Digital minimalism when you work online

Cal Newport

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember my guide to improving reading speed, which referenced the book Deep Work by Cal Newport (whom I also was lucky enough to interview). Cal’s blog is superb and he is something of a guru when it comes to digital minimalism. This week he wrote an interesting blog post where he coined the term Facebook Phreak, to reference people who have installed apps and other mechanisms to reduce the number of distractions Facebook unleashes upon us.

In the blog post he referenced people who cull their friends, use Facebook specifically for special interest groups, deleted the Facebook app from their phone and installed blockers on their browser to kill the news feed. It turns out I am a Facebook Phreak because I do all these things.

Digital Minimalism is becoming very important to me, it is something where I have made some massive strides but also fall back into bad habits often. I use Freedom.to to block distracting websites when I work, I have removed email and browsing apps from my phone (if it wasn’t for podcasts and a weather app I’d be using a ‘dumb’ phone right now), I have started to mute a lot of political words from my Twitter, I only use Twitter socially in very specific time periods and I have even blocked the news channels on my TV. Watching people lose their shit over Donald Trump and arguing with people online about relatively trivial things is something I am trying to put to an absolute minimum in my life.

There is a problem, however, in that for my day job I need to stay plugged in to social media and news. I am the editor of a large poker website and a lot of my job includes working with our social media accounts and writing industry news (most of which comes one way or another from social or news sites). This naturally is at odds with my desire to keep my online interactions controlled and to a minimum.

I’ve by no means perfected this, but here are a few ways in which I have managed to stay plugged in without letting social media overwhelm my working day.Continue Reading

Working from home, or living at work?

Mitchell-and-Webb1When you tell someone you work from home, invariably you receive one of two responses. People will either express how lucky you are; because you can sleep in, take breaks when you want, watch TV and answer only to yourself. Or they tell you that in the same position, they wouldn’t find the motivation to do the actual work; because they would be sleeping in, taking breaks when they want and watching TV, because they don’t have anyone to answer to.

Both responses infer that working from home is a low stress, unproductive utopia that is as much leisure as it is vocation. That it somehow does away with the ‘work’ part entirely (The hours, answering to a demanding boss, the monotony and bureaucracy) and what you are left with is what most people do after work, but you still get paid.

The reality is much different. Instead of being asked how you find the motivation to work, the question should be how you find the motivation to stop working. Rather than working from home, more and more of us are essentially living at work. Rather than working flexible hours, many of us are working the standard 9-5 hours plus many more before our peers start work, after they end work, and when they normally relax during the weekend.Continue Reading

Work from home, or living at work?

Mitchell-and-Webb1When you tell someone you work from home, invariably you receive one of two responses. People will either express how lucky you are; because you can sleep in, take breaks when you want, watch TV and answer only to yourself. Or they tell you that in the same position, they wouldn’t find the motivation to do the actual work; because they would be sleeping in, taking breaks when they want and watching TV, because they don’t have anyone to answer to.

Both responses infer that working from home is a low stress, unproductive utopia that is as much leisure as it is vocation. That it somehow does away with the ‘work’ part entirely (The hours, answering to a demanding boss, the monotony and bureaucracy) and what you are left with is what most people do after work, but you still get paid.

The reality is much different. Instead of being asked how you find the motivation to work, the question should be how you find the motivation to stop working. Rather than working from home, more and more of us are essentially living at work. Rather than working flexible hours, many of us are working the standard 9-5 hours plus many more before our peers start work, after they end work, and when they normally relax during the weekend.Continue Reading