deep work vs digital minimalism
A formula that does not work well is when you sprinkle your day with appointments. But it’s hard to do all that without extracting myself from the muck and the mire. Cal Newport: Yeah. Spending more alone time in the company of the one person who drags you harder than anyone else on earth doesn’t seem like such a great idea. I recently ran some surveys on how people felt about these terms, along with ‘lifestyle design’, ‘intentionality’, and ‘deliberate living’, because I’m trying to figure out which one to go with (. Cal Newport: Well, I think one of the more interesting things is that this model of phone use that we have today, this constant companion model in which you’re constantly looking at your phone throughout the day, we incorrectly think about that as somehow being fundamental to the technology, right? I like you. Yeah I like to debate personally , I like to pursue truth more than consensus. , so I asked him for an advance copy. Cal talks a lot about the benefits of writing in particular, which I am very much sold on. It’s not like, yeah, this is what this tech is. If you are one of the few to systematically cultivate your ability to concentrate intently without distraction, you’re going to get a huge competitive advantage. You could generate more money. Most of the tips are on the most basic level of action: don’t buy expensive coffees, save for your retirement, etc. Deep Work. I’m believer in the FI part, but I don’t warm up to RE. There’s a great equation in there where you say “high quality work equals time spent times the intensity of focus.” And that seems to be your secret as far as how you can actually—you rarely work after 5 p.m. And you rarely work on weekends. I got to set up events.”. Cal’s confidence in his theory certainly makes me question the wisdom of racing to FIRE to then pursue hobbies, passion work, family, travel, etc because he says that will never make me happy. And that’s autonomy, competence, and relatedness, being able to do things on your own and get things done, and then being good at what you’re doing, and then all of a sudden working with others and being valued. And the forces were so powerful that just good advice, good intentions, small tips didn’t work. At the top of my pristine new feed, I saw a post from someone I admire very much, but had never thought to engage with directly. The rise in mental health issues—and in particular, anxiety and anxiety-related disorders—were literally off the chart. And even then, there might be archived versions that will exist forever. Well, the original source of that idea was actually where the title of the book comes from which is this famous Steve Martin quote. About you, social approval indicators coming at you intermittently in your phone wherever you are, that’s what created this behavior of “I always look at my phone.”. Cal Newport: Right! You have a very specific reason to use it. For one thing, you might end up reverse-engineering or rediscovering your existing values, entirely by accident. You must read Deep work before Digital Minimalism to fully appreciate Cals perspective. And that’s why we get these paradoxical research studies that show that the more people use social media, the more likely they are to be lonely. When you spend more time focusing on a small number of important things, your world just seems more meaningful and interesting than if you instead take that same time and scatter it among lots of different things, especially things that are superficial or low quality. Instead of being, All of this is a long-winded way of saying: it’s really cool that Cal wrote. I got to get a family member on the phone. Great interview! I think they’re more-or-less self-evident; if you think otherwise, you can read Cal’s arguments. And as part of the book, you have this thing called a digital detox. They can have fun with friends and family without the obsessive urge to document the experience. So, in essence, it was a response to reactions to So Good They Can’t Ignore You which is, “Okay, if we buy your premise, how do we become so good at something we can’t be ignored?” And the answer seems to be at least a knowledge pursuit, so cognitive pursuits. So obviously, you’re not on social media. I am lucky because this practice is baked into my life already. One, we don’t have a lot of evidence that most people have pre-existing passions that they could easily identify and use to select a job. The best part is, while they are great on their own, they also have implications for improving your experiences in … The Enlightenment and ensuing boom in science and technology has done amazing things for us, but also created something of a vacuum. You have to choose something; you might as well choose deliberately. Thanks! And so, I think for people who use it a lot, but not as much as Gen Z, what they have is this persistent background hub of anxiety that they’ve just come to accept as just our normal state of affairs. Get rid of your phones? Remove the apps from your phone, then slowly re-introduce only the ones that are the most useful and beneficial. Is this aligned with my sense of identity? And then, I will check my email after it and forget that it was closed the whole time. It’s been fantastic. So, I got your book. I think a serious issue for the FIER crowd to think about is because when I ran this big experiment with all the people who went through this declutter, what was clear is that it’s actually really hard to fill your time when you don’t have this. I mean we don’t really have a lot of evidence that that’s the case. And they tried to trick us into thinking, “Well, this is just what it means to live in a high tech culture. Nothing at all. You’d think that the question of how to live would be more urgent today than ever before. Hi Debbi – snap! I was just finishing up grad school plus the post doc years, about to go to the academic job market which, if you do correctly, is going to be your first and last job. are badly served by the concept of a work/life balance. What do I find meaning doing?”