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Cal Newport podcast: Digital Minimalism

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Andy Black

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Kinda scary what we’re doing to ourselves and our kids:

http://www.tropicalmba.com/calnewport2/

What’s your biggest takeaways?

What will you do differently going forward?
 

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PureA

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I am huge on this topic at the moment! Big fan of Cal Newport. I was counting down the days to his recent book launch.

(with help from Atomic Habits) I have set up my whole life to avoid tech/phones and engage in more deep meaningful work (and play).

What some actionable things you can do to reduce your tech time and engage in more fulfilling activities?

- Use an alarm clock, not your phone - do not start your day by checking your phone (puts you straight into reactivity not proactivity.)
- Use 'distraction free' chrome plugin. This blocks your youtube homepage feed, suggested videos and comments if you wish. (now you don't have to battle supercomputer algorithms who's job is to keep you watching) - this probably saves me 2 hours a day.
- Facebook news feed eradicator plugin (no fb newsfeed)
- Delete iMessage from your mac. (or at least switch off notifications and close the app)
- Delete social from your phone.
- If you work with your phone in your field of vision, stop. Put it in another room, turn it off. Just having your phone in your field of vision has your brain working overtime to stop yourself from checking it.
- Turn off ALL push notifications on your phone. (Use your phone, don't let your phone use you)
- Use software (Cold Turkey Blocker) to lock my mac at 9.30pm so I have to wind down for bed (there's no way to get around it).
- Set up greyscale (black and white screen) on your phone, your brain loses 80% of interest, its crazy!
- Block sites on phone that you frequently derp around on (for me this is youtube/reddit)
- Block sites/add time limits to your chrome browser with the 'wastenotime' plugin. (e.g. I get 1 min a day of facebook/whilst certain forums are perma-blocked and other sites I can only use between leisure hours).

That's all I can remember for now, il add more as they pop up.

Seems a lot? It's up to you how far you want to go. But by making these decisions ONE-TIME you literally claim pieces of your life back as a by product of an earlier decision. Certainly for me, hours a day (this adds up fast - imagine the cumulative effect over a decade).

Another guy to check out if you find this topic interesting is Tristan Harris (specifically his interview with Sam Harris)
 
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iizu

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I listened the newest TMBA podcast, and in that one he mentioned many times that we are now beyond tips, tricks and lifehacks.

Basically, you need to: Get completely rid off the digital world, face the temporary void, go out and connect with people.

 

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Interesting podcast (not finished it yet).

For me it’s all about having things in moderation. I haven’t posted to Facebook in years. In fact I recently set up a new account so I could join some marketing related groups, and have only a very limited number of people on it (I can count them on one hand, which probably makes me look like Billy no-mates )

I use momentum for Chrome as my default home page which ties in with my daily goals. There is no news feed or anything like that.

I shut the PC down between 3 and 4pm when I leave to hit the gym. It doesn’t go back on till the morning.

My daily gym session and sauna afterwards removes any stress the day may have created.

I don’t feel overwhelmed by technology nor do I feel a slave to it.
 

msufan

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Just read his new Digital Minimalism book and I highly recommend it! I am trying the 30-day tech "fast" and am already realizing how much time I have been losing on low-level tech chatter. Social media does not deliver enough value for me to justify its continued usage, and I definitely plan to make some permanent changes in that area.

Thankful to Cal Newport for this book, which even though it wasn't super-scientific, brought this issue to the forefront of my mind. I now truly NOTICE what I'm doing with my online time, which wasn't always the case before.
 

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If you step back and observe culture around you (while you don't have your phone in your hand) you will see some truly disturbing things. And then if you don't embrace the technology, you risk getting called a "luddite" or a techno-phobe. What the smartphone has done to all of us (particularily the younger generation) is downright scary.

You hear over and over that they can't focus on one thing, or as Cal Newport says, they can't do any Deep Work. Deep Work is required for great things and progress.

I struggle with the same things as described in his work, and yet, I'm cognizant of the perils. A 19 year old kid probably isn't. And it is rewiring brains negatively. I see it in my own life and I try "moderation".
 

JunkBoxJoey_JBJ

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- Set up greyscale (black and white screen) on your phone, your brain loses 80% of interest, its crazy!
Just went grey on the phone & desk... Wow.
 
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Something that struck me from the podcast was when he said that for the first time in history people can totally avoid solitude throughout their waking day.

From memory he defined solitude as “not being influenced by other people’s thoughts” (it wasn’t exactly that).

He’s a big advocate of walking and how it helps us. I’ve noticed that too... go for a walk and get lost in your own thoughts. Come back peaceful, and knowing what to do next.

He cites some researcher who says the anxiety the iGen have is off the charts. She studies the differences between generations and can pretty much pinpoint the stepchange in her charts as being when the iPhone was released.

I’ll listen to that podcast again because there was a lot more to it than that, it’s just that the benefits of solitude is what still resonates with me a week or so after the first listen.

