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On Slow Productivity and the Anti-Busyness Revolution

Seven years ago, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang was a typical overworked, multitasking, slave to the hyperactive hive mind, Silicon Valley consultant.  Feeling the symptoms of burnout intensify, he arranged a three-month sabbatical at Microsoft Research Cambridge. Here’s how he later described this period: “I got an enormous amount of stuff done and did an...

In Defense of Thinking

I recently came across a Hemingway quote that caught my attention: “My working habits are simple: long periods of thinking, short periods of writing.” It reminded me of a time I used to spend each spring as a young professor, back when my schedule allowed it, giving short talks at so-called “dissertation bootcamp” events. The point of these multi-day...

On Robert Heinlein’s Analog Autoresponder

A reader recently pointed me toward a fascinating post on Kevin Kelly’s CT2 blog. It concerned the fan mail received by the famed science fiction author Robert Heinlein. Unable to keep up with the deluge of incoming correspondence, Heinlein devised a form letter (pictured above), which included responses to twenty-one common questions and requests....

Combating Zoom Overload with Reverse Meetings

In a recent episode of my podcast, I dove deep on the topic of meeting overload during our current moment of pandemic-induced remote work. I want to expand here on one of the more radical (but intriguing) solutions I mentioned: the reverse meeting. First, a little background. Why are we suddenly spending so much more time in meetings now that we’re...

One Step Closer to a World Without Email

My new book, A World Without Email, was released two weeks ago. I’m pleased to announce that it was an immediate New York Times bestseller, so I want to thank you, my long time readers, for supporting this launch. I thought before I return to my regularly scheduled programming (trust me, I’m eager to start writing on topic others than just email),...

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...

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