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My takeaway

Establish a philosophy for which digital tools you allow into your life, and under what constraints. Experiment and find out how to best use the technology you have—you want to maximize its value and minimize its harm. We all benefit from regular doses of solitude—you need a space to slow down all input from the world around you.

My notes

These are my informal notes from Digital Minimalism. It contains a mix of key highlights as well as my own thoughts and lessons.

  • To reestablish control over digital, we need to move beyond tweaks and instead rebuild our relationship with technology from scratch, using our deeply held values as a foundation.
  • You need a philosophy of technology use, something that covers from the ground up which digital tools you allow into your life, for what reasons, and under what constraints.
  • Focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.
  • Transform these digital innovations from a source of distraction into tools to support a life well lived.
  • Minimalists don’t mind missing out on small things; what worries them much more is diminishing the large things they already know for sure make a good life good.
  • Digital minimalists recognize that cluttering their time and attention with too many devices, apps, and services creates an overall negative cost that can swamp the small benefits that each individual item provides in isolation.
  • “The cost of a thing is the amount of life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
  • Optimizing how we use technology is just as important as how we choose what technologies to use in the first place.
  • The large attention economy firms that introduced many of our new technologies don’t want us thinking about optimization.
  • When it comes to new technologies, less almost certainly is more.
  • Your mind has developed certain expectations about distractions and entertainment, and these expectations will be disrupted when you remove optional technologies from your daily experience. This disruption can feel unpleasant.
  • A monthlong break from optional technologies resets your digital life. You can then rebuild it from scratch in a much more intentional and minimalist manner.
  • Solitude requires you to move past reacting to information created by other people and focus instead on your own thoughts and experiences—wherever you happen to be.
  • Regular doses of solitude, mixed in with our default mode of sociality, are necessary to flourish as a human being.
  • When you avoid solitude, you miss out on the positive things it brings you: the ability to clarify hard problems, to regulate your emotions, to build moral courage, and to strengthen relationships.
  • The urgency we feel to always have a phone with us is exaggerated. It’s completely reasonable to live a life in which you sometimes have a phone with you, and sometimes do not.
  • Embrace walking as a high-quality source of solitude. On a regular basis, go for long walks, preferably somewhere scenic. Take these walks alone, which means not just by yourself, but also, if possible, without your phone.