The Analog January Challenge


I follow the blog of a guy called Cal Newport. He writes on productivity and digital minimalism.

He regularly posts tips for productivity and connecting to what matters.

He just recently posted his Analog January Challenge and I thought I’d link to it here.

“It’s a collection of five commitments that last one month. They’re designed to provide you a crash course introduction to the types of satisfying analog activities that will reduce the anxious attraction of your screens.”

The five commitments are as follows:

Commit to reading 3 – 4 new books during the month. It doesn’t matter if they’re fiction or non-fiction, sophisticated or fun. The goal is to rediscover what it feels like to make engagement with the written word an important part of your daily experience.

Commit to going for a walk every single day of the month. Try to make it at least 15 minutes long. Leave your phone at home: just observe the world around you and think.

Hold a real conversation with 20 different people during the month long challenge. These conversations can be in person or over the phone/Facetime/Skype, but text-based communication doesn’t count (you must be able to hear the other person’s voice). To hit the 20 person mark will require some advance planning: you might consider calling old friends or taking various colleagues along for lunch and coffee breaks.

Participate in a skilled hobby that requires you to interact with the physical world. This could be craft-based, like knitting, drawing, wood working, or, as I’ve taken to doing with my boys, building custom circuits. This could also be athletic, like biking, bow hunting, or, as is increasingly popular these days, Brazilian Ju Jitsu. Screen-based activities don’t count. To get the full analog benefit here, you need to encounter and overcome the resistances of the physical landscape that surrounds you, as this is what our minds have evolved to understand as productive action.

Join something local that meets weekly. For many people, this might be the hardest commitment, but it’s arguably one of the most important, especially as we enter a political season where the pseudo-anonymity and limbic-triggers of the online world attempt to bring out the worse in us. There’s nothing more fundamentally human than gathering with a group of real people in real life to work on something real together. This has a way of lessening — even if just briefly — the sense of anxious despair that emanates from the online upside down.

I’ve chosen to go with ‘Read’ as this was a goal I had set myself for 2020 generally.

The idea, as I understand it, is that rather than trying to reduce your time spent on digital devices, instead increase the time spent in the analog world and that will have the duel effect of:

  • connecting you to stuff that matters more
  • reducing the time you have to spend browsing social media

For the full post visit this link –

If you consider doing the challenge, send him an email to let him know how it went.

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