Book Review: Deep Work

Book Review: Deep Work

Review of Deep Work by Cal Newport

A practical guide for dedicating time to important things by eliminating distractions.
Read time: 2 minutes

About the Author

Deep Work Quote

My favorite quote; To learn requires intense concentration

Cal Newport is a writer and a professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

He is the author of five books and runs the popular advice blog, Study Hacks, which attempts to decode “patterns of success” in both school and the working world.

Summary

What I liked about this book is that it’s set up in two parts.

The first part is theory, where Cal makes the case for deep work over shallow work. The second part I got the most value from with a ton of practical and impactful tips.

Here are the four rules I dug the most.

4 Powerful rules

1. Work deeply

Eudaimonia: The state of reaching your full potential

Your brain is valuable. Life doesn’t support the work of extracting that value, so choose to commit to deep work on a daily basis.

Everything flows from this choice. From here we can set up routines that protect us and our willpower from the obstacles we expect to encounter.

Scheduling tips

  • Focus on the wildly important
  • Track time spent in a state of deep work towards your wildly important goal
  • Take the time to decide here you will work & for how long
  • Work on leading measures — The things that precede the result
  • How you will support your deep work?
  • Integrate these suggestions into your own philosophy, experiment, pay attention, note the results.
  • Pay attention to the separation of WHAT, and HOW

2. Embrace boredom

  • The ability to concentrate deeply is a skill, it’s built just like any other skill with practice
  • Key to building this skill is to wean your brain off the crack pipe dependence on distraction.
  • Don’t take breaks from DISTRACTION. Take breaks from FOCUS.
  • Take Technology fasts
  • Schedule Quiet hours
  • Schedule in advance when you’ll use things like the internet, social media, etc.

3. Quit social media

  • It is designed for distraction
  • Treat your tool selection instead like a craftsman, or a doctor
  • Adopt a tool only if its benefits SIGNIFICANTLY outweigh its negative impacts
  • Test any tool against your personal and professional goals
  • What are they 2–3 activities that help you meet those goals?
  • Is the impact of the tool significantly positive, neutral, significantly negative in relation to your goals?
  • would the last 30 days of your life have been better if you used service X?
  • Did people care that I wasn’t using service X?
  • If no to both, quit.

4. Drain the shallows

  • Ruthlessly drop shallow work
  • Recognize the time value of money
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This book got me thinking about what I could do to cut distractions, keep my focus on my position relative to my goals, and to do stuff on purpose. The concepts aren’t new, the way they are presented are a welcome reminder to be responsible and act with intention.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who needs to rub two brain cells together in their personal or professional life to get good results.

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Also published on Medium.

The Author

Sean Oliver

Sean Oliver is a management consultant in Seattle, WA