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Deep Questions with Cal Newport

Cal Newport is a computer science professor and a New York Times bestselling author who writes about the impact of technology on society, and the struggle to work and live deeply in a world increasingly mired in digital distractions. On this podcast, he answers questions from his readers and offers advice about cultivating focus, productivity, and meaning amidst the noise that pervades our lives.

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Ep. 25: Student Shutdown Rituals, Optimal Deep-to-Shallow Ratios, and the $20 Million Question | DEEP QUESTIONS

In this episode of Deep Questions I answer reader questions about shutdown rituals for college students, deep-to-shallow work ratios, and what I would do with $20 million (and why that's the wrong question). I also play some question roulette and give you a peak into my own efforts to live a deep life with my backstage pass segment.I will be sending out a new request for text questions to my mailing list soon. You can sign up for my mailing list at calnewport.com. You can submit audio questions at https://www.speakpipe.com/CalNewportPlease consider subscribing (which helps iTunes rankings) and leaving a review or rating (which helps new listeners decide to try the show).Here’s the full list of topics tackled in today’s episode along with the timestamps:WORK QUESTIONS* Should I learn one hard thing or multiple easy things? [5:21]* Shutdown rituals for college students [6:39]* An optimal deep-to-shallow work ratio [12:56]* Getting better at writing scientific papers [15:05]* Richard Hamming's advice to keep your door pen [16:42]Question Roulette [25:19]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS* Succeeding with blogging [28:51]* Bullet journals [35:51]* Getting my students to not use their phones in class [39:42]* Working with groups that only communicate on social media [40:44]Backstage Pass [46:08]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS* Developing personal life philosophies/politics/ethics [50:35]* Small versus big changes for transforming your life [56:43]* What I would do with $20 million [1:03:00]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 9mins

6 Sep 2020

Rank #1

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Ep. 20: Habit Tune-Up: Productivity System Indecision, Embracing Boredom, and Craving Depth in a Shallow Job

In this mini-episode, I take "calls" from listeners asking for advice about how best to tune-up their productivity and work habits in a moment of increased distraction and disruption.You can submit your own audio questions at speakpipe.com/calnewport.Here are the topics we cover: * Problems settling on a productivity system [1:01] * Figuring out which professional skill to improve [7:20] * The difference between boredom and solitude [21:12] * Craving depth in a shallow job [32:20] * Keystone habits [38:39]As always, if you enjoy the podcast, please considering subscribing or leaving a rating/review.Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

46mins

20 Aug 2020

Rank #2

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Ep. 31: RYAN HOLIDAY on Ranch Life, Fostering Discipline, and the Loss of Reading Culture

In this episode of Deep Questions we try something a little different: our first guest!Bestselling author Ryan Holiday joins me to help answer reader questions, as well as more than a few queries from me. We cover a variety of topics, including his life as a writer living on a ranch, how he fosters discipline, the impact of our diminishing reading culture, and why everyone keeps trying to get me to move to Austin.Be sure to check out Ryan's new book: LIVES OF THE STOICS (https://dailystoic.com/preorder).To submit your own questions for the show, sign up for my mailing list at calnewport.com. You can submit audio questions at https://www.speakpipe.com/CalNewportThanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 15mins

28 Sep 2020

Rank #3

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Ep. 29: My Daily Routine, Returning to Deep Work, and Digital Minimalism During a Pandemic | DEEP QUESTIONS

In this episode of Deep Questions I answer reader questions about my daily routine, restarting a deep work practice, and embracing digital minimalism during a pandemic, among other topics.To submit your own questions, sign up for my mailing list at calnewport.com. You can submit audio questions at https://www.speakpipe.com/CalNewportPlease consider subscribing (which helps iTunes rankings) and leaving a review or rating (which helps new listeners decide to try the show).Thanks to our sponsor to Grammarly. For 20% off Grammarly Premium go to Grammarly.com/DEEP. Use your laptop or desktop (this link doesn't always work on phones).Here’s the full list of topics tackled in today’s episode along with the timestamps:WORK QUESTIONS* My daily routine. [3:56]* Ensuring employees are working deeply at home [9:09]* Keeping a to-do list constantly open. [12:18]* The best way to start deep working. [14:31]* Advice for someone just starting a job [22:38]* Restarting research after a stint in an administrative position. [32:01]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS* Speed reading versus strategic skimming. [39:05]* The cost of occasional hyper-distraction [41:00]* Thoughts on Reddit and Quora. [45:35]BACKSTAGE PASS [50:17]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS* Digital minimalism versus Covid-19. [58:05]* Struggling to find time for depth. [1:06:52]* Strategies for transitioning to a deep life. [1:12:48]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 22mins