I think this is one of the hidden dangers of continuous consumption. When you’re consuming, you don’t hear yourself think. If I’m on the coach to the airport listening to a podcast, then I’m filling my head up, not clearing it.

People often talk about “filling the dead time” by listening to podcasts when they’re doing something else, like mowing the lawn or ironing their clothes. I wonder though why people believe time alone with your thoughts is wasted?
 

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He’s a big advocate of walking and how it helps us. I’ve noticed that too... go for a walk and get lost in your own thoughts. Come back peaceful, and knowing what to do next.

I wonder why people believe time alone with your thoughts is wasted?
From here:

What you can learn from Einstein’s quirky habits

DAILY WALKS

Einstein’s daily walk was sacred to him. While he was working at Princeton University, New Jersey, he’d walk the mile and a half journey there and back. He followed in the footsteps of other diligent walkers, including Darwin who went for three 45 minute walks every day.

These constitutionals weren’t just for fitness – there’s mountains of evidence that walking can boost memory, creativity and problem-solving. For creativity at least, walking outside is even better. But why?

When you think about it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Walking distracts the brain from more cerebral tasks, and forces it to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and not falling over. Enter ‘transient hypofrontality’ – translated into basic English, this impressive mouthful basically means temporarily toning down the activity in certain parts of the brain. In particular, the frontal lobes, which are involved in higher processes such as memory, judgement and language.

By turning it down a notch, the brain adopts a totally different style of thinking – one which may lead to insights you wouldn’t get at your desk. There isn’t any evidence for this explanation of walking’s benefits yet, but it’s a tantalising idea.
 

rogue synthetic

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Solitude is a perplexing thing.

The Western gestalt has a fairly skewed idea of what it means to be alone. We tend to look at being alone as a total withdrawal from others. That's an unusual thought when you compare it with how most Eastern traditions think of being a self and being with others. Even ancient thinkers in Greece and Rome didn't see the private/public distinction quite the way we do now. Consider what Aristotle had to say about the importance of the polis (the city/community) and of the value of friendship.

Being with others is something that needs to be in balance. There are better and worse ways to do it.

Newport pushes alone-ness to such an extreme that I often wonder if he's going too far in the opposite direction. No person can be fully withdrawn from the other people around him/her, if only because you think in the same shared set of words and common ideas as everyone else. You're a product of your culture and your language and your history. Complete withdrawal would be as bad for you as 24/7 Brawndo ads broadcast into your mind.

To be fair to him though, he's right that we do need and benefit from personal time away from intense focus. Ascetic and meditative practices have been part of every historical human community. This can confuse SCIENCE! people who can't make a decision unless an MRI scanner provides some brain-jargon to name drop; being one of those things that seems to be everywhere, there's probably something to it.

And he's definitely right that the kinds of sociality we are currently developing thanks to portable addiction-tech are highly dysfunctional. It's not the being-away-from-others that matters so much as being away from the endless chattering of the termite-hives we've made for ourselves.

Ancient writers would have thought so too -- we've basically obliterated the difference between public and private life. That's one hell of a dysfunctional polis we've made for ourselves.

Which excuses some of the extreme-ness of the stance -- sometimes extreme circumstances call for extreme polarization.
 

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Newport pushes alone-ness to such an extreme that I often wonder if he's going too far in the opposite direction.
I think that's possible.

For instance I'm so far removed from culture that my ability to spot ideas has diminished quite a bit -- how can one provide value for culture if one removes himself from it?
 

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In the podcast they also discuss the shallow engagements with the shallow content on Facebook. A meaningless post can get thousands of Likes.

Yet when Cal created a blog post asking who would be prepared to be a digital minimalist for 30 days and report back to him, he ended up with 1,600 volunteers. He thinks that long post wouldn't have received any Likes if it was posted on Facebook, but it moved 1,600 people to make a reasonably significant change in their lives.
 

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Something else from that podcast was how they mention the shallow engagements that shallow content gets on Facebook. Something meaningless can get thousands of Likes.

Yet when Cal created a blog post asking who would be prepared to be a digital minimalist for 30 days and report back to him, he ended up with 1,600 volunteers. He thinks that long post wouldn't have got any likes if it was posted on Facebook, but it moved 1,600 people to make a reasonably significant change in their lives.
Right.

Heard that part and laughed, literally. Although it’s not really funny when we go deeper.
 

JunkBoxJoey_JBJ

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I think that's possible.

For instance I'm so far removed from culture that my ability to spot ideas has diminished quite a bit -- how can one provide value for culture if one removes himself from it?
Your first sentence is deeper than I think.

Which leads to the next sentence and your question.

My answer is, I'm not sure if you can.

I can picture you in the "Hills" or in the "Red Rocks" as this person who is so successful in many, many ways and has given back to society also in many ways (while also admitting to being an introvert). But at the same time becoming "removed" from culture.

