Book Review: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

I joined a book club back in January and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport was our book selection for March. I was excited about the choice because I remember reading Newport’s last best-selling book, Deep Work, and was anxious to read his most current work.

I was not disappointed. Newport’s latest book is a real eye-opener on the impact our digital devices have on us as business leaders, as parents, and in our social relationships. The core belief behind the title of the book is that “less can be more to our relationship with digital tools”. We live in a high-tech world, possibly work in a high-tech business, and yet we find ourselves trying to figure out how to spend less time using technology.

Based on hard evidence, the author makes the case that many of us have become addicted to using our digital device. We struggle to keep from looking at it all day long. The average modern user today spends over two hours per day on social media and checks their device on average eighty-five times a day.

What does Newport suggest as a remedy for this affliction? Not just small changes, but instead adapting a philosophy of “digital minimalism”; whereby we focus our time on a very small number of carefully selected and optimized activities and then prepare ourselves to give up the rest. The author then provides a step-by-step approach to adopting this new mindset with the first step being a “digital declutter”.

I enjoyed reading this book for several reasons. First, Cal Newport is one of the best non-fiction writers of our time and combines solid research along with great stories to make his case. Second, I believe this is one of the greatest challenges we face in today’s society. Steve Jobs never intended for his iPhone to be used as it is today in such a paralyzing manner. And third, while my use is not quite at the level of most of my peers, there is no question it is limiting my access to greater happiness and joy in my life.