Ep. 251: The Efficiency Trap

Transcription for the video titled "Ep. 251: The Efficiency Trap".


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Cal's intro (00:00)

He's slowing down the actual physical task of riding. Turned out to have very little to do with the rate at which I actually produced quality work. And so, aha, I had one of these deep question style light bulbs go off in aha moment. And it brought up a question I wanted to dive deeper into today. So I want to make today's deep question. Does working faster make work better? I'm Cal Newport and this is Deep Questions. The show about living and working deeply in a distracted world. I'm here in my deep work HQ joined as always by my producer Jesse. Jesse, I tell you, the marketing worked. I have ordered a remarkable tablet. Nice, wants to come in. It takes a long time, Monday. When do you order it? Yee, I ordered it on like Tuesday. So six days? Yeah, okay, not that long, but still feels like long in today's, today's. Yeah, it's not an Amazon world. I expect to by Monday afternoon to be looking thoughtfully towards a window as sunshine shines on my face before someone comes over with really expensive looking glasses on and looks down at the remarkable with me there'll be a chart, they'll draw a circle around something. As I've learned from the videos that market the remarkable, it's a lot of looking into the sunshine and drawing arrows and circling charts while people look thoughtfully over your shoulder. So I look forward to be doing that for hours. Everything has charts. My just charts is circling charts. People will be like, that's it. You have turned this business around. And you've solved it just right and inflation. A lot of high fives. You have solved inflation. There will be no more viruses. We just didn't think that there's nothing drawing our attention like an arrow to this particular bar in the bar chart. And now that you've done so in the remarkable, it all makes sense. So I'll report back. I'll report back to everyone how it works, why I'm getting, I did a thing before. Basically I have a lot of different notebooks I use for capturing ideas or early work on many different types of projects that have many different hats I wear. And so the idea of having one thing to contain all that information, not seven or eight different paper notebooks. And to have that be something that is no internet connection. It's just for doing that. And it backs up. Anyways, I think it could be good for me or not. I'll report back. Speaking of devices, Jesse, another thing that happened in my world of digital work, less nice, less sunshine on my face and people who are my shoulder proudly is on my trusty laptop. I got something stuck under my shift key, the left hand shift key. Like a little, I don't know what it was, right? Something got under there, which means 50 to 75% of the time I would press the shift key, it wouldn't work. So you have to just stop and like just keep trying it again and again to get every capital letter capitalized. Right? So it's annoying, right? It was, okay, I can't just go at full speed. I have to like stop and keep doing this thing. I brought it up though because that actually sent me down a rabbit hole that I wanted to explore a little bit on today's show because what I noticed was, man, I can't write literally as fast if my shift key doesn't work very well, except to keep stopping and trying to make it work. But this slowness that was infused into my writing had no impact on the overall rate at which I was producing good work. I was working on an article last week. That was annoying, but it had no impact on did I finish a draft of this article or not? The slowing down the actual physical task of writing turned out to have very little to do with the rate at which I actually produced quality work. And so, aha, I had one of these deep question style light bulbs go off in aha moment and it brought up a question.

Discussion On Productivity And Tools

Deep Question - Does working faster make work better? (04:12)

