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Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life…

Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (edition 2019)

by Cal Newport (Author)

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238574,071 (3.91)1
Title:Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
Authors:Cal Newport (Author)
Info:Portfolio (2019), 304 pages
Collections:To read

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



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Showing 5 of 5
This book came along at just the right time. I spend far too much time in front of a computer or iPad screen. Newport provides some good tips and examples on how we can turn off/ reduce time from notifications, text messages, email, news alerts and browsing of web sites. He cites the benefits of disconnecting including better concentration, spending quality time with friends and family, reduced anxiety etc.

My notes from the book:
Companies encourage behavioral addiction: intermittent positive reinforcement and the drive for social approval.

During the 30 days of your digital declutter, you're supposed to take a break from "optional technologies" in your life. The first step of the declutter process, therefore, is to define which technologies for to this "optional" category.

An electrical engineer was surprised to discover during his digital declutter how addicted he had become to checking news online, and how anxious it was making him – – especially politically charged articles. I dumped all my news during the declutter and loved it, he told me "ignorance is truly bliss sometimes."

You should follow Lincoln's example and give your brain the regular doses of quiet it requires to support a monumental life.

Solitude requires you to move past reacting to information created by other people and focus instead on your own thoughts and experiences – – wherever you happen to be.

Solitude deprivation – – A state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds.

Nietzsche began to walk up to eight hours a day. During these walks he would think, eventually filling small six notebooks with the prose that became Wanderer and His Shadow.

On a regular basis, go for long walks, preferably somewhere scenic.

"If you leave me alone for day – I will a joyful time have rotating between carpentry, weight training, writing, playing around with instruments in the music studio, making lists and executing tasks from them."

Prioritize demanding activity over passive consumption.
( )
  writemoves | Jun 17, 2019 |
"Digital Minimalism" is far better than Newport's earlier "So Good They Can't Ignore You," which suffered from weak arguments and a lack of suggested actions. His point here is far more compelling—that our apps are consciously designed to compel our continual attention by playing on our deep instinctive need for social recognition and approval. And the second part of the book details some radical steps that he believes will work for those who have the will to implement them. I don't agree that some of these steps are effective. For example, never clicking "like" only deprives one's friends of their social approval fix; it doesn't keep them from supplying you with yours. And I read his extended rhapsody on the joys of maintaining a rural homestead (clearing falling trees, shoveling snow, etc.) with skepticism born of experience. (I used to do that, and it didn't make me any happier or more emotionally grounded. It just made me a little fitter.) Still, there's food for thought in his suggestions. ( )
  john.cooper | Mar 28, 2019 |
Newport(2019) has inspired me to

1) create a philosophy for technology use where I have written out what technology tools I use, why do i use them and when and how I will use them such as using the phone for calls & texting and delete other apps.

2) do a digital declutter where I have removed key tech tools for 30 days

3) focus on high quality offline activities

4) decide specific times to engage with screen/devices

5) try to be ore comfortable without my phone by leaving it away from me. ( )
  yadt | Mar 24, 2019 |
[Warning: I'm not going to painstakingly edit this review, as I would normally.]

I read this close on the heels (2+ weeks) of "How to Break Up with Your Phone" by Catherine Price, which I read to be companionable in an online reading group. I rated it 3-minus. I'm not really the target for either book—I'm already pretty mindful of how I use my tools and spend my precious resources.

The Price book was brief and mainly instructional. I took a couple tips from it, but hardly followed the 30-day process.

Reading this book made me think of how much I dislike Charles Dickens' writing. There's clearly merit; but, Newport (like Dickens) takes forever and a day to say something that could have been handled admirably in much less time.

I was irritated (to put it kindly) at Newport's inability to recognize that people have different communication styles. [Comment inspired by this: “When someone instigates a low-quality connection—say a text message conversation or social media ping—suggest they call or meet you during your office hours sometime when it is convenient for them.”] If you want to share discussion on this topic, I'd be happy to . . . but don't call me!

I can agree with this conclusion (maybe I should have skipped to the last page at the start): "Digital minimalists see new technologies as tools to be used to support things they deeply value, not as sources of value themselves. They don't accept the idea that offering some small benefit is justification for allowing an attention-gobbling service into their lives, and are instead interested in applying new technology in highly selective and intentional ways that yield big wins."

Overall, the book is long on extended anecdotes about famous historical figures' habits of solitude and judgment on what constitutes meaningful experiences and communication, and short on substantive advice on how to use new technologies as useful tools vs. mindless time-sucks. ( )
  joyblue | Mar 8, 2019 |
Newport argues that social media, smartphones and increased connectivity through the internet are mainly distracting and have lead to an increasingly noisy world. Like e.g. slot machines, social media provide intermittent, unpredictable reinforcement when we check for updates and are designed to be addictive. I am largely convinced and like many have struggled to keep these technologies from interfering with both work and leisure. Newport has a good diagnosis of the problems and has many helpful practical tips. (Although it is slightly ironic that he e.g. advocates reading, which is an earlier technological innovation also breaking with evolution.) He advocates a "digital decluttering" to get rid of the distractions. Specifically, he recommends taking 30 days off most modern communication technologies, then gradually reintroducing some of them. An important point is that before doing this, it is good to fill up with high quality activities that we wish to do more of to fill the void left by modern media. This could be doing something with friends and family, reading, exercising, a hobby, etc. Many of his anecdotes about others suggest that after some time off, social media do not appear that interesting any more. A tips I am going to try is to schedule specific time for "low quality/simple tasks/leisure" such as social media, email, texting, reading blogs, etc and only do those activities at those times. Another is putting your phone away to avoid temptation to check various updates. Among his other tips are setting up "conversation office hours" - fixed place and times when you talk to people and are social, walking more, starting projects for using one's hands for useful purposes, such as changing car oil, install ceiling mounted light fixture, learn something new on an instrument you know, building something from good lumber, starting a garden plot. He also claims that board games are becoming more popular. To an economist, a discipline he sometimes is critical of on the basis that it purportedly advocates jumping on anything offering any bit of benefit, it is somewhat annoying that he evidently does not know that opportunity cost, in particular of time, is an essential element of economics. Newport champions being more frugal with new technologies than I imagine being, but is clear that people need to evaluate their own needs. Recommended. ( )
1 vote ohernaes | Feb 10, 2019 |
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Publisher Annotation: Georgetown computer scientist Cal Newport's Deep Work sparked a movement around the idea that unbroken concentration produces far more value than the electronic busyness that defines the modern work day. But his readers had an urgent follow-up question: What about technology in our personal lives? Digital Minimalism is an indispensable guide for anyone looking to reclaim their life from the alluring diversions of the digital world. 304pp., 125K

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