Cal Newport — How to Embrace Slow Productivity, Build a Deep Life, Achieve Mastery, and Defend Your Time (#722)

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“You can’t be busy and frenetic and bouncing off the walls with 100 projects if you’re obsessed about doing something really well.”

— Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University, where he is also a founding member of the Center for Digital Ethics. In addition to his academic work, Newport is a New York Times bestselling author who writes for a general audience about the intersection of technology, productivity, and culture. His books have sold millions of copies and been translated into over forty languages. He is also a contributor to The New Yorker and hosts the popular Deep Questions podcast.

His new book is Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyOvercastPodcast AddictPocket CastsCastboxGoogle PodcastsAmazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. Watch the interview on YouTube here.

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#722: Cal Newport — How to Embrace Slow Productivity, Build a Deep Life, Achieve Mastery, and Defend Your Time


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Want to hear the last time Cal Newport was on this show? Listen here to our conversation in which we discussed lessons from Steve Martin, living the deep life, how Cal secured his first book deal as an unproven 20-year-old, honing the funny bone for humor writing, mastering slow productivity despite 21st-century distractions, crafting the lives we desire, considering the spiritual as an exercise of meticulous craft and creation, Cal’s 30-day digital minimalism declutter, and much more.

#568: Cal Newport — The Eternal Pursuit of Craftsmanship, the Deep Life, Slow Productivity, and a 30-Day Digital Minimalism Challenge

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Cal Newport:

Website | Blog | YouTube

SHOW NOTES

  • [06:14] Unforced Errors: The Internet Story.
  • [09:41] Techno-selectionism.
  • [18:06] Why YouTube and podcasts aren’t ideal bedfellows.
  • [23:03] Amish technology and Steve Martin.
  • [28:07] What prompted Cal to write Slow Productivity?
  • [31:35] Becoming a better writer through blogging.
  • [36:54] The benefits of obsessing over quality.
  • [40:54] How did Cal decide to identify himself as a writer?
  • [52:02] People who exemplify slow productivity.
  • [58:45] Trade-offs on the path to 21st-century slow productivity.
  • [1:03:16] Push systems vs. pull systems.
  • [1:04:34] Quota systems.
  • [1:06:08] Why slow productivity isn’t a zero-sum game.
  • [1:09:33] Language that clarifies.
  • [1:13:17] Sender filters.
  • [1:16:20] What people might miss about Slow Productivity‘s message.
  • [1:21:24] How Cal defines productivity.
  • [1:25:36] Derek Sivers and money as a neutral indicator of value.
  • [1:28:34] Contemporary slow productivity champions.
  • [1:33:18] Asynchronous vs. real-time conversations.
  • [1:35:51] Making group scheduling less hellish.
  • [1:40:13] Cal’s problem with Frederick Winslow Taylor.
  • [1:42:01] How The New Yorker maintains its old-timey charm where other publications fail.
  • [1:49:05] Cal’s dream publications.
  • [1:51:07] Mental models for cultivating a slow productivity mindset.
  • [1:56:27] The consequences of playing the algorithm game.
  • [2:03:14] The renewed viability of newsletters.
  • [2:08:03] Parting thoughts.

MORE CAL NEWPORT QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEW

“You can’t be busy and frenetic and bouncing off the walls with 100 projects if you’re obsessed about doing something really well.”
— Cal Newport

“As you get better at something, the more say you get over the way your life unfolds.”
— Cal Newport

“You’ve got to just not want to get started until you can’t help but get started. And I think that’s frustrating for a lot of the internet generation because it takes a really long time.”
— Cal Newport

“There was no hustle culture. That’s the interesting thing. When you go back and study people producing things of real value, using their brain, they were smart and they were dedicated and they worked really hard, but they didn’t hustle and they didn’t work 10-hour days day after day. They didn’t work all-out, year-round. They didn’t push, push, push until this thing was done. It was a more natural variation. They had less on their plate at the same time, and they glued it all together by obsessing over quality.”
— Cal Newport

“There’s nothing more quixotic than the overburdened worker who is trying to not say no, but get the person who’s giving them the work to voluntarily agree to not give them the work. It never works. If someone’s trying to get you to do something, and you’re like, ‘Well, I guess I could, but I am pretty busy,’ they’re never going to say, ‘You sound busy. Don’t do this.’ They’re like, ‘Yeah? Good. Well, I’m glad you can do it. Here you go. Get this off my plate.’”
— Cal Newport

“Slow productivity produces good stuff. It doesn’t just make the workers happier. It doesn’t just make you happier. You produce better stuff. I mean, your company has more profit. Your clients are happier. You can charge more for the services you offer, so it’s not zero sum. It’s more win-win than anything else.”
— Cal Newport

“Busyness doesn’t produce high value.”
— Cal Newport

“Don’t try to convince people of new things. Explain to them what they already know in a way that lets them take better action.”
— Cal Newport

PEOPLE MENTIONED

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