Review of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Summary of Digital Minimalism

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport describes how our lives are being dominated by constant digital distractions. Newport believes that we have to digitally declutter our lives to get back to our better sense of self and understand those around us.

To do this, Newport suggests a detox of our digital devices through personal self-reflection, where we ask ourselves what our deepest values are and what we want out of our life. Then, after a month of various detox practices, we reflect on the apps and programs that we use, deciding if they are worthy of the digital and mental space that it occupies.

After this time of self-reflection and detox, Newport claims that you will feel better, and will have a stronger connection with those around you.

For Whom is Digital Minimalism?

If you have ever felt bombarded by the dings, vibrations, or sounds that make up the hourly sounds of the average person’s digital life, and you want to make a change, then this would be an excellent book for you. Newport says that these constant distractions come from filling your digital life with unnecessary clutter, and, using his rules and ideas, you can come to understand what you truly need in your digital life to become happy in your actual life.

This book may not be for you if you already have a good handle on your digital life. If, for example, you have a clear distinction when you can be reached for work, and when you have alone time for yourself and family, then this book may not be necessary. Also, if you do not use a smartphone or computer to include many popular, attention-grabbing apps, then you may get little out of this book.

Is Digital Minimalism worth reading and why?

In our increasingly ever-connected world, where it seems like everything has to have an app associated with it or be connected with the internet, a book about how we should limit our digital screentime and cut down on the automated distractions is a very good thing. Unlike other authors, or common trends on the internet to simply give up social media for a time, Newport’s suggestions can give you a permanent change.

The strategies that he suggests are ones that you can use not only now, but for years in the future, whenever you feel that life is getting too digitally cluttered. These are practical, timeless steps that anyone can and should do not just for themselves, but also for their friends and family.

Who is Cal Newport, the author of Digital Minimalism

Cal Newport is a computer science professor at Georgetown University and is the author of seven books, many on the topics of technology and productivity.

Did Digital Minimalism win any awards?

This book was selected as one of Amazon’s best books of 2019. It was the Goodreads nominee for the Science and Technology Section of the 2019 Goodreads Choice awards. It has also gotten on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list.

Criticism of Digital Minimalism

One criticism of this book is that Newport does not truly acknowledge the issue of those friends we have connected to only online.

What are we to do to connect with them when they may live in a different time zone, or country altogether? What of doing research on an obscure topic, and finding people who agree with you, at a time when you believe that you are the only one? That connectedness can be something magical, but one that Newport never really comments on.

Another issue is that Newport does not explain how to describe digital minimalism to a boss or team leader who demands you be connected to your phone or work 24/7.

While these are not perhaps controversies, these are still valid criticisms of the book.

What lessons can you learn from Digital Minimalism?

This is a book about making a long-lasting change. This change can be going from someone who merely consumes technology in their spare time, to someone who creates something worthwhile for themselves and society.

This book teaches you that it is okay to not only have separate work and home life but how you should spend that home life so that you are not just mindlessly consuming media.

You have made your values clear, as well as how your digital life helps you to achieve those values.

What are business books that are similar to Digital Minimalism?

Newport’s own book Deepwork is on the same level as this book, but this book is different. Where Deepwork focuses on the many different distractions we can have that can stop us from achieving the deep work we want, this one is more for those starting their journey with getting rid of digital distractions.

To put it another way, Digital Minimalism can help you to start your journey towards becoming more productive, Deepwork is the next step in the chain to become more productive in your professional and home life.

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