Study Hacks Blog

A World Without Email

January 11th, 2021 · 36 comments

I’m pleased to officially announce my new book: A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload. It comes out March 2nd in the US (and March 4th in the UK).

I started working on this book in 2016, almost immediately after Deep Work was released. At some point, I put the manuscript on pause to write Digital Minimalism, then returned my attention to grappling with its central ideas.

In many ways, this book is my magnum opus on the topic of technology and the workplace. If you’ve been following my articles for the New Yorker over the past year or so, or listening to my podcast, you’ve encountered a sampling of the rigorous new thinking at the core of this effort.

I’ve divided A World Without Email into two parts.

  • The first part, which is titled “The Case Against Email,” provides the definitive treatment on how the world of work transformed after the introduction of digital communication tools, and what unintended consequences these changes created.
  • The second part, which is titled “Principles for A World Without Email,” introduces a framework I call attention capital theory that can be deployed to radically rethink how we work, pushing us toward a vision in which ceaseless, ad hoc messaging is replaced with much more sustainable and structured approaches to producing valuable output with our brains.

The advice in this book is designed to be relevant for several different audiences, including employees, entrepreneurs, and executives. This breadth is captured in the endorsements, which include:

  • Dropbox cofounder Drew Houston, who says “A World Without Email crystallizes what so many of us feel intuitively but haven’t been able to explain: the way we’re working isn’t working.”
  • Kevin Kelly, who says “Cal Newport is on a quest to uncover better ways for knowledge workers to collaborate.”
  • Harvard Business School Professor Leslie Perlow, who says “This book is a call to action”
  • Greg McKeown, who calls the book ” bold, visionary, almost prophetic.”

I will, of course, be talking about the book more as we approach the publication date. If you preorder the book, hold on to your email receipt, as I’ll be announcing soon a way for you to redeem it to receive a pre-order bonus.

But until then, I’m just excited to finally be talking publicly about something I’ve been working on for so long on my own…

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Speaking of my books: if you live in the UK, the kindle version of Digital Minimalism is currently on sale for only 0.99p…if you haven’t read my latest yet, this is the absolute best time to do so!

36 thoughts on “A World Without Email

  1. Nick says:

    Congrats Cal!

    I’ll be pre-ordering this one.

  2. Jeanne says:

    Terrific, I’m looking forward to this one! Hopefully, I won’t drown in email before the release date.

    1. Alicia says:

      I just did, on Kindle. Can’t wait.

  3. Islam El-Rougy says:

    I was waiting for this book. I pre-ordered the audio version, does it qualify for the bonus?

    1. Study Hacks says:

      I’m editing my original comment here. Pre-ordering the hardcover is preferred as it’s what makes the most difference. I think the system used for validating pre-orders for the soon-to-be-announced bonuses will work for audio format as well, but I don’t want to say this is definitely true until I know that to be the case.

      1. Islam El-Rougy says:

        Thanks for the answer Cal. I ‘d definitely like to order the hardcover but unfortunately I live in Egypt (The country in North Africa) and the shipping takes ages and is usually much costier than the book.

      2. Ian Howlett says:

        It seems we only get the paperback version here in the U.K., but I’ve pre-ordered it anyway. I’m looking forward to it!

  4. Please come to the podcast of Jordan Peterson. 🙂

    1. JR says:

      Yes! Jordan Peterson or Lex Friedman would be awesome!

    2. He’d make the perfect guest for Joe Rogan or Tim Ferriss.

  5. Ricardo Morte Ferrer says:

    Congrats Cal!

    I would like to pre-order this book but I do not buy anything at amazon, is there another way to do this?
    Best regards from Germany,
    Ricardo

    1. Julia says:

      Ricardo – try this site for german bookstores: shop.buchkatalog.de
      You can pre-order the book there right now and support a local bookstore. I use it in Austria and it works very well!

  6. Ricardo says:

    what was wrong with my former comment? It looks like it was not accepted. Anyway I think that I can pre-order hier:
    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/308/308635/a-world-without-email/9780241341414.html

    Best regards,
    Ricardo

  7. I just preordered it. Congrats on the latest book!

  8. Elise says:

    Hi Cal,

    I’m very excited for your new book’s release as I am with all of your previous work!

