The Career Author Podcast: Episode 117 – Digital Minimalism: A Year Later

Digital Minimalism after one year.

Digital Minimalism: A Year Later

Last year, Zach and J. recorded an episode discussing Digital Minimalism inspired by the bestselling book of the same name by Cal Newport. After reading that book, both Zach and J. greatly reduced the time they spend on devices. Zach even completely left social media, a move controversial to many authors.

How have the guys fared over the past year as full-time creatives with little to no social media presence, and how has it impacted their day-to-day lives?

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • How being off social media has impacted Zach and J.’s author careers
  • How a minimal digital life has impacted their personal lives
  • Why you should consider deleting apps and turning off notifications
  • How to live in the moment and be more present
  • Why cultivating silence and being bored is crucial for creativity
  • How you might be delivering or experiencing FOMO without realizing it

Also in this episode, Zach shares a listener tip for those who like to write outside of the house.

Send us your ways and hacks – https://thecareerauthor.com/waysandhacks/ 

Leave us a comment: Have you considered a break from or even quitting social media?

Thanks to our newest Patrons, Matty Dalrymple, Jeannette Bedard, Dean Watts.

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Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – https://books2read.com/u/ba27x6

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16 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 117 – Digital Minimalism: A Year Later

  • Morning guys. Interesting hack, not heard of that model down my way although I’m not a fan of subscription for most things.
    Probably a generation thing but I’ve never got into Social Media (SM) as most of it is shallow and vacuous. Maybe I’m not addictive.
    When I worked I never had email on my phone. Why? Because email means one is always at work. If work paid me to answer emails in the evening or at weekends fine. Certainly don’t have it on my phone now. Don’t have any SM on it. I occasionally use Google Maps if I’m in a new place, and if I have my phone with me. Shock horror, most of the time I don’t even have my phone with me. I never take it for a walk. Why? What’s the point of taking your phone for a walk? My phone is not a dog, it doesn’t need a walk every day.
    Went to London for four days for the Self Publishing Show and didn’t take my phone because wifey had hers.
    And why do people need to selfie everything? Who cares? Is it low self-esteem? Look at me, I’m special because I’m in front of x… No. You’re not special. And get this… Nobody cares. Likes on SM are not real, it’s people being polite, so you will like their tackie selfie back. Selfies are shallow, instantly forgettable and nobody cares who or what you are standing in front of.
    However, the phone camera can occasionally be convenient to record stuff.
    Never bought into SM although FB and YouTube can be useful to learn stuff, but that’s about it.
    The world would benefit from an SM blackout for a few months (a solar flare might do it) to free most from the zombie lifestyle that SM addicts live.
    Now there’s a Dystopian Postapoc story. People turned into zombies controlled by SM with some kind of evil genius or government behind it. Wait, that’s almost 1984… spookie.
    Great show.

    • “What’s the point of taking your phone for a walk?” Safety. As a woman, it’s nice to know that when I walk alone, I have 911 close at hand. I keep having to remind digital minimalist men that some of us have our phones handy not to be on SM, but for a measure of safety!

      • I totally get it, Kim. That’s why I clarified here taking your phone with you but having it turned off or in a backpack or fanny pack or something where you can’t just reach in your pocket and grab it or be compelled to play music or podcasts or audiobooks. Your safety comes first, and I totally get it. I usually take mine with me but have it off or in a bag.

        • Respectfully, I still don’t think you get it. Most women need to have it ‘at hand’.
          For instance, if someone (a man usually) is walking behind us, and we feel that ‘off’ vibe, the next step is to cross the street. If the then they cross too, scrambling to get your phone out of a bag when you’re anxious is not best practice.
          This is not a common occurrence, but it’s not rare either.
          I honestly don’t think you appreciate how much woman have to guard themselves.
          I’m not trying to be combative. It’s just the unfortunate reality.

          • If a person is really that concerned about their safety while out walking for relaxation in their neighborhood, they would probably be better served by carrying OC/Pepper Spray in their hand rather than their phone. Sabre Gel is what my local police department recommended.

            I took a self defense class where we practiced spraying with silly string, and firing the spray behind us as we ran to create distance between us and an assailant. They recommended the gel since it wouldn’t blow back on you like regular aerosol spray. Sabre was the brand the police officers used, and you can buy it on Amazon.