I wanted to dive deeper into today. So I want to make today's deep question, does working faster make work better? And so what I'm going to structure my thoughts is we'll take as our starting premise here, work related productivity systems or tools. So all the different things that might enter our life, might the remarkable tablet I was just talking about, complicated productivity software, notebooks, calendars, systems like bullet journaling, this whole universe of systems and tools related to productivity. And I want to divide them into three categories. And I think by dividing them into three categories and understanding the purpose of each category, we're going to have a more nuanced understanding of what really improves work when it comes to these type of productivity ideas and what doesn't really matter much. Why in other words would I spend a lot of money on a remarkable tablet, but be okay that the shift key didn't work on my laptop and my rate of writing got much slower. All right, so that's what I want to do today. So let me start with the first of these three major categories of productivity systems and tools. And that would be those that add capabilities. So a system or tool that enables you to do something work related that you were not able to do before you got that tool. Let's say you buy a notebook that allows you to work on book ideas, you're a writer. You have a notebook that allows you to capture and elaborate book ideas when you're away from your office. That's something you weren't able to do before, but this new tool makes something newly possible. Oh, I can now capture thoughts in more locations. This is the way I think, for example, of the remarkable tablet that I just ordered is it makes it possible for me to have access to a dedicated idea notebook for all of the various different types of work I do. So we have theoretical computer science proofs. We have academic work on digital ethics. We have article writing, like New Yorker pieces, et cetera. We have the sort of Moleskine deep lifestyle notebook where you're thinking about general reflections on your life. And there's a notebook that has to do with the media company, the business that I run. I can't bring a notebook for all of those things with me. That would be a giant stack of notebooks. I can bring a remarkable with me. So that's something I couldn't do before that I will be able to do when I have a remarkable, have access to a unique notebook for six or seven different things in which I need to collect notes. The introduction of the internet was a big capability adder when it came along in the '90s and early 2000s, because now, for example, you could look up almost any piece of information that you need access to. You can get immediately. You couldn't do that before you had, let's say, an early form of Google and the internet. Now you can. So that's a system that adds new capabilities. A subscription to Audible, that allows you to listen to books when you're doing other things. So before you had an audio book subscription, you couldn't do that, right? So it's a tool or system that gave you a new capability that you did not have before. So that's the first category of productivity related systems and tools. And in general, these can be very useful improvements. If the new capability it adds, connects to something you value, or significantly increases the valuable things you can produce, it's a bit of a no-brainer. Yeah, keep your eye out for those. All right, well, there's a second category of productivity systems and tools. That is those that reduce pain points. So a system or tool that reduces or eliminates an activity that you actively dislike or makes you unhappy. Pain points are the type of activities that can aggregate over time towards exhaustion or burnout. So you have to be careful about pain points. And oftentimes there will be some sort of tool or system that can help you eliminate those. So let me give you an example here. When I first started TA in college classes, so as a graduate student at MIT, I was mainly on a research assistantship, but you're required an MIT to do some teaching assistants, assistantships as well. So you get more exposed to teaching. I remember the first class ITA was a big class, a big distributed algorithms class, you know, MIT course six is large, there's a lot of students in these classes. And the obligations I had in that class as a TA, I remember had multiple pain points, including those surrounding the dealing with problem sets. So when I first came into that class, you had everyone submitting problem set solutions in any format they wanted. So handwritten or printed, often stapled and sort of haphazardly submitted. And my advisor, the teacher, I was doing a teaching assistantship for said, well, look, we gotta have Xerox copies of everything in case we lose one. And so I found myself spending all this time removing staples, wrangling, we'd have 50 problem sets, wrangling, somewhere on one side, somewhere on other, someone to go through the copying machine, trying to make all these copies, getting them off the graders, then getting them sorted again, et cetera. And at some point I realized, there is a system I can introduce here that would reduce that pain point without causing any significant trouble. And I said, actually students, I'm gonna standardize how we hand in problem sets. It's gonna be no staples, single-sided, standard-sized paper. And you're gonna come up the class at the beginning to hand these in, we need them alphabetical. So you look at the problem sets that are already handed in and put yours where it goes, so that when you're done handed in your problem sets, we'll already have them in alphabetical order. That reduced almost all the pain points, 'cause I can now just take this big stack and I could run it through the copier and it took 15 minutes. Everything was already ordered alphabetically so I could just pull off this third, give it to this TA, this third that TA, this third that TA, and they could bring them back alphabetically graders and they could bring them back alphabetically when they're done. These were little things, but they got rid of a lot of big pain points for me. And for the students, who cares? Like, they don't, I won't staple it and take 30 extra seconds when I hand it in. For each individual student, it made very little difference, but for me, that new system eliminated a major pain point. Another example might be, and again, this kind of comes from my own life, but imagine you are something like a director of graduate studies at a university. I'm just sort of pulling this example out of nowhere, right? Everyone? But imagine you're a director of graduate studies at a computer science program, and I don't know, at a Jesuit university in like Washington, DC or something like that. Near the Potomac. It's been around since like the 1780s. So just hypothetically. Anyways, one of the responsibilities that someone in this situation might have is needing to sign ad drop forms for when graduate students want to add a course that they couldn't just sign up for normally. And there's these forms where you have to get a signature from the professor, and then you have to get a signature from the director as well to approve it. So imagine hypothetically, these forms came in all the time. People just bring them to your office, sometimes with the professor's signature, sometimes not. You would have to scan them, sign them and scan them, and submit the electronic version, and file the other version, or give it back to the students, go get the professor and bring it back. And this is all fine if you have, let's say, I don't know, three of these a semester, but imagine said you have dozens, right? A major pain point. But it turns out this is another place where you could put in place some tools and systems that will specifically reduce that pain point. So for example, in this instance, there could be new rules for the students. Okay, here's how it works. Get your form, get the professor to sign it. Then scan your form, okay? And then you are going to email that scanned form to me or even better put that scanned form in a shared folder, box is what Georgetown used, but it could be Google Drive, it could be Dropbox, it's, you know, forms to be signed. And then once a week, the director in this case could go to that box, take these already digital files, pull the digital signature onto them and move them over to a signed shared folder. The instruction to the students is, he does this on Fridays, check back in after Friday to get your signed version. You can directly submit it to the registrar's office. Here's how you do it and you see the director and put this in the subject line so that message will automatically get filtered but he'll then have a record of it. But now you have reduced everything the director has to do in this from a ad hoc ongoing sort of annoying wrangling of papers and scans and people and submissions to once a week he goes to a folder, opens 10 documents, drags signatures and moves them. It takes seven minutes. Again, the extra work for the students here is minor for each individual student. It means nothing but for the professor, the director in this case, it's a reduction of a major pain point. Reducing pain points in my opinion is almost always a worthy endeavor and a great application of productivity tools and systems. It makes your work way more sustainable because it's not just the pain you feel from these activities in the moment but the aggregation of that pain day after day, week after week that can really cause burn up. This then brings us to the third category of productivity systems and tools and that is those that speed up common tasks. So take something you're already doing and simply tries to make it faster or more efficient. This typically is through the use of new high technology tools. So for example, zapier automations. I can now, when doing some sort of activity, have an automation on my computer where I press a button and it takes this file and renames it and automatically moves it over there. So you can start to automate some of the digital movement of information on your machine. Something like auto completes in an email client, like Gmail does. That's an example of this category of productivity tools or system. I'm typing a common phrase. It finishes it for me. It saves me some time typing it. I'm typing an address in the two field and an email and it automatically suggests the name and I can click on it and that saves me a little bit of time. Tightly integrated note capture technologies fall into this. I have a complicated Evernote type setup where I wanna just very easily have this workflow where I can take all this different type of information that gets sucked into this one system where it gets labeled and I can view it in different views. If you look at productivity YouTube, is a real focus on this category of productivity tools and systems. I've taken these things I do and they're all hooked up and integrated and automated and I've reduced the number of clicks I need to do. I've reduced the number of type and I need to do. Everything moves really quickly to where it needs to go with minimum input from me. So here's the thing about this final category of productivity tools and systems. They can sometimes be useful largely where they overlap with pain point reduction. So these are techniques you could use for pain point reduction. But for the most part, their impact on your actual output is minor. So it comes to producing things of value using your mind. Typically the bottleneck, the thing that's going to control how long something takes or how good the thing is is typically deep work. It's this thinking deeply to come up with the right idea and then the application of an expertise driven craft to produce a valuable product on the other side. This is where most of the time is taken up. This is the main thing that determines the value. The speed up type productivity hacks work on the margins of that. They work on the gathering of the information. They work on the taking the article after you writing it and automatically getting it uploaded to your newsletter with saving some quick. So they save time on the margins, the intake and the output, but not in the core activity that actually determines most of the time something takes and most of the quality of what you produce. This is why when we went the other way with my shift key, instead of making a common task faster, we made a common task slower, it didn't impact the quality of the writing I did that week or the overall rate at which I produced that writing because typing was not the bottleneck. My bottleneck when writing a magazine article is not if only I could move my fingers faster on the key. I'm staring at this screen. I might rewrite the same sentence four times in a five minute area. A lot of writing is walking. How do I make this work? Why isn't this working? A lot of writing is revising. The speed of the typing, negligible, right? That's nice. That's not what determines how long that task is going to take. And this is true for most cognitive activities to produce thing of real value is that the bottleneck is the thinking. The determiner of the value is the thinking. And that can't be sped up with productivity systems or hacks. So now if we consider the first two categories, we say, okay, these are still valuable because they're not actually trying to increase the speed at which you produce valuable information. When you're reducing pain points, no, you're trying to stop yourself from burning out. That's worthy. When you're adding new capabilities, you're giving new targets for your energy to focus on and that too could be really useful. Or you're adding new inputs into the work you're doing that you did not have before. So that could open up new possibilities for what you produce. That could be really useful as well. So there's value in those first two categories that is clear. The value in the third category is more tentative. It sometimes applies, sometimes not. This third category however, is what most people think of when they think about personal productivity. As mentioned, this third category is what dominates productivity YouTube. There's a, it's great content. There's great satisfaction. Look at how all these pieces click together everything automates from here to there. It's like solving a jigsaw puzzle. It's like getting a woodworking product project to actually work and all the pieces fit together. It's satisfying in the moment, but again, it has very little to do with the actual production of value. It's why there's a sense of emptiness that pervades a lot of classic productivity content. It's because people who do actually wrangle with hard things for their lives say this is really unrelated to what I do. You look at Aaron Sorkin writing a script or something like that. It doesn't really matter if he's using final draft or not or has good macros or whether or not he has a complicated Scrivener setup that he's using when using final draft. I mean, it all might matter a little bit to him in terms of efficiency or annoyance, but it has no impact on whether that movie script gets written or not, or whether or not that script wins in Oscar. So I think it's useful to make these category distinctions because it gives us two important conclusions. One, there is a lot within the world of productivity systems and tools that we should not be dismissive of. Even the most late stage capitalist anti-work subscribed to my sub stack about why you shouldn't go in the business, whatever, crowd that's out there. Well, we should admit that this is not all just guys with slick back haircuts on YouTube trying to get you to automate the way that files move from your Dropbox into your tablet setup. Pain points and capability edition, these might not be sexy, but they're very important and they can make a real difference on the quality of work. And the other conclusion we have to draw here is that just speeding things up by itself is working at the margins of knowledge production, at the margins of value production. If it's fun to you, it's a fine hobby, but don't let it get in the way of that actual work. So anyways, I think this distinction's, I'm a big ontology guy. I think having these distinctions helps navigate this increasingly contentious and complicated world of understanding productivity. Is it evil, is it good, is it useful, is it a mirage? And the answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes. It's all of these things. And only with these right categories can we better navigate those inherent internal complexities. So at least that's the way I'm trying to think now about the world of productivity advice. - So you're gonna fix your keyboard? - My system for this is just keep using it until it gets better. And I think it's better now. It's better than it was. People say you can take the key off. I'm telling you, if I take a key off, that thing's not getting back on. You know, it's like some plastic things that have to click on just right. And I worry that it'll never, I'll never get it back on again. - How often does it get into computers? - I mean, I have a lot of computers, it just depends. Like my Georgetown machines, they replace every three years, I think. - But your Georgetown machines have the keyboard imprints on the fingers like-- - Yeah. - A do too? - Yeah. - Oh, so you write on them all like that. - Yeah. - Oh wow. - Well, I often write on my laptop is often my Georgetown machine. We have some other laptops, but I usually just try to use one machine on the go. - The one that we showed a picture of with that. - That's a Georgetown laptop. - Oh, okay. - Yeah. - That makes sense. - That's a Georgetown laptop, yeah. There are various desktops and a pile of tablets this tall. And yeah, we have some computers here in the HQ. - I thought you had multiple laptops with-- - We do have multiple laptops, but I don't, I usually just try to use one. - Yeah. - Yeah. All of my files are in Dropbox in a synchronized shared directory structure. So it doesn't really matter which computer I'm using. They all have the same files. And the only program I use that's not web-based is typically Scrivener. But all my Scrivener files are in Dropbox. So I don't have to worry about losing them. All right, so anyways, we have some questions coming up. These questions all very roughly are going to orbit around the same issue of sort of productivity hacks and the tension between speeding things up or actually doing better work and where this stuff is useful and where we're just eluding ourselves. So we'll sort of apply what we just discussed with a bunch of real world questions to follow. First, however, I want to mention one of our sponsors that makes the show possible. And that is our friends at Grammarly, our longtime sponsors at Grammarly.

