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From New York Times bestselling 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.
About the Author
Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, where he specializes in the theory of distributed systems, as well as a New York Times bestselling author who writes for a broader audience about the intersection of technology and culture. He's the author of seven books, including Digital Minimalism and Deep Work, which have been published in over thirty languages. He's also a regular contributor on these topics to national publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Wired, and is a frequent guest on NPR. His blog, Study Hacks, which he's been publishing since 2007, attracts over three million visits a year. He lives with his wife and three sons in Takoma Park, Maryland.
“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
“This new work from Cal Newport goes beyond hacking at the branches of the email problem and strikes right at the root of it. This is a bold, visionary, almost prophetic book that challenges the status quo. If you want to peer into what the future of work could look like, read this book now.” --Greg McKeown, New York Times bestselling author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
“When a Cal Newport book appears, I drop everything and read. With evidence and examples from the cutting edge of programming to the factory floors of a century ago, Newport makes a compelling argument that we can and will do much, much better than email. Read this superb book. It might just change your life; it’s changing mine.” --Tim Harford, author of The Data Detective
“This book is a call to action. Newport suggests that now is the time to reimagine work with the specific goal of optimizing our brain’s ability to sustainably add value. Don’t let your teams and organizations lose out any further—read this book to help you get started.” --Leslie A. Perlow, author of Sleeping with Your Smartphone and professor of leadership at Harvard Business School
"This book defines the scale of a problem too few of us knew existed...it’s a profound insight." --The Financial Times
"Ford studied how to improve productivity and organize the factory floor. Now, Newport is doing the same for knowledge work." --Fortune
"A surprisingly zippy history of email that notes how suddenly email changed the way workers worked…This book has smart recommendations for individuals and organizations." --Laura Vanderkam for the Wall Street Journal
"Newport’s systems-oriented approach is far more promising than the standard personal productivity fare. His ideas are meant to stop the flood altogether." --GQ
"For knowledge workers in any organization, this analysis and recommendations will resonate." --Forbes
"This book is a step forward...Newport makes the radical argument that companies that obsess about efficiency are utterly failing to question their own workflows. They are making their products worse, and they are just contributing to an overall degradation of society. It’s a pretty stunning indictment." --Ezra Klein for the Ezra Klein Show
"This book provides a lens through which we can better examine what many of us sense is a somewhat maddening way to work…here’s to hoping your boss picks up a copy." --GQ