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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller!

From New York Times best-selling author Cal Newport comes a bold vision for liberating workers from the tyranny of the inbox - and unleashing a new era of productivity.

Modern knowledge workers communicate constantly. Their days are defined by a relentless barrage of incoming messages and back-and-forth digital conversations - a state of constant, anxious chatter in which nobody can disconnect, and so nobody has the cognitive bandwidth to perform substantive work. There was a time when tools like email felt cutting edge, but a thorough review of current evidence reveals that the "hyperactive hive mind" workflow they helped create has become a productivity disaster, reducing profitability and perhaps even slowing overall economic growth. Equally worrisome, it makes us miserable. Humans are simply not wired for constant digital communication.

We have become so used to an inbox-driven workday that it's hard to imagine alternatives. But they do exist. Drawing on years of investigative reporting, author and computer science professor Cal Newport makes the case that our current approach to work is broken, then lays out a series of principles and concrete instructions for fixing it. In A World without Email, he argues for a workplace in which clear processes - not haphazard messaging - define how tasks are identified, assigned and reviewed. Each person works on fewer things (but does them better), and aggressive investment in support reduces the ever-increasing burden of administrative tasks. Above all else, important communication is streamlined, and inboxes and chat channels are no longer central to how work unfolds.

The knowledge sector's evolution beyond the hyperactive hive mind is inevitable. The question is not whether a world without email is coming (it is), but whether you'll be ahead of this trend. If you're a CEO seeking a competitive edge, an entrepreneur convinced your productivity could be higher, or an employee exhausted by your inbox, A World Without Email will convince you that the time has come for bold changes, and will walk you through exactly how to make them happen.

©2021 Cal Newport (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

A World Without Email crystallizes what so many of us feel intuitively but haven’t been able to explain: the way we’re working isn’t working. Cal Newport charts a path back to sanity, offering a variety of road-tested practices to help us escape the tyranny of our inboxes and achieve a calmer, more intentional, and more productive working life.” (Drew Houston, cofounder and CEO of Dropbox)

“The future of work demands new tools of collaboration. Cal Newport is on a quest to uncover better ways for knowledge workers to collaborate. Out of this will come the new work space.” (Kevin Kelly, senior maverick for Wired

"Ford studied how to improve productivity and organize the factory floor. Now, Newport is doing the same for knowledge work." (Fortune)

What listeners say about A World Without Email

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Waste of time

A terribly misleading book title. The entire premise of the book is that people get more done when not distracted. Email can be a distraction.

There, you've read the book.

8 people found this helpful

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We interrupt this program for....

Once again Professor Newport backs up his statements with studies and solutions! Lowered friction offered by email allows for the depletion of your attention capital and reduces your work quantity and quality. Overwhelmed with a constant stream of unimportant emails or lacking the bandwidth to get the deep work done that your career requires is a common complaint. Stop complaining and try out the methods suggested here and see them start to work for you. I have followed Cal's Blog for years and adjusted my own workflows and they work so that I can. Try out and adjust the many solutions for your particular kind of deep work required in your work environments and see for yourself. It takes some vigilance but the alternative is the crushing continuous feed of unimportant communications. Thanks again Professor!

5 people found this helpful

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It’s ok

It’s ok - good premise and he’s done his research but if you’ve bought Newport’s previous books, don’t buy this one.

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Great idea, horrible book

Really great ideas, but they should have been edited better into a book half its size. It is just incredibly repetitive and endlessly dragging on and on, reiterating the same few things over and over and over. It has been so boring you get distracted by wishing the book was over.

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  • 05-13-21

This was awesome!!

Great ideas and so glad you're tackling this issue Cal. Fantastic book with lots of great tips!

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I related to this book more than any other book!

I could relate so much to every part of this book. I hope I could use what I've learned and make things better.

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A Fresh New Outlook!

I will never think about my overall work and my e-mail the same way again!

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Thanks to the author!

Thank you, the author, for investigating the topic of this book. Rarely does anyone think about the way email has transformed knowledge-work. This book is a great opportunity to understand that you are not just lazy or not canny enough to cope with the overwhelming number of undealt with mail. Thank you for the “interactive hivemind” term and for “hobzian dynamics” term. I have always though that i am the only one who thinks that sending numerous complex email or other requests to people would never help and would not derive the result needed or would, but only by chance, not routinely. However, this is a very obvious observation. Hyperactive hivemind mindset has turned many people into automatons ignoring this obvious fact. The hivemind feeds off its own outcomes and thrives on its own pervasiveness. Thank you for noticing this and conveying this thought to the readers. Based on this reading i can convey the concept further on to my colleagues so as to try defeat the hivemind together.

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Very interesting take on pervasive societal issue

Email drain most people time and attention and its detrimental impact to knowledge workers and career capital is profound. Cal did a good job discussing the issue and it's implications for non believers and people that ignore the issue. In my view the solutions proposed are not yet fully developed, but it is a good beginning.

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Game changing idea for all

This is a great read for all, the point cal touches on are far reaching and applicable to everything. Putting it to great use is the big to do afterwards