Study Hacks Blog

Answering Your Questions

June 8th, 2020 · 47 comments

In the early years of this blog, one of my favorite activities was answering reader questions. I used to put aside an hour almost every day for keeping up with these emails. Over time, however, the number of queries became too large to manage.

It occurred to me recently that the podcast format might provide a way for me to return to these roots while reaching many more people with my answers than what’s possible with one-on-one messages.

So this is what I did…

My new podcast, Deep Questions with Cal Newport, is currently available on Apple and Spotify (and soon to be available on other platforms as well).

The format is simple, I answer reader questions about the main topics we discuss here: work, technology, and the deep life. I do my best to avoid rants (spoiler alert: I usually fail).

I’ve released two episode so far (see above for the most recent episode), with a new one on its way. My plan this summer is to test out a season of the podcast between now and August: releasing a new episode roughly each week.

I’m soliciting these questions from my mailing list, so if you want to contribute, sign up for my list using the widget on the blog sidebar or on my homepage at

And of course, if you like the podcast, leaving a review on your platform of choice helps spread the word…


A Question of My Own: I’m trying to learn more about organizations that are having success working on police reform (eliminating abuse/brutality, improving community relationships, etc). If you know this field, and are willing to share some of your wisdom about which players seem to be efficacious, please send me a note at


47 thoughts on “Answering Your Questions

  1. EA says:

    A Cal Newport podcast?? This might be the sign that 2020 is finally changing for the better! (Well, David Lynch’s daily weather report was another good sign…)

  2. Stoyan Garvanov says:

    What do you think about the future of Data Analytics and how one can apply the “deep work” principles towards excelling in such a field? Thank you 🙂

  3. JR says:

    I’m so pumped for this podcast!

  4. Derrick says:

    Would it be possible to put the podcast (and all of its episodes) up on your website, for those of us who do not have/want to have Apple Music or Spotify accounts? Similar to the episode listed here where it’s just embedded.

    Really glad you have started the podcast and I am really keen to listen to it!

    1. Elliot says:

      Derrick, you don’t need either account to access the podcast on your phone. I use an application called Podcast Addict on Android, but there are many other third-party podcast players that do not require an account.

      1. Derrick says:

        Thanks for the reply, Elliot!

        Luckily Cal then did respond to another question with a site showing where the podcast is up for listening without an account. So I can just go to that site now and listen from there.

    2. Joe says:

      I use Podcast Republic and it’s already on their as well. It’s on their website and I’m pretty sure you don’t even have to login. Plenty of good options outside of the Apple/Spotify world.

    3. Mark says:

      I collate selected podcast feeds into Inoreader which I use for weekly reading consumption anyway, export those podcast feeds to a singular rss feed (so that my fav podcasts are centralised, no matter the podcast app/operating system) and then subscribe to that feed in Podkicker to automate the downloading of new episodes.

  5. Richard says:

    Cal, where would/do you schedule listening to podcasts? How do you view them re your work and life?

    1. Jared Wyllys says:

      I’m curious about how Cal and others handle this, too. I know he mentioned that he listens to podcasts in the first episode, but I’m curious not only when/how he listens, but what he listens to as well!

      But for others, how do you schedule this into your day? I used to do most of my listening while commuting, but obviously that has changed in the last three months. I try to make sure I’m listening when I’m not distracted by other things, but at home all day most days with a family of six, that’s pretty tough.

      1. Aditya Sharma says:

        I rather listen to pretty selective things but always make notes out of it and revisit it often after all what matters in the end how much we have retained and applied it.

      2. Study Hacks says:

        I listen to podcasts mainly while doing housework. Also, often on my morning walk. (For deep thinking on problems, I often do separate walks without a phone dedicated to that problem.)

        Outside of the lockdown context, my commutes to campus were a big listening time for me…

      3. Joe says:

        I’m in the yardwork/housework camp as well for podcasts. I also occasionally do daytime podcast listening instead of reading depending on what my overall schedule and goals look like at that moment.

  6. Aditya Sharma says:

    Dear Cal, I’m working full time and also preparing for the civil service exam. I, usually have scattered blocks of time to study.
    Can you suggest a way to develop focus for study in scattered time blocks.
    PS – This question since you suggested to stick to a routine for deep work to have an effect.

  7. Brandon says:

    Whoa! So awesome. Even better that it’s not on YouTube.

  8. Johannes says:

    For German speakers: Here are my shownotes of this first episode:

  9. Amith says:

    I would love if you could post transcripts here on your blog. Podcasts take up a lot of time to listen to. Transcripts are much faster to read and digest.

    1. Study Hacks says:

      I’ll probably start doing that if the show ends up sufficiently popular (it’s a little pricey)

      1. Zach says:

        I’d be happy to help out with that if needed. Actually I wouldn’t mind doing timestamps for free for the episodes. Really thankful for your work and would love to be able to give back.

      2. Lisa says:

        I would love to see your transcripts as well.

        As an introvert,I find podcasts Overstimulating.I have a much calmer mind when I can read And process the information At my leisure.I would love to see you talk about that subject.

        I enjoy your books!

    2. Ian Howlett says:

      You can use a service like to produce computer-generated transcripts. It’s free (or cheap if you choose to subscribe), and good enough to do the job.