20 Sep 2020

Rank #4

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Ep. 64: Habit Tune-Up: A Look Inside My Book Research Systems

Below are the topics covered in today's mini-episode (with timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.- Dealing with boring (but important) work. [8:11]- Best tools for day planning. [18:26]- An insider look at my book research process. [20:31]- Advice for returning to school later in life. [32:46]- Making time for non-urgent pursuits. [38:35]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

45mins

21 Jan 2021

Rank #5

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Ep. 65: Is Productivity Bad?

Below are the questions covered in today's episode (with their timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.DEEP DIVE: Is productivity good or bad? [4:28]WORK QUESTIONS - How do you extract good career advice from successful people? [19:16] - How do I improve my GRE score? [27:38] - Is there a category of work between deep and shallow? [29:53] - Should high school students time block? [31:53] - How should I search for my first job during the pandemic? [37:33]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS - Can psychedelics play a role in the deep life? [45:19] - What are my favorite single-use technologies? [49:22] - Are AI-based writing suggestions a problem? [52:20] - What social internet technologies deserve a resurgence? [57:34]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS - How can I work deeply in a small apartment? [1:01:58] - How do I help people who hate self help? [1:08:18] - How can I encourage my friends to be deeper? [1:12:18]Thanks to Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 18mins

25 Jan 2021

Rank #6

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Ep. 28: Habit Tune-Up: Multiplying Eureka Moments, My Capture Setup, and Reducing Mass Email Destruction

In this mini-episode, I answer audio questions from listeners asking for advice about how best to tune-up their productivity and work habits in a moment of increased distraction and disruption.You can submit your own audio questions at speakpipe.com/calnewport.Here are the topics we cover: * Generating more eureka moments [3:59]* Working past shutdowns [8:08]* How I capture tasks [17:10]* Blocking distractions with music [23:22]* Solving excessive mass emails [27:18]As always, if you enjoy the podcast, please considering subscribing or leaving a rating/review.Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

39mins

17 Sep 2020

Rank #7

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Ep. 27: Inside My Planning Discipline, the Joys and Sorrows of Slack, and Finding Depth Among Shallow Friends | DEEP QUESTIONS

In this episode of Deep Questions I answer reader questions about what’s on my weekly plan at the moment, the complicated impact of Slack, and pursuing depth among friends more interested in fun.I will be sending out a new request for text questions to my mailing list soon. You can sign up for my mailing list at calnewport.com. You can submit audio questions at https://www.speakpipe.com/CalNewportPlease consider subscribing (which helps iTunes rankings) and leaving a review or rating (which helps new listeners decide to try the show).Here’s the full list of topics tackled in today’s episode along with the timestamps:WORK QUESTIONS* Is monthly planning necessary? (Bonus: A look at my current plans) [2:12] * Breaking up time blocks [10:03]* Debunking writer’s blocks [11:28]* Favoritism versus career capital [17:56]* When to stop studying [27:35]* Getting back up when struggling in your work [30:19]QUESTION ROULETTE [34:58]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS* The productivity apps I use [42:49]* Do academics need good digital presences? [43:37]* Leaving social media when you can’t leave the house [45:13]* The mixed impact of the rise of Slack [50:53]BACKSTAGE PASS [57:41]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS* Finding a calling when you’re interesting in many things [1:01:57]* Sticking to the deep life when you’re friends are deeply into the fun life (Bonus: tales from my one day as a Dartmouth frat brother) [1:07:14]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 19mins

14 Sep 2020

Rank #8

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Ep. 23: Email Saunas, Preaching Depth, and Rooted Productivity | DEEP QUESTIONS

