Each day you begin work with high hopes for productivity and creativity. But each day you instead find yourself bogged down in checking and answering emails and responding to messages on Slack. As frustrating as this is, it just seems like the inevitable, unalterable dynamic of modern jobs.

But my guest today says that another way of working is possible, and it could unleash a tidal way of new productivity. His name is Cal Newport, and he’s a professor of computer science and the author of several books, including his latest, A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Information Overload. Cal describes how email and chat channels have created what he calls “the hyperactive hive mind,” and the costs to productivity, well-being, and focus that this hive mind incurs. He then explains why we feel the need to quickly respond to messages, even if rationally we know they’re not urgent. Cal then lays out practical ways to replace the hive mind with a more effective way of working, and why it involves concentrating on processes over messaging, increasing intellectual specialization, a return to hiring support staff, and, counterintuitively, more friction and less convenience. Cal also offers advice on how to make these changes at your office, even if you’re not in a position of authority.

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Show Highlights

  • What is the hyperactive hivemind?
  • How did email become so unproductive?
  • Why email and Slack make us so miserable 
  • How did we end up in this state of things?
  • Embracing short-term discomfort for the sake of long-term gains
  • How to think of attention as capital 
  • How are companies actually working to implement these big ideas about communication?
  • Why increasing complication reduces complexity 
  • Forging better meetings 
  • Why knowledge works are often responsible for too many tasks 
  • How can an employee do this from the bottom up?

Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Cal

Cal’s website

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The post Podcast #689: Email Is Making Us Miserable — Here’s What to Do About It appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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