A Summary and Review of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

My Takeaways and Opinion on Digital Minimalism

A Summary and Review of Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash
  • Digital Minimalism
  • The Digital Declutter
  • Don’t Click “Like”
  • Reclaim Leisure
  • Join the Attention Resistance

Part 1: Foundations

A Lopsided Arms Race

Very few people predicted how much our relationship with Facebook and the iPhone would change in the years after these technologies were released. Social media and the smartphone have massively changed how we live in the 21st century.

  1. The addictive properties of these technologies are carefully engineered design features

Digital Minimalism

Through the use of tips and tricks alone, it’s hard to transform your digital life. Small changes aren’t enough to solve the big issues that we have with new technologies. The underlying behaviors that we hope to fix are ingrained in our culture and based on psychological forces that empower our base instincts.

  • Optimization is important
  • Intentionality is satisfying
  • The large attention tech companies don’t want us to think about how we use their platforms, as they make more money if we spend most of our time engaged with their products

The Digital Declutter

Gradually changing habits one at a time doesn’t work when it comes to becoming a digital minimalist. Rather, results are likely to stick when someone engages in a rapid transformation that occurs in a short period of time and is executed with conviction.

  • The declutter process is tricky
  • Not planning what to replace the technologies with
  1. Take a 30-day break
  2. Reintroduce technology
  • Is this the best way to support this value?
  • How am I going to use this technology going forward to maximize its value and minimize its harm?
  • Be the best way to use technology to serve this value (if it’s not, replace it with something better)
  • Have a role in your life that’s constrained with a standard operating procedure that specifies when and how you use it

Part 2: Practices

Spend Time Alone

Anyone can benefit from regular doses of solitude and anyone who avoids solitude for an extended period of time will suffer. Your brain needs regular doses of quiet to support a monumental life.

  • Take long walks
  • Write letters to yourself

Don’t Click “Like”

Every one of us has the ability to perform complicated social thinking. We should treat with great care any new technology that threatens to disrupt the ways in which we connect and communicate with others.

  • Consolidate texting
  • Hold conversation office hours

Reclaim Leisure

A life well lived requires activities that serve no other purpose than the satisfaction that the activity itself generates. Embrace pursuits that provide a source of inward joy.

  • Use skills to produce valuable things in the physical world
  • Seek activities that require real-world, structured social interactions
  • Schedule your low-quality leisure
  • Join something
  • Follow leisure plans

Join the Attention Resistance

The attention economy is a business sector that makes money gathering consumers’ attention and repackaging and selling it to advertisers. Extracting “eyeball minutes” has become significantly more lucrative than extracting oil.

  • Turn your devices into single-purpose computers
  • Use social media like a professional
  • Embrace slow media
  • Dumb down your smartphone


  • Rating: 89/100
  • I thoroughly enjoyed Digital Minimalism. There was a remarkable amount of actionable and valuable information within it.
  • Newport does an incredible job of delivering information in an engaging way.
  • Throughout the book, Cal Newport makes it clear when he’s arguing something and when he’s stating a fact. I appreciated this.
  • I enjoyed the historical references and the succinct nature of the stories Newport tells.
  • Since reading this book, I’ve started my digital declutter. In another story, I plan on sharing my experience.

data scientist interested in AI and NLP davidpeletz.com

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