Digital Minimalism

Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
by Cal Newport | 304 pages

Cal Newport is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown. He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs. Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism. Enter: My SUPER strong recommendation of the book and my ALL IN commitment to helping create a movement around the ideas in the book. As you know, I rarely say a book is a must read but this book is as close as it gets. Big Ideas we explore include the fact that your soul is engaged in a lopsided arms race, a definition + overview of digital minimalism, the importance of spending time alone (and the consequences of *not* spending adequate time alone), reclaiming leisure (get active!) and joining the Attention Resistance. Here's to Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World!


“Our current relationship with the technologies of our hyper-connected world is unsustainable and is leading us closer to the quiet desperation that Thoreau observed so many years ago. But as Thoreau reminds us, ‘the sun rose clear’ and we still have the ability to change this state of affairs.

To do so, however, we cannot passively allow the wild tangle of tools, entertainments, and distractions provided by the internet age to dictate how we spend our time or how we feel. We must indeed take steps to extract the good from these technologies while sidestepping what’s bad. We require a philosophy that puts our aspirations and values once again in charge of our daily experience, all the while dethroning primal whims and the business models of Silicon Valley from their current dominance of this role; a philosophy that accepts new technologies, but not if the price is the dehumanization Andrew Sullivan warned us about; a philosophy that prioritizes long-term meaning over short-term satisfaction.

A philosophy, in other words, like digital minimalism.”

~ Cal Newport from Digital Minimalism

Welcome to our fourth Note on one of Cal Newport’s brilliant books.

As we’ve discussed in the other Notes, Cal is one of my favorite thinkers. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and is now a Professor at Georgetown.

He’s also a bestselling author of a number of books. I think we started our collection of Notes with So Good They Can’t Ignore You then moved on to Deep Work then went back to one of his earlier books How to Become a Straight-A Student and now here we are.

Since interviewing Cal about those books a few years ago, we’ve spent a fair amount of time chatting about Optimizing and a life well lived. In fact, he was basically the only human with whom I regularly scheduled chats during my hermit phase. (lol.)

I LOVE the way he sees the world and how his brain works. So when he told me about his ideas around “digital minimalism” I immediately got very excited to see what he’d come up with.

In fact, I got so excited to help him spread these ideas as far and wide as possible that this book became one of the catalysts for me to expand Optimize beyond just me and my work.

Enter: Digital Minimalism 101

<- Our first “101 with Friends” in which Cal walks us through 10 Big Ideas from this book to help us APPLY his philosophy on how to extract the best from technology while letting go of the rest.

As you can imagine, I HIGHLY recommend the book.

Given the fact that the fastest way to Optimize your life is to STOP doing things that are sub-optimal AND the fact that (for nearly all of us) our use of technology is the #1 thing that “Needs work!,” it’s SUPER important for us to figure out how to best use all the technology available to us WITHOUT becoming lost in a tsunami of inputs.

Enter: Our new philosophy of technology use: Digital Minimalism.

Enter: My SUPER strong recommendation of the book and my ALL IN commitment to helping create a movement around the ideas in the book. As you know, I rarely say a book is a must read but this book is as close as it gets. Get a copy (today!) here.

With that, I’m excited to share some of my favorite Big Ideas we can apply to our lives TODAY so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

Cal Newport

Author and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University.