As a reaction to burnout, the solution is rarely doing nothing but instead a shift towards slow productivity. Cal Newport bases this on the rhythms of different activities in our ancestors, which was typically one or two tasks per day (e.g., hunting). But now we have massive lists of obligations and feel constantly overwhelmed.

One consequence of this is massive overhead, since Many commitments bring a fixed amount of overhead, so keep the number of commitments low and The main cause of context shifts in knowledge work is checking unscheduled back and forth messages. You will end up having no time to do your actual work.

Three elements of slow productivity

Do fewer things

You should have few enough things so that you don’t have massive overhead. This can mean aggressively reducing the number of active projects ongoing. Software developers have systems for this (tracking issues on GitHub, agile project management), individuals pull work onto their plate once they are done with current commitments.

Work at a natural pace

You can’t keep pushing constantly at maximum speed, Slow productivity enables seasonality in work. Days/months that are intense/relaxing. Instead of output in days/weeks, focus on months/years. This is actually a very suitable scale for academia.

Obsess over quality

Focus on doing the Core activities much better: designing the report, writing the computer code, finishing your writing project.