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Digital Minimalism
Cover of Digital Minimalism
Digital Minimalism
Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
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A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller"Newport is making a bid to be the Marie Kondo of technology: someone with an actual plan for helping you realize the...
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller"Newport is making a bid to be the Marie Kondo of technology: someone with an actual plan for helping you realize the...
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  • A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestseller
    "Newport is making a bid to be the Marie Kondo of technology: someone with an actual plan for helping you realize the digital pursuits that do, and don't, bring value to your life."—Ezra Klein, Vox
    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.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover Introduction

    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." Its subtitle was alarming: "An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too."

    The article was widely shared. I'll admit, however, that when I first read it, I didn't fully comprehend Sullivan's warning. I'm one of the few members of my generation to never have a social media account, and tend not to spend much time web surfing. As a result, my phone plays a relatively minor role in my life—a fact that places me outside the mainstream experience this article addressed. In other words, I knew that the innovations of the Internet Age were playing an increasingly intrusive role in many people's lives, but I didn't have a visceral understanding of what this meant. That is, until everything changed.

    Earlier in 2016, I published a book titled Deep Work. It was about the underappreciated value of intense focus and how the professional world's emphasis on distracting communication tools was holding people back from producing their best work. As my book found an audience, I began to hear from more and more of my readers. Some sent me messages, while others cornered me after public appearances—but many of them asked the same question: What about their personal lives? They agreed with my arguments about office distractions, but as they then explained, they were arguably even more distressed by the way new technologies seemed to be draining meaning and satisfaction from their time spent outside of work. This caught my attention and tumbled me unexpectedly into a crash course on the promises and perils of modern digital life.

    Almost everyone I spoke to believed in the power of the internet, and recognized that it can and should be a force that improves their lives. They didn't necessarily want to give up Google Maps, or abandon Instagram, but they also felt as though their current relationship with technology was unsustainable—to the point that if something doesn't change soon, they'd break, too.

    A common term I heard in these conversations about modern digital life was exhaustion. It's not that any one app or website was particularly bad when considered in isolation. The issue was the overall impact of having so many different shiny baubles pulling so insistently at their attention and manipulating their mood. Their problem with this frenzied activity is less about its details than the fact that it's increasingly beyond peoples' control. Few want to spend so much time online, but these tools have a way of cultivating behavioral addictions. The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life.

    As I discovered in my subsequent research, and will argue in the next chapter, some of these addictive properties are accidental (few predicted the extent to which text messaging could command your attention), while many are quite purposeful (compulsive use is the foundation for many social media business plans). But whatever its source, this irresistible attraction to screens is leading people to feel as though they're ceding more and more of their autonomy when it comes to deciding how they direct their attention. No one, of course, signed up for this loss of control.

    They downloaded the apps and signed up for the networks for good reasons, only to discover, with grim irony, that these services were...

About the Author-

  • CAL NEWPORT, Ph.D. is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He also runs the popular website Study Hacks: Decoding Patterns of Success. His previous books are So Good They Can't Ignore You and Deep Work.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Will Damron sustains a heartfelt tone as he explains what digital minimalism is all about. As technology and digital noise encroach upon all aspects of our lives, this invitation to streamline our digital dependence is sobering and timely. Author Cal Newport reads the introduction, setting a tone of sincerity and urgency about becoming more intentional in our use of technology. When Damron takes over, his smooth voice is quietly persuasive as he dispenses advice on how to leverage our use of devices, eliminating what is not valuable and allowing us to disconnect from technology in order to enhance the human connection, solitude, and quiet that give meaning to our lives. Vital perspective and practical advice to maintain our humanity in a digital age. M.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine

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Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World
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