. Digital minimalism is about your personal life. I’ve hidden things from Facebook, so that it’s just like the core friends that I want to keep in touch with and things like that. in fact a deranged hellsite, but a wondrous place to workshop interesting ideas. Really interesting podcast that put into words a lot of thoughts about work and retirement that I’ve had and experienced over the years. That was actually introduced and widely copied because what that created was social approval indicators that you could see about yourself every time you tap the app. You’re actually still very blog-centric, which I love (which I think is a great medium). I am a new blogger myself and sincerely want to know if being a facebook / twitter / Pinterest / Tumblr / Instagram sort of maniac is necessary to be relevant and what the personal cost of this feels like from someone in the know? I found with the publicity campaign for my most recent book, I’ve had to add an early morning work session because the terrible thing about publicity tours is that there are things that are scheduled sprinkled throughout the day. It had to be the 30 days. OK, now I’m too scared to ever tweet again, but the lesson is there. Damn, yeah that conscientiousness score is rough. The students who came in who had smart phones as teenagers, they’re here. Thank you for spreading the word!!! Her mom got on Facebook in her 70’s to see pictures of her grandkid. And it was right before we were going on a ski trip. Cal Newport: Just say, “What’s your story?” Almost always, what you’ll find is that they didn’t have a pre-existing passion. There’s a reason why she’s doing that with physical possessions, is because you have to have dramatic break. And yet it takes me 30 minutes. Cal’s comments were a compelling case to disconnect but at the same time do you need to do a great deal of social media to serve your audience? That, plus the fact that Newport writes well, made it a worthwhile use of my evening. And I don’t think they knew what I was going to be talking about. You’ve been DM’ing people on Twitter. I got a 0th percentile conscientiousness score, which kind of hurts lol. And now, she’s on Facebook constantly—hours a day. Over the years, I’ve pared down because I’m like, “I didn’t work this hard to now just spend all these hours just refreshing the same webpage and stuff like that.” So, over the years, I’ve cut back. We don’t look at our screens that much. Mad Fientist: Absolutely! And so, I think part of why I was excited to talk to the FIER crowd is that you guys are willing to consider drastic ideas. And that really made me sad. And then, you rebuild it from scratch. Basically, what I said is let’s take this ancient idea, this ancient idea of minimalism—which has been around forever, like back to the ancients through Thoreau into the modern minimalist movement, into the FIER community, which I really see is something that came out of the neo-minimalism movement that started in the first decade of the 2000s online. In the evening, if I’m out there, you could just talk to me. So, could you maybe talk a little bit about how you stumbled across that and some of the things that went into actually realizing that, actually, not working hard is what’s going to make you the happiest? Cal, I can’t thank you enough for coming on the show. Join over 100,000 others on the Mad Fientist email list to get access to exclusive content and software! And so, I definitely learned this working on this book. It’s not even like, “Oh, I’m doing this, but I could be doing something else.”. I mean, we’ve all read the same articles about turning off notifications or not having the phone in your room at night. I was skeptical, but intrigued. Jean Twenge has this big, new book out called iGen. And I was like, “Alright! So, I highly recommend you check it out. That’s almost always better than trying to scatter that attention about lots of things that are potentially have lower value. And yet, I’m still a fan of these kinds of vague experiments. This is the whole game, right? In this timely and enlightening book, the bestselling author of Deep Workintroduces a philosophy for technology use that has already improved countless lives. She’s like, “Smart phones.” That’s the difference. I’ve followed Cal’s blog for a decade now and have enjoyed watching his blog’s theme transition from college productivity to passion cultivation to workplace productivity now to digital minimalism. So, as you get better at something, something that the market actually values, you get more leverage. Everyone is at least vaguely aware that too much screen time can be harmful, that tech companies are competing to strip-mine our attention, and using all sorts of creepy tricks to do so. They wanted to be in nature. Cal points out that our state of constant connectedness is very unusual by historical standards. For deep work, the lead measure “is time spent in a state of deep work dedicated toward your wildly important goal.” Lag measures describe your output, ... Digital Minimalism. Congratulations on 4.5 years, and thank you for the kind words. But that’s just the first step to it. And it was introduced into our culture primarily from the major social media platforms. It makes me uncomfortable to know how much info i have put online…. Big fan of your writing per usual. I like being alone and uninterrupted while I do my ‘deep work’, but other than that I enjoy being around people. Cal talks about maximum autonomy, and I think he’s right on about that. You’re trying to maximize the time you can spend on the things that are the most important. But the best one has been just shutting down my email for the entire day. Secondly, you can try on new identities or value systems for