Digital Minimalism // Cal Newport // WONDERFUL

2019 // Nonfiction // Technology // Habits

FIRST LINE

In September 2016, the influential blogger and commentator Andrew Sullivan wrote a 7,000-word essay for New York magazine titled “I used to Be a Human Being.”

FROM THE BLURB

Digital minimalists are all around us. They're the calm, happy people who can hold long conversations without furtive glances at their phones. They can get lost in a good book, a woodworking project, or a leisurely morning run. They can have fun with friends and family without the obsessive urge to document the experience. They stay informed about the news of the day, but don't feel overwhelmed by it. They don't experience "fear of missing out" because they already know which activities provide them meaning and satisfaction.

FIVE EXCERPTS

Rather than direct excerpts, here are five ideas that I took home from Digital Minimalism.

#1 Swap phones

When you’re with a friend, swap phones so neither of you can be lured away to the dreaded ‘third place’. Your phones are still there in an emergency, but the embarrassment of asking for your device just so that you can crush some candy will be too much.

#2 Spend time alone

Solitude is vital to our emotional balance and too little time alone leaves us feeling anxious. Finding solitude doesn’t mean ship-wrecking yourself on a desert island; you can find solitude in a busy coffee shop. Solitude is simply time spent without input from other minds. Leave your phone at home. Take a long walk. Write.

#3 Use digital to facilitate real world comms

Social media, email and messaging is not an adequate replacement for social interaction, but our brains can be fooled into thinking it is. Set up a meeting on the phone or in person.

#4 Hold conversation office hours

Tell your friends and family that you’re always free to speak on the phone at X o’clock – and be available at that time. When someone ‘pings’ you a text message or email, invite them to call you at X o’clock any day of the week. Alternatively, set up a regular time for taking coffee or a walk and invite anyone and everyone to drop by.

#5 Prioritise strenuous leisure activities over passive consumption

Activity gives you more energy, not less. When you’re tired, simply switch task. Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world. Become ‘handy’. Join or set up a club, community group or meeting.

END MATTER

260 pages ~65,000 words
Read: 19 February to 24 February 2019 (6 days)