Cal Newport researches cutting-edge technology and writes about the impact of these innovations on society. He is the author of Deep Work, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Digital Minimalism.
What We Discuss with Cal Newport:
- Why focus in our modern era of endless technological distractions is the new IQ.
- Why your greatest competitive advantage may lie simply around decluttering and resetting that focus.
- The best ways to declutter the mental landscape to optimize your capacity to focus.
- How Henry David Thoreau’s analog lessons from Walden can be applied to your 21st century digital lifestyle.
- How you can use technology to improve your daily life without becoming absorbed by its distractions.
- And much more…
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What if you don’t really need to be smarter or more educated than everybody else to get what you want out of life? What if the real trick is just finding a way to be more focused than everybody else? The distractions of modern living might make this seem like an equally difficult task, but in this episode we talk to someone who knows how to close out the mental clutter and get things done.
Cal Newport is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of several best-sellers, including Deep Work and his latest, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. In it, he makes the case for why focus is actually the new IQ and explains what you can do to use the technology at your disposal to enhance that focus rather than detract from it. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
If you’ve ever had your IQ (intelligence quotient) tested, you’ve either proudly shared the results with anyone in earshot if they were favorable in comparison to other documented “smart” people (“Hey, Einstein’s IQ was 160, and mine is 150 — that’s pretty close, right?”), or, if your score turned out lower than you’d like, you’ve probably made excuses explaining why you’d never bother taking such a test because it doesn’t really mean anything.
And if you’re in the latter group, you might actually be right. What if IQ isn’t really what sets you apart from the rest of the crowd — at least not anymore? What if the barrier you need to hurdle to get ahead these days isn’t intelligence itself, but the way you focus the intelligence you do have?
This is what Georgetown computer science professor and Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World author Cal Newport believes.
“If, in the mid-20th century, IQ became the big thing — we needed more engineers, we needed people who were smart; the smarter you were, the better you were going to do — it’s shifted now,” says Cal. “And now the ability to put sustained attention is what’s going to become the scarcibility — the thing that’s going to create a lot of value. Focus is what’s going to rule the economy.”
But as anyone who owns a smartphone knows, or anyone who sits in front of an Internet-enabled computer all day knows, or anyone who uses social media in any capacity knows, taking control of that focus can be more challenging than ever before. So is technology itself to blame for being the obstacle course that sustained concentration is constantly navigating?
“It’s not technology in general,” says Cal. “It’s the technology that has been designed or incidentally becomes a huge strain on your attention. What we know from psychology — and this is actually a very important discovery and something we only got to in the last 15 years — context switching is what kills you.”
Context switching is what happens when you’re doing one thing and something else comes along to interrupt it — and this interruption could be anything from a text message to succumbing to the urge to check your email. You lose focus on what you were originally doing to address the interruption, and then you need to regain that focus in order to switch back to the first task. Computers are great at this kind of multi-tasking, but it turns out human beings aren’t.
“I’m just looking at Microsoft Word and I’m trying to write a legal brief,” says Cal. “But every 10 or 15 minutes, I do the ‘quick check’ — the quick check of the phone or the quick check of the inbox. It doesn’t feel like multi-tasking because I’m not doing it simultaneously. But we know now from the research that when I do that quick check, and come back to the main thing I’m working on, there’s a residue left in your mind that lasts a long time to clear that reduces your cognitive capacity. So when you think you’re single-tasking, you’re fighting this attention residue effect.
“So what most knowledge workers who are doing elite-level knowledge work and think that they’re single-taskers are really doing is every five or 10 minutes, a quick check of a tab or a phone, which puts them in a persistent state of reduced cognitive capacity — so it’s almost like they’re taking reverse nootropic! ‘I want to be dumber! I want my mind not to work as well!’ And the worst thing about it is no one realizes they’re doing it.”
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how to get an honest (and probably surprising) assessment of the time you spend browsing social media every week, why more people are starting to see Cal’s years-long call for digital minimalism as less radical than it seemed at first glance, how the social media you signed up for years ago is something very different from what you’re signed up for today, how to dominate technology rather than having it dominate you, and much more.
THANKS, CAL NEWPORT!
Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport
- Cal Newport’s website
- On Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, Study Hacks Blog
- The True Cost of Multi-Tasking: You Could Be Losing up to 40% of Your Productivity by Susan Weinschenk, Psychology Today
- Use Screen Time on Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, Apple
- Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It. by Cal Newport, The New York Times
- Honor Steve Jobs (and Yourself): Unplug. Don’t Multi-Task. Space Out. by Lisa Napoli, Forbes
- Facebook’s Desperate Smoke Screen by Cal Newport, Study Hacks Blog
- TJHS 156: Jaron Lanier | Why You Should Unplug from Social Media for Good
- Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov
- Bill Maher: ‘Checking Your Likes Is The New Smoking’ by Drake Baer, Thrive Global
- Bill Maher on Instagram
- Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
- The Minimalists
- Approach Technology Like the Amish by Cal Newport, Study Hacks Blog
- Yes, Smartphone Addiction Does Harm Your Teen’s Mental Health by Maria Cohut, Medical News Today
Transcript for Cal Newport | Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World (Episode 159)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger, and I'm here with my producer, Jason DeFilippo. What if we got rid of the idea that we needed to somehow try to be smarter or more educated than everyone else, which is very hard by the way, and instead we shifted to the idea that we needed to be more focused than everyone else? It sounds equally difficult, but it's actually not. In fact, the bar's pretty low here. My friend Cal Newport, Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown university and author of Digital Minimalism. Well, he thinks it focus is actually the new IQ, and I love this because a while back, he ran an experiment where people removed social media from their lives and then added the tools back in as needed if they were the most effective tool for the job. This isn't just a digital detox, far from it. This is about working backwards from the things that you value most and then asking for each what is the best way to use technology to support this value while happily missing out on everything else.
[00:00:53] Today's episode, we're taking lessons from the Amish. We're taking lessons from Digital Detox. We're taking lessons from people who have done experiments, science, if you will, computer science in a way, reverse. I've used a lot of these principles to great effect. I've given a handful of copies of this book to other friends of mine, especially those in creative or high performance spaces that require maximum focus. The results were astounding. Today, come explore the idea that our greatest competitive advantage may lay simply around decluttering and resetting our focus and we'll get some practical steps to help us make that happen. So let's Marie Kondo, our brain today here with Cal Newport.
[00:01:31] If you want to know how I managed to book all these great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits, which I've worked on for years here, check out Six Minute Networking. That's a course that's free. Used to be called LevelOne. Now it's called Six Minute Networking. That's at jordanharbinger.com/course. All right, here's Cal Newport.
[00:01:50] One thing that I love about the minimalist idea here is focus is the new IQ is one of the things that you'd said. Explain that. It's counterintuitive and I love that.
Cal Newport: [00:01:59] Well, I mean I think in our modern knowledge economy in particular, what's the skill that really matters? What's the skill that builds value? And I think it is the ability to focus. So if in the mid 20th century IQ became the big thing, we need more engineers, we need people who are smart. The smarter you are the better you're going to do, it's shifted now. And now the ability to put sustained attention is what's going to become the scarce ability. The thing that's going to create a lot of value. There's various reasons for this, but this is the summary pitch is focused as what's going to rule the economy, at least that's my idea.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:32] Okay. And your sort of analog to this is like the key to thriving in this new high tech world that we have is actually using less tech because the tech this Archimedes lever that we have is now kind of come full circle and is now weighing us down, right? It's like resting on our head.
Cal Newport: [00:02:50] Yeah. Well, I mean, if you think about, if you believe this premise that sustain concentration produces lots of value, now you have to worry what's going to be the enemy to sustain concentration. And so it's not technology in general, it's the technology that has either been designed or incidentally becomes a huge strain on your attention. So what we know from psychology, and this is actually very important discovery, and this is something that we've only really got two in the last, let's say 15 years. So context switching is what kills you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:16] Right. The context switching is, and I remember first hearing about this in law school because it was like, “I'm taking notes waiting on an IM, back to my notes.” What are we talking about? Hey, there's another IM.
Cal Newport: [00:03:27] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:27] For those of you who don't know what IMs are, AOL Instant Messenger changed the game that, did that come before texting? Yeah, right?
Cal Newport: [00:03:35] Yeah. Yeah. That was early ‘90s.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:36] So that was like the first status updates were on there. There's, yeah, it pre-Facebook by a minute. And so that's where I finally started to realize when I would read things like context switching or task switching or the whole, “Hey, you know, you think you're a good multitasker but you're not.” And then I remember asking people going, “Hey, our teacher will go turn that Internet off, don't use the Wi-Fi.” Why do we have Wi-Fi in the classroom? And of course everyone went, I'm a good multitasker, and then everyone's grades went and took a total dump.
