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Slow Productivity: Cal Newport On How To Escape Burnout, Do Your Best Work & Achieve More By Doing Less

By March 4, 2024March 12th, 2024No Comments
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Episode #817



Achieving success isn’t merely about being the fastest—it involves slowing down just enough to establish and maintain a sustainable pace. This principle applies not only to endurance sports but, arguably, even more so in life.

So, how can you slow down just enough to achieve success? The secret is to do less, work harmoniously with your natural rhythm, and focus on quality.

Today, my guest is Cal Newport, a Computer Science professor at Georgetown University, productivity expert, and bestselling author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism. He returns for his second appearance on the podcast (episode 447) to guide us away from the hustle and bustle of hurry and immediacy.

In his latest offering, Slow Productivity, Cal explains the less-than-optimal ways many of us navigate our daily lives and offers valuable insights on how to enhance functionality, sharpen focus, and sustain productivity over the long haul.

Cal’s message is a breath of fresh air in a world saturated with communication channels like email, social media, scheduling, rescheduling, phone calls, Slack, Zoom, and texts. It’s a therapeutic remedy challenging the conventional wisdom of constant activity and pseudo-productivity—Cal advocates for embracing a deliberate pace and doing less to reduce reliance on asynchronous communication.

In his exploration of slow productivity, Cal sheds light on how this approach can lead to improved work-life balance, reduced burnout, and a more sustainable way to achieve meaningful results. The philosophy revolves around recapturing a lost art—a deliberate and measured approach to work that emphasizes simplicity, autonomy, and thoughtful engagement with professional tasks.

“Slowing down isn’t about protesting work—it’s about finding a better way to do it.”


This is about remembering what used to be commonplace in a world where systems and incentives often work against us.

Today’s conversation navigates challenges related to managing external pressures, focusing on slow productivity, prioritizing quality over quantity, and intentional time management. Cal delves into autonomy in creative work, common productivity mistakes, dealing with schedule intrusion, and escaping the gravitational pull of email.

We explore the positive impact of slow productivity on modern cognitive work. Cal shares practical strategies for effective workload management, communication, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. He emphasizes the nature of meaningful work and the crucial role of setting boundaries to protect time and focus.

For those who prefer a visual experience, the conversation is available on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

I hope these insights help you navigate challenging work-life circumstances and pave the way for the emergence of meaning and growth.


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