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A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload

by Cal Newport

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299688,633 (3.67)3
Outlines recommendations for business leaders on how to maximize a working team's professional productivity by improving administrative support and streamlining digital traffic.

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A LOT to chew through in this book. The first part is all about what email has done to the workforce (knowledge workers specifically). The second part is how to get away from email.

I flagged a LOT of pages to go back and process again. Great info and some good framework ideas for companies, teams, etc. looking to move away from the constant hive mind mentality of email. ( )
  teejayhanton | Mar 22, 2024 |
Following my recent book clearance, I finally managed to start tackling the backlog of books I want to read and have just finished A World Without Email by Cal Newport. To encourage me to complete this book I decided to ‘read it with my ears’ and switched from paper to the audio book.

I have not read any of Newport’s other books and my interest in this one was triggered by a feeling that I (and others) are drowning in email. I experience many of the problems that are described in the book — a high volume of daily emails, the perception I should reply quickly, even the need to manage the build-up of emails while on holiday. Perhaps in a post-pandemic/working-from-home world communication has become a new metric for productivity. What follows are my thoughts and reflections on this book.

Overall I feel there is a much shorter book within this one given the conclusions. I have noticed in many of the ‘self-help’ books I have read that they often provide excessive justification to their recommendations and conclusions using too many repetitive case studies and historical context. I didn’t need to learn about the introduction of stirrups into medieval Europe to understand why email was so widely adopted and so quickly. I don’t feel I needed to learn about the works of Claude Shannon to understand how information is managed within an office environment. As a result of these issues, it felt to me that this book does drag-on a bit and could have been much more focused — more on that below.

It is perhaps unfortunate that this book was released just as the world of work was changing due to the COVID pandemic and, as a result, feels a little dated with references to walking “down the hall” rather than sending emails. It reflects a world before widespread work from home and the consequent need for increased levels of email and messaging communication. The book certainly underlined my own belief that lots of communication is not the same thing as good communication.

The title of the book hints at a revolution but the conclusions; that work should be managed using dedicated project management tools rather than ad-hoc email, that Kanban boards and ‘scrum’ meetings are valuable and that we need to take time to get ‘real’ (aka deep) work done does not feel like a great revelation. I thought the final section of the book spent far too much time on the case studies of the benefits of Extreme Programming), sprints], administrative support to specialists, and other productive workflows.

I work in a ‘technology’ company so perhaps I am not actually the target audience here. Overall I was left disappointed — there was little in this book I could apply to change my life. And if I never hear the phrase “Hyperactive Hive Mind” again it will still be too soon! ( )
  Craiglea | Mar 5, 2024 |
Not much new compared to his other books

I read Deep Work and Digital Minimalism w Cal Newport before this and enjoyed those much more. This felt less focused, partially because it had more theoretical or organization-level suggestions as opposed to the other two books which focused more on improving my daily work. ( )
  horstbc | May 24, 2023 |
If only! Productivity expert Cal Newport makes a compelling argument against the way we use email now, and anyone who struggles with overflowing inboxes will learn from what he writes. But he doesn’t have much to offer in the way of alternatives, particularly for individuals. The tools he recommends — Trello, Doodle — are well-known and I for one use them. He trashes Slack, and rightly so, and seems pretty dismissive of most instant messaging services — right again. He’s a big fan of face to face meetings (that didn’t work out very well during the pandemic lockdowns). He also thinks some organisations may have rushed things when they sacked all the personal assistants and told managers to look after their own calendars. So, no magic bullet then. It looks like email might be around for a while longer. ( )
  ericlee | Apr 9, 2022 |
Deep Work was so good and so I was disappointed with this one. Deep Work had a central theme and I feel this one suffers from too many ideas. This is exactly the kind of mishmash I hate in many tech-focused business books talking about this or that technology or process. It reminds me a bit of Timothy Ferris.

That could be me. I've read too many productivity books over the years and I think I'm a bit jaded at this point. I had a hard time focusing on the book. ( )
  auldhouse | Jan 21, 2022 |
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Outlines recommendations for business leaders on how to maximize a working team's professional productivity by improving administrative support and streamlining digital traffic.

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