Cal talks about Grammarly and Policy Genius (22:50)

What I'm excited about now is a new product feature they have called Grammarly Go. So those who have followed my writing, I'll say for the New Yorker, knows that I've been reporting recently on breakthroughs and artificial intelligence. And my stance on this tends to be what you should be looking for is focused applications of these new artificial intelligence technologies. This is how it's going to enter our life. It's in very focused but very effective applications, not as some sort of big general new intelligence that just does everything for you. And Grammarly Go is an example of exactly this type of useful way forward with these tools that I've been talking about. It brings the general power of large language model powered generative artificial intelligence to the very specific task of my professional writing, I do as a knowledge worker in various apps for various purposes. So with Grammarly Go, it's like you have a assistant that can sit here and make your writing better and help that writing go faster. So one of the things you can do with Grammarly Go, for example, is ask for prompts. You can say, hey, can you outline some ideas on how to decorate a taco truck? Or like, what's an outline? Give me a rough outline for a business plan for my yoga studio. Or I need 10 possible captions for this post I just wrote over here, right? All of this is stuff that's going to save you time. Oh great, now I have a rough draft of something I can edit off of. I can look at a list of captions and say, hey, this one's pretty good. Number seven, let me just edit it a little bit. So it's as if you have a writing assistant that you can task with doing things that help you complete your writing project better. It also can work with tone. So this underlying technology, as we know, is very good at language and the structure of language and the different variants of language. So now you can say things to it such as, okay, I just wrote a paragraph. Can you make this sound more exciting? Or, and I think this is critical, can you make this sound more professional? And it'll take what you wrote and just update the tone into something that matches it. In fact, the new Grammarly Go offering here allows you to customize your preferred style of communication. They have a setting called set voice that allows you to actually customize the voice you want in your professional communication. So when you ask it to summarize something or to write a paragraph about something, it'll do so already in your voice. You don't have to really work on this to make it sound less like commander data from Star Trek. It'll actually already, by default, sound like you. These are the type of application of Gen.R.V.I. that I think are important, focused, solving a real problem. So I think you will be amazed at what you can do now with Grammarly Go. So go to Grammarly.com/Go to download and learn more about Grammarly Go. That's g-r-a-m-m-a-r-l-y.com/Go. I also want to talk about our friends at Policy Genius. If you have a family, you need life insurance. If something happens to you, you want to make sure that they are taken care of. A lot of people say, "Well, you know, "I got some life insurance through my work. "What I have to care about it." And then you go and you look up how much life insurance you have from your work and you realize, "Oh, that would get my family "through one month." So you need life insurance if you have a family. If you think you have life insurance, like through your employer, you probably need a lot more. So why don't you go ahead and get this? It's not because it's expensive, especially if you're talking term life insurance and you're relatively young. It's because you don't know how to get started. This is where Policy Genius enters the scene. Policy Genius was built to modernize the life insurance industry. Their technology makes it easy to compare life insurance, quote, from America's top insurers in just a few clicks, to find your lowest price. With Policy Genius, you can find life insurance policies that start at just $25 per month for a million dollars of coverage. Some options often coverage in as little as a week and avoid unnecessary medical exams. They work with licensed agents to help you find the best fit for your needs. Policy Genius works for you, not for the insurance companies. They don't have an incentive to recommend one insurer over another. Their incentive is to make you as satisfied as possible with the policy that you get. Policy Genius is for parents and for caregivers or for anyone else who has to depend on them. They simplify the process of getting life insurance so you can protect the people you love, no added fees, personal data is kept private. There are thousands of five star reviews on Google and Trustpilot of satisfied customers. So your loved ones deserve a financial safety net. You deserve a smarter way to try to find and buy it. Head to policygenius.com or click the link in the show dose to get your free life insurance quotes and see how much you could save. That's policygenius.com. All right, Jesse, let's get into the weeds here. Do some questions.

