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Brad Stulberg’s thoughts on this book

Home forums A World Without Email by Cal Newport Brad Stulberg’s thoughts on this book

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      Brad Stulberg

      Top Take-Away
      The notion of “Attention Capital.” I really like that Cal gave language to the most valuable resource that knowledge workers have: attention. If you are a farmer you are going to track your inventory of seeds if you want to have a good crop. If you are a knowledge worker, you (and your organization) ought to track how you spend your attention, which is basically your seeds (not a perfect analogy, but hopefully you get the point). I’m now asking myself: How is my attention capital planning? It’s nice to have a definition and some language for this otherwise ambiguous thing (attention) which is actually the most important thing for how so many of us work.

      Most surprising to me
      The analogy between car manufacturing and attention/knowledge work. I had never thought of the attention/knowledge economy on the same terms as the industrial revolution. But the more I thought about it the more it makes sense. Attention/knowledge work is still rather new, so are the tools we have to do it. We are probably in our infancy as to how we do this work and use these tools.

      What I’m most skeptical of
      I think Cal’s prescriptions are great for anyone who works on their own or in a small team. I also think there is a fair amount that even individuals who work in behemoth organizations can do to protect their attention (and in doing so, their fulfillment and mental health). I do, however, wonder if a large organization can change itself in the ways Cal would like to see. It just seems like the way we currently work is so embedded in big organizations, and that they (i.e., their leaders) might argue that the cost of wasted attention is worth the security of redundancy, perceived control, etc., etc. I guess I wonder if current large organizations can and will change, or if this is something for new organizations to make a part of their DNA from the get go, and over time, if it works, they’ll out-compete the older ones.

      What I’m going to do differently as a result of reading
      1) Not feel bad about saying “I don’t do this kind of thing over email” for things that I don’t think make sense to do over email.
      2) Also, I’m going to be really clear about differentiating freedom in actual creative work vs. freedom in process and planning (both in my own work and with my coaching clients who work in larger organizations). And then remember that the former is what I’m after, not the latter, and by actually making the latter less free I’ll have more time and energy for the former!

      Complementary books to recommend for the Growth Eq Community
      Amusing Ourselves to Death (Neil Postman), The Shallows (Nicholas Carr), Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, and all of Cal’s other books!

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