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Break Free from Burnout: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less with Cal Newport

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  July 3, 2024

In today’s fast-paced world, the pursuit of productivity often leads to overwhelm. In fact, one report suggests that 88% of UK workers have experienced some degree of burnout over the past two years. But what if there’s a better way to work and live?

This week, I’m delighted to welcome Cal Newport back to my Feel Better Live More podcast. Cal is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and a founding member of the Center for Digital Ethics. He’s a New York Times bestselling author whose books have reached millions of readers in over forty languages. His latest book, Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout, challenges our current notions of work and offers a revolutionary approach to productivity.

In our conversation, Cal and I explore the concept of “slow productivity” and how it contrasts with our culture of constant busyness. We discuss why traditional productivity methods are falling short, particularly in the realm of ‘knowledge work’ – a term Cal uses to describe intellectually demanding professions – and how modern digital tools have exacerbated the problem of burnout.

During the conversation, he shares the three core principles of slow productivity: doing fewer things, working at a natural pace, and obsessing over quality. We delve into practical strategies for implementing these principles in various work environments, even for those who feel they have little autonomy in their jobs.

We also touch on the importance of solitude and reflection in living an intentional life. Cal emphasises how smartphones and social media have impacted our ability to be present and socialise, particularly for younger generations, and he offers insights on setting boundaries with technology and creating healthier norms around its use, too.

Our conversation also extends to the value of lifestyle-centric planning versus goal-centric planning, challenging cultural norms around constant connectivity and redefining success beyond professional achievements. 

This episode is packed with actionable advice that can help you reclaim your time, reduce stress, and find a more balanced approach to work and life.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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Watch the video version of the conversation here:

Find out more about Cal:

Website     YouTube     Podcast

Cal’s books:

Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less Technology

Related Feel Better Live More Episodes:

#50 How Social Media Could Be Making You Ill with Cal Newport

#118 How to Work Less and Get More Done with Alex Pang

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*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP