I was more or less convinced before I picked the book up that I’m wasting too much time on social media and my ability to focus is becoming fragmented. I read this to hear his solution to this issue: Ruthlessly cutting out digital tools that don’t bring you value.
I’d consider myself, in Newport’s parlance, a digital maximalist. I have accounts on every major platform, am an early-adopter of new digital platforms, social networks, and tools, and evangelize tools I find useful. My always connected.
While I generally love this, I’ve noticed that my ability to focus for long periods of time and to sit and observe without needing a distraction (my phone) has diminished significantly. This is a problem. I value my observation abilities and don’t want to lose them. I also have so many things I want to do: Blog posts to write, spoons to carve, places to explore, etc.
- How much am I missing by mindlessly scrolling through my phone?
- What could I be doing instead of scrolling?
- How much value am I getting from the scrolling anyway?
After reading this, I decided to do a 30 day digital declutter with my friend Chris. Details and guidelines here.
One thing I like about Cal Newport’s books is that they are highly skimmable. Each chapter is divided into claim and evidence, and the book as a whole is divided into the problem and the solution. If you are already convinced and want the action items, skip to Part 2. If the claims seem reasonable enough, skip the evidence and go to the next chapter.
Related: Cal Newport is also the author of “Deep Work - Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”, which I also read.