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The Books I Read in December 2021

Each month I strive to read five books, from a variety of genres and levels of seriousness. By popular request, I’ve listed below the titles I completed in December 2021 (for more detailed thoughts on these books see Episode 163 of my podcast): How Star Wars Conquered the Universe Chris Taylor After completing Joseph McBride’s epic biography of Steven...

What Happened When This Online Business Owner Quit Social Media?

A reader named Alexander recently pointed me toward an essay he wrote about his experiment avoiding social media for all of 2021. What caught my attention is the fact that Alexander runs an online business as a freelance copywriter. I frequently hear from people who are exhausted by the frenetic, anxiety-inducing churn of social media, but are concerned...

Analog January: The No Twitter Challenge

Back in December of 2019, inspired by the recent release of my book, Digital Minimalism, I announced what I called the Analog January Challenge. The goal of the challenge was to complete a series of five commitments designed to help you develop quality, non-digital alternatives to screen-based distractions. Two years later, I’m bringing back the Analog...

Why I Changed My Email Setup

Last week, for the first time in a long time, I made a substantial change to the configuration of my email inboxes. This might seem somewhat out of character. As readers of A World Without Email know, I’m largely indifferent about using hacks and technical fixes to improve your email experience. The real problem, I argue in that book, is the implicit...

The Books I Read in November 2021

Since last spring, I’ve been pursuing the goal of reading five books a month. To meet this mark, I start with a foundation of daily reading, but then, when I get momentum going on a given book, I schedule extra reading sessions in my time block schedule, allowing me to accelerate toward completion. I also include at least one audio title each month,...

The Forgotten Tale of George Lucas’s Writing Tower

In early 1973, George Lucas was living modestly with his wife, the film editor Marcia Lou Griffin, in a one-bedroom apartment in Mill Valley, a small town in Marin County, just north of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. Lucas’s situation drastically changed that summer when Universal released his second feature film, American Graffiti. The...

The Bestselling Magic of the Writing Shed

A few years ago, my family faced a housing dilemma. We lived at the time in our first house, a small cape cod near the top of an elongated cul-de-sac, situated on a bluff above Sligo Creek, a half mile outside downtown Silver Spring. We had two kids who comfortably shared an upstairs bedroom. But then my wife and I decided they needed a new brother,...

When Facebook Came Calling…

When I give interviews about the potential harms of social media, I often tell a story from early in my career as a professor. In this tale, I was walking across the campus of a well-known university, on my way to give a talk to a student group about stress and academic success. I was escorted by a professor involved with the school’s student mental...

A Pastor Embraces Slowness

I recently received an interesting email from a Lutheran pastor named Amy. She had read some of my recent essays on slow productivity (e.g., 1 2 3), and heard me talk about this embryonic concept on my podcast, so she decided to send me her own story about slowing down. “A few years ago, I realized I was on the verge of burnout with my job,” she began....

On the Source of Our Drive to Get Things Done

In a recent essay for the New Yorker, I take a closer look at the growing popular dissatisfaction with the concept of “productivity,” a trend I underscore, in part, by citing some of the comments from readers of this newsletter. In my piece, I focus on the precise economic definition of this term, which measures the output produced from a fixed amount...

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