I heard Cal Newport talking about his new book, A World Without Email on Lex Fridman’s podcast, where Cal said the book really should have been called The Hyperactive Hive Mind, but that wouldn’t have sold as many copies. An even less exciting but yet more accurate title would have been something like “Workflow engineering for knowledge workers”.
The basic idea is that email communication is an inefficient, miserable, workflow for knowledge workers because of the level of rapid task-switching it requires. Efficient knowledge work on hard problems requires deep work - periods of an hour, a morning, or a week, working on the same thing without interruptions. Checking email every few minutes is incompatible with this.
The book contains many practical suggestions for alternative workflow management techniques that are more compatible with deep work. Quite a few of them I’d come across in the last few years already, but I still learned something new, and if you’re new to the idea that there are alternatives to continually checking email, it’s a great place to start.
This was the first book my wife and I chose for our weekly “book club”. Looking forward to hear what she chooses next…