Book Summary: Digital Minimalism Summary By Cal Newport

Book Summary: Digital Minimalism Summary By Cal Newport

digital minimalism summary

Choosing A Focused Life in a Noisy World

Digital Minimalism Summary


Our current relationship with the technologies of our hyper connected world is unsustainable and is leading us closer to the quiet desperation that Thoreau observed so many years ago.

But as Thoreau reminds us, “the sun rose clear” and we still have the ability to change this state of affairs.

To do so, however, we cannot passively allow the wild tangle of tools, entertainments, and distractions provided by the internet age

to dictate how we spend our time or how we feel. We must instead take steps to extract the good from these technologies while

sidestepping what’s bad. We require a philosophy that puts our aspirations and values once again in charge of our daily experience,

all the while dethroning primal whims and the business models of

Silicon Valley from their current dominance of this role; a

philosophy that accepts new technologies, but not if the price is the

dehumanization Andrew Sullivan warned us about; a philosophy that prioritizes long-term meaning over short-term satisfaction.

A philosophy, in other words, like digital minimalism.

Digital Minimalism Summary

1 . A Lopsided Arms Race

We didn’t sign up for the digital lives we now lead. They were instead, to a large extent, crafted in boardrooms to serve the interests of a select group of technology investors.

When Bill Maher joked that the App Store was coming for our souls, he was actually onto something.

Digital Minimalism Summary

2. 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.


Principle #1 : Clutter is costly.

Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.

Principle #2: Optimization is important.

Digital minimalists believe that deciding a particular technology supports something they value is only the first step.

To truly extract its full potential benefit, it’s necessary to think carefully about how they’ll use the technology.

Principle #3: Intentionality is satisfying.

Digital minimalists derive significant satisfaction from their

general commitment to being more intentional about how they engage with new technologies. This source of satisfaction

is independent of the specific decisions they make and is one of the biggest reasons that minimalism tends to be immensely meaningful to its practitioners.

Digital Minimalism Summary

3. The Digital Declutter

When it comes to new technologies, less almost certainly is more.

The Digital Declutter Process

1. Put aside a thirty-day period during which you will take a break from optional technologies in your life.

2. During this thirty-day break, explore and rediscover activities and behaviors that you find satisfying and meaningful.

3. At the end of the break, reintroduce optional technologies into your life, starting from a blank slate.

For each technology you reintroduce, determine what value it serves in your life and how specifically you will use it so as to maximize this value.

Digital Minimalism Summary

4. Spend Time Alone

Most of us will never meet Thoreau’s ambitious commitment to ambulation.

But if we remain inspired by his vision, and try to spend as much time as is reasonable on foot and engaging in the

“noble art” of walking, we too will experience success in preserving our health and spirits.

Dwight Eisenhower leveraged a “practice of thinking by

writing” throughout his career to make sense of complicated

decisions and tame intense emotions. He was not the only leader to deploy this habit.

The key is the act of writing itself. This behavior necessarily shifts you into a state of productive solitude

Digital Minimalism Summary

5. Don’t Click “Like”

The conversation office hours strategy is effective for improving your social life because it overcomes the major

obstacle to meaningful socializing: the concern, mentioned above, that

unsolicited calls might be bothersome. People crave real conversation, but this obstacle is often enough to prevent it. I

6. Reclaim Leisure

Any conversation about high-quality leisure must eventually touch on the topic of craft.

In this context, “craft” describes any activity where you apply skill to create something valuable.

Craft doesn’t necessarily require that you create

a new object, it can also apply to high-value behaviors.

Coaxing a pleasing song out of a guitar or dominating a game of pickup basketball also qualifies.

The most successful social leisure activities share two traits.

First, they require you to spend time with other people in person.

As emphasized, there’s a sensory and social richness to real-world

encounters that’s largely lost in virtual

connections, so spending time with your World of Warcraft clan doesn’t qualify

learning and applying new skills is an important source of high-quality leisure.

At the beginning of each week, put aside time to review your current seasonal leisure plan.

7. Join the Attention Resistance

Remember how Hollier and Tang opened their manifesto with the idea “Your Time = Their Money.” You should feel

empowered to instead invest this value in things that matter more to you.


Digital minimalism definitively does not reject the innovations of the

internet age, but instead rejects the way so many people currently engage with these tools.

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,343 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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