Cal Newport: [00:04:08] Well, and it's shifted too. So we used to say that. So we used to say I'm a good multitasker. And then in the early 2000, the research became kind of clear and there's lots of pop articles to say, “Okay, you can't do the simultaneous thing though.” The window here, the phone and the typing, you're talking jibberish, you're doing terrible work. Like we learned, okay, literal multitasking doesn't work, but we're context switching snuck up on us, is that people thought they were single task and this is what's happening now, because they only have one thing open for the most part. So I'm just looking at Microsoft Word and I'm trying to write whatever illegal brief, but every 10 or 15 minutes I do the quick check, which is the look at the phone or the quick check of the inbox. It doesn't feel like multitasking because I'm not doing it simultaneously.
[00:04:52] But we know now from the research is that when I do that quick check and then come back to the main thing I'm working on, there's a residue left in your mind that lasts a long time to clear. That reduces your cognitive capacity. So then when you think you're single tasking, you're fighting this attention residue effect. And so what most knowledge workers who are doing sort of elite level knowledge work and think that they're single taskers are really doing is every five or 10 minutes a quick check of a tab or a phone, which puts them in a persistent state of reduced cognitive capacity. So it's almost like they're taking reverse nootropic like I want to be dumber, right? I'm with my mind, not the work as well. And the worst piece of that is no one really is they're doing it. They're like, I don't multitask anymore. Let's high five we figured it out, but they're still having this massive effect in our concentration and so it's not the three windows open at once. This killing us, it's the glance over at this device or this window every 10 or 15 minutes and that can be just as bad.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:43] That's one of the reasons that I like the iPad that I'm using here. If you're watching this, you can see me use it. It's actually harder to multitask on an iPad. Look, there's ways to do it. You can do this split screen thing, I've heard. You can do the command tab app switching, but there's less stuff going on and since all the sounds are off and the Internet is off, it's a little bit of a different animal than working on a laptop where things are bouncing and the dock, and like little things are popping up and all the notifications are off on this thing. It's essentially like a dumb phone with a giant screen.
Cal Newport: [00:06:16] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:17] And it took me a long time to get here because I used to just use an iPad or phone notes or something like that. But then of course, you know it's vibrating and then it's like, “Oh well I'll ignore that,” but I just, I couldn't. And if the guest, I shouldn't blame the guest, if for some reason my attention wavered, it would be like, I can get away with just looking at what that is.
Cal Newport: [00:06:43] Just 10 seconds.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:43] Just for a second. And my producer caught me and he goes, “What's wrong with you? You're being so weird with such and such guests.” And I go, “Crap.” If you noticed some percentage of 4.8 million monthly list is going to go, “What the hell is wrong with him right now?” And the answer is Gmail. That's what's wrong with me. I'm fricking typing a note to my mom so that I don't forget, even though it'll be in my inbox and 20 minutes when I'm done, I'm still doing that. And that's the multitasking, right? But you're right, the whole, “Oh, I can do this.” And then pop back in and I'll pick up right where I left off. It's just not real.
Cal Newport: [00:07:20] It doesn't work. Yeah. And this effect was actually somewhat unknown. So I talked to recently, this is after even my more recent book came out, but I was talking with one of the psychologists who helped innovate this field. Her name is Sophie Leroy. And the story she told me was that when she first came back to psychology, she had been out in the actual world of business, had been doing consulting. And so the early 2000, she came back into psychology and she was looking at her thesis research, said “We have to study the effect of all this context switching back and forth between things.” And at the time people in academia didn't believe that it could possibly be true that people were switching their attention so much because this was just when the email movement had really taken off. This was when the workplace of knowledge work had started. The hit that type of rhythm of constant inbox, constant inbox. It hadn't been like that before.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:07] Right. Because you would've had it before, you would have had to work to find stuff to do.
Cal Newport: [00:08:11] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:13] That you could even switch to like I'm going to look at this paper, then that paper that looked something up in the dictionary.
Cal Newport: [00:08:17] Boardroom was a big deal. Like it used to be a big deal in work, the water cooler. Remember? Like I got to go chat by the water cooler because I don't have anything to do for an hour, and that's not an issue anymore. Everyone's busy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:27] Yeah. A lot the, I designed this course that helps people network and develop relationships. And I'm like, people go, “Oh, I don't have time.” And I'm like, “Do this during your Instagram time.” You know what I mean? And people are like, “Hey, so now I have a ton of time to do these drills.” And if you look at screen time on your phone and it shows you what you've been using.
Cal Newport: [00:08:47] Oh, it's been great.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:48] Have you done this with your friends?
Cal Newport: [00:08:49] I mean, my phone's too old to have, but my wife has been showing me the numbers. Yeah. And now--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:53] It’s funny.
Cal Newport: [00:08:53] If everyone's talking about this, I'm hearing about it all the time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:56] We kind of call it the Screen Time Game. It's not really a game. It's just a laugh at the dinner table. We'll be with our friends and we'll be like, “Hey, open up Screen Time.” And they'll be like, “Oh, I don't even know what that is.” And you'll see people that have like 32 hours of phone use and 18 of them are Instagram and that's in a week by the way.
Cal Newport: [00:09:15] Yes, the first time, you can be there the first time someone discovers they have the Screen Time feature.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:19] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:09:19] That's when you really get the real trick. Once they know they have that. It's been great actually. It's been good for minimalism worldwide because people settle down. But the first time they discover like, “Uh-oh.” Yeah, that's what I suspected.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:31] Look, if you're listening to music, because you have that kind of job, you know, maybe you've got a labor job. And so it's like, yes, Spotify, 20 hours. Great. You're listening at work. I get it. Or during your commute. But when you see somebody who's got 18 to 22 hours of Instagram or like Tinder or something, you tell them and then there's this pause where they're just kind of looking at the ground and you know what their thinking is. I have a part time job on Instagram and Tinder and you can just see them think, what could I have done with this time instead?
Cal Newport: [00:10:04] What this is why Facebook is worth $500 billion.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:07] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:10:07] I mean where else can you get someone to give not just their attention for 20 hours but actually actively giving data about themselves and being set up for advertisements that have been tailored to themselves? And all of that is constructed. I mean, I get into it in the new book, the degree to which the large social media platforms right around the time that they had to start thinking IPO said, we have to re-engineer this experience. We don't have nearly enough user engagement minutes. I mean old Facebook, old Instagram, people were not using that 20 hours a week. They had the completely re-engineer at the try to create that behavior. And so there's a level of artificiality among it, like the idea that we're checking it this much. That's a very, very recent and it's very, very constructed.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:48] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:10:49] And once you pull off those layers, you're like, “Oh, this was the screen time thing I think is great is that it's revealing these business plans pretty clearly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:55] Right, right. Except for now people are going great, I should invest in that. There's also this the same kind of, I don't know if this is a cognitive bias or what, but people go, yeah, but I don't really do that. That's why screen time as valuable because you really can't, it doesn't lie. And when I look at it, I go, “I don't use my phone that. Holy crap. What?” You know, and it's interesting to see because -- it's the same thing that people do. It's got to be a similar bias where people go, “I'm going to vote for that policy.” And you go, but you don't make anywhere near like the estate tax, for example. Your whole life, you will never make the amount of money that you will need to take advantage of this policy. And then in their head they're thinking, well yeah but next year and the year after, you never know what's going to happen.
Cal Newport: [00:11:41] You never know.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:42] Minefield is going to explode.
Cal Newport: [00:11:43] It can go on shark tank. It's going to pull up. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:44] So it's like the same kind of bias where it's like future me is going to be so much better off than what I'm doing right now.
Cal Newport: [00:11:50] Yeah. I don't use it that much. Maybe I use it a lot now, but I know I'm not going to in the future. I'm making changes. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:56] Well you've gotten some hot water, sort of, maybe we're dramatizing a little bit, but you have this strong stance that social media is really hyped up, that people shouldn't really use it. Tell us about this, because you have kind of the broader point that technology should work for you instead of you literally working for it, which is what we're doing now.
Cal Newport: [00:12:15] Well, I'll tell you this, I used to get in a lot more hot water and this is what's interesting that I've observed because it's been years that I've been out there publicly quite skeptical about social media and how much the people use it and how important is it really, and I would uniformally get back a lot of pushback.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:33] Okay.
Cal Newport: [00:12:33] Every time I would do these things. And about two years ago, one and a half years ago, there really was a shift and the water temperature I guess we want to use that metaphor has really cool down there. There is something going on out there in the culture because I would use to go out there at right not bad for The New York Times. I'd say something provocative like pay millennials. Social media is not going to get you a job actually.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:53] How dare you?
Cal Newport: [00:12:54] Take the time. If you take your time using social media and maybe work on building up a new scale and probably be better, your employers aren't really looking at your Instagram follower accounts to see if they should hire you and not everyone can be associated.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:04] Except in my case. But if you were the exception.
Cal Newport: [00:13:06] That's the problem. There's like six or seven Jordans and then everyone else is like, “Yeah, I'm going to be that. Or I'm going to be a social media brand manager.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:12] You don't want to be this.
