January 19, 2020
Digital Minimalism

The Technology Machines are Everywhere

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I struggle with disconnecting from the technology machines we all have come to know, love, and use.

Computers are everywhere.

They're in our homes.

They're in our offices.

They're in our pockets.

There seems to be no escaping their reach.


At some point, enough is enough.

They're distracting us from being intentional. Distracting us from the things that matter most; our family, our friends, and our own minds.

Recapping The Book

Reclaiming Solitude

One thing that really stood out to me about Cal Newport's book, is how he's put into word about the value of solitude.

Paraphrasing, Mark Twain is known to have said that there are no new ideas nor original thoughts left.

Helen Hegemann built upon this in 2012 in an article in The Guardian and said:

There's no such thing as originality, just authenticity.

Helen Hegemann

Solitude can help us dig through the thoughts and influence of others, so that we may decide what we authentically believe to be true and hold true in our own lives.

High-Quality Leisure

Part of freeing our time from digital mindlessness, is to fill ourselves with more purposeful means. Cal suggests a series of practices for people to adopt:

  1. Spend Time Alone
  2. Don't Click "Like"
  3. Reclaim Leisure
  4. Join the Attention Resistance

So as we clear our days from mindlessness, we fill them with high-quality leisure; learning a new skill with your hands, mechanical work, crafts, carpentry, and other detailed and valuable tinkering. Of course, all moments can't be filled with intense focus, so Cal recommends scheduling time for low-quality leisure. In this light, it's not leaving the digital world behind, but more time-boxing it to make sure we're being intentional and making space for more.

As I wrote previously about Hooked, Nir Eyal's book about behavioral design, software uses motivations, triggers, and variable rewards to elicit hormonal responses that keep us coming back for the next hit.

What I'm Putting Into Action

Limiting Digital Influence

By limiting digital influence and consumption, we can begin to make room.The challenges and barriers I'm working on instilling with my phone use:

  1. At Work / on MacBook
  2. Dribbble
  3. Facebook
  4. Until 6pm
  5. Email
  6. Slack
  7. Instagram
  8. Twitter
  9. Phones
  10. None in bed
  11. None at the table
  12. None when spending family time together

Establishing Personal Goals of Digital Minimalism

Some very tangible goals and outcomes I have based on the additional time from disconnecting from the device more intentionally:

  1. Get solitude back
  2. Spend more quality time with family and friends
  3. Create more and consume less
  4. Reading more books and well-thought-out publications
  5. Workout more
  6. Cook more meals
  7. More DIY home projects and renovations

Creating Space for Solitude & Reflection

As much as I've been focused on morning and evening routines this year, it's very lob-sided toward my needs and schedule.

I want to become more mindful and more proactive when it comes to helping my wife claim the benefits of free time, solitude, and high-quality leisure - especially as we're weeks away from our second child.

Seasonal Leisure Planning

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

Cal Newport

Part of the instruction from Cal is to set objectives and habits three times a year: September, January, and May around new leisure plans.

  1. Objectives - specific goals and strategies to accomplish them
  2. Habits - behavioral rules to stick to throughout the season

I may set this 4x a year to align more with my quarterly reviews and goals.

All of these objectives and habits are connected to cultivating a high-quality and fulfilling leisure life.

Thinking ahead, it will be challenging to align high-quality leisure goals with goals I have for increased family time, but am looking for ways to have these overlap.

Are You Minimizing Digitally?

If you read the book or have some ideas and habits you're establishing around digital minimalism, please share them! Things are rarely black and white and final, so I'm sure as technology evolves, the tactics and strategies to fight against total take-over will change.