Cal Newport on Digital Minimalism: Creating a Philosophy of Personal Technology Use, Part II

The Teaching Vocation


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Missed Part I? Click here.

Continuing last week’s conversation, in this episode Dr. Newport delves into two things that have become ubiquitous in our lives: texting and email. Whether it is logistical texts with our kids or emails for work, these two technologies can occupy a large portion of our days. Indeed, even a quick text or email can cost us time, as we shift our attention between different contexts. 

While texting and email may by now feel like second nature, have we ever stopped to think about how best to use these technologies?

In addition to tackling these topics, Cal runs through three practices to help us better spend that treasure which is our time: 

  1. Practice solitude
  2. Quit socials to foster authentic conversations
  3. Reclaim true leisure

To close, Cal offers some words of wisdom to our graduating seniors, as they head off to college. If they can learn to use technology well, in an integrated and intentional way, they will be at a tremendous advantage. Their time will double, their focus sharpen, and–what is more–they’ll form meaningful friendships along the way. 

Show Highlights 

  • The necessity of times of solitude and self-reflection
  • Why you should quit social media and become truly social
  • Reclaim leisure to live more meaningful lives
  • How to integrate texting into a purposeful life
  • What psychology and brain science can teach about texting
  • What the pandemic has shown us about the dual nature of technology
  • The human brain is not a parallel processor and why this matters
  • How companies can better use email to improve workflows
  • The attention capital principle 
  • What graduating seniors can learn to make the most of technology in college–and beyond.

Suggested Reading

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Digital Minimalism

A World Without Email 

Additional Listening

Forming Deep Workers, Part I

Forming Deep Workers, Part II

Cal Newport

About the guest:

Cal Newport


Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to studying the theoretical foundations of our digital age, Newport also writes about the impact of these technologies on the world of work. His most recent book, Deep Work, argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace and that the ability to concentrate without distraction is becoming increasingly valuable. He previously wrote So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a book which debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice, and three popular books of unconventional advice for students.