One of my favorite authors, Cal Newport, released a new book this week, A World Without Email. I like his topics so much that it's tough to actually put the book down and go do other things. If you aren't familiar with his books, in addition to this one, he also wrote

His writing style is very research-based and each of these books makes you stop and really think about their topics and how you can make changes in your life. In fact, many of the groups I belong to have used one or more of his books as a basis for discussion or focused entire programs around his writing.

If Cal is new to you, I suggest starting with Deep Work, it will give you a lot of food for thought when examining your current workday and routines and whether you are truly using your time to engage in the kind of deep work that can help you excel.

My copy of A World Without Email is already tabbed and highlighted to the point that you can see exactly how far into the book I am. Some quick concepts I picked up so far:

The Hyperactive Hive Mind

This is the term that Cal uses to define many of our current workflows and he defines it as,

A workflow centered around ongoing conversation fueled by unstructured and unscheduled messages delivered through digital communication tools like email and instant messenger services.

Does this sound like your current workflow? It sure sounds like many of the ones that I've come across.

How It Makes Us Unhappy

The hyperactive hive mind workflow is also a source of great anxiety, frustration and unhappiness for many of us. Cal explains 3 ways that it makes us unhappy,

  1. The psychological anxiety of an inbox that fills up faster than we can empty it;
  2. The frustrating ineffectiveness of text-only communication; and
  3. The out-of-control overload that results when friction is eliminated from office interactions.

Luckily, there are solutions to help us get past all of this.

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I'm only about 1/3 of the way through the book, but so far it's looking like it will be one of my "must read" books of 2021 when people ask for recommendations. If you haven't already, I suggest you go pick a copy up for yourself!

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