Mar 21, 2021

15 Quotes from A World Without Email book by Cal Newport

Namaste friends. This post is a collection of quotes from the book - A World Without Email by Cal Newport. A World Without Email is about a bold vision for liberating workers from the tyranny of the inbox--and unleashing a new era of productivity.


The future of work is increasingly cognitive. This means that the sooner we take seriously how human brains actually function, and seek out strategies that best complement these realities, the sooner we’ll realize that the hyperactive hive mind, though convenient, is a disastrously ineffective way to organize our efforts. - A World Without Email, Introduction

The modern knowledge worker is almost never more than a few minutes away from sending or receiving some sort of electronic communication. To say we check email too often is an understatement; the reality is that we’re using these tools constantly. - A World Without Email, Chapter 1

When it comes to makers, moving away from the hive mind workflow isn’t about tweaking productivity habits, but instead about significant boosts to effectiveness. When these advantages are made clear, it becomes harder to justify their loss simply for the added convenience of responsiveness. - A World Without Email, Chapter 1

This mismatch between how we’re wired to communicate and how we’re coerced into communicating by modern technology creates a deeply human sense of frustration. - A World Without Email, Chapter 2

Prioritization of abstract written communication over in-person communication disregarded the immensely complex and finely tuned social circuits that our species evolved to optimize our ability to work cooperatively. By embracing email, we inadvertently crippled the systems that make us so good at working together. - A World Without Email, Chapter 2

In business, good is not the same as easy, and fulfilling is not the same as convenient. - A World Without Email, Chapter 4

Deep down, knowledge workers want to feel as if they’re producing important output that takes full advantage of their hard-won skills, even if this means they can’t always get a quick response to their messages. - A World Without Email, Chapter 4

A good production process [...] should minimize both ambiguity about what’s going on and the amount of unscheduled communication required to accomplish this work. - A World Without Email, Chapter 5

Make automatic what you can reasonably make automatic, and only then worry about what to do with what remains. - A World Without Email, Chapter 5

Always keeping emails short is a simple rule, but the effects can be profound. Once you no longer think of email as a general-purpose tool for talking about anything at any time, its stranglehold on your attention will diminish. - A World Without Email, Chapter 6

In the knowledge sector, working on fewer things, but doing each thing with more quality and accountability, can be the foundation for significantly more productivity. - A World Without Email, Chapter 7

There are few things more valuable than someone who consistently produces valuable output, and few approaches to work more satisfying than being given the room to focus on things that really matter. - A World Without Email, Chapter 7

If you design workflows that allow knowledge workers to spend most of their time focusing without distraction on the activities for which they’re trained, you’ll produce much more total value than if you instead require these same workers to diffuse their attention among many different activities. This latter course is often the more convenient option in the moment, but rarely the most productive in the long term. - A World Without Email, Chapter 7

If you have the luxury of autonomy over your work life, then realize that you don’t have to tolerate overload. Outsource what you can so you can excel at what you can’t. - A World Without Email, Chapter 7

We tend to think of email as additive; that the office of 2021 is like the office of 1991 plus faster messaging. But this is wrong. Email isn’t additive; it’s ecological. The office of 2021 is not the office of 1991 plus some extra capabilities; it’s instead a different office altogether - one in which work unfolds as a never-ending, ad hoc, unstructured flow of messages. - A World Without Email, Conclusion