Is it possible to align your use technology with your most deeply held values? This is the question that Cal Newport seeks to answer in his latest book, Digital Minimalism.
For those of you who don’t already know Cal, he’s the author of the runaway hit Deep Work and one of my absolute favorite writers on the topic of attention. He’s also managed to accrue no small amount of critical and commercial acclaim as a writer without ever setting foot on social media.
In this conversation, we go deep on how to rein in your digital addictions. We talk about the surprising impact of Cal’s 30-day digital declutter experiment on 1600 human guinea pigs, the idea of embracing “analog social media,” and how managing your “attention capital” is the secret to getting ahead.
Key takeaways from our conversation:
- How to use technology in a way that aligns with your most deeply held values
- Why doing a “30-day digital declutter” is so transformative and how to go about doing one
- What “attention capital” is, and how managing it is the most important aspect of succeeding in the Age of Distraction
- How to shift your focus from working in a way that’s convenient to working in a way that’s intentional
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“I’m glad that we’re worried about digital wellness, but I think we have to go beyond small tweaks and hacks, and start thinking seriously about ‘What is the role of technology in our modern notion of the good life?’”
“Start with your deeply held values. For each of those values, say, ‘What is the best way to use technology to help this value?’ The answers to those questions basically dictate what technology you allow in your life and how you use it. Everything else you’re happy to miss out on.”
“If you eliminate embodied interaction from your life, it’s basically letting massive parts of your brain atrophy. And that just gets you in trouble. We have to get suspicious when you take something that has been evolved into us over hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years, and figure that something that some 21-year-old thought up in the rec room of a tech incubator can replace it without there being problems.”
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A shortlist of the ideas & resources that come up in our conversation:
- Cal’s fantastic new book Digital Minimalism
- Audio Dharma episode on embodied speech vs disembodied speech
- Insights from Cal’s 30-day digital declutter experiment
- Alex Honnold and a theory of “attention capital”
- Dan Pink on attention vs intention
- Follow Cal’s blog at: CalNewport.com
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