Cal Newport’s first book we read, Deep Work, was a MAJOR game changer for me. I mean like a serious life change. Because of this, I wanted to take this book very seriously. And so I did. I committed to taking this book as seriously as I could and incorporating as much of it into my life as I can.
To preface, I don’t feel like my digital uses are out of control. But I do know I want to develop as much as deep work into my life as possible. And this is what Digital Minimalism is all about. Taking your digital life out of things that distracts you from things important and into something’s that sends you into o true meaning of satisfaction. It’s not about living like a hermit as much as possible. It’s about what task or vision you are trying to accomplish, and what’s the least technologically invasive way to go about it. And that’s a beautiful question. It’s actually similar to how Porsche goes about designing its cars, as Jerry Seinfeld explains to Jay Leno. See video (1:24 mark) in footnotes! And here he talks about more Porsches and minimalism.
So, in light of all of this, and because a few people seemed interested on my thoughts on this book, here is a brief response to the some of the most crucial ideas written about by Newport.
Well I can’t do that. I need to be on facebook to schmooze my products and ministries. I need to berate people’s feeds so they might partner or subscribe. But maybe I could just stop my own personal life posts and keep social media for minsitry/business? But if I don’t post personally, people will feel all my professional posts are all just gimmicks. But Newport gave the point that if you need it for work, you could set up rules around it.
Love this. Whenever I read about this and Thoreau it blows me away that he was writing in the mid-1800s. His essential argument is to also consider life costs. A car may be only $5,000 dollars but what is the time stress and money to secure and maintain the car? What is the cost, but also what is the costs?
Ask 3 questions about technology, before you implement it.
- Does this technology support something I deeply value?
- Is it the best way to support this value?
- How can I use this tool that maximizes benefit and minimizes harm?
Considering this list of technologies I employ at least weekly for my work (Slack, Evernote, Teachable, VoiceThread, Zoom, Calendly, Gemlius, Google Drive, Drop Box, Spark, Mevo) I really appreciate these questions and am committing them to memory. I wonder if these, or future ideas, are just good ideas but the life cost might make it not worth it. Newport’s example of the Amish was particularly interesting in this regard. The Amish are actually not anti-technology. If it’s useful they use it, test it, and consider it, and they ask those three questions listed above.
Social Media is not Social.
What a great line. There were a lot of suggestions when it came to social media. One of them being, “stop clicking like.” At first I thought that would be awesome. But then I realized (this may sound silly) but some of the pastoral care that comes from clicking like. Obviously this is not even 1% of what pastoral care should be, but still, my engagement in people’s lives by clicking “like” is meaningful. But his advice to us to not leave non-valuable comments. I can get on board with that.
Schedule your texting and calling times.
Done. Need to get better scheduling my others times (batching my email etc.).
Newport pointed out, “The more effort you put into leisure activities the more you will be rewarded with satisfaction and leave feeling energized.” I have felt this before but never thought to articulate it like this. I’ve known for a while that those who work with their minds should really have hobbies with their hands. Taking after Rick Warren, who I’ve seen his videos of him gardening, I began to try gardening as well. When I lived in Modesto and we bought our first home there, I bought 10 different fruit trees and planted them all throughout my back front and back yards. Asian Pear, Pomegranate, Apple, Cherry, Mandarin, Plum, Avocado, and a row of blueberry bushes, I planted and maintained the two years we lived there. We barely got any fruit from these tree’s, since we ended up moving after two years, but the hobby itself was very life-giving to me. Being in an apartment now it was much more difficult and sadder to be without this hobby.
Additionally, my plans are, (after graduation) to pick back up a much more physical hobby. Right now, I enjoy working out but I am considering something with a little bit more commitment and discipline, like picking back up Jui Jit Su. How cool would it be to have a D.Min. and a black belt?
Lastly, Newport’s idea of scheduling low quality activies was a little confusing. To me, this means something like doing a puzzle or some sort of non-extravagent but satisfying accomplishment. Candy Crush doesn’t count for this. When my wife and I have been in confusing seasons together or frustrating circumstances, doing Puzzles together has actually been a really great level of activity to do together, as boring as it may sound.
New Technology Rules
When you first wake up, how long until you check your email and facebook posts. This is something I used to do within seconds of waking up. Lately Ive been waiting a bit longer, maybe a couple minutes. I think my rule should be more like 30 minutes, or after breakfast.
Solitude is vital
Time alone with your thoughts. I schedule a fair amount of work solitude. Whether that’s my door is closed, or im wearing my noise canceling head phones in my office. Newport’s point that solitude brings new ideas, builds appreciation, and helps human flourishing.
Use single purpose devices.
Done. Changing my kindle now. Downgrading device… ummmm not gonna happen. I disagree here. When I first started youth ministry, if I went on a trip I would need a laptop, camera, video camera… now I can do it all on my phone. That is much more minimalist marie kondo style I think.
Marie Kondo’s digital habits…
Speaking of Marie Kondo, for a fun mash-up I wanted to share with you Marie Kondo’s guide for decluttering repurposed for digital content. Marie Kondo writes that, “”The biggest mistake with digital tidying is focusing too much on what to discard” and she shares that she does a digital purge once a week from my iPhone. Here are a few other key questions that may be helpful in dealing with our digital clutter.
- What are you thankful for that your technology gives you?
- What are you thankful for that your technology takes away from you?
- What kind of mindset do you want to achieve?
- What do you want to spend more time doing?
- How specifically is your technology taking that time away from you?
To end, here is a picture of my desktop. I think that gives me an F for this week.