In this episode of Deep Questions I answer reader questions about the puzzling connection between email and saunas, the best way to preach depth to your team, and the under-appreciated power of rooted productivity, among many other topics. I also take some time to answer an Audio Question of the Day.I will be sending out a new request for text questions to my mailing list soon. You can sign up for my mailing list at calnewport.com. You can submit audio questions at https://www.speakpipe.com/CalNewportPlease consider subscribing (which helps iTunes rankings) and leaving a review or rating (which helps new listeners decide to try the show).Here’s the full list of topics tackled in today’s episode along with the timestamps:WORK QUESTIONS* Email saunas and the struggle for depth [6:08]* Saying "no" when new to a job [10:24]* Dealing with unexpected free time [14:57]* Should I become a professor? [17:55]* Getting others to buy in on Deep Work [25:12]* Find time for hard thinking in a job that focuses on soft skills [27:07]AUDIO QUESTION OF THE DAY [31:51]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS* Effective reading [36:58]* Being productive in an organization that embraces Outlook [40:26]* Using entertainment-only devices [44:19]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS* Exercise routines for focus [46:48]* Keeping track of your productivity habits [53:10]* Feeling stuck at home during the pandemic [59:56]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 9mins

30 Aug 2020

Rank #9

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Ep. 30: Habit Tune-Up: Easing into Time Blocks, Planning Big Goals, and the Story of How I Sold My First Book

In this mini-episode, I answer audio questions from listeners asking for advice about how best to tune-up their productivity and work habits in a moment of increased distraction and disruption.You can submit your own audio questions at speakpipe.com/calnewport.Here are the topics we cover: * Easing into time block planning. [6:24]* Keeping up when taking notes. [11:49]* Optimal delay between learning and recall. [17:12]* Planning big goals. [20:59]* Insider advice on book publishing [29:36]Special thanks to our sponsor Grammarly. For 20% off Grammarly Premium go to Grammarly.com/DEEP.  Use your laptop or desktop (this link doesn't always work on phones).As always, if you enjoy the podcast, please considering subscribing or leaving a rating/review.Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

45mins

24 Sep 2020

Rank #10

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Ep. 26: Habit Tune-Up: My Fall Schedule, Tough Love for a Distracted Listener, and Deep Meetings

In this mini-episode, I answer audio questions from listeners asking for advice about how best to tune-up their productivity and work habits in a moment of increased distraction and disruption.You can submit your own audio questions at speakpipe.com/calnewport.Here are the topics we cover: * How I'm scheduling everything I have to do this fall [6:33]* Working on one thing at a time versus rotating between them [16:17]* Some tough love for a distracted listener [18:43]* The perils of context switching [25:48]* Can meetings be deep? [31:05]* Struggling with productive meditation [36:35]As always, if you enjoy the podcast, please considering subscribing or leaving a rating/review.Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

43mins

10 Sep 2020

Rank #11

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Ep. 78: Habit Tune-Up: Time Blocking vs. Bullet Journaling

Below are the topics covered in today's mini-episode (with timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.- Active recall in the office. [4:58]- Processes for problem solving. [9:58]- Time blocking versus the pomodoro method. [14:20]- Time blocking versus bullet journaling. [23:51]- The necessity of a second brain. [28:46]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

36mins

11 Mar 2021

Rank #12

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Ep. 77: Does Email Have a Mind of Its Own?

Below are the questions covered in today's episode (with their timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.DEEP DIVE: Does email have a mind of its own? [6:23]WORK QUESTIONS - How do I avoid boring research? [16:35] - How do I learn new skills without becoming overwhelmed? [19:44] - How do I better structure workplace communication? [23:34] - How do I say "no" more often? [29:41]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS - When should I stop listening to your podcast? [39:12] - How do I deal with excessive browser tabs? [40:14] - Will the world eventually force me to buy a smartphone? [49:08]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS - (A brief meditation on the pleasures of regular autonomous creative work) [52:20] - How long should planning take? [57:28] - Is reading fiction a waste of time? [59:04] - What is your opinion of Alexa? [1:02:41] - Is a mission different than a passion? [1:06:22]Thanks to Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 14mins

8 Mar 2021

Rank #13

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Ep. 71: How Do We Escape the Autonomy Trap?