            They recommended you focus on getting away, then call when you feel safe. Trying to unlock a phone while getting away or feeling unsafe doesn’t work as well as you would like.

            Best of luck.

  • Speaking of taking time to just be present and enjoy something…I remember (back in the day) listening to records. I’d put on an album, lie on my bedroom floor, and immerse myself in the experience of the music. Sometimes, if the band had cool cover art, like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, I’d look at the cover, but usually I simply listened. I need to get back to that!

    I don’t miss those days of video stores at all. I love streaming TV and movies. I’m old enough to remember when I had to wait until the summer to catch a rerun of a show I missed during the season. And then there was the possibility the network wouldn’t show that particular episode! I remember waiting all year to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or The Wizard of Oz, and then we were bombarded with tons of commercials. It sucked.

    To answer your question: I took the final social media app off my phone a couple of months ago. I took Twitter off and have barely looked at it since. I haven’t had Facebook on my phone in over a year, and I’ve never had Instagram on it. It really does cut down on my social media time. I still get on FB on my computer, but it’s a more managed time.

    Hope you both are well and staying sane with the isolation.

    • Thanks, Kim. I hope you’re doing well also.

      I miss those days of listening and looking at liner notes too. I still have all of my CDs but no CD player so I guess I could stream the music while looking through my collection 😉

  • Zach’s sharing his memory of the family gathered around the tv to watch their family movies really resonated with me. My dad was obsessed with his giant Panasonic VHS camcorder, and I remember the first time we hooked it up to the tv to watch what he had recorded. For 10 year old me, it was like seeing proof that the past was real. I still remember that feeling, along with how strange and different it was to see ourselves on the tv, to hear our voices, watch ourselves from the outside, and see how my mom looked at my dad when he did something that annoyed her (they would later divorce). We’ve put the power to make everyone special like that in everyone’s pocket, and neutered its ability to be special.

    I realized when my son was two or so that, because I had been so focused on making movies of him, I was hardly present in any of those movies. I really made an effort to change that going forward. The only downside is that I wish I had more movies, since I focused more on spending time with him… but that’s the trade-off, I guess.

    For others trying to kill their facebook habit, three things have helped me a lot. (I guess this might be a hack).

    a) I unfollow everyone. As soon as I get a new friend, I unfollow them. The only things I follow are groups that add value to my life, and as soon as they get annoying or steal my focus (I get the same irritation Zach talks about), I cut them. If they’re important to me, I figure I can always check on them if I remember.
    b) Social Fixer is a Chrome Extension that allows you to hide and edit parts of your facebook experience. You can cut out friend suggestions, the marketplace, all the crap that annoys you. Facebook is sneaky and changes their tags for things internally, so you have to update it almost weekly, but it’s a great tool. It also kills the endless scroll once you’ve seen all the content your following.
    c) StayFocusd Chrome Extension. Allows you to allow/disallow specific sites during a set time period. You can nuke all webtraffic, etc. Allows you to keep certain web services like 4thewords.com while killing facebook and reddit. Huge for me.

    Anyway, thanks for this discussion, and also revisiting it. I think the revisit was important. I really appreciate being able to share in your progress as you evaluate over time. I’m glad there are other people out there fighting the good fight against the endless scroll…

    • I should also add that I hang onto social media, especially facebook, because it seems to be where my readers are, and I hate to say it, but my last major writing contracts that allowed me to go full time came through facebook.

      It’s a necessary evil for now, but I’m always looking at how to diversify, maintain focus, and where my time is best spent. That’s why I only follow specific groups (like my readers groups.)

      • Thanks, James. I totally agree. It’s necessary evil for sure. I still need to log onto FB to run ads but that’s about as far as I go these days.

  • Excellent episode and insightful discussion. I admit that I listened to it while walking my dog and will share it via social media, but the advice regarding being present for the people you are with and appreciating (not photographing) the things around you is wonderful. I’m going to put a reminder on my calendar to re-listen periodically.
    I did want to put in one good word for social media in this time of coronavirus social distancing: that it has enabled me to check in on friends and family who might otherwise be more difficult to reach. I also highly recommend the cheering effects of a Zoom-based cocktail party!
    Thank you for a great podcast.

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