Why doesn’t Cal agree with other productivity YouTubers about apps? (28:01)

People are talking about productivity, nuts and bolts and we can try to put our new framework for thinking about these tools and systems to use. - All right, first question is from Mark. I noticed that you seem to think tools don't matter when it comes to how productive you can become. Meanwhile, most other productivity YouTubers insist that choosing and using the top 10 productivity apps is the number one thing to optimizing productivity and efficiency, thoughts. - Well, so Mark, it's a great question because it shows off exactly the framework that we just talked about in the deep dive. I'm a big believer in personal productivity as being important. I'm also very different seeming than typical productivity YouTubers and it all comes down to those three categories into which we can sort any discussion of productivity tools and systems. So I'm a big believer in productivity tools and systems to add new capabilities to your life. I'm a big believer in productivity tools and systems to reduce pain points. I don't care as much about using these tools and systems to speed up the common task at the margins of actual knowledge production. This is what productivity YouTubers typically do look at. Complicated integrations of systems that are made to speed up the steps that surround the actual bottleneck of thinking hard, come with new ideas, producing original knowledge. There's a reason why they focus on that in YouTube is because, well, first of all, it makes for good content. I really think there's a similar thing going on with a lot of these productivity YouTube videos that you would see with a lot of, let's say, YouTube cooking videos. There's something really fulfilling when you see people start with these various ingredients and they grind it and do whatever. And in the end, they get this finished pie or this really well-prepared cup of coffee with the cream just right on the top. It's visually very appealing, but also it is cognitively appealing. Our brain likes to see pieces come together into a nice hole. And so it is essentially productivity cooking when you see this integration of this tool, that tool, and the person shows how everything automatically populates, and this syncs with that. And it goes to this tool, and over here, I can write here and it updates over there. It's like producing a pie. It's good content. The other types of categories of productivity systems and tools is not so good content. A video rapidly cut of someone changing the policy by which their students submit problem sets, so they don't have to spend so much time at the copier, is not that exciting. Watching a director of graduate studies figure out how to cut steps out of the process of approving ad drop requests, that's just not that exciting. It's often very bespoke, and the solutions often aren't that interesting. They don't require advanced tools. They don't require breakthroughs in technology. You're not wearing a virtual reality helmet as you interact with a large language model, generative AI using haptic feedback goggles. You're typically sending someone an email and saying, "Put this in Dropbox by Friday." Again, it's not as exciting. Now, here's the thing. I don't mind the speeding up thing. I think it's interesting content. I think a lot of people like it. I think this is often missed by the anti-productivity critics. What they miss is when they look at this content is they try to extrapolate that or generalize that to be, "This is productivity." And the message here is that everyone should be doing this. But really, when you look at that type of specialized YouTube productivity content, again, it's like looking at someone who does unboxing or cooking. And you wouldn't look at someone who had a cooking channel where they really carefully prepare these things and say, "Well, we shouldn't all be obsessed about cooking all the time." And it's not. This is just big cooking, trying to get obsessed about cooking. It's, "Oh, there's some people like to watch that." It's much more specific and narrow than I think critics actually give it credit for. Also, I don't know. Some people enjoy speeding up things on the margin. Sometimes it gives you a faster cognitive runway into the deep work. If I have a really clean setup that gets everything just ready for me to start writing, it's not actually going to change how long it takes me to write something. It's not going to make my writing better, but maybe it makes it 20% easier to get started writing. And again, that's an advantage that could add up as well. So I have nothing against focusing on speeding up the margins with these productivity hacks and tools. I just think it's important that we recognize that this is just one avenue out of many that make up the map that is thinking about productivity and its potential impact on their lives. So I do do things different than those productivity YouTubers because I just don't look as much of that one category. But we're all dealing with the same, I guess, general topic, which is how you organize your information and organize and set up your professional actions.

How can I be productive if my organization bans third-party tools? (32:51)

All right, Josie, what have we got next? Next question is from Andrew. I work for a government contractor. They have a strict device policy that bans third party apps and platforms, such as Trello for productivity. I enter press. So I never be as efficient and deep as people working for other companies. What should I do? Again, this question highlights some themes that we have been hitting on here. What it's doing, I believe, is conflating the type of things you see in particular in that third category of productivity tools and systems, speeding up common tasks and conflating that with producing good work. That somehow the better suited my systems and tools, the faster the steps related to the work I do, the more integrated the tools are with my work, the better I'm going to produce, the better quality worker can produce, the faster you can produce work. And often that's not the case. In the end, you have to write the report. The chapter has to get prepared. The business strategy has to come together. The team, you have to understand what's going on and figure out the plan that's going to properly manage them towards meeting their objectives. And that's what's going to eat up most of the time. And that, again, is going to be you thinking. Tools aren't going to help or... I was going to say you can't help or hurt. They could hurt if you're looking at your phone at TikTok while trying to think up these big thoughts. They will actually hurt, but there's only so much that tools can help you there. So, Andrew, what I'm trying to say here is you don't have the despair that you don't have access to particular tools that you see various people use as part of their systems. Just build systems that work for you. And what you really want to focus on here, again, is reducing pain points and adding new capabilities. And I wouldn't worry as much about, and do I have everything integrated and as fast as possible, because that doesn't matter as much. And once you know what you're trying to do, the specifics of the tools will often matter less than you think. Once you know in general, okay, here's the process I want to use for whatever, this particular type of report that I have to work on week after week. 98% of the time you'll realize that email plus basic file sharing plus just talking to people and coming up with an operating procedure is what you need. Rare is the case where you really do need a bespoke piece of third-party software to actually do that work. So, Andrew, you don't have to worry so much. This is more boring than you think. Use the basic tools you have access to. That's fine. Have a process-oriented mindset and just be looking for pain points you can eliminate. Look for new capabilities, new sources of information, etc. New tools that allow you to do something you couldn't do before. Okay, care about that. But when it comes to these tightly integrated systems where everything moves very quickly and connects, it doesn't matter that much that you don't have it if you're focusing on the other pieces. Basic tools can be used to build really complicated productivity structures. I mean, I like Trello, Jesse. He mentioned Trello. But I don't think it would have any impact at all if you said, "Look, Trello doesn't like you. You've been banned for life. Cal Newport can't use Trello anymore." I could come up with an alternative that solves the basic problems. It would be a little bit slower, a little bit clunkier, but again, a little bit slower, a little bit clunkier, it doesn't matter. You know, what really matters is capture matters. So I don't have to think about something, a place that has relevant information matters. And then beyond that, it's all these little details of little efficiencies. They don't add up that much. Because in the end, the thing that's on that Trello card you have to do is going to take you hours. And whether you had to add it in a nice Trello card, or you're using bullet points in a Google Doc. It's still a thing that's going to take you three hours. And so it took two minutes over here versus one minute over here, because of some sort of integration gets just overwhelmed by the time to actually do the task. I mean, I like the tools. They don't get me wrong. I mean, I like when things are fast and they're just nice. It's pleasing. It's like keeping your car really clean. But it doesn't really matter in terms of how long it takes you to get to work. I see that because we just detailed our minivan. Six hours. You wait, you did it? Well, we hired someone. Yeah. Yeah. Six hours. Yeah. Yeah. He retired from the industry and found religion after that job. He was like, there is, here's what he said. I'm quoting him. This actually, we have a very dirty minivan because we have a lot of kids, and they're not very neat. And he emerged from the minivan six hours later, and all he said was, there is no God. And then he dropped his tools and joined a monastery. So I don't know. Doesn't speak well for the cleanliness of our car.