Below are the questions covered in today's episode (with their timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.DEEP DIVE: The Autonomy Trap [7:25]WORK QUESTIONS - How do I focus when working on a distracting computer? [19:58] - How do you maintain energy while increasing deep work? [23:34] - Can the pomodoro technique help achieve deep work? [29:00] - How can I time block when working with two kids in a small apartment? [31:29] - Have I thought about updating my student books? [38:!7]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS - Are project management tools like Basecamp just a fancier version oof email? [42:26] - How can I integrate OmniFocus into daily, weekly, quarterly planned work schedules? [46:38] - What about the social costs of missing invitations because you're not on social media? [55:09]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS - How do I organize my life as a newly published author? [1:01:10] - How do I balance rigor and accessibility in my non-fiction writing? [1:07:52] - How young is too young for getting kids started on the deep life? [1:14:08]Thanks to Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 21mins

15 Feb 2021

Rank #14

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Ep. 66: Habit Tune-Up: Bullet Journaling vs. Trello

Below are the topics covered in today's mini-episode (with timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.- Taking notes in meetings. [3:41]- Switching from Bullet Journal to Trello. [8:42]- Speeding up time blocking. [13:56]- Scheduling daily tasks. [23:41]- Avoiding hard assignments (plus: a comment on YouTube addiction). [28:26]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

36mins

28 Jan 2021

Rank #15

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Ep. 61: How Should I Tackle Big Projects?

Below are the questions covered in today's episode (with their timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.Deep Dive: Executing Big Projects [10:18]WORK QUESTIONS - Is pairing a problem for programmers? [20:21] - When do you review past time block schedules? [25:46] - How do I force myself to execute my plans? [29:48] - How do you figure out what projects to pursue? [36:38] - Should you take personality traits into mind when choosing a job? [41:39] - Organizing rapidly expanding research rabbit holes. [47:27] - How do I pursue depth surrounded by toddlers? [54:53]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS - Why do I use Overleaf as my LaTex editor? [59:40] - How do I stay informed about current events without falling into the "Twitter Trap"? [1:02:26] - What is the deal with Zettelkasten note taking? [1:09:10] DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS - Should I time block personal time? [1:16:54] - Should I relax between college and my first job? [1:20:39] - How can I develop curiosity? [1:22:38]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 27mins

11 Jan 2021

Rank #16

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Ep. 60: Habit Tune-Up: Getting Things Done on Distracting Days

Below are the topics covered in today's mini-episode (with timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.- Reflections on productivity during distracting events. [3:35]- Trouble getting started. [12:09]- Dealing with cognitive exhaustion after hard periods. [18:01]- Avoiding tool overload. [27:10]- Focused work that's not demanding. [32:01]- Metric tracking tune-ups. [39:58]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

46mins

7 Jan 2021

Rank #17

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Ep. 59: Why Be Productive?

Below are the questions covered in today's episode (with their timestamps). For instructions on submitting your own questions, go to calnewport.com/podcast.WORK QUESTIONS- Preparing for deep work. [6:41]- Keeping on top of everything when you have many roles. [12:32]- Is it possible to time block without a clock? [18:25]- Overcoming graduate student procrastination. [24:18]- Predictable schedules with unpredictable children at home. [29:36]TECHNOLOGY QUESTIONS- Scheduling asynchronous classes. [34:49]- Plain text productivity using Markdown. [36:57]- Long Term storage of promising ideas. [49:59]- Overcoming fear of what other people will think. [58:49]DEEP LIFE QUESTIONS- Sports as a distraction. [1:02:55]- Leisure that’s very similar to your work. [1:06:19]- Why be productive? [1:09:55]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

1hr 19mins

4 Jan 2021

Rank #18

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Ep. 54: Habit Tune-Up: Capture Tools, Getting Started, and Building Skills at Home

In this mini-episode, I answer audio questions from listeners asking for advice about how best to tune-up their productivity and work habits in a moment of increased distraction and disruption.You can submit your own audio questions at speakpipe.com/calnewport.Here are the topics we cover: -  Clarifying capturing and configuring. [2:09] -  Time blocking for teachers. [9:24] -  Starting from scratch on a hard professional challenge. [15:20] -  Building professional skills as a stay-at-home parent. [25:35] -  Bottom up versus top down when reorganizing your life. [32:04]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

39mins

17 Dec 2020

Rank #19

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Ep. 52: Habit Tune-Up: Pandemic-Induced Overload, Side Hustles, and Managing for Depth

In this mini-episode, I answer audio questions from listeners asking for advice about how best to tune-up their productivity and work habits in a moment of increased distraction and disruption.You can submit your own audio questions at speakpipe.com/calnewport.Here are the topics we cover: * Capturing ideas outside the office. [4:31] * Prioritizing leisure. [9:08] * Coping with pandemic-induced shallow work. [11:58] * Succeeding with a side hustle [21:59] * Deep work at the organizational level [28:45]Thanks to listener Jay Kerstens for the intro music.

36mins

10 Dec 2020

Rank #20