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Email is Making Us Miserable

On Friday, the New Yorker ran an excerpt from the second chapter of my new book, A World Without Email. This chapter focuses on an aspect of the email revolution that’s often overlooked in our discussion of this tool: the ways in which it makes us miserable. I open the piece by reviewing studies that quantify what many of us have learned through personal...

Jason Fried and I Explore A World Without Email

A Deep Discussion Jason Fried is one my favorite thinkers about workplace innovation. Basecamp, the company he co-founded, has been an inspiring incubator for knowledge work experimentation, from reduced work weeks, to office hours, to remote work, to the development of custom-built communication tools. Fried has documented these ideas in the bestselling...

Steinbeck’s Productive Inactivity

Good news: if you have $17.9 million available, John Steinbeck’s 1.8 acre waterfront retreat is now for sale. It’s tucked onto a grassy peninsula in Upper Sag Harbor Cove, and features a pool, a long pier,  and two cozy guest cottages. Arguably most important is the hexagonal, 100-square-foot “writer’s house” overlooking the water. Encountering this...

Announcing The Email Academy

My new book, A World Without Email, which comes out on March 2nd, is available for pre-order. For multiple reasons, pre-orders are much more useful than normal sales, so if you were already thinking about buying my new book, I want to humbly nudge you toward considering a pre-order. To demonstrate my sincere thanks to those who take the time to help...

On Beethoven and the Gifts of Silence

Writing in 1801, at the age of 30, Ludwig van Beethoven complained about his diminishing hearing: “from a distance I do not hear the high notes of the instruments and the singers’ voices.” As Arthur C. Brooks recounts in a 2019 op-ed, published in the Washington Post, Beethoven “raged” against his decline, insisting on performing, pounding pianos to...

Michael Lewis Doesn’t “Do” Social Media

Last May, Tim Ferriss interviewed the writer Michael Lewis. Early in the episode, Lewis said that people often describe him as “one of the happiest people they know.” Toward the end, we encounter one of the reasons why this is true. As the podcast wraps up, Ferriss asks the standard question: “are there any other websites, or any other resources, social...

David Mellinkoff’s Productive Lack of Productivity

A reader recently pointed me toward the 1999 obituary of the respected legal scholar David Mellinkoff. He flagged, in particular, this passage: “After the war, David developed a successful law practice in Beverly Hills. He early discovered, however, that, in his words, “the law thrived on gobbledygook.” He wanted to learn how this had happened, but...

A World Without Email

I’m pleased to officially announce my new book: A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload. It comes out March 2nd in the US (and March 4th in the UK). I started working on this book in 2016, almost immediately after Deep Work was released. At some point, I put the manuscript on pause to write Digital Minimalism, then...

Projects vs. Tasks: A Critical Distinction in Productive Scheduling

In a recent episode of my podcast, an Australian doctor named Nathan asked an interesting question regarding some difficulties he had maintaining and organizing his task list: “David Allen asked ‘Is it actionable?’; separating tasks from ideas. But I also find that there are different types of tasks. The easiest to deal with are what I’m taking to...

Theodore Roosevelt’s Focused Advice

One of my colleagues at Georgetown recently pointed me toward a 1902 letter that Theodore Roosevelt sent to his son Kermit, who at the time was at boarding school. Here’s the passage that caught my attention: “I am delighted at all the accounts I receive of how you are doing at Groton. You seem to be enjoying yourself and are getting on well. I need...

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