How do top writers keep their research process “efficient”? (37:41)

That's what he said. There is no God and joined a monastery. All right. Let's keep rolling. We'll go next. All right. Next question from Damair from Nigeria. How do top writers like you ensure your research process is efficient? Put it another way. How do you avoid over researching? Research is seductive. And I for one often find myself sucked helplessly into research rabbit holes. Well, I don't know if efficient is the right word here. I would say professional writers don't particularly care about the efficiency of their research habits. Some of the most lauded nonfiction writers, for example, use what are probably very slow habits in terms of manually looking through papers and archives and taking notes by hand. They don't really focus on, I want to really quickly process this information necessarily, right? Because again, that's not the bottleneck for producing the good writing. The hard part is synthesizing the information and actually doing the work of writing. So they wouldn't use the word efficient. There is however, as you're rightly pointing out here, the termination problem. When do you shift from research, whether you're in the moment being efficient or being Robert Caro turn every paid style inefficient, how do you shift at some point from researching into writing? Typically, what professional writers have to help them here is professional necessity. This article needs to come out. I don't know how much patience my editor is going to have if I take another few months or if you're a book writer. This advances run out. I don't know how much longer we can pay the water bill. If I don't actually get this book done, I do need to start writing. So I think the big differentiator with that issue between professional and professional writers is the professional writers have strong incentives to not take too long. Now the other incentive is I want to write something good because otherwise this magazine will stop hiring or people will stop buying my book. So then they have this, I think, very healthy tension. I need enough research for this to be good. But I can't do research forever because I need to put this thing out. And those things work together and that often works out. It's not perfect. But that often works out to provide a pretty good balance between those two incentives. And what happens over time is professional writers develop a gut. I know I have it. I just have written enough things that I know I have what I need now. I'm imagining the article as I go along. I have what I need to get into it. And then I can go back and fill in the gaps later. There'll be some places the writing will reveal. I need a better source here or there. You just do it enough time. That feedback helps develop a gut. And then after a while you dive into your research, you're either a fish or inefficient. It doesn't matter. You have a pretty good signal at a pretty reasonable time. Let's shift from this over into writing. So it's a problem you have if you're not in that situation. If you're writing, let's say, as an independent or autonomous project, you in some sense have to simulate that back pressure. You have to simulate this needs to be good, but I can't take too long on it. And the best way to do that is to have some sort of deadline. It could be arbitrary. Some people who have a brand of self-disciplined, it means if they set a deadline for themselves, they'll actually obey that and feel really bad about missing it. Other people need to get others involved. I promise you this draft of my thesis by the end of this month. And you do the best you can within those constraints. This is why I often say if you're trying to become a writer, find ways to take on commissions for money for an editor, even if the money is $50 and you if the editor is probably going to accept it, you want this type of back pressure because it is useful. And in this case, it's going to help you, A, push your research to be good, but B, not take too long because you have these competing forces. So, the demo layer, that's what I'd suggest, is you need to create that tension in your life, that dual-headed tension. This thing needs to be good, but I can't take too long. And when you try to serve both of those constraints, you end up finding over time a bit of a sweet spot. And you hit that sweet spot enough times, you develop a gut, and then it's not so hard in the future because in the future, you just know, "Yeah, this is enough to start writing. Let's rock and roll on it." Research. Yeah, writers are often very old-fashioned. They're techniques. Some are like high-tech, but, you know, I don't know, they're so focused on just the craft of writing, that it's like little things make a difference. I want a good place to store my notes, but I mean, they have systems, but the systems I'm saying are often not these things that you would put on a productivity YouTube. It's like rubber band, these index cards together, I have these Xerox papers. I mean, the best is I don't want to give up away too much of this because I go into detail of this in my new, the slow productivity book that's coming out in March. But I really get into John McPhee's habits. He has systems that are very specific, but they are very inefficient. He's typing things and cutting them out with scissors and arranging them on plywood. And it's like slow, but it doesn't matter because he's writing a 30,000 word article. No matter how slow you make that process of how he deals with information, it's going to be swamped by the time required to actually write the article. So it doesn't really matter. He just needs something that works for him just to sort of structure his efforts. So writers have systems for sure, but they are not automated. My computer is automatically, my smart house sensor talks to my computer when I walk through the door. So the computer can activate and automatically pull the latest drafts out of my various, you know, Dropbox folders. And then a Zapier script takes that and produces a text to audio summary of my last notes that can play in the speaker that follows me through the house until I sit down. No, no, no, no, it's more like I have this burlap sack in which I keep the copies of my manuscript. And I always bring this burlap sack with me to the same stool at the bar where I drink, you know, a pint of heffa lice in before I start using napkin. You know, the writers have systems, but they're not high tech. So did you talk to McPhee? I did not talk to McPhee. No. I talked to one of his editors though. I was book editors. He has an affiliation with Georgetown and we had a good conversation. He's still around. He's like 87. He's not a young man. Yeah. Yeah. Great writer. All right, let's do one more question here.

