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New Study Confirms the Value of Solitude

  In my book Digital Minimalism, I emphasized the danger of a newly-emerged condition that I called “solitude deprivation.” As I wrote, the introduction of the smartphone caused our relationship with distraction to mutate into something new: “At the slightest hint of boredom, you can now surreptitiously glance at any number of apps or mobile-adapted...

TikTok’s Poison Pill

Just a few months ago, it seemed that the biggest social media news of the year would be Elon Musk’s flirtations with buying Twitter (see, for example, my article from May). Recently, however, a new story has sucked up an increasing amount of oxygen from this space: TikTok’s challenge to the legacy social platforms. Last February, Meta, the parent...

LBJ’s Poolside Phone and the Connectivity Revolution

A reader named Peter recently sent me a perceptive note. He had just returned from a visit to Austin, where he had visited the LBJ Ranch, now operated as national historical site, located about 50 miles west of the city in the Texas Hill Country. As Peter recalled, during the tour, the guide emphasized that as president, Lyndon Johnson was so obsessed...

The 3-Hour Fields Medal: A Slow Productivity Case Study

Earlier today, June Huh, a 39-year-old Princeton professor, was awarded the 2022 Fields Medal, one of the highest possible honors in mathematics, for his breakthrough work on geometric combinatorics. As described in a recent profile of Huh, published in Quanta Magazine (and sent to me by several alert readers), Huh’s path to academic mathematics was...

On Wendell Berry’s Move from NYU to a Riverside Cabin

In my previous essay, I wrote about how novelist Jack Carr rented a rustic cabin to help focus his attention on completing his latest James Reece thriller. This talk of writing retreats got me thinking again about what’s arguably my favorite example from this particular genre of aspirational day dreaming: Wendell Berry’s “camp” on the Kentucky River....

Jack Carr’s Writing Cabin

Last spring, I wrote an essay for The New Yorker about a notable habit common to professional authors: their tendency to write in strange places. Even when they have beautifully-appointed home offices, a lot of authors will retreat to eccentric locations near their homes to ply their trade. In my piece, for example, I talked about Maya Angelou writing...

Inbox Pause? How About an Inbox Reset?

Several readers have recently pointed me toward a productivity tool called Inbox Pause, which allows you to prevent messages from arriving in your email inbox for a set amount of time. You could, of course, simply decide not to check your inbox for this period, but as every knowledge worker who has ever used email has learned, it can be very, very difficult...

Taking a Break from Social Media Makes you Happier and Less Anxious

In my writing on technology and culture I try to be judicious about citing scientific studies. The issues involved in our ongoing wrangling with digital innovations are subtle and often deeply human. Attempts to exactly quantify what we’re gaining and losing through our screens can at times feel disconcertedly sterile. All that being said, however,...

My “Oldest” Productivity Strategy

I recently posted a video about one of my oldest and most successful work strategies: fixed-schedule productivity. The idea is simple to describe: Choose a schedule of work hours that you think provides the ideal balance of effort and relaxation. Do whatever it takes to avoid violating this schedule. These simple limits, however, can lead to...

Aziz Ansari’s Digital Minimalism

Not long ago, I watched Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix special, Nightclub Comedian. I was pleasantly surprised when, early in the show, Ansari demonstrates his commitment to escaping tech-driven distraction by showing off his Nokia 2720 flip phone (see above). Soon after the special was released, Ansari elaborated on his personal brand of digital minimalism...

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