Note: This post first appeared in the penat.work notebook. I’m in Cleveland, Ohio for The National NeedleArts Association (TNNA) Summer Show. Come see PennyWise Consulting at booth 642 on Sunday.
I am a longtime proponent of being thoughtful and intentional with the technology I use every day. I’ve shut off notifications for years. Over the past several months I’ve taken a large step back from social media. I found that my work has evolved, improved, and not missed out on that One Big Opportunity. I have many more thoughts on this topic, however, today I want to write about Cal Newport’s newest book, Digital Minimalism.
This is a different book from Deep Work, and that’s ok. It’s geared toward readers who are struggling to disconnect from the need to constantly check social media/email. It’s for those who find their device is always nearby and chirping, buzzing, or blinking. This is accomplished through both tips and real-life examples. Newport doesn’t have social media accounts, so he hasn’t had to personally disentangle from them. However, he’s spoken with those who questioned the why of their involvement and figured out the how to become digital minimalists. This combination creates a useful book that made me want to keep reading. It doesn’t suffer from all the pedantic crap that infuses books that want to you “have a better life in four easy steps!”
part one – digital declutter
The first part covers why you need to aggressively implement a digital declutter strategy in your life. After thinking my no notification diligence was enough, it is how I ultimately stepped back from one system — ten months ago. At the end of my initial trial period I re-evaluated and have done so every month since. While I have some curiosity about what’s been going on there in my absence, it’s not enough to cause me to log in.
part two – creating a sustainable digital minimalist lifestyle
The second part is the most useful with tips to cultivate and maintain a sustainable digital minimalist lifestyle. The tips provide a toolbox of practices you can implement. The four key tips are to spend time alone, don’t click “like”, reclaim leisure, and join the attention resistance. Remember, you don’t have to log in and use every feature on your smart phone or check social media every hour.
Whether you enjoy a healthy minimal digital lifestyle or you know you need some help, I recommend Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you. This book shows the way.~Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World