How to Do Less With Journalist Celeste Headley

Are you feeling burnt? Do you find yourself working more , not less, even when working from home? Award-winning journalist Celeste Headley joins us on The Upgrade this week to talk about how toxic work culture harms both our brains and our bodies, and what we can do about it. Celeste is the author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Important Conversations and the most recent book Do Nothing: How to Relieve Overwork, Overwork, and Insufficient Living .

Later in the show, you will hear Lifehacker Health Magazine Editor Beth Skorecki talking to mental health expert Dr. Sanam Hafiz of Comprehensive Counseling Services on how to deal with this stressful time for ourselves and our children. …

Listen to The Upgrade above, or find us at all the usual podcast locations including Apple Podcasts , Google Play , Spotify , iHeartRadio , Stitcher, and NPR One.

Highlights from this week’s series

From an interview with Celeste Headley

On how a culture of super-productivity in the workplace makes working from home detrimental to our well-being:

It is probably in some ways more important to buy [ Do Nothing ] for your manager than for yourself, because to be honest, the leadership we have right now – and I say in general, obviously – is in the 19th mentality. century. They still use the strategies and methods that worked in the factory, and we are no longer there. So maybe people thought the same way I did that working from home when it suddenly becomes more relaxed, and it might be frustrating to find that you are more nervous and feel like you are working all the time … Even before that quarantine The lines between work and home have already been blurred to the point of detriment to our well-being. It was already bad, and you can imagine how much worse it is when literally our home is our workplace. And I don’t think people, employees or employers, do not understand how to make this work sustainable.

On why old phone calls can sometimes be better than video calls:

[T] Electronic conferencing is great, and we know from research that it is a little below personal communication. Right now, our Zoom and Skype calls are also work-related a lot. So you’re still staring at your computer screen, [and] most people aren’t just Zoom. They keep their mailbox open. They keep their Internet open. Their cell phone is next to them. Thus, their brains are trying to do several tasks at the same time, which tires your brain and your body. By the way, when you try to do several tasks at the same time, you lose between ten and twelve IQ points … Over time, this can cause cognitive damage. So, for now, these social interactions are captured by other anxiety and exhaustion. And that’s okay if you don’t zoom in. You can use the telephone … Because, frankly, the human voice is incredibly powerful … We evolved to hear human voices and receive information only from the human voice. So if you’re tired and don’t want to see anyone, it’s okay to have a virtual happy hour or whatever on the phone.

For more advice from Celeste on how to get real recovery time for your brain, we highly recommend listening to the entire episode.

Any feedback or ideas for future episodes? Do you want to participate in the show? Leave us a voicemail at 347-687-8109 or send a voicemail to

Episode transcript


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