Cal Newport comes with 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.
A World Without Email PDF
There Are Some Important Points That Cal Newport Highlight In This Book.
1. It’s not a book about e-mail, but something the author calls “hyperactive hive mind”, which in short is just a way of managing and coordinating the way primarily by emails circulating in the organization. That’s one very specific and hardly representative case for e-mail. But on the other hand, Newport puts communicators (message-based) in the very same bag. Utter chaos.
2. The overall criticism of e-mail starts in a totally ridiculous way: the author pities that people use this asynchronous communication method in a synchronous way (because they feel the pressing urge to respond immediately). It’s not an issue of an e-mail (as a tool), but of org’s culture and wrong expectations set.
To fairly judge e-mail, one should classify it properly and understand its features: that it’s asynchronous, written, persistent, can be fanned out to many people, can be easily turned into a pub-sub distribution, etc. There are certain limitations, but also certain advantages because of those characteristics, but the author fails to pin them down
3. It gets even funnier when the author admits he had problems with proposing the better alternative for e-mail (when asked by the publisher). In the book, his first proposal was … Trello. That was the moment when I’ve nearly thrown the book out of the window.
But it got even worse since then: the author started compulsively jumping between topics – mixing Theory of Constraints (he didn’t name it though), flow-related concepts (Kanban way), Scrum, Extreme Programming, status meetings! office hours, and what-not else.
There was very little about communication, far more about orchestration. Which is NOT the same. Communication can be one way (spreading the info to interested parties) and two ways (e.g. conflict resolution, agreeing on the approach, etc.) – that’s something Newport seems not to notice.
4. The book was released very recently, but it completely ignores the pandemic that has (since 2019) changed the world. So one of the highly praised solutions (e-mail alternatives) is just collocation or paying someone a direct visit.
To be honest, I am far from being an e-mail aficionado, I barely use e-mails even at work. But my point is that e-mail is just one of the options in our palette.
It’s very useful in particular scenarios and completely detrimental in others. So it’s essential to understand it in depth and apply the lessons in practice. IMHO this book doesn’t help with that.
Download The PDF
|Book Title||A World Without Email|