The countless digital tools, apps and widgets available tend to pull us in like the proverbial moth to the flame, competing for our attention. Minimize these distractions and develop greater focus to become more productive and successful. WESLEY FERGUSON gives us a glimpse into the why and how.

Sharing your published article to the masses is addictive, especially as a new writer. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn come alive with pings as comments and likes start trickling in. That hour you have set aside to work on your writing every morning is now constantly being interrupted by notifications that cannot possibly be ignored. As you turn your attention back to your screen you wonder: “What was I saying again?”

But these digital interruptions take their toll. Gloria Mark, a professor in the department of informatics at the University of California, did research on the cost of interrupted work. She claims it takes on average 23 minutes to regain your focus after an interruption. Suddenly that hour that you set aside looks more like 15min.

A digital minimalist approach

In his bestselling book, Digital Minimalism, Choosing a focused life in a noisy world, Cal Newport, Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Georgetown University, defines digital minimalism as “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

Deep work, as Newport calls it, is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task, like your next feature article, and is one of the most valuable tools you can have at your disposal. This is a skill that can give you a serious leg up in the increasingly competitive work environment. Better still, it is a skill that is becoming increasingly rare.

“One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results. – Cal Newport”

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Time for a digital de-clutter

Digital minimalism is the art of knowing how much digital time is enough. Now you could go the whole hog and jump into a 30-day digital detox as Newport suggests in his book, but that may not be for everybody, nor immediately practical. But there are smaller steps you can take to reap instant benefits. 

  • Remove social media from your phone.
  • Unplug from the internet using the Freedom Tool.
  • Keep your phone out of reach and put it on silent mode.

The habit of writing daily is what will make you a better writer. However, it’s the quality of the time you’ve set aside that brings the most benefits.

Don’t be surprised by the feeling of novelty when trying this for the first time. Embrace it!


Wesley Ferguson uses his years of professional digital experience to develop engaging content about technology, the built environment and digital marketing. With a keen interest in human movement, he also enjoys writing about health and fitness. When not hammering away on his keyboard, Wesley can be found swinging heavy kettlebells around, exploring outdoors with a camera or catching a wave with friends.