Learn the key ideas of the book by Cal Newport

Digital Minimalism

Take back control of your time and get rid of your distractions

In his book Digital Minimalism - Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, Cal Newport presents and deconstructs “the attention economy”, in which the creators and promoters of new technologies try to monopolise the attention of their users in order to make bigger profits. This aggressive hunt for profits comes at the cost of the mental health and the quality of life of those people who fall into the trap of becoming slaves to their technological devices. Digital minimalism is the response to this technology monopoly, the solution to help us take back our freedom. 

Digital Minimalism
Read in 25 min.
Listen in 31 min.

Many useful tips to:

  • Offer a guide to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed from being constantly connected.
  • Try and put the philosophy of digital minimalism into practice and cut the ties with our addiction to the internet.
  • Help professionals who feel they are wasting time and who suffer a lack of concentration by flitting from one app to another without really “switching off”, or making productive use of the time they have.
  • Provide some tips to help improve the quality of the time we spend online, and more importantly, the time we spend offline.

The author of the book:

Cal Newport is an associated professor in the IT department of Georgetown University. He also carries out his own academic research, and writes about the connection between digital technology and culture. As well as Deep Work, he has written other bestsellers, including So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Digital Minimalism. He has also written three books aimed at students: How to win at college, how to become a straight-A student and How to be a high school superstar. He writes a daily blog called Study Hacks, which has three million views a year, and a podcast Deep Questions. His ideas and contributions appear regularly in American and international media.


Digital minimalism: the antidote to being constantly connected

How many times do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by a constant need to make sure you aren’t missing out on what's going on in the world? Nowadays there’s a well-known acronym for it: FOMO (fear of missing out). This tension associated with the fear of missing out can be linked to your close friends, or to work, or even to what’s going on in the world in general: whether it’s news, gossip, or the latest photo of your long-distant cousin’s baby, it almost feels like unless we are constantly checking our social media profiles, we simply can’t keep up.

From the rare perspective of someone who has chosen not to have one of the many social media profiles that seem to have a firm grip on the rest of the world population, Cal Newport offers us a bird’s eye view of some of the risks involved in being constantly connected.

Screens have become some kind of magnetic object that leads people to feel as if they no longer have the power to choose where they place their attention. People download apps to create their own profiles for very good reasons, only to find, however, with a sad irony, that all the services they have signed up for actually go against the precise values that made them seem like such a good idea in the first place.

Maybe this is not the case with something like Facebook, to which people tend to sign up to avoid losing touch with friends or relatives that live far away; but what often ends up happening is that we cannot help being distracted from our everyday human interactions in real life, because we are constantly checking our newsfeed!

We have known for a while now, the extent of the impact that social media has on our psychological well-being, especially on those who are more impressionable and who go to great lengths to show their followers how fantastic their lives are: adolescents feel a sense of inadequacy or often of exclusion during these delicate years, and it is amplified by their presence on social media.

Technological innovation has enormously increased the methods of communication available to us all, and allows us to communicate very easily from all around the world: for this, everything you need now fits into your pocket, but how many people end up becoming slaves to these devices rather than making the most of what they can offer us without losing control?

The answer is as clear as day: we only need to take a ride on public transport or walk down a busy street to see that out of ten people, maybe two (and this is being optimistic) don’t have their heads buried in their smartphones, to check their emails, flip through social media notifications, or just to skip to the next song.

Perhaps not everyone is aware of the existence of a movement that allows us to find that much sought-after balance between the one extreme of not being able to consider the idea of “disconnecting” for even a minute, and the other, of being completely anti-tech for fear of not being able to control the amount of time spent on these devices. Digital minimalism began with the aim of being able to enjoy all the positive features that technological evolution has to offer, while leaving behind its negative aspects.


The key ideas of "Digital Minimalism"

Digital minimalism: the antidote to being constantly connected
Digital minimalism as opposed to the complete apology for technology
Constant connection creates true addiction
The three essential principles of digital minimalism to help us appreciate each moment of our lives
The three steps required to become a digital minimalist
To be happy we need to be alone
The importance of social relationships in real life, beyond the screens
Among the satisfactions of practical life, physical toil has its role to play in assigning the right value to our lives online
The central value of our attention
So how exactly do we stop “selling off” our attention?
Take-home message

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