Cal Newport: [00:13:13] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:13] I tell you.
Cal Newport: [00:13:14] There's a lot going on there. So yeah, I’d write our collect, I get a lot of pushback. People write articles and it changed. It's really has changed and so I don't know what it is. Well I have some theories but definitely there's a shift out there in the culture where my skepticism around social media, my push towards intentionality, my push towards digital minimalism is no longer seen as nearly as eccentric as it was even as early as let's say, year and a half ago.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:40] That's good to hear. Well, that's good news, right? Because that means your message has been received at some level.
Cal Newport: [00:13:45] Well I can't take credit for it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:48] You’re message has been receive in some level. Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:13:49] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:50] Because I can see that. People probably said “Get with it. You're just like a young Luddite who's basically get off my loan.
Cal Newport: [00:13:58] Even though I'm a computer scientist, they're like, “You hate technology.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:59] Oh right.
Cal Newport: [00:14:00] Yeah. I was like, well that'd be kind of self-hating of me, I guess.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:03] This is it too. Like I can imagine people saying this is just get off my lawn. social media edition, right?
Cal Newport: [00:14:08] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:09] And now?
Cal Newport: [00:14:10] Yeah, you don't understand that. Also a lot of conflating of social media with the Internet. Like what do you mean you don't like the Internet? Like how are you going to, you know, you want to go back to having no Internet and like, well I'm just old enough to remember the Internet before social media.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:21] How old are you?
Cal Newport: [00:14:22] 36.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:22] Okay. I'm 39 almost, almost.
Jason DeFilippo: [00:14:28] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Cal Newport. We'll be right back after this.
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Jason DeFilippo: [00:16:58] I have. I love it and I use it every day and if you want to experience the difference that adding Athletic Greens to your health regime can make, go to athleticgreens.com/jordan for 20 free travel packs. That's a $79 value people, and that's for your first purchase. That's athleticgreens.com/jordan. One more time, athleticgreens.com/jordan for those free 20 travel packs. [00:17:20] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Cal Newport. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe, and now back to our show with Cal Newport.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:47] So I do remember a time pre-Internet. I remember loving the Internet early on, but I also remember the smartphone. This podcast has been around. This show has been around since before the iPhone.
Cal Newport: [00:17:57] Yeah, so 2007 the iPhone.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:00] Right. It just came out in 2006 that was our first shows. So I remember that time really clearly because I was actually in the digital space then, and I remember getting the iPhone and my friend showed it to me and I think about this moment a lot. It is probably one of the few times I audibly went “Whoa.” Because I just saw the world change when I saw that screen light up.
Cal Newport: [00:18:22] Yeah. But if you go back, like go back and look at the original keynote address or go back and look at the original advertising, there was nothing about the original vision of the iPhone.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:31] There was no Internet. They weren't hey, there’s data.
Cal Newport: [00:18:33] There wasn't like you were going to do this, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:34] No.
Cal Newport: [00:18:34] And I actually went back in the book and talked to the development lead, the guy who led the team for Steve Jobs, who develop the original iPhone. And he confirmed, and this is what I had remembered this vaguely, but I want him to get back to the source. The pitch for the iPhone was twofold. One, it's a pain to have your Nokia razor and your iPod both in your pocket. You know, we got to put those together so you could have one device and the phone calls are going to be easier to make as visual voicemail and you can scroll through the contacts. I mean, Jobs really thought the interfaces for making calls and checking your messages on the first generation smart phones were sort of an insult to sort of aesthetic beauty. He didn't even mention the Internet connectivity in his keynote till like 33 minutes then.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:14] Yeah, to be fair, 3G was nothing then.
Cal Newport: [00:19:16] Yeah. But it was like the iPod and it was the phone features, right? I mean, he had no notion that this was supposed to be a constant companion. There was no notion that this was supposed to change your life. It ended up changing the way we live. Like we now look at this all the time. Steve Jobs was just taken to things that people already were doing, which was listening to music and making phone calls and they'd been doing that forever. He was like, “I can now through technology, make these things you love and make the experiences even better,” which was pure like minimalist Steve Jobs, which was focused on the things that really matter and make that experience beautiful. The notion that like, no, no, we're going to change the way you live with this device. So that it's a constant companion and that you're like an air traffic controller, like constantly monitoring information all day and sending out dispatchers, that wasn't anywhere in the original vision for the iPhone.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:02] That's really interesting to see. Of course, that device had to change the way -- and now it has to adapt to the way we've changed and of course the companies that have evolved on there. I mean of course that goes for almost every media company or social media company or Internet company. Facebook, I remember when that came up it was like, “Great. Finally there's essentially a yearbook. We used to call it a Facebook.”
Cal Newport: [00:20:23] With relationship status. It was a yearbook with a relationship status.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:27] The whole point as I saw it in college, because I went to Michigan where we had, it was like awesome 38 other schools or something had this thing, and you could find your friends from the high school. You could find out who in your dorm or in your classes was dating someone else and you could see what they looked like and get their name and you could find stuff like a little basic life info.
Cal Newport: [00:20:51] Like where are they living now?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:52] That was it.
Cal Newport: [00:20:53] Yeah, which was a fine vision.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:54] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:20:54] I mean I write about that in the book. Then people sell it. I went back and interviewed people. How do you remember it when it first came to college and it was sort of a triviality, it was kind of fun. You'd go on there with friends and look some things up but that was it. The idea that now you would use it 50 minutes a day on average, like the average American user does with Facebook products, that was nowhere.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:12] So that includes Instagram.
Cal Newport: [00:21:13] That includes Instagram which is important. But Instagram is just Facebook Two. I mean, essentially Instagram has just taken the Facebook place.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:19] Facebook 2.0, you mean?
Cal Newport: [00:21:20] 2.0.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:20] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:21:21] Right. I mean it was like, “Okay, people are getting tired of some, you know, their grandma's on Facebook. So we'll just go to the new interface.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:27] That was literally my exact, I was like, you know what? I don't need to be on here with my aunt being like, I disagree.
Cal Newport: [00:21:34] Your aunt's probably just a year away from being on Instagram so I'm pretty sure he is. Yeah, but I mean the original vision looks nothing like the way people use it today, which is a big part of this unease that I think people began feeling the last two years. That's the thing that I've noticed. It's not really about utility like the wrong question is, is this a terrible thing I'm doing when I'm actually looking at the phone? The real issue is autonomy that I signed up for this thing in the dorm room. They'll look at the relationship status of my old high school friend and they changed the whole game on me. They changed that at some point around 2011, 2012 to be this engineered compulsive experience. And now I'm trying to sit here and have dinner with my friend from high school and I have to pretend to go to the bathroom because I feel this compulsion to have to look at this. I didn't sign up for that. They sort of reengineered this thing just like the iPhone, you bought it because you didn't want to have a separate iPod and then the experience got re-engineered four years later. You're sitting here all day long with air traffic controller. So there's really an autonomy issue out there where people are saying, “I don't want to talk about is this useful or useless? I want to talk about why am I spending so much time looking at this and when was it that I ever agreed that this is what I wanted to do.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:38] Jaron Lanier, and I talked about this on the show as well and you know, I'm just starting to -- this is a clunky analogy that I'm coming up with here on the spot, so bear with me. But it's almost like painkillers, right? It's like you get an injury, your doctor says, “Take these, you'll be able to function because right now you're an excruciating back pain.” And then fast forward three years later, you're buying them from somebody off the street just because you're addicted to them. And I'm not saying that whoever invented OxyContin deliberately did this. In fact, there's some speculation that might be very credible that they did and it wouldn't surprise me. But that's kind of what we're seeing with the social media game is, “Hey, do this so you can find your friends and keep in touch.” “Oh, that's great. I love that.” Wait a minute. Why am I obsessing over the amount of likes this got after an hour and debating whether to delete the post because it wasn't the popular enough.
Cal Newport: [00:23:27] Well, in this case, we know it was intentional, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:30] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:23:29] We're trying to figure it out. But with Facebook in particular, we now know the story pretty well. I mean, they had to get the user engagement minutes up because of the IPO. There's a lot of pressure from the original investors. Where's my a hundred X return? They get the a hundred X return. You have to have the IPO of this size. To get IPO of the size, we've got to get revenue to this. To get revenue to this, we have to get an engagement numbers and the data we get way higher. The experience that we have today on, let's say Facebook or Instagram, it feels like this is what social media is, but it's actually quite different than it used to be and the big insight they had was Facebook 1.0 in 2006 was actually quite static. You could post things about yourself. Occasionally people would come to the read it, you could read what other people had posted and that was about that. If you went on Facebook in the morning on Monday, there'd be no reason to go back on later that day because your friends probably hadn't changed their relationship status that day or something. It's something you occasionally did. That's a disaster. If you want to get a hundred X return for Facebook investors. So this current experience is what they reengineered is when they moved to mobile, they added things like the like button and auto tagging of photos and make it really quick to leave comments. They had the change the experience from posting things and looking at what people posted to. We have to create a rich stream of feedback coming to you. We need all throughout the day there to be these sort of little rewards coming constantly to someone like this and someone common on this, if someone tagged me in this photo. We want them to come intermittently. So sometimes you hit this thing, “Hey there's some likes.” Sometimes you hit this thing, nothing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:58] Like a slot machine.
