Digital Minimalism and a Side of Solitude

Photo: Andrew Guan | Unsplash

It makes sense that he has a new book coming out because Cal Newport has been coming at me from every which angle over the past week or so. The bestselling author of Deep Work, Newport has been appearing on a number of podcasts and as a source in many articles promoting his upcoming title, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Check him out on the latest episodes of the Hurry Slowly podcast and The Ezra Klein Show, both of which I enjoyed, and read this interview he did with Tim Herrera for The New York Times Smarter Living newsletter a couple days ago if you’re interested in learning how to minimize the digital distractions in your day.

Newport’s work has had a huge influence on my ever-evolving relationship with technology and how I structure my work days so that I can focus on whatever it is I need to focus on without getting derailed by something I probably shouldn’t have been paying attention to in the first place. His concepts have also helped me become more mindful in general and encouraged me to give more thought to what’s really important in life and how I want to spend my time (working or not).

One of the topics he discussed with Klein on his most recent show was solitude, which Newport defined as “freedom from inputs from other minds,” and I thought about that a lot on my run yesterday. Most Mondays for the past two years I’ve run the same 4-mile loop from my house—by myself, no watch (this is a relatively recent development), no phone, no music, no podcasts—just me and my thoughts and nothing (or no one) else. And as much as I love sharing miles and conversations with other people, there’s something to be said for this type of solitude and the freedom it provides me. In fact, it’s the most important run I do all week.

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