size, and see how they feel. I just LOVE your podcast Brandon. I figured some of you would be interested, too. Are we all just being led around like mindless drones needing to break free from the Matrix? It's the key to living a focused life in an increasingly noisy world. I wish there was a like button or something haha. People would post things about themselves. Plus there are obviously lots of good strategies for constraining yourself, like Cal’s stuff. It’s not like, okay, cars are really convenient, but a side effect is there’s going to be car crashes that people are going to die. Why You Should Try Digital Minimalism. Honestly: it’s poorly-written and grates in various ways. is the care he takes in unpicking the various tradeoffs involved. Digital minimalism applies this idea to our personal technology. But I want to obviously ask you the question I ask everyone. But yeah, that was the biggest thing. And some of it was about it’s affecting their work. Digital Minimalism is an ideal read for entrepreneurs who have a hard time focusing on producing their best work because of distracting technology. And I know you’ve talked about this. I definitely do not want to sit and watch Netflix all day! Deep work is more about how to do really good work and not be distracted by things like email and things like that. They looked at a lot of different explanations. (I recommend it! I think FIRE can force you to really confront these issues. You share them which is what we’re going to be talking about today—which is really exciting. And so, I made this economic argument in that book that said deep work is becoming increasingly valuable in the dollar sector of the economy. As recently as the 1990s, there’d be all sorts of occasions throughout the day where you had nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs and think. Required fields are marked *. One of the things I appreciate most about. You don’t want to take that lightly. James Clear joins me on the Financial Independence Podcast to talk about productivity, deliberate practice, fasting, and his new book - Atomic Habits! After the phenomenal success of Newport’s book on Deep Work (it was positively reviewed by publications such as The Economist, The Guardian, The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few), he continued writing on the intersection of technology, lifestyle, and personal productivity, but this time with a deeper focus on how we use technology. As might be expected of a computer science professor, Cal Newport is no technology-hating luddite. I’ve been a big fan of Cal’s for many years now. I’m laughing at myself now…enough “conspiracy talk”! It’s your brain crying out for help saying, “I’m not supposed to be doing this type of high octane, low bit rate digital interaction all day.” This isn’t what the brain is supposed to be doing. And there’ll be maybe 20 emails that would have just completely destroyed that period of work had it been open and pinging and just checking it. Everyone knows most of this stuff already. So, I read quite a bit. Now just check your email to confirm! You might have to get even more meta, and step up to the third level of action: Why am I doing this? You should spend less time doing this. There was an error submitting your subscription. And you say Deep Work is the superpower of the 21st century. Here’s my new thing. And Cal’s books have been really helpful to me in that regard. Instead of being fixated on an end result, I can enjoy the process. And you say that pursuing your passion is sort of overrated. , I’m not sure if my experience is representative. makes a solid case for cutting down on technological distractions and enjoying the benefits of an offline life. Guess you’re ahead of the game! If you want detailed arguments, you can read the book. . But they have some sort of philosophy that’s based on their values and they believe in it. Thanks for having me. What values am I trying to fulfil? Instead of constantly fighting against yourself, you have to find some way to bring all three levels into alignment, so that your actions, environment, and values are pulling together in unison. This blog is at risk of becoming the last bastion. That’s a great point on hedonic adaptation too. How do I get most of the value? It’s like we’re taking a reverse [neurotrophic] that makes us dumber. It’s just relatively arbitrary. alone time in the company of the one person who drags you harder than anyone else on earth doesn’t seem like such a great idea. It’s now March and I have ZERO desire to go back on FB. For example: Facebook produced some studies demonstrating that social media is. I mean it will help reduce the compulsive urge to check a screen. The more drastic the steps, the more drastic the improvement that you might actually end up with. Thanks for your thoughtful comment- hope you enjoy the rest of the book. So I was excited to get him on the show because even though he doesn’t write about early retirement specifically, everything that he does write about is applicable to early retirees—and it’s actually even more important for them. To be a digital minimalist, you need to be hyper-aware of your relationship with technology. Therefore, argument over, stop thinking about it. But the trade-off is they’re giving up what you call career capital. Well, I mean just briefly, the way the book came about was, in part, Deep Work readers were saying exactly that. There’s all these famous thinkers and philosophers going back all the way to Aristotle to Arnold Binet more recently who all say we want to be doing important things. How do we end up getting happy to work? I mean why would they spend so much money? I think a pretty healthy heft of digital minimalism and daily walks /runs without headphones is good enough. At the same time, due to technological innovations, it’s becoming increasingly rare. 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