Cal Newport: [00:24:58] Like a slot machine. While they actually went and read the research papers that have been innovated and the consultants who worked in Las Vegas Casino gambling who figured out what's the right reinforcement schedule for the slot machine, like how close should you get the winning big, how often do we have to do that so that the old lady keeps pulling it? They figured out that psychology decades ago. They read those papers in Silicon Valley and then this was integrated into this. I don't have this verify, but I've heard from two different people now who have some connection to Facebook that they actually would hold off on some of the likes and feedbacks so that it's more intermittent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:29] Oh, so like if you got a thousand they would just sort of ripped it to you?
Cal Newport: [00:25:32] Let’s hold some back and then drip them out and make it more.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:34] Interesting.
Cal Newport: [00:25:35] No, I haven't had an independent confirmation of that. But the key thing is this whole experience of social approval indicators about you constantly coming forward. That was the big insight that made this from a sort of an interesting venture fund, a tech firm into a $500 billion company. That's what keeps you coming back. And this one was so brilliant about it, not only is it keep it coming back, but when you send this feedback of likes and comments and tags, whatever, that's what gave them all the data that allowed them to then do advertising at levels of precision that was unprecedented.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:02] Right, that’s what Jaron and I were talking about like how deep that rabbit hole goes?
Cal Newport: [00:26:07] 19,000 data points they track.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:09] That's obscene.
Cal Newport: [00:26:10] Yeah. And that changed. That's the whole point is that's not what people signed up for.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:14] No.
Cal Newport: [00:26:14] I mean, unless you're 17 years old or something like that. But those of us who are our age, just not what people are really signed up for, they changed that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:21]I've been interested in this because I find things like social media, especially in the last year and a half, have been just really effectively and actively making me less and less happy.
No surprise. But I find myself comparing myself more to others in ways that are unhealthy and quite frankly, completely meaningless. FOMO, fear of missing out, which I never had before. I'm not the person who looks at Instagram and goes, “Wow, they're on the beach. That looks so great.” And yet there's so many different ways to have FOMO now that Instagram will find yours. Facebook will find yours. And then once it does somehow through the magic of tracking 19,000 data points, it just goes, “Oh, you think that when somebody is hanging out with their wife and kid and the environment is sunny and they're on vacation and they're wearing white clothes and reading, that's what gives you the most, I'm a makes--
Cal Newport: [00:27:16] Yeah, whatever.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:17] That's what makes you feel like linger the longest on that photo or like zoom in or whatever they're tracking
Cal Newport: [00:27:23] Now that's all you're seeing now.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:24] Now that's all I'm fricking seeing, right?
Cal Newport: [00:27:26] Yeah,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:26] And it's very bizarre, but it also makes, and so I'm like, okay, I got to get away with it. And my point is I'm not immune to this, even though I'm acutely aware of all of this having done the research, I'm essentially, and I'm not saying this to brag at all because I think I'm throwing myself under the bus here, essentially like a 1 percenter myself in terms of influence online, being as so-called Internet want to be celebrity, whatever you want to call them, influencer, I hate that word. But none of that has added any value to my life outside of making great connections with people, which is very possible I know without active participation in social media.
Cal Newport: [00:28:04] Well, I mean, Jaron talks about this a lot smarter than I'm able to, but essentially when you take algorithms and you let algorithms loose with just these objectives like, okay, we want to show things that, Jordan lingers over.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:16] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:28:17] It seems like an innocent thing to do, but when you have all of this data coming from you and you just let loose a statistical machine learning algorithm, it creates all of these unexpected consequences. I mean, it's a lot of what happened with the outrage amplification that we see right now. It's not so much that a brilliant attention engineer sat down and was like, “All right, here's our business. This is outrage.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:37] Piss everyone off, right?
Cal Newport: [00:28:38] Yeah, They're like, no, no. It wasn't that. It's like our chomping, whatever. He's like, this is how we're going to get eyeballs. No, no, it's the engineer. It's like the nerd like me that was like, I've got this great algorithm that's going to do something good is going to watch what you like and try to give you more of what seems to catch your attention. And then it's the algorithm starts amplifying up the outrage cycles because it turns out when something really gets you emotionally engaged, you spend more time on it, you're more likely to send it. And so the algorithm doesn't know that, okay. What it's actually doing is putting you into a fury, sometimes you go on Twitter or something like this. And this is where, you know, Jaron talks a lot about the dehumanizing effect of these when you, when you let algorithms than sort of control what you see and how you act it, the digital stream that we now consume. So it's this algorithmically created digital stream of information that algorithms are controlling just to try to keep you as engaged as possible, has all of these far reaching consequences and they're all emergent. So we just get surprised and the you look up and you're not talking to your aunt anymore and you hate your old friends from high school and all this stuff is going on and there's a couple of data science engineers. I was like, “Oh think let's kind of back slowly out of the room.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:44] Right, right. Because they're not really in control of what's happening. It reminds me of something Garry Kasparov told me. I think it was from his book, Deep Thinking. And one of the ideas from the book is chess algorithms are actually still kind of hard and clunky for computers and especially the older ones were really bad. And it was like the longer you waited, the better move the computer would come up with. Cause it took forever. And one of the moves that computers were doing in chess games is shortly as a few years ago, was doing things like sacrificing the queen, and that's something you do in chess when there's a very specific set of circumstances.
Cal Newport: [00:30:21] Right, are very rare.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:22] But it was rare. And then the computers were like, “Oh, I'm just going to sacrifice my queen first because whenever this player's about to when they sacrifice their queen,” and it's like, “Yeah, you do that to get to the victory park. You have get the victory part back wrapped up and then you do that. The computer doesn't really know that. So the computer doesn't say, “Let's piss everyone off.” And even the data engineers, the data scientists aren't saying, “Here's an idea. Let's piss everyone off and scare them.” It's just that when people are pissed off and scared, that's when they're like, “Oh, I'm going to research this.” “Hey, have you seen this? Share this with my mom. I want to share this with my whole family because this is terrifying.”
Cal Newport: [00:30:57] And they don’t see that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:57] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:30:58] Because you have a billion users, you probably sit there and actually watch what Jordan is doing and just on average this decimal point got higher on the engagement index after it went through our convoluted neural network reinforcement learning model and everyone's high-fiving. It's completely abstracted away from the guy in the bunker.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:16] Yeah, exactly.
Cal Newport: [00:31:17] You got to start getting rations down here because the world's about to end.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:19] And I know that this, the tech is going to be useful. I mean, techno apologists will always say, “Hey look, there's useful elements of this technology.” Let's just spend with that because even Jaron Lanier who hates social media doesn't think we need to become Luddites entirely.
Cal Newport: [00:31:32] Well, he's another computer scientist.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:34] That's true.
Cal Newport: [00:31:34] I'm sort of in his mold.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:36] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:31:36] I love technology, but I also know the history, right? So I know that you have to be critically engaged with new technologies from a human stance. So if you're not critically engaged, like, “Okay, what does this tech, what do you want to do with it? What are we worried about? What do we like, what we don't like?” If you're not asking those questions, whenever this happens, historically, we end up in trouble. And this is what happened to us, there was this period of exuberance, essentially the second after the first.com boom, we had a recession in the second web 2.0 instigated.com boom. There's just this sort of exuberance where like, you know what? Silicon Valley is just going to shower us with Bill Maher calls it gifts from the nerd gods and it's all great and it's all high tech and the stock market has been a bear market for 15 years in a row. So like let's not complain, right? Everything is good.
[00:32:20] And so we just went through this period after the smart phone and high-speed wireless Internet revolution. Like let's just try everything, which is not bad, right? When there's a new technological breakthrough to have an experimental period as it's sort of interesting and trying to see what's out there, but it kind of ran amuck. And so I think what's happening now is that people are stepping back and saying, we have now graduated from that early exuberant, experimental period when all these technologies were new and we're just downloading apps and we're having that wow reaction when we see the iPhone for the first time. We're done with that. We're moving on to the next stage. We were like, okay, now let's step back and say, “How do we really want to integrate these things?”
Jason DeFilippo: [00:32:54] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Cal Newport. We'll be right back.