Then I think MJ must get frustrated with some of "us" sometimes or society at times because of the way he views things. But yet, he is just trying to make us realize we don't have to bang our heads against the wall. And I picture MJ there with us saying, "Hello, there is another way".

Combine that with perhaps you have removed yourself slowly from culture at first (during your earlier days) and now not even deliberately removing yourself, but over time here you are more removed than ever thought or planned.

And based on your quote I picture you asking, "How can I provide more to them if I am slowly getting out of it".

As good as you were/are at spotting things, I think you would have to treat it like any other muscle and continue to use it to be proficient at it.

Respectfully, this is just an empathy rant with nothing but good intentions.
 

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I listened the newest TMBA podcast, and in that one he mentioned many times that we are now beyond tips, tricks and lifehacks.

Basically, you need to: Get completely rid off the digital world, face the temporary void, go out and connect with people.

So funny, so true!
 

LuckyPup

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Your first sentence is deeper than I think.

Which leads to the next sentence and your question.

My answer is, I'm not sure if you can.

I can picture you in the "Hills" or in the "Red Rocks" as this person who is so successful in many, many ways and has given back to society also in many ways (while also admitting to being an introvert). But at the same time becoming "removed" from culture.

Then I think MJ must get frustrated with some of "us" sometimes or society at times because of the way he views things. But yet, he is just trying to make us realize we don't have to bang our heads against the wall. And I picture MJ there with us saying, "Hello, there is another way".

Combine that with perhaps you have removed yourself slowly from culture at first (during your earlier days) and now not even deliberately removing yourself, but over time here you are more removed than ever thought or planned.

And based on your quote I picture you asking, "How can I provide more to them if I am slowly getting out of it".

As good as you were/are at spotting things, I think you would have to treat it like any other muscle and continue to use it to be proficient at it.

Respectfully, this is just an empathy rant with nothing but good intentions.
I'm digressing a bit, but it seems like a case of familiarity breeding contempt - it's something I struggle with, too. Eventually I want to distance myself from the people I sell to or associate with, which hinders me from seeing future opportunities. It might be an introvert thing, or it might be just a loose screw in my noggin.
 

JunkBoxJoey_JBJ

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I'm digressing a bit, but it seems like a case of familiarity breeding contempt - it's something I struggle with, too. Eventually I want to distance myself from the people I sell to or associate with, which hinders me from seeing future opportunities. It might be an introvert thing, or it might be just a loose screw in my noggin.
LuckyPup,

I don't even think it's a screw loose with you.

...although ; )

I think people are just tired of the complete and utter bullsh*t and shenanigans people try in business and life. Combine that with the reason for this thread and the disconnection among humans and lack of empathy thereof, I am sure it is very easy to struggle with (...for all of us at some point).

Edit: typo/grammar/(all of us)
 
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JunkBoxJoey_JBJ

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How did you greyscale your desktop?
System Preferences - search bar - grayscale - Accessibility

Still using on phone too (worth it so far)
 

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I greyscaled for a few hours, then remembered I need to see the desktop and mobile user experience how everyone else does.

It’s hard for me to give feedback on a new landing page design when I can’t see the colours.
 

PureA

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Something that struck me from the podcast was when he said that for the first time in history people can totally avoid solitude throughout their waking day.

From memory he defined solitude as “not being influenced by other people’s thoughts” (it wasn’t exactly that).

He’s a big advocate of walking and how it helps us. I’ve noticed that too... go for a walk and get lost in your own thoughts. Come back peaceful, and knowing what to do next.

He cites some researcher who says the anxiety the iGen have is off the charts. She studies the differences between generations and can pretty much pinpoint the stepchange in her charts as being when the iPhone was released.

I’ll listen to that podcast again because there was a lot more to it than that, it’s just that the benefits of solitude is what still resonates with me a week or so after the first listen.

I think this is one of the hidden dangers of continuous consumption. When you’re consuming, you don’t hear yourself think. If I’m on the coach to the airport listening to a podcast, then I’m filling my head up, not clearing it.

People often talk about “filling the dead time” by listening to podcasts when they’re doing something else, like mowing the lawn or ironing their clothes. I wonder though why people believe time alone with your thoughts is wasted?
I always walk/run without my phone and headphones for this exact reason.

It's hard to quantify the benefit so people don't do it.

Ever been in a mental mess, taken a long walk and then suddenly all the answers are laid out for you?

Time for your brain to do 'nothing' is very important imo, it's generally where the true breakthroughs are.
 

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PureA

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I greyscaled for a few hours, then remembered I need to see the desktop and mobile user experience like everyone else.

Hard for me to give feedback on a new landing page design when I can’t see the colours.
tip: You can set up your phone so a triple tap of the home button switches it back and fourth from greyscale! :)

General -> Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut.
 

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Speaking about the benefits of silence, has anyone tried a Vipasanna Meditation retreat? (10 days of meditation and silence)
 
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