Digital Minimalism Summary – Cal Newport’s Best Book?

The feeling of being clustered and bombarded with news and media is not foreign to most people. Companies and other institutions have drastically increased their social media presence and advertisements to match human attention.

Furthermore, these sites and media play to a psychological need for events and stories that we become hooked on. Cal Newport wrote Digital Minimalism as a map towards becoming balanced towards our digital exposure.

This post is a summary of Digital Minimalism, highlighting the best concepts and ideas we have got from reading it and we are also going to tell you whether it is worth reading the complete book

Digital Minimalism Summary

Newport takes inspiration from Marie Kondo and her principles, that to achieve more, you must do less. The book’s entire premise is taking an old concept of focusing on being an expert in a few things rather than dabbling in many. Great people are remembered for doing one critical thing rather than small advances. These principles are not new, but they are certainly more difficult to obtain in modern society.

Digital Minimalism Book summary - Cal Newport

There is no escaping the digital world and its various advertisements, promotions, and information spread, but by learning to shut out the noise and beating FOMO (fear of missing out) you can lead a very successful life with blissful ignorance towards 99% of information that may not even pertain to you. Achieving digital freedom may be impossible, but below is an exploration of the principles that will lead to digital minimalism.

Best ideas from Digital Minimalism summarized

Here are some of the best ideas and concepts from the book Digital Minimalism, summarized for you.

The 3 Principles of Digital Minimalism

Reduce clutter, optimize, and state your intentions. If this entire section can be summarized in one sentence, that would be it. The beauty of this book comes from its simplicity, which is synonymous with its minimalistic title and book cover. Newport goes on to explain using an example of the law of diminishing returns, which in business can also be attributed to the lean method or the 80/20 rule.

Although not an exact percentage, the 80/20 rule is a good visualization exercise in optimization and decluttering your life. The basic principle is to find the 20% of your life that brings 80% of joy, profits, optimism, and other positive concepts.

In business, this can be translated to finding the small number of clients that will stick with you and believe in your work, even if your prices were to rise drastically, or taking the 10 products that you have available and identifying the 2 or 3 which are bringing most of the profits.

In this way, the law of diminishing returns can be explained that one should always look for “good enough” rather than “perfect”. We experience a forced law of diminishing returns every day when writing formal emails, notes, or messages. It may take only a few minutes to write the piece but may take just as long to edit or reword certain things. Although vital, editing can be taken as an example where you have unnecessary clutter, such as subscribing to too many videos and blogs about your niche. Usually, 2-3 thought leaders are enough.

Downtime Events For Reflection

Part of many philosophies, doctrines, and studies is the concept of deep work. Although we may spend most of our day doing tasks, only 20% of the day may be spent on deep work, which may complete 80% of our work. This phenomenon rings especially true to our new remote work method, where the lion’s share of task-based projects may be completed in only 2 of the 8 hours of the traditional workday.

Taking this concept further, to rethink or posit new ways of doing things is to take some time off from the project or idea and revisit it later. In the meantime, downtime should be used for high-quality activities that bring you joy and happiness to inspire creativity and ambition anew.

To better explain high-quality activities, think of how time is usually spent, especially in our remote environment. This may usually include long periods of phone time (after already long periods of screen time at work), movies, and looking for updates consistently throughout the day on social media. Newport explains that hobbies and strenuous activity may be tiring, but mentally refreshing. This does not mean that physical activities are the only answer, for example, using the screentime towards a course on a personal hobby, such as cars or coding, invigorates your drive to learn.

Seek Meaning Away From Digital Activities

This section of the book must be read through its entirety to grasp the entire explanation, but the main concept is that a fully digital world has robbed us of certain senses and certain meanings in our life. There is a reason this book is called “Digital Minimalism” and not “Digital Freedom”, as we need this connection to improve our quality of life, such as communication and conducting business. The answer is to not quit cold turkey but to limit these activities to only necessities and practice habits offline as well.

One of the topics covered here is the absence of true solitude. Varying on the type of person you are, you may need more or less than others, but solitude is required in small amounts to properly recharge. if you think about it, when was the last time you practiced true solitude? with devices, even if we are alone physically we are never truly alone in spirit. this can be comforting, but practicing shutting off all forms of communication and media and spending a quiet time by yourself in reflection lets you fully recharge your battery to seek improvement in business, relationships, and ambitions.

Digital Minimalism Review & Should You Read The Complete book?

The book, simple in its delivery but complex in its concepts, should be read cover to cover. Certain things, such as New economics, Amish Wisdom, and further principles of minimalism can be found in this book. As with most successful pieces, this book explores our psychology and why we are driven to do certain things. It is a true honor as a species that you can reflect on your habits and seek to change them to better your life.


Reading this book is like looking into a mirror, and everyone could find value here. Children younger and younger are exposed to digital devices early on to keep their attention, and everyone of all ages has created a dependency on their news, media, and pseudo-relationships with influencers and thought leaders. In a world full of comfort, pick up Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.

Marilyn Nissen
Written by Marilyn Nissen

Marilyn Nissen is the founder of, a highly reputable book summary and reviews website. With over a decade of experience in summarizing and reviewing books, Marilyn is a trusted authority in the book industry.