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


I tend to get very caught up in the happenings of my phone. I already keep a couple social media apps off my phone because I know that should I get bored I will spend hours on there doing nothing at all. I saw this book at the library right when lockdown started and figured that since this time of isolation would have me tempted to raid every single social media platform, I should probably make sure I do something other than look at custom built cat trees and tiny food cooking videos.

Some Details

Author: Cal Newport

Title: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Published: 2019

Publisher: Portfolio

Pages: 302

Genres: Nonfiction, Self Help, Productivity, Science & Technology, Psychology, Personal Development


Minimalism is the art of knowing how much is just enough. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. It’s the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world.

In this timely and enlightening book, the bestselling author of Deep Work introduces a philosophy for technology use that has already improved countless lives.

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.

Now, Newport gives us a name for this quiet movement, and makes a persuasive case for its urgency in our tech-saturated world. Common sense tips, like turning off notifications, or occasional rituals like observing a digital sabbath, don’t go far enough in helping us take back control of our technological lives, and attempts to unplug completely are complicated by the demands of family, friends and work. What we need instead is a thoughtful method to decide what tools to use, for what purposes, and under what conditions.

Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude. He then shares strategies for integrating these practices into your life, starting with a thirty-day “digital declutter” process that has already helped thousands feel less overwhelmed and more in control.

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. – Digital Minimalism

First Sentence

“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.”

My Thoughts

Honestly, I do not have much to say about this book. While reading it I felt kind of sick with the amount of time I spend on my phone, especially when I feel too tired to do anything else after school or work. I am also aware that the time I spend on social media is wayyyyy less than some other people I know because I’ve already limited my access or deleted some accounts. (Deleted apps like Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest because they just waste my time. I would also delete Facebook but I have groupchats for my job which are important which is kinda annoying. 🙁 )

“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.”
― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

I’ve read The Reflections At Walden, but not Walden itself. I found that Newport talked lots about Henry David Thoreau and his work, which has pushed me to read it because it sound interesting, but he made references to other works that I had no idea existed but are now on my to-read list.

“It’s now possible to completely banish solitude from your life. Thoreau and Storr worried about people enjoying less solitude. We must now wonder if people might forget this state of being altogether.”
― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

One think that was annoying to me as I was reading this book was that there seemed to be a lot of repetition. I felt like he was always talking about the success stories of the people who have read his work. For example he would talk about a specific person, say Melissa from Washington and how after deleting the social media apps on her phone she has more time to spend with her kids and this control over her life led to a healthier happier existence! – Which in some case yeah ok maybe Melissa has it all now that she deleted Facebook but there was also Martin’s story, and Craig’s and Joanna (well I don’t remember the actual names) and maybe for some readers these examples are super helpful but for me reading these near identical stories back to back got me kind of bored. I felt like I was reading the script to those weight loss commercials where they have actors talk about “just how great” the program is. I think that should there be less parts on people’s stories and how great it turned out for them or maybe if there were more stories where it did not work out the first time to offer more perspective I might of been more enticed to finish the novel sooner than I originally did. I do not like reading commercial scripts very much.

The Wrap Up

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, is an excellent read. Aside from the repetition which I thought made the book a little longer  than it had to. Other than the latter I really enjoyed this book and how much it makes you think about how you spend your time online and how all of this wasted time impacts your life in the long run.

“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.”
― Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World


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