Cal Newport: [00:32:59] This episode is sponsored in part by HotelTonight. I love HotelTonight, I've been using this app for years and I know Jason and I grew up in the Midwest, so we've been in this polar vortex situation. We get it. Our friends at HotelTonight, offer this sage advice. Consider taking a vacation in a place where our nose hair doesn't freeze up on the walk between your front door and the snowden driveway you now have to shovel for the third time today. HotelTonight can hook you up by tonight, hence the name for a quick thought in a warm sending land or in advance. You don't have to always do it tonight. It can do in advance. Any leisurely week on a remote beach. I was just in New York City, used the app, stayed at a really nice hotel for about a third of the price. So if you don't think you have a budget for a vacation right now, HotelTonight's rates are pretty good. I mean you almost can't afford not to unless your furnace somehow magically harnesses the power of windchill or you can burn stacks of icicles and the fireplace to stay toasty. Jason, tell them where they get the deal.
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[00:34:10] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers is what keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals, and don't forget the worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast, and if you're listening to us on the Overcast player for iOS, please click that little star next to the show. It really helps us out. And now for the conclusion of our interview with Cal Newport.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:37] You must be a Bill Maher fan, because my next note, which I assume is from your book is even he says, “Checking your likes as the new smoking.” And I love that because pretty much sums up my old -- I used to do that. I don't do that anymore and I know how dumb it is, but here's the thing, I knew at the time how dumb it was too,.
Cal Newport: [00:34:54] Yeah, but if you look at that clip, so that's where the nerd gods line came from too. Is this monologue he went. So why was he saying, “What's the new smoking?” Well, what he was showing was as a clip of Tristan Harris on 60 Minutes. So Tristan Harris is a former Google engineer who essentially became a whistleblower, right? So here's someone who was trained in BJ Fogg persuasive technology lab at Stanford, where they really get into the psychology of how to influence behavior with technology. Did a startup got bought by Google, really kind of got an inside look about how you can influence people's behaviors with technology. Kind of turned state's witness.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:26] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:35:27] We'd be like, okay, I'm going to be a whistleblower on this. Like I want to go and talk about it, went on a media tour and you went on 60 Minutes to talk about this is where we started getting these analogies of the slot machine. He's like, “You have to understand this is like pulling a slot machine. We're being engineered for this.” And Bill Maher cut to the famous 60 Minutes interview of the tobacco whistleblower.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:46] Right. Where they all stand up and say--
Cal Newport: [00:35:48] Well, but then there was an interview, the guy who I think Russell Crowe played in the Michael Mann movie, The Insider.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:54] Thank you for smoking. Oh, differently one.
Cal Newport: [00:35:55] Yeah. Different one about what happened to this guy. We were like the original whistleblower who said, “Look, they knew it was addictive.” They lied when the seven of them stood up and said that whatever. And he was looking at these clips back to back. This looks pretty familiar, and so that really caught my attention, and so I think Bill had a good -- I think he had a good take on it. It was like these are not the nerd gods giving us gifts, right. We've lost that relationship, especially in the attention economy. It's now a little bit more like the tobacco companies and the fact that like we know this thing is addictive. We made it addictive. We're doing great because it's addictive and we're pretending like, “No, it's just everyone connecting.” Don't you want people to express themselves?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:33] Cranky Bill, sometimes he's right. I follow him on Instagram. Ironically, but not ironically. Digital minimalists like yourself. Essentially, the idea here is what dominate the technology instead of being addicted to it or having it dominate us.
Cal Newport: [00:36:46] Yeah. You dominate it the same way. Like if you're a minimalist with respect to your physical possessions, right? Like what do you do? You say, “I want stuff that's really, really useful that I really enjoyed. I don't want the crap.” So if you're a minimalist with your physical possessions, you clean out the house and you only bring back in to things that you really need that you really like, right?
I mean this is like Mary Kondo or The Minimalist. So this is just the same thing in your digital life. And so what I actually recommend to people is you probably have a bunch of clutter in that digital house because we just came out of this 15 year period of exuberance where we just tried everything. So what I'm recommending is get rid of it all, like wipe the slate clean, get all the optional tech out of your personal life and then rebuild it from scratch, except for this time do it with a lot of intention. Like, what do I actually care about? What do I actually want to do? I'm 39 now. I'm not in high school. So actually I probably have different objective than I did when I first downloaded Facebook. What matters to me? Now let me go out and find tech tools that I can use very intentionally to get big wins.
[00:37:43] And so it's like, let's get all the junk out of the house. Let's clean out the garage and rebuild back up from scratch a much more streamlined and intentional and high ROI style digital life. And so that's the basic of digital minimalism. It's for thousands of people out there who've been doing this. It's starting from scratch, clearing out, rebuilding from scratch.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:00] You've got declutter is costly. Digital declutter that you'd started and I used to do this before I'm essentially not even on Facebook, I just use messenger now, but I use other social media and part of that, a large part of that is the fact that it's for business. Engage with show fans is really the only thing I do there and family and friends. But what I used to do before I really realized this is a business tool for me was every day I would go through the birthday list on Facebook and I would delete anyone who I'm like, “Who is that? Or whatever that person.” I would just unfriend them. And there was a point at sort of peak declutter on Facebook. This is probably almost 10 years ago now. I probably had like 600 people that were still connected to me there. Now I probably have the max of 6,000 plus 20,000 bagilion friend requests that I've just given up looking at. And these are show fans, I'm not trying to talk about how popular I am. I could care less on there. But the idea is that I had just, my news feed was all relevant stuff that actually I was interested in that was still dangerous because that was when they were optimizing this. So I would just spend eight hours scrolling through different feeds.
Cal Newport: [00:39:13] The algorithms for watching.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:13] Right. The algorithms for watching, but how do we declutter up? What do we, first of all, you say declutter. What is this? Yes. Clean out the garage. How are we doing this in a digital way?
Cal Newport: [00:39:22] Yeah. Well, the thing I've been pitching is a 30 day process, which seems to work. I ran this experiment last year where asked for volunteers to do this study day process. I didn't think I'd get very many because it was a big ask. You have to step away from everything for 30 days. I thought I'd get 20 or 30, so then I can interview for the book? 1600 people ended up signing up to do this, which told me, “Okay, there's a hunger.” But here's the process and here's what I learned about it. The process is you take 30 days, you take everything you can off the plate, right? So I'm not talking about business, but stuff that's in your personal life, digital things in your personal life that you can walk away from at least temporarily without causing irreparable harm in the short term stuff away from it. 30 days during this 30 day period, there's a couple of goals. I mean, one, there is a detox effect, which I think is important though. I think detox is for the sake of detox is, is somewhat nonsensical. I don't buy this trend that if you just take occasional breaks that's somehow going to solve the problems and your digital life. I think--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:17] It's kind of like taking occasional breaks from heroin.
Cal Newport: [00:40:19] Yeah, this might set the point. It's a weird appropriation of the word detox because of course in substance abuse, the whole notion of detox is it's the first step that then upon which you can build a new life that doesn't have the original problems. I think the idea that you're going to step away for 30 days, here's my plan and then go back to everything that I was doing before, after those 30 days is a weird abuse of the word detox.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:39] Yeah, good point. I hadn't thought of it.
Cal Newport: [00:40:39] It has to be the first step towards actually changing your life. There is a detox effect, but it's also a time to reflect and figure out, “Okay, what am I actually about?” That is, what do I care about? What do I actually want to spend my time on? And then when it's over the screen you use when trying to decide what the bring back in is, you say, is this particular technology the best way to use technology to help one of these small number of things I've identified as being very valuable? The answer is that the technologies that get yes for that question, that's what comes back into your life. So if something is somewhat helpful or kind of helpful or maybe helps with some conveniences, that's not a high enough threshold for it to get back into your life. So you're just bringing back in huge ROI tech and ignoring all the lower ROI tech. And that's classic minimalism, which says it's okay to focus on a few really important things and miss out on valuable things, but lesser value. If you ignore the lesser value things and put all of your energy into higher value things, you actually end up better off. That's the core proposition of minimalism. And so that's exactly what this 30 day process is trying to bring to your digital life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:42] So give me an example here is this, would this be like, okay, I'm getting rid of all social media on my phone--
Cal Newport: [00:41:47] Online news.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:48] All messengers and all online news. And after 30 days I go, “Hey look, I really need my to do list app, which has some media functions of sharing tasks with my wife and my producer. I need that. I missed that. That helps me communicate over Slack. This is how I communicate with my team. I need that on my phone. But what I don't need is Facebook messenger, Instagram, the news app, whatever. Reddit, all this garbage.
Cal Newport: [00:42:15] If I don't need, it's not that it's this useful or not. It is, is this the best way to use technology to help something I really care about? So it's not enough to say, “Well, Facebook helps me connect with people and I really value relationships.” That might be true, but you have to ask, “Is that the best way?” Being on Facebook and doing the happy birthdays or whatever, “Is that the best way to use technology to actually help strengthen your relationships?” And the answer might be no, right? So it has to be the best. But the other caveat to that, and this is what really seems to help is that when you let something back into your life, you go past the binary question of what? And you add the how and when.
