make your phone do what you want it to do (here I’ll insert a promo for Android phones ;))
Plan downtime events which are a source of inward joy and deep contemplation – spend time away from your devices.
Avoid quick fixes and “life hacks” that don’t promote sustainable change – they’ll stop working after a few days.
What I Liked
I love that this book exists – I think everyone should read it. The fight for sustained deep thought is a serious personal and business advantage in the 21st century.