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on using LinkedIn for job searching, especially as someone also within the tech industry. To me, it’s becoming just like any other social media platform, but it seems as though everyone swears by it.

    Thanks!

  9. Would like to see a blog post about how social media companies are “canceling” conservatives. Another reason to avoid them, right?

    1. Joe says:

      Would love to see you add something useful instead of the constant trolling of this comment section.

      1. Nick says:

        Hey, at least he’s making progress by not talking about the Time Block Planner anymore 😉

    2. Rakesh Gupta says:

      You are right, sir. There is merit in what you have said. The problem is that Cal himself has been targeted for mentioning Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan in the past(unfairly). He may want to play it safe and not court unnecessary controversies. People who have nothing to contribute will start spamming a serious discussion forum like this.

  10. Caroline Lewis says:

    I went to pre-order this in the UK then it told me I’d already done it back in October when the first announcement came!

  11. Kole says:

    Just pre-ordered. I’m excited for it but I will be patient. I’ve been evangelising deep work at my organization for a while and this seems like yet another amazing tool to help make meaningful change.

  12. Avi Flax says:

    I’ve pre-ordered. BTW your link above goes directly to Amazon. You might want to consider linking to bookshop.org instead. They support local bookstores and their affiliate program is more generous. And of course there are a hundred good reasons to gradually erode Amazon’s chokehold on retail in general and book sales in particular.

  13. I will add this towards one of the books I will read in terms of my reading challenge for this year. Thank you for the read at least two chapters per day advice!

  14. Anna says:

    Cal, does the redeeming also apply to pre ordered audiobook?

  15. kenton says:

    I’ve purchased all of your books, but I’m on the fence about this. Email (and async messaging in general) has become such a small part of my workflow. I’m wondering if this will be applicable to me. Thoughts?

    1. Joe says:

      I’m getting this one more as additional ammunition when my workflow is questioned, or I suggest better ways for the team I’m on to function, than for my own personal approach. There’s also a decent chance this gets sent to a few of the higher ups, specifically the associate dean for my section who seems to be open to just about anything that will improve both employee happiness and productivity.

  16. Anonymous Coward says:

    Is this book about email specifically, or does it apply to all online messaging systems (WhatsApp, Messenger, Slack, SMS, etc)? Half of the people I work with don’t use email at all, because they can’t handle it, and so they message me instead.

  17. Claire says:

    HERE FOR IT. (Both the book, and a world without email.)

  18. Hmm says:

    There may be an irony here that this website has a pop-up email subscription box to “get the latest…in your inbox.”

  19. Happy to see you’re doing so great. Title is very catchy and definitely going to give goosebumps while reading. All the best and wish you great success ahead.

  20. Ann Smith says:

    I actually feel like email is pretty useful -in communicating with a professor or an insurance agent. It helps maintain an official record. Much of what you’re talking about with the unstructured conversations between multiple people has been moved to text (socially) and platforms like Slack (workplace).

    1. Joe says:

      I got more than 40 contradictory emails in the last two days on one subject alone. I literally spent 8-5 on Tuesday doing nothing but answering emails despite having two big projects that I need to work on. It’s still alive and well and a boondoggle for people, especially in glacially changing workplaces like academia.

  21. Instinctively, I would rate e-mail as the least problem in electronic communication.
    (Okay, faxes are also cool.)

    You can turn off the notifications and just check them every second day or so. (For urgent things like a caesarian section or a coup d’etat, people will still call.) And the bar to write a full e-mail seems to be much higher for most people than to send any other text message.

    And you can program your own filter system to limit the inflow.
    For example, all e-mails that include the word “urgent” or “important” in the subject line automatically get deleted. Same with all e-mails that start with “I haven’t heard back from you” and similar approaches.

    I ignore all electronic messages that reach me outside of e-mail or Skype, because in my experience, those are unprofessional and time-wasting.

  22. Pre-ordered, and read the book. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I signed up for the course associated with the book, for those who pre-ordered it. Any way I can find out how/when that will be offered? Thanks much.

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