[00:42:46] So digital minimalists, what they do is they don't just say, “Okay, I do really need, let's say Facebook. That's it.” Now I'm just the Facebook user and I'll be on there, 50 minutes a day. They say, well, how am I going to use Facebook and what am I going to use it? And so for example, I talked with a lot of visual artists who said creativity is crucial. And for visual artists, Instagram is a very important source of creativity because a lot of artists post works in progress. And if you're creating your own visual art, you have to have this constant stream of varied inputs. So people do an interesting things with, that's the grist that you mill to actually have your own creative insight. So it's crucial to what they do. So a lot of visual artists would say Instagram is the best way to use technology helps I think there's value, whereas like I would not answer the same way. I don't have any values for which Instagram is the best way to help it, but the same artist will then do the how and when. And so what's really common about those artists who go through the minimalism process is that they usually will say for the how question, well of course I don't need it on my phone. Nothing about media--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:41] You could use it on your desk.
Cal Newport: [00:43:42] On my computer. There's nothing about me getting creative input from Instagram that means I need to be able to check in all the time. That doesn't make sense.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:47] Right, yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:43:48] I don't need to just use it. Generally, I'm going to call down my list of people I follow to the 10 artists that are most important. The wind will actually, for honest, if I go on Sunday night for 30 minutes, I can see everything new that these 10 new artists have done. And so now they're getting 99 percent of the value at Instagram and they're giving up 99 percent of the costs. They're looking at this thing for 15 minutes on their desktop once a week. So it has almost no negative impact on their ability to be present and do things and other things they value in their life and yet they're getting almost all the value out of it. So it's the high threshold to let it back in and then you add the how in the win structure around it and that's what makes digital minimalist if you know one. That's why they're not looking at their screen so much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:27] That's interesting. We'll show that in the worksheet for this episode because I think that's really key because a lot of people are going, “Oh, I can't get rid of this.” And so they just go on with it, the same habit. But if you go, all right, I can't slash shouldn't get rid of this, but what I should do is not check it every five seconds while I'm at dinner. When I can do is decide, like you said, the when. Mondays from 9 a.m to 10 a.m that's when I'm going through and looking at this on this app and it's not in my phone or if it's only exists on the phone, you install it on your iPad that you're not carrying with you.
Cal Newport: [00:45:00] Not carrying with you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:01] Something like that. I'd like the intentionality idea as well. Intention trumps convenience. Let's go into this. It sort of segues nicely into this really interesting point about the Amish using technology, which I was very surprised to hear.
Cal Newport: [00:45:14] Yeah. Well, so the foil to minimalism is historically maximalism, and so maximalism says what matters is value. So if something could bring some value into your life and you don't get that, it's like you're losing that money. So if you come across some app, it could give you a little bit of convenience or something like that. The maximalist says, if I don't download that app and use it, it's like someone is stealing that from me, right? Like I'm losing it. And so maximalism is what drives people in the digital space to use everything and download everything. If there's any value or any convenience, you got to use it because you really fear the loss. If I lose that, it's like someone's taken this away from me. Minimalisms the opposite, which says, no, no, you want to only focus on the big wins and on purpose ignore the small wins. One of the reasons why this less is more philosophy ends up making you net net better off is that there's a huge value you get just by being intentional.
[00:46:05] So just the idea that I'm now being incredibly careful about how I use technology so that I can really focus on things that are important to me. That gives you huge satisfaction that can often outweigh the little benefits and inconveniences you've lost by no longer keep it in your life. A lot of these small apps or services that that gave you, these small little wins. And so the intentionality itself is something that can really trump all the small little values and it conveniences, which is a big reason why I think in various minimalist movements, people end up happier even though they're purposefully ignoring things or walking away from things that an isolation could maybe bring them a little win.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:41] The Amish used technique, this was so shocking to me, this is one of the most memorable parts of the book, in my opinion. I had no idea that the Amish were actually allowed to do any of that. You hear that, Oh, they don't even use buttons on their shirt or whatever. All this kind of apparently not super true anecdotes.
Cal Newport: [00:46:58] Yeah. Well there's this idea, this false idea about the Amish then basically they froze technology at some point, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:04] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:47:04] Like they came here in the 18th century and we're like, “Okay, this is it.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:07] That's what I thought. Just went, “Hey, every the time is frozen in 1842 or whatever.”
Cal Newport: [00:47:12] But then if you read accounts, so I learned a lot about the Amish from Kevin Kelley for example, because the technologist, Kevin Kelly spent a lot of time among the Lancaster County Amish when he was younger.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:22] Very bizarre being the, the Founder of Wired.
Cal Newport: [00:47:25] Yeah, Founding Editor of Wired. Yeah. But brilliant guy. He writes about this, he's like, it's so weird because you're pulling up at an Amish farm and an Amish kid will come rollerblading by, and you go into the house and the babies are in disposable diapers and they have a huge solar array that is powering their whatever. And I wrote about someone else talking about coming to a Mennonite farm and they're sort of in a bonnet and homespun clothes as they're running a computerized CNC router machine. This $250,000 piece of equipment, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:55] Internet control.
Cal Newport: [00:47:56] Yeah. Right. The Amish have websites or they'll often have someone else that runs it for them. So what's really going on? Actually what the Amish do, is just an extreme type of intentionality based minimalism. So they have one value that's very important, which is the strength of their community. And they have this very clear rule, which is when it comes to new technologies, all that matters, does it strengthen our community or weakened it? That's what matters. I don't care how high tech it is or not. And so typically if a new technology comes along that might be relevant, they say, let's test it and there'll be some usually an Amish alpha geek in the community that says, “Great, I'm going to get the iPhone.” I'll put the phone in my house, whatever it is. I'll try the new technology. I'll get a car, and they observe like, “Hey, is this strengthening the community or is it weakening it?” And if it's weakening the community, they say we don't want to use that.
“Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:41] That must be a tough position to be in because I can imagine going, “Oh, I'm going to get a smartphone and see how it goes.” And you're just like, “Damn, this is awesome.” This is so not good for me. I have to tell the elders not to do this and they're going to make me get rid of this.
Cal Newport: [00:48:55] You know, you're going to lose it. You know you're going to lose it. But that's why you have roller blades and disposable diapers because hey, disposable diapers are just useful. It's not going to bring the community apart. But cars, cars were terrible because then people would leave and go places as opposed to visiting with each other. So it was terrible from a community point of view, telephones in the house for bad because people want to go see each other. But most Amish communities have telephones for the community. They put them in like a communal place. So you could still, because it's useful. They have tractors often because it's really a pain with the horses. Some still be used to horses, but they'll put non-pneumatic tires on the tractor so that you can't use it as a substitute car and drive into town. So you can drive it in a field, but you can't drive it on the road.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:33] That's funny.
Cal Newport: [00:49:34] Obviously they go to huge extremes, but what's interesting to me is that it's astonishing that the old order Amish still exist in the middle of the middle Antic US, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:47] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:49:47] I mean, they're completely surrounded by Walmart’s and they all spend the year during spring actually been out there. And it's not like they don't know about all the conveniences of modern technology.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:56] It’s not North Korea where they're like, yeah, the worst of the world's pretty much the same as us so let’s cut the deal.
Cal Newport: [00:49:59] It's about the same or it's real terrible. Like people hate their iPhones, right? You know, no, no, no, they know what's going on. I mean there's people at their farms, they can pictures of them with their iPhones and yet it's somehow persisted, which I think is astonishing and the reason is persistent in part is because you can get so much value out of being intentional that even in this case of extreme inconvenience because this intentionality here is creating incredible inconvenience, right? I mean no electricity in your house that comes around everything so inconvenient and yet the order has remained for 250 years. It's because the value you can get out of intentionality can really trump inconvenience. Now, a lot of issues with the old order or the old order Amish. I don't think that people should act like the Amish but I think why their example is interesting, is that just underscores that for humans intentionality you can be massively valuable and we way overestimate convenience. Like this is what I really -- I'm going to hate it if I don't have this convenience, we get that wrong and we wait under underestimate how much we're going to enjoy actually feeling like we're in control and making decisions based on our values as opposed to, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:00] I guarantee that someone Amish is listening to this or watching this right now on rooms. In fact, I made a joke a lot years ago. I said, “Oh there's only one group where we can make fun of without any repercussions. And I said something like, you know the Amish people, because we know none of them are listening. And it was like the next day someone was like, “Hey, so funny story, I'm Amish. I'm on Rumspringa, which is like this. It's supposed to be a year, but a lot of people will extend it to two, three, maybe four years where they just get to go out and be, I guess worldly to everything out and see if it's for them.
Cal Newport: [00:51:31] And something like 90 something percent come back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:32] Yeah. Which says a lot because you would think, why are they doing that? They're letting people go experience the world. They're never going to come back and it's like nine out of 10 or like, you know what” This has been fun. I'm out.
