Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout

Hardcover, 256 pages

English language

Published by Portfolio.

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4 stars (5 reviews)

Our current definition of “productivity” is broken. It pushes us to treat busyness as a proxy for useful effort, leading to impossibly lengthy task lists and ceaseless meetings. We’re overwhelmed by all we have to do and on the edge of burnout, left to decide between giving into soul-sapping hustle culture or rejecting ambition altogether. But are these really our only choices?

Long before the arrival of pinging inboxes and clogged schedules, history’s most creative and impactful philosophers, scientists, artists, and writers mastered the art of producing valuable work with staying power. In this timely and provocative book, Cal Newport harnesses the wisdom of these traditional knowledge workers to radically transform our modern jobs. Drawing from deep research on the habits and mindsets of a varied cast of storied thinkers – from Galileo and Isaac Newton, to Jane Austen and Georgia O’Keefe – Newport lays out the key principles of …

3 editions

Review of 'Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

There was a few good things in there - especially about diagnosing the "problem" of using "visible activity" as a proxy for productivity, and about the associated anxiety. His first part about "do fewer things" is probably the one that spoke the most to me. I didn't like his second part at all about "work at a natural pace" because I read that discourse as "slow down, and nobody has to/will actually know", which strikes me as exactly what I cannot do, because it feels far too much like trying to trick people and circumvent (implicit) rules, which is exactly the kind of things I'm trying to do. His last part, "obsess over quality", glazes over the issue of perfectionism with essentially "... don't", which I also didn't find super helpful. However, I did enjoy the various anecdotes and stories - some people find them "padding", I definitely see their …

Just enough capitalism

3 stars

Cal Newport’s latest advice book tackles the question of productivity in knowledge work. Factory work can much more easily be measured and systematized. Newport points out that office workers, writers, artists, and scholars are often assigned tasks and must come up with their own individual system to be productive. These systems are opaque to managers, who end up relying on “visible activity” (which many busy office workers are familiar with) as the proxy for productivity. Add in always-on email and instant messaging apps, plus a global pandemic and people trying to work from busy homes, and you end up with a lot of burnout.


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A quick read, short topic

4 stars

I do enjoy Cal Newports work and his approach. This book builds upon some of his recent essays and podcasts, and is specifically targeted at knowledge workers. It's harder to measure work of this bunch due to it's often intangelibity. He wants through his advice to deal with this by doing fewer things, working at a natural pace, and obsessing over quality.

The book touches each topic and brings some recent and current day examples to the dialog. He hints at a potential series of titles about working in the modern age. Between this, his recent two titles "Digital Minimalism", "A World Without Email" kind of set the stage for a natural progression, all starting from "Deep Work".

It's written in a very readable tone, and might take a focused reader 2-4 hours to read speed depending from cover to cover. If you've read his other books, this is the …

Slow Productivity statt sinnloser Geschäftigkeit

5 stars

Cal Newports Buchs bietet Wissensarbeitern, die eine hohe Autonomie im Hinblick auf die Gestaltung ihrer Arbeit genießen, wertvolle Hinweise. Er nimmt sich insbesondere dem Druck an, immer beschäftigt aussehen zu müssen und bietet mehr oder weniger praxisnahe Tipps, fokussierte Arbeitszeit für die wirklich wichtigen - aber meist eben nicht dringlichen - Aufgaben zu sichern.

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4 stars