How do I stop teaching from devouring all my time? (44:18)

All right. Researcher at heart, a 31 year old professor. I'm an assistant professor of psychology on a tenure-track position. I hate everything about teaching. I hate that I am inexperienced. I hate the lack of help and resources to do it better more efficiently. I hate how exhausted it makes me, how it can take my whole day with the preparation, stress, replying to student emails. How would you approach this problem? Well, my first advice. Do not open when you go up for promotion. Do not open your teaching statement with that paragraph. That would be advice number one. That would be the world's worst teaching statement in your promotion package. I hate teaching. I hate everything about it. That's my first piece of advice. Don't put that in there. All right. Let's step back here a little bit. I think partially, and this is going to sound weird at first, I'll explain. You're thinking about this too much. You're self-analyzing and self-reflecting and focusing on what you don't like and what's not going right and my recommendations aren't where they are and how much time is this taking and you're spiraling here. Teaching is some people enjoy it more than others. Depending on the subject for some people, it can be a bigger footprint than others. It should not dominate your mind this much. Here's what I'm going to suggest. I'm going to suggest what we're going to do is a fixed schedule productivity approach here. You're going to figure out what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on courses given my particular academic position and trajectory. Right? How much is it two days a week, most of that day is a three hours a day. You're going to figure out a reasonable time schedule. Then what we're going to do is work backwards from those constraints and say, "What's the best possible teaching I can do within those constraints?" We'll elaborate that in a second. Then third, you're going to not think about that much beyond it. It'll do what it'll do. You know what that's going to be? It'll be better than you think and over time, the ratings will get even better from your students as you just become more used to it. It's not going to be as bad as you think putting time constraints on the teaching because it's going to push innovation in your processes and reduction of pain points and adding efficiencies. It'll be fine. You'll get fine ratings and they'll probably go up over time. Maybe you're not going to get high ratings and that's fine. That's just what you should do. I don't want you to think about it much more beyond that. You've given that part of your life what you should give it and it doesn't really require much more thought than that. Again, here's the thing about research track, Professor Dum, you can't get tenure for being a good teacher. You can lose tenure if you're negligent. You can at a research institution, if you're a negligent teacher, you can lose tenure if you're a terrible teacher. Otherwise, it's a bit of a no-op for the tenure case that you'll eventually come up. I don't want you wasting so much energy on it. Let's go now and elaborate these steps a little bit more. Fix your time constraint that you think is reasonable. This will allow me to put a lot of time into this but give me a lot of time left over for research in my other obligations. Two, say what's the best I can do within that constraint. Here's where all of the actual in-the-weeds innovation is going to happen. You need to look for pain points and see if there's ways to eliminate those without really affecting the student experience. I think a relevant example here was me talking in the deep dive earlier about my TA experience in grad school, overhauled how students submit problem sets in a way that barely changed anything for them but eliminated a major pain point for me. Think through how you can be doing that on many other different aspects of teaching. You mentioned in your longer response, for example, about how you're always dealing with student emails all day. There's ways to deal with this to constrain that more. We're adding more office hours but moving more communication to the office hours. By having more structured for the things they're writing about, there's more structured systems for how they talk about a grade request or this or that. There's things to do here as opposed to just saying this is just overwhelming and they always want me and what can I do with it. There's pain points here that can be reduced and the students won't even notice it. Typically, what students want is clarity and fairness. I know how this course functions. I know how I talk to the professor. I know how the grading works and it's consistent and it's fair. That's what they care about. Not so much. Why can't I have full accessibility? Why? This system seems harder than me just emailing a professor. They don't care so much about that but they do want clarity and they do want fairness. Look for the pain points to eliminate. Get better processes for, okay, how do I prep lectures now? I don't want this to be good but I don't want to spend too much time. Let me rethink the way I do problem sets or evaluation. I'm not just up to my ears and grading all the time. Maybe there's an alternative way to do this that's going to be more straightforward but it's going to for me without really affecting the student experience. I'm going to figure out what type of lecture format works best. I'm struggling with trying to get the class to interact. So, what we're going to do something different with it and I can find something that works well enough so I don't have to think about it again. Again, there is a huge amount of innovation here and it all comes backwards to here's my fixed amount of time I can spend on this. I'm going to do the best I can and then I will accept whatever results that produces. I can tell you from experience is going to produce better results than you think and two, it doesn't matter if it makes you into Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society or not. I don't want you thinking about it too much more beyond that. I've handled this. I'm giving this a good amount of time. I've got rid of pain points that don't need to be there. I've changed around things to better suit my strengths and then I'm a whatever middle of the road rated professor. Let's move on and think about other things. If that doesn't work you could do the Dead Poets Society thing. That might also work. Just stand on your desk a lot. Make your students stand on your desk. I do that in my discrete mathematics course. It's a stand on your desk and I play emotional music. It gets a little weird after a few weeks of doing that. But I stand on your desk and I play emotional music. I captain my captain. What is the expectation of this guy if we replace the six with another three? Well, actually, I realized, we have one more question lurking here. I just missed it. Yeah, so let's do one more. We got time. Sounds good.

Is it a problem that I don’t feel overwhelmed? (50:40)