Cal Newport: [00:51:42] Yeah. Yeah. Though in fairness, we should say also, if they don't come back, they're going to be isolated from their families and they're all also not very well educated in the Amish community, so they don't have a lot of options.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:50] Good point. Yeah. You're also recommending we take social media off the phone, spend an hour or more without our phone or computer. I saw, I can't remember where this was, somewhere on Netflix, somewhere on some Internet thing that you would recommend me getting rid of, and they had the guy trying to do tasks and they took his phone from him, but they mimicked all the sound effects or they were texting his phone while I was behind him. Have you seen this?
Cal Newport: [00:52:13] I've seen this study. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:14] Yeah.
Cal Newport: [00:52:14] And they filmed it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:15] He was going insane.
Cal Newport: [00:52:17] The one I saw, they put the heart rate monitor. They said, no, no, this is for a heart rate test.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:23] That’s right.
Cal Newport: [00:52:24] They’re very clever. Like, “Oh, your phone messes up the equipment so we're just going to move it over there.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:27] That's right, that’s what they did.
Cal Newport: [00:52:28] And then they would call it, but they had the equipment on because of the fake experiment and especially with like young teenagers. The heart rate were like [indiscernible]. It was like an intense stress reaction and you're the phone but not be able to.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:39] They were cutting to him like literally sweating and he's typing something in like Microsoft Word. I mean he's not lifting it.
Cal Newport: [00:52:47] Landing an airplane.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:48] Right.
Cal Newport: [00:52:49] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:49] And he's sweating and every time the text would go, you could just see like the -- and it was congratulate gradually kind of raising and staying there as he had to keep in his head, checked my phone later, checking the phone as if the phone is not going to remind you again. I thought that was so interesting. The book has rules for how to make decisions, intentionality, make these decisions really carefully and conscientiously. I'd love for you to give a reason or two why maybe people shouldn't get rid of, I don't know, this podcast, for example, and continue to do that because I think that's a good example for intentionality. That this is the only way to get this type of information maybe, and I don’t know, I won't make your argument for you. Are there positive reasons to keep things like podcasts on your phone, on your life?
Cal Newport: [00:53:36] Yeah, like I listened to a lot of podcasts. But I don't have any social media accounts. I have smartphone, but it's an old smartphone, right? I mean every minimalist has their own combination of things and this is why the intentionality lens is the right lens and not the tech is good versus bad because for a lot of people, for example, podcasting actually is an answer to, is this the best way to use technology for a certain value? For a lot of people actually, being engaged in the world of ideas, being intellectually engaged, being sort of worldly or the old fashioned sense is a value, right? I want to engage my mind. I want to know things. I don't want to be parochial. Podcasts was killing right now with that. I mean the rise of long form. It’s crazy that people will sit and listen to a three hour interview with a scientist or something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:17] Thank God. Because I was worried, I saw my career going down the toilet. But with the rise of social media, I just thought I'm screwed then.
Cal Newport: [00:54:24] The old school media didn't understand this social media. I mean the social media executives and understand this either they're baffled and you know, the thing is about podcast, especially on long form podcast is that they're not, it really frustrates Silicon Valley. They're not consolidated. You don't have to be part of some walled garden in part of a $500 billion company. And so this is an example of a technology that I love and that people really engage with. I'm also a huge fan of blogging, for example. Now that's idiosyncratic to what I do, but for me and some of the things that are valuable to me as a writer who works in the world of ideas, to be able to experiment with ideas on a much faster time cycle than say books and to have an audience of really smart people who can give me feedback and have this ongoing dialogue has been a massively beneficial technological activity in my life
and I've been doing it for over a decade. Whereas if I'm, let's say tweeting about the type of stuff I write about, the benefit I'd get from that would be much less. So the blogging was the right answer. When it comes to using the Internet to be informed and worldly and connected to the world of ideas, podcasting for me, for example, in a lot of people is an affirmative answer, right? You asked the question, is this the best way? Actually, I think it probably is when you're commuting to be able to hear like an interesting conversation for an hour. Actually that's a great technological use.
[00:55:40] So it's a clear distinction that the sort of Luddite which is a complete strawman anyways, Luddite versus tech or whatever, which is the sort of crazy strom and that makes no sense. No one's been talking about that and no one's interested in that. It's more about me versus the real estate prices in San Francisco, right? I mean that's a really, where can I get the big wins and when am I being jerked around and actually standing up and starting to think about that seriously. That's what this is about.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:05] I want to go back real quick to some of the health concerns here. Because Post 1995 kids in there and saying social media use, the human brain isn't wired to be constantly wired and you have a really good point in the book about how social media teases our brain's centers, not just the slot machine, not just the, oh, the dopamine response that we talked about earlier. But social media use lowering our desire to actually engage in real life. It doesn't feel the same kind of need and yet, because there's no vocal tonality, there's no body language. So it leaves these processing networks in our brain. Just a little bit underused, just a little bit unsatisfied.
Cal Newport: [00:56:47] A lot underused.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:49] This was fascinating to me. I had never thought about that.
Cal Newport: [00:56:50] Yeah. I went deep on the research about human sociality and what I discovered, and I guess this makes sense on reflection, is that being social is at the core of our species success. And because of that, huge portions of our brain are dedicated to social processing. I mean it's a huge thing that makes a human human is that we can actually sit in a room and figure things out. Like what's your body language doing? What's the tone over here? Let me predict what's going on. Let me read your mind. This is a big thing. Neuroscientists call it mind reading. Let me project into your mind and try to understand your subjective state. So now I know how to react to you or what's going on. And so these brains are social processing computers and they need it and they crave it. The social system is hooked up to the pain centers and then there's these really sort of disturbing experiments where you know, you find that someone who is feeling intensely lonely, like they'd been isolated because maybe like a death of a spouse or something like this. Painkillers actually can reduce that feeling because it's so important in our species history is to be social, that the social aspects of the brain are hooked into the pain senses of the things, right?
[00:57:50] So we are social animals, right? I mean Aristotle had it right. What happens with social media is the digital interaction, this stuff that was hatched in Harvard dorm rooms 15 years ago looks nothing like our brain expects. So typing something on a screen, clicking on a heart, like seeing a number next to a thumbs up or whatever, that does not hit those same centers. These centers in our brain that have evolved over a million years, they don't recognize the stuff you see when you hit the app as having anything to do with socializing. So we get these paradoxical findings in the research literature that says when people use social media more, they get more lonely. It doesn't make any sense like it's supposed to be connecting to me people. And it's not that the phone is making them lonely, it's that they're replacing the stuff that they need and this is no substitute for this. This is what's creating this loneliness epidemic is that this tricks your frontal cortex, the new part of your brain. Like, “Hey look, I said happy birthday to 25 people today. I'm incredibly social. I've done it.” It's good. I'm the teenager. I don't have to leave my room. I've been talking to people all day, but then behind that thin layer, frontal cortex, there's the whole rest of the social brain as far as that's concerned. We haven't talked to anyone in days.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:54] So it's like being really hungry. And then someone says, here's a half a peanut and some sugar, and you go, “Okay, but I'm still hungry.” But you're for that one second. You're like, “Oh, I'm good.”
Cal Newport: [00:59:06] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:06] You have more high fructose corn syrup and peanuts.
Cal Newport: [00:59:10] Yeah. Or you smoke a cigarette and the nicotine for a little bit, you don't feel the hunger craving, but your body still needs it. And so this is what's going on with teenagers and it's so distressing. They're having all this huge mental health, which I had heard about anecdotally. I mean, I wrote about how maybe four or five years ago I was doing a lecture at a college and it was sponsored by the mental health center. And so I was talking to the head of the mental health services and like, “Hey, what's going on? What should I know?” And she's like, we've had this spike in mental health issues. Like we've never had this many students and it's not the normal variety of things. It's all anxiety and anxiety related disorders. I was like, “Well, what's causing that?” She’s like “It's the smart phone.” It's the very first generation students who showed up with their smart phones, knew what they were doing. I was like, well that's kind of anecdotal. And then the sweeping research came out over the past few years that found that the signal is incredibly strong and that the other alternate explanations, people try it. A lot of alternative explanations, they've all been falling apart. The only signal that's actually amplifying as people do more and more research is that it's doing this and not doing as much as this. It's creating real problems, and so I talk about teenagers in part because it's like the Canary in the coal mine. They take this idea of let's not interact in the real world to ludicrous extremes, right? I mean you and I, even if we're using a lot of phone, I don't know, like I have kids and family and I live in a town, I'm still going to interact with a lot of people. But teenagers, they sit in their room, they don't get their driver's license, they don't go to parties. I mean--
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:35] This is generally true because of course plenty of teenagers are amazing people that do all this. And I also think I get where they're coming from because social media requires less energy. They're really efficient, right?
Cal Newport: [01:00:46] It requires less energy in a seams, but they're a great case study, right? Like let's take this independent variable, which is this how much we spend on our phone versus interaction? Let's find a group that happens for various reasons. The push it to an extreme and then we can see what happens. And so when you push it to an extreme, like what's happening with teenagers right now, we see this huge spike sort of unprecedentedly from a demographic point of view. We've never seen things change this much between generations. This huge spike in anxiety and excited related disorders, which tells us bad things happen as you start to starve the social brain of what it needs now.