    3. Joe says:

      We process audio much faster than we process the written word. Turn it up to 1.5x, 2x, or higher if you can. I haven’t listened to a podcast on 1x in years.

      1. Davi Mourao says:

        Audio can be a bit tricky sometimes when english is not your first language, also you can’t quickly copy and paste it to your podcast notes.

  10. Dough says:

    Could you just have a link to download the mp3 file as well?

  11. Deb says:

    This is helpful and efficient! This is a better alternative to answering individual questions or writing posts about FAQs, recording your answers in a quick session, seems to me, will be a huge timesaver while also helping readers.

    I request you to put the episodes on your website instead of using external platforms, or maybe embedding them here and not behind a sign-up wall.

  12. Study Hacks says:

    Here’s the website for the podcast where you can listen/download episodes directly etc:

  13. Deb says:

    I’m really looking forward to the Feynman method analogous you use to develop a deeper understanding of a topic through writing reviews, I’ve come across this tool called Notion which has these WordPress type blocks in which you can embed images, tables, lists etc. and I’m thinking about using it to write the “topic/book reviews” since it also has support for LaTeX.

    It has support for Trello style kanban boards so might be worth checking out for you too, Cal.
    Really enjoyed the podcasts!

    1. Caitlin says:

      He’s actually written about the technique here, if you’re interested:, though I’d be eager to hear more about it.

      Also happy to see another Notion user! I love it. I run my life from Notion, and once I understood relational databases, it really streamlined my ability to tie my overarching goals to projects, tasks, and habits.

      1. Deb says:

        Thanks for sharing the link, Notion replaced a lot of tools I was using and it’s more efficient to have everything in one place. It essentially replaced all digital task-management apps, Evernote and to some extent the Google Drive service I was using.

        Earlier, there were some problems with their ‘Free’ account having a limit on the number of blocks you can have, I thought about writing my own block database using mySQL and hosting it locally but thankfully the limit has been removed.

        I’ve shifted to an analogue task management system, I use a notebook that I can carry around and also use it for time-blocking. There are some cons I have to face for not using the digital alternative but the benefits I get from not constantly using my phone to check/alter my schedule/to-dos is worth it. Those checks usually end up in an email/news rabbit hole.

  14. jdg says:

    I truly think there’s a lot of value in your podcast format. I’ve listened to the first two episodes, the explanations give me the sort of clarity and assuredness I’d expect from engaging in casual conversation with someone. Thank you.

  15. Philip Moser says:

    What is the widget on the blog sidebar? I’m an idiot.

  16. EA says:

    Cal – on episode 2 you dropped a nuclear bomb: the Cal Newport Deep Life planner scheduled for Fall 2020… can you tell us anything about it?

    1. Already up for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. But no look inside to see what the pages look like.

  17. Filippe says:

    Nice, Cal! Very excited to keep listening to you

  18. Michael says:

    “The cynics are outside the arena anxiously looking for likes. You can be in the arena actually trying to do interesting things with your life.”

    -Mic drop-

    Great episode Cal.

    1. Michael says:

      haha. Yeah it was clever. Something I also found really cool was how cut and dry the podcast began. I really told my wife, this was the most boring interesting podcast. It had no bells and whistles. It was just straight to the point and it worked so well just like that.

  19. Hay, Cal, I think you’re on to something … nicely done here. I also like how you utilize your email list for questions, clever.

    1. Michael says:

      haha. Yeah it was clever. Something I also found really cool was how cut and dry the podcast began. I really told my wife, this was the most boring interesting podcast. It had no bells and whistles. It was just straight to the point and it worked so well just like that.

  20. Andres says:

    I was listening to the second episode and when you started talking about Epstein’s “Range” i grabbed a beer. I asked that question several times here. That podcast is a nice surprise. Keep going!

  21. Neuman Gregory says:

    2020 is not lost after all.

    Cal, thank you!

  22. Tomer says:

    Hey Cal, could you provide your insight into how to well estimate very difficult tasks / projects things with many unknowns where you need to estimate even before you uncover all the unknowns? Would love to hear your take on this.

    Registered to your podcast on google podcasts platform.

  23. Tomer says:

    Hi Cal,

    I’m very much in favor of time boxing, but what if my task involves solving a dificult bug / problem, so I can’t say what I’ll do the next hour I know that I’ll spend the whole day trying to track down the source of a bug in code, but every hour depends on what I’ll discover in the previous hour, is there any meaning to time boxing in this case? I’m giving this as an example of activities where I cannot make sense of time boxing.

  24. Smit says:

    Hi Cal!

    I am trying to help my 11-year-old sister practice deep focus and trying to cultivate a reading habit. Borrowing from your ideas, I have mentioned the Saturday Morning Project concept and she likes it. However, she struggles to focus on things outside of that time frame and ends up watching YouTube or playing videogames. I have guided her towards your book Digital Minimalism but the concepts are still hard for her to relate to. As a parent what have you found successful for your young children, Cal? How about anyone in the study hacks community with younger siblings or children at home, any thoughts?

  25. Shalom says:

    How can I ask questions which can be included in your blog?

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