All right. This question is from Danny. I postdoc from Texas. I'm currently a postdoc. I have heard many times from multiple people. If you ain't busy or looking tired, you're not doing it right. I do not feel busy or tired. As a matter of fact, I really enjoy being a postdoc. I've been implanting and following your theories for a couple of years now, which has helped. But as someone who is striving to get into academia for teaching and research purposes, I am nervous if I am going into a field where if I'm not perceived by people as being overwhelmed or drowning. Yeah, this is common. This is common in academia because here's the thing. It's a weird job to be a grad student, a postdoc or an assistant professor, but especially a postdoc or grad student. It's a weird job because it, unlike other jobs, doesn't have this diverse input of tasks and obligations that you need to be working on all day long. Your friends went to investment banks and they are working 10 hours a day and they have spread sheets. They have to fill out an email. They have to answer and meetings they have to go to and decks they have to update. They always have to, that feels like work. And then you're a postdoc or a grad student and it's your advisor is like, write a paper. I'll see you at Christmas. And it doesn't feel like work. And so there's a tendency that people get worried, they get anxious about this and they want to invent busyness. They want to invent the same type of overload. They hear their friends at real jobs talking about because at least they can tell themselves, I'm not lazy. I'm working hard. I'm busy all the time. So if this doesn't go well, it's not going to be because I just wasn't doing the work. I think expansiveness and autonomy and schedules can be very uncomfortable for people if they're not used to it. And so you get a lot of grad students and postdocs who try to lean into finding pain points of busyness. But here's the reality is that it's actually with some exceptions, exceptions that typically involve lab work is very time consuming. These are easy jobs. And I think it's okay. I love being a grad student. I love being a postdoc. They're not super demanding jobs. As you become a professor, it gets more demanding because there's other types of responsibilities that are layered on. And then it didn't become much harder to juggle. That's okay. They're not paying you that much money. So it's okay that it's not, I need to do nine hours a day of busy work. You are completely safe to sidestep that culture of my hair is on fire, dissertation hell. Everything is so hard. What a hard job. I'm so overloaded. I'm so busy. It's okay to say I'm working on one research paper and I give it three good hours a day. And then, you know, I'm training for a marathon because I don't really have a lot to do on a lot of other days. That's okay. That is a perfectly reasonable schedule for a postdoc. When I was a postdoc, I injected a lot of non-postdoc related things into my life because A, it didn't take that much time. And B, I knew as a professor, I was going to have a lot of other things to do. So I wanted to get used to fitting the stuff I was doing as a postdoc to research, which I would still have to do as a professor. I want to be really comfortable doing that in a relatively small amount of time because even though I could as a postdoc take the papers I'm working on and find a way to take up my whole day with it, I can't do that as a professor. Because I'm going to have classes to teach and service obligations and family and it's, they're going to have a way more distraction. So I better get good now at doing just this thing that I'm tasked to do as a postdoc research, doing this in a reasonable amount of time. I'm sorry to love about things. I wrote a book. I was scalling. I was taking scalling classes on the Charles through BU. I would go for a long midday run and exercise. I'd run home across the Charles on the Mass Ave Bridge and then I would exercise on one of the floating docks and would get lunch and watch a show and then take the subway back from Charles MGH to MIT and do a little bit more work in the afternoon. I mean, a huge breaks out of my day and that was all designed. I was like, I cannot let myself get into the mindset of this work music take up the whole day because everything's going to get for real busier in the future. And so if I make this fake busy, how am I going to handle that in the future? So this is all to say, you can ignore that culture of busyness. If you have good organizational systems, it sounds like you do, you listen to my stuff and you don't have a really hard lab position where you're overseeing seven grad students and a bunch of undergraduates as part of a giant NIH grant. If you don't have one of those situations, just lean into it. This is a pretty easy job and that's great because life will get harder soon enough and you can be fine with it. And as for the question of whether that's going to hurt your academic trajectory, no one cares or notices how you feel or how quickly you answer emails or how busy you are. All that matters for that is what did you publish? How good was it? How many people cited it? That is all that matters. Some of the most famous academics in histories were basically missing throats and did nothing where pains were lazy or irresponsible. It didn't matter. Papers are all that matter. So just focus on doing your research well. No one is going to say, we wanted to accept you and we love your work and we love your papers, but we heard that like you often don't work past five or whatever. No one cares. Let's care about your papers. So lean into it. Postdocs are a great job. It's a fake job, an awesome job. I miss it. You're okay not being busy. Those really are easy jobs. And they're not easy jobs, but they're hard because of the autonomy. Honestly, I really do think it breaks a lot of people. Especially at the elite school. You go to school like MIT or something. It's just write some papers. Let me know how I can help. It really is. I'll check back in at the end of the semester. That can drown you or it could be super exciting. Some people are like, this is great. I'm writing papers and have all these hobbies and whatever. Some people just have to find a way for this to be hard and for me to be busy. It's really clear. It's like binary. You're either one or you're the other. It's a good job. Easiest jobs I ever had. People always think I'm crazy when I say I wrote a book during my dissertation because writing my dissertation did not take enough time. I was like, how long can I spend on this? What am I going to do? It's like two hours a day. So let me write a book at the same time. Unrelated. I grew up in grad students. Love to hear that from me. Write a book while you do your dissertation.

Cal talks about Blinkist and ExpressVPN (57:10)

All right. I want to move on and close up the show with something interesting. Before I do, though, let me just briefly mention our friends at Blinkist. The Blinkist app enables you to understand the most important things from over 5,500 nonfiction books and podcasts in short summaries that you can read or listen to that require only 15 minutes of your time. So if there's a book you're thinking you might want to read, but you're not sure, you get the summary from Blinkist. They call them Blinkist. You can listen to it. It takes about 15 minutes so you can read it on your phone. Learn the main ideas of the book and decide do I want to buy this or not? Use this as your main tool for triaging your reading life and it will make a big difference. It will prevent you from buying books. You don't need to buy. It'll point you towards books that are very meaningful. It will end up being very impactful for you. And it will, in general, let you have the lay of the land of these topics because these summaries are giving you the big points. So even if you listen to the blinks of five books on a topic and only buy one, you're still getting the major points out of all five of those books. And so you're going to come away with a pretty expansive knowledge of these areas. So I like to think about Blinkist as a critical sidekick for anyone who embraces the reading life. Both Jesse and I use it in this way. We both triage reading lists using our Blinkist accounts. I don't know if you use collections at all. But it haven't yet. No. I mean, it's an obvious idea. I'm glad they did it. Some of these are curated by writer friends of mine, like people we know, like Adam Grant has one, for example. And they'll curate a list of, here's 10 books on a topic that I think are really good. It's kind of cool because if you're looking for new things to read, you say, great, I'll just work my way through the blinks of this curated collection. And probably two or three other 10 books will really remain in catching your attention after you're listening to the blinks. But those are two or three books you never would have thought to read. And you get all the information from the blinks of the books you don't read. So I like that they do that as well. So not only does that help you triage the books you already are thinking about reading or not, I can point you towards books. You might not already know about. They also have a cool new feature right now called Blinkist Connect, which is a two for the price is one type of offer. It allows you to share titles with other people. So you're sharing your premium account with another person. So it's essentially like you have two premium subscriptions for the price of one. So if there's a reader in your life who think might benefit from Blinkist, this Blinkist Connect will allow you to share that gift. So right now Blinkist has a special offer just for our audience. Go to blinkist.com/deep to start your seven day free trial and get 25% off a Blinkist premium membership. That's Blinkist spelled BLINK IST Blinkist.com/deep to get 25% off any seven day free trial Blinkist.com/deep and don't forget that for a limited time you can use Blinkist Connect to share that premium account. You'll get two premium subscriptions for the price of one. I also want to talk about our friends that express VPN. You need a VPN and express VPN is the one I recommend. Why do you need a VPN? Well, here's the thing. When you use the internet, people can watch what you're doing. If you're connecting to a wireless access point, anyone nearby can actually read those packets off the radio waves. And even if the contents of the packets are protected, they can see the destination of those packets. That's not protected. So they can say, "Hey, this guy over here, this Jesse, is, you know, he's going to blinkist.com right now. I can tell who he's talking to, right? So they know who you're talking to. Your internet service provider. So even when you're at home, directly wired into your internet service provider, they can watch who you're talking to. And they can sell that data, which a lot of internet service providers do. Hey, here's the type of websites that this customer of mine goes to. Let's choose ads to show them. The VPN stops people from doing that. Here's how it works. Instead of talking directly to Blinkist.com, if you use the VPN, you instead send an encrypted request to a VPN server and say, "Hey, I want to talk to blinkist.com." And then that server talks to the website or service on your behalf gets the response and encrypts it and sends it back to you. So what does the people sniffing the packets out of the air see? What does your internet service provider see? Just that you're talking to a VPN server. And they will say and they will shake their fist demonstrably as they do so boiled, boiled by this VPN I say. This is exactly how people talk, you sniff packets or work at ISPs. So it's a way to actually get back privacy and what you're doing. Most people don't even realize their privacy is being violated in this way. VPNs pull you back. If you're going to use VPN, I would suggest the one that's rated number one by CNET and tech radar. And that is ExpressVPN. The software is very easy. It works with the other. Any app you already use to access the internet on any of your devices, just click a button, turn on the VPN. Now you're protected. Everything else just works the way it normally would. They have servers all around the world. So you're almost certainly not going to be far from a nearby server to connect to. And remember, close is good because close is fast. They also have a lot of good bandwidth whose connections. So you need a VPN. And I would recommend using ExpressVPN. So protect your online privacy by visiting expressvpn.com/deep today. That's eXPR E S S VPN.com/deep. Don't forget to use that slash deep because that will give you an extra three months free expressvpn.com/deep.