[01:01:17] Now for someone like you or I, who's not going to maybe be as extreme as like the most extreme 16 year old, it's not maybe going to be a massive anxiety disorder, but it gives us this background hum. This sort of background hum of anxiety that people just accept. Now, I think a lot of that is, we don't realize it, but we're basically misusing this computer. It's wondering where is my interaction?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:40] So if we get rid of all these social media, we actually need to cultivate high quality leisure times social connections. Otherwise, I would imagine when we reintroduce it, we're just going to end up with the exact same problem.
Cal Newport: [01:01:52] And it's also really hard. So this is something I learned during that 1600 Person Experiment is people were surprised by how hard it was that first day when they didn't have the digital stream to entertain them. And the way a lot of people talked about it was, especially people who were old enough to have quite a bit of adult life before and after widespread social media use, which again, it's very new, it's like five or six years. They were surprised the degree to which this had subtly pushed out of their life, the high quality analog stuff that they used to do and really enjoy it and then even realize they didn't decide to do this. It just sort of pushed it out because it was easier. And so it was scary at first. I don't know what to do with my time, then they got back to high quality leisure, that type of stuff they used to do. Even something as simple as going to the library and getting a stack of books, right? And then they were overjoyed to discover, “Man, this stuff is really good.” Actually using my hands and building something or doing a thing with a community group or playing with a sports league and trying to remember how to throw the ultimate Frisbee or even just reading books or whatever. They forgot how much satisfaction you get out of actual quality leisure, and so the good news is that when people actually got that back into their life, getting the 30 days, a lot of them reported they lost the taste for this. It's like when you stop eating the junk food and start eating the real food for a month and then you go back and try to eat a Snickers bar and it's a really sweet and kind of weird.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:08] Right, yeah.
Cal Newport: [01:03:10] And why is it falling apart of my mouth in this perfect way? The whole thing is disturbing, they lost their tastes for like, “Well I don't know if I want to just do that.” Right? Maybe I want to be Ron Swanson instead and I want to go back out and work on my canoe or chop some wood or whatever, but high quality leisure is crucial. We've lost it. When you bring it back, it's a completely different experience.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:30] Last but not least, do you have a really interesting practical takeaway? And we'll in the worksheet of course go over some of the decluttering detox and the reintroduction of course in detail in your book is where the rest of that is. But the conversation office hours I thought was a really interesting practical takeaway that everyone should implement right now. Tell me about this. Because I immediately wanted to do this and I was like, “Wait a minute.” And I told Jen, my wife, who schedules everything for me. I was like, “Okay, I know this is a pain, but I want you to basically move all this stuff to this other time.” And she was like, “Oh God.” You know, but it's going to save me so much. And so far I love the idea of being able to ignore certain things and be like, “I'll do them later in a way that compartmentalizes the pain.
Cal Newport: [01:04:13] Yeah. Well, I mean, phone calls turn out to be very effective, right? Because you're actually doing analog interaction and there's limbic consonants and these other types of effects that makes it fires up that social part of the brain. So phone calls are much, much better than text face communication. The problem is the overhead, right? Because we've kind of lost the cultural structure around, I'm just going to call you up. You're probably not going to answer. People aren't expecting phone calls. And so the hack you're talking about is basically you have some set times that you know you're going to be available. And then whenever you're in a circumstance where you're talking or interacting with someone that you would like to have a phone call with, you can get rid of all the overhead by just saying, “here's my office hours from 4 to 5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays or whatever it is, I'm always available. You can always call me. Here's my number. There's no social landmines there. You know I'm available. You know, I'm happy to take calls. You just call it. I'll probably pick up and it's a an easy hack that gives you a lot more of this higher quality interaction and then you can just shut people towards this. When you get the “Hey Jordan, can we grab coffee or hop on a call or whatever.” I'm sure you get a lot of those.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:13] All the time.
Cal Newport: [01:05:14] Yeah, to be able to say like, “Hey, I always am happy to talk to people.” Like you can always call me between these hours on this day. It's like a small hack. In fact, one review or even made fun of me because they said so obvious, but I don't think it is actually. I mean it's a simple thing but it really works really well and so I think it's worth emphasizing. So I'm glad you brought it up.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:30] Right. The reason more people don't do this is because since the phones with us all the time, the point is we're reachable all the time, but that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.
Cal Newport: [01:05:40] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:40] Before cell phones, if somebody called your phone and you weren't there and you didn't pick up, nobody would be like, “What the hell? What's going on? What's going on? Is it's Sunday, I'm not in the office.” And people would be like, “Oh, of course.” Now though, “Hey, I called your phone twice this weekend. You didn't answer.” “Yeah. I didn't want to. I don't answer my phone except on at 5:30 to 6 o'clock five days a week. And every other time I'm not reachable by phone.”
Cal Newport: [01:06:07] And people are worried people, I think people are too worried that everyone that they know got really annoyed at them if they don't have the phone with them all the time. Or if you're like, look, I don't answer text or whatever. The reality is, people don't care. They're not thinking that much about.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:19] No.
Cal Newport: [01:06:19] And they adapt really quickly. And so I'm one of these people, my family knows it. If you sent me a text message, it's a very low probability that I'm going to see it in answer, right? Like I'll look at my phone a few times during the day or something like that. And they just expect like, “Okay, I don't expect that.” It's like just 10 years ago, I don't expect that Cal is always next to his phone and they've sort of adapted and they don't care. They're sort of used to it. And so people will adapt is essentially what I'm saying is if you switch to a lifestyle, which I recommend, where you sometimes have your phone and you sometimes don't and you're not always reachable, nothing bad happens and you gain huge positives such as time alone with your own thoughts, which turned out to be crucial to flourishing. And people aren't thinking about you as much as you think they are. And they're not sitting there stewing, like “Jordan! How dare he think that he can't.” They don't care. You know.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:05] Also we're training people to reacting to certain things.
Cal Newport: [01:07:08] People train like great, Jordan doesn't always have his phone. I got it. I don't expect, I won't last minute texts him if I need something and then they move on. And now you've gained back a lot of solitude and undistracted time. And so yeah, these seem like small hacks or maybe scary hacks, but they work really well.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:23] Cal Newport, Digital Minimalism. Thank you very much.
Cal Newport: [01:07:26] Thank you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:29] Jason, so you did some of the Digital Minimalism stuff and it's different than detox, right? It's not just like, “Hey, stop using social media. It's completely different. It’s a system.
Jason DeFilippo: [01:07:38] Yeah, it's a great system too. I have dialed back. I followed Cal steps and have been dialing everything back. I'm doing it for 30 days and I have found that I am much better off without a lot of the things that were on my phone and even on my iPad, I've dialed it back and only have certain things that I need to do for work that make my life better. And I love the book, I devoured the book. I've given a couple of copies out too, to some of my friends who really needed it. And I think almost everybody actually really needs it now. It's great advice. I've loved Cal’s stuff for years. His Deep Work stuff has been fantastic and this is just another add-on to his like awesome library of just taking back your mind.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:19] Yeah, I like that. Taking back your mind. It really is kind of what he specializes in. So definitely check out Digital Minimalism. I was talking with Charlamagne tha God while I was in New York. If you don't know who he is, super popular, FM Radio DJ, talk show host, interviewer, and he was freaking out about Digital Minimalism. He's like, “This is going to be a game changer. This is going to change the world.” Like he was really excited about this and because this is a guy who gets 10,000 tweets a week, literally, probably.
Jason DeFilippo: [01:08:49] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:50] And has millions of followers on Instagram and he's like, “You know what? I'm just not going to do this.” And he changed the way that he uses that stuff. He actually ended up deleting his Twitter because as you can imagine when you're a hip hop interviewer and you have a Twitter, it's just asses full and it was making him feel awful. But the steps are different for everybody.
They're based on your needs and so this for him, this for me was just a really big deal. Digital Minimalism, we'll link to it in the show notes and if you want to know how I managed to book all these great people and manage my relationships using systems, tiny habits, and not a lot of social media, not a lot of clutter. Checkout Six Minute Networking. It's a course that I made to replace LevelOne. It is free, it's over at jordanharbinger.com/course, and it's got new drills, new exercises if you like LevelOne or if you were too lazy to start doing it. Six Minute Networking is a great place to kick that off. It takes just a few minutes per day. I'll let you guess how many, and this is the stuff I wish I knew a decade ago. It's not fluff. It is crucial and that's all at jordanharbinger.com/course. Speaking of relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Cal Newport.
[01:09:56] I'm @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram and I do use social media to engage with you all and I do that deliberately. There's also video of this interview on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason “De Minimis” DeFilippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes and worksheets are by Robert Fogarty. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which is definitely the case with this episode. So please share the show with those you love. Share the show with maybe even something that you don't. :ots more in the pipeline. Very excited to bring it to you. And in the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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