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It's Time to Embrace Slow Productivity

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It's Time to Embrace Slow Productivity

The New Yorker,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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What's inside?

As workers grow more fed up with the status quo, it’s time to start tackling the root causes of burnout in the workplace.

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America’s worship of hustle culture may be coming to an end. US workers are experiencing record levels of stress and burnout, reports Cal Newport, and they’re ready for a change. Some advocate for a shift to a 32-hour workweek. But will a shorter workweek really help when knowledge workers’ task loads no longer align with a traditional nine-to-five work day? This compelling argument to focus, instead, on a reduction in work volume will appeal to employees and managers wondering how the workplace of the future can successfully address burnout.


Growing dissatisfaction with working conditions in the United States is fueling political support for a shorter workweek.

American workers are among the most stressed in the world, according to a recent Gallup poll, with high levels of burnout. Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief workplace scientist, blames this burnout on demanding jobs and a poor balance between work and life. Thanks to hustle culture, the idea of a shorter workweek, or “Slow Work,” as journalist Carl Honoré calls it, has, traditionally, remained unpopular in the United States. In the boom years of the early 2000s, the promise of wealth motivated workers to try to outwork their competitors. In the subsequent market crash, no one felt they could afford to slow down. After the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic and a recent spike in employee burnout, however, Americans may be more receptive to the idea.

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About the Author

Cal Newport is Provost's Distinguished Associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He has written numerous books including: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. He also wrote the New York Times bestseller Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. 

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