Something Interesting

Something Interesting: (01:02:51)

All right, Jesse, that brings us to our final segment of the day, which is something interesting. It's where I like to highlight something interesting that you, my listeners have sent to my interesting at cal Newport.com email address. Now, before we get to today's thing, I want to highlight there's something I want to mention briefly from a friend of mine. It's a friend of mine from the productivity world that goes way back to the early web 2.0, early 2000s days when I first started getting involved and writing about these things. It's my friend, Mike Vardy, who I've known forever. It's one of the OG online productivity thinkers. Anyways, I just wanted to mention that he has a Kickstarter going for a new book of his. So he's experimenting with the direct to consumer book model. I'll bring this up on the screen here. But if you're watching, and if you are watching, by the way, I should say this is episode 251. So go to youtube.com/cal Newport Media or the deeplife.com and look for episode 251. If you want to watch what I'm showing you on the screen right now or the entire episode as a whole. But anyways, he has this new product he's working on called the productivity diet. You get it directly through Kickstarter. He's already met his goal. So you will for sure get the book if you pledge. Anyways, check it out. The link is in the show notes. There's a good video where Mike explains his philosophy, but you know, he's one of the original guys who thinks about in the weeds practical productivity in a way that makes your life sustainable. Check it out. Anyways, let's get now to the actual thing that someone sent me that I wanted to highlight, which was a link for this hotel, which I'm loading up on the screen now if you're watching. It's called the Sylvia Beach Hotel. This is a Newport Beach or no Newport, Oregon, not Newport Beach, the beach in Newport, Oregon named after me. So I feel like I do need to be here. And it is a hotel that is quote unquote truly for book lovers. I thought this was cool. So here's the idea with this hotel. It overlooks the ocean. There are no telephones, TVs or Wi-Fi in rooms at Sylvia Beach Hotel. The alert is beach quiet, gatherings, one thoughts, writing, reading and savoring the wonder of ocean and sky. Right? So their idea here is you come here to think and not be distracted. They are in particular focused on writers. How do you know this? The rooms, each room is themed to a particular writer. I'll show you a couple examples here in a second. They also have a great third floor oceanfront library. Jesse, we got a book tickets here. You go to the library, you just read books, you look at the ocean, you have author themed rooms. I'll show a couple on the screen here for those who are watching. No Cal Newport room yet, but I am hopeful. Look, here's a John Steinbeck room. So if we load up the picture of the John Steinbeck room, you see there is a of my cement, grapes of wrath style, 1920s car packed with all sorts of gear on it that's built into the wall and the headlights are actually lamps. There's a cool writing table there. There's another one I saw. Here's a JK rolling room. So it looks like you're in a Hogwarts type situation, I suppose. So we see there. There's an owl, there's Hedwig. Anyways, I thought that was cool. And I like this idea of a location you go just to think, it has no distractions, but also the staging of it just puts you in the mindset of office, puts you in the mindset of reading. So I'm showing this for two reasons. One, because I want to go, so maybe they'll hook me up, revisit the Newport, Newport heads, the Newport, Oregon, and I can be in the JK rolling suite and look over the ocean and be fantastic. But two, I think this is underscoring a more generalized principle, which I talk a lot about on the show, which is setting matters when it comes to producing original, creative or valuable, deep thought. Setting can put you into a better mindset. It makes it more conducive for the cogitation that you seek. So even if you're not going to this particular hotel on the Oregon coast, this general idea of going a bit over the top to signal to yourself in your brain, I take this thinking seriously, to help give yourself the right cues to think properly does make a difference. Yes, you have already a drab home office set up technically at your house, but you could still take that garden shed and convert it into a writing room. And you might decorate it, you know, Steinbeck style. And wow, this seems so weird and over the top and stupid and superfluous, but it's not because what you're doing is just trying to set up the conditions that are going to maximize your brain's ability to slip into and produce the best possible thoughts. So I'm increasingly a fan of leveraging setting as a critical component of deep thinking. So this hotel clarifies and purifies that general idea. We all could perhaps have a touch of that book lover hotel in our day to day professional lives. The message there is general. I don't know, Jesse, I don't know what would be in the Cal Newport room at this hotel. Some bookshelves for sure. Yeah, I guess it'd be, I don't know what being there. Yeah, some books. One of the machines you have any other room? Some sort of weird machine, a computer with a keyboard that doesn't work, I think would somehow. Are your, what's the machine called? 3D printer? Yeah, you're 3D printer. Yeah, okay, we have a 3D printer, a keyboard that doesn't work. I think it could be nerve wracking. Like what if, what if they like, like, like, planter, time block planner. Oh, my brother, the rowing machine would be in there somehow. Yeah, I don't know how popular this room is going to be, Jesse. This doesn't sound, this doesn't sound conducive to deep thought. That'd be the worst if this hotel was, you know, hey, we, uh, we have a room dedicated to you and want you to come out for the dedication, you're all excited and you get there and it's just really just tasteful or like you could, it really could be a sort of look in the mirror type moment or something like that. You're like, okay, it's, you know, you get there and it's, you know, full of German pornography or something like that. You're like, I don't know if I'm coming across the way. I'm not sure if I'm coming across the way I think I am the dismembered mannequins, just like a pile of dismembered mannequins in the room and a wall full of German pornography. It's the county board room. Like we're really, we're really pushing this. Like, I don't know, I don't know if the world sees me the same way I see me. I'm not sure about this. It might be a mixed blessing. Why is there a rowing machine in here? I don't know about this. Oh well, we can all dream about going on vacations like that. Anyways, let's wrap this up. Thank you everyone for listening or watching. I hope you enjoy the show. We'll be back next week with a new episode and until then, as always, stay deep.

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