Book Review: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World


Digital Minimalism

Title: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World

Author: Cal Newport

I got this book because I've been since quite some time cautious about my digital footprint, both regarding social networks and privacy in general. But as I am an advocate of focused work (versus multitasking and the like), I wanted to see if it could help me make a better use of my time, focus better and get less distracted.

And what a discovery! I would say the digital minimalism concept clicked in my mind, but it seems I was already partially applying it, so as you can imagine my feedback is very positive. From opening your eyes about the darker side of social networks, social mobile apps, advertising and many technological companies, to multiple practice exercises for the reader to try and see by himself/herself how much time one can waste in this noisy "social interactions" instead of on higher quality in-person ones, it probably won't leave anyone at the very minimum asking some questions.

It doesn't directly tries to force you to stop doing things, but instead to take some time to think about how you use them. With historical examples, interviews, online articles and scientific papers, plus of course the author's opinion and reasoning, there are many examples of why we tend to lose time on typically dumb things and then wonder why we don't have time to do "other things".

I totally recommend reading the book, as I see almost on a daily basis examples of people afflicted with digital distractions, and I also think it is becoming more worrying also for the newer generations who, as the book points out, have never been in a world without always-on connection.


  • Calculate costs of things not regarding money, but in amount of life it's going to take you (now or afterwards). Some tasks might yield small economic benefits but require way more of your time and thus, not be worth it.

  • Minimalistic usage of apps and services is equivalent to going shopping with a shopping list: you reduce distractions and chances to be lured into buying more.

  • I am skipping doing the digital de-clutter 30-day but it is very interesting as an exercise. I think I already control very much all of my "digitally dangerous" activities (mostly just RSS reading).

  • Solitude is critical for human beings.

  • The FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) looks curious but not suited for everyone.

  • In general, it is not about avoiding technology, but about using it consciously instead of letting it use us and steal our time.

Thanks to the book, I now have removed Instagram from the tablet (will install it when I paint some miniature and need to upload a photo), and my RSS feeds reader from the phone, as it is true I got used to opening it when going to the bathroom and other "boring moments" that I can instead let my mind rest.

But apart from that, to be sincere I already was a kind of half digital minimalist... I try to work and study using pomodoros deleted my Facebook account years ago, I use Twitter in an very unorthodox way [1] and automatically delete old content, and even at work I employ drastic life hacks to mitigate when I get distracted.

[1]: By not following anyone in Twitter directly but through lists, I was able to greatly reduce noise and it gave me the power to filter what topics to read. Although eventually I ended up directly not using lists, and now just use it to reply if somebody mentions me or otherwise just announce blog posts or very rarely dumping some thoughts.

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