Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World - Cal Newport

Note: This is not a complete summary of the book. The following are the notes I’ve highlighted in the book, that I can go back to for re-reading. These are mostly quoted from the book or paraphrased.

  • Digital Minimalism A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.
  • Define your technology values: Is this technology the best way to support this value? How am I going to use this technology going forward to maximize its value and minimize its harms?
  • Spend Time Alone
    • Solitude is about what’s happening in your brain, not the environment around you.
    • Why is solitude valuable? Kethledge and Erwin detail many benefits, most of which concern the insight and emotional balance that comes from unhurried self-reflection.
    • All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone
    • Seemingly overnight the number of students seeking mental health counseling massively expanded, and the standard mix of teenage issues was dominated by something that used to be relatively rare: anxiety.
    • PRACTICE: LEAVE YOUR PHONE AT HOME, TAKE LONG WALKS, WRITE LETTERS TO YOURSELF
    • Writing a letter to yourself is an excellent mechanism for generating exactly this type of solitude.
    • This practice asks you to embrace this well-validated strategy by making time to write a letter to yourself when faced with demanding or uncertain circumstances.
  • Reclaim Leisure
    • We live in a world that is working to eliminate touch as one of our senses, to minimize the use of our hands to do things except poke at a screen.
    • In a culture where screens replace craft, Crawford argues, people lose the outlet for self-worth established through unambiguous demonstrations of skill.
    • If you want to fully extract the benefits of this craft in your free time, in other words, seek it in its analog forms, and while doing so, fully embrace Rogowski’s closing advice: “Leave good evidence of yourself. Do good work.”
  • Practice: Hold conversation office hours
    • Put aside set times on set days during which you’re always available for conversation. Promote these times to the people you care about
  • The Digital Declutter
    • Your monthlong break from optional technologies resets your digital life. You can now rebuild it from scratch in a much more intentional and minimalist manner. To do so, apply a three-step technology screen to each optional technology you’re thinking about reintroducing.

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