Deep work is a practical guide to total focus. Defined as the ability to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks, Cal Newport shows how ‘deep work’ is valuable, meaningful and rare and lays out some rules for how to incorporate it into our daily lives.
Deep Work Summary
Based on his experience as a blogger, author and academic, Cal Newport explains how working deeply can help you achieve more, work better and feel a deeper sense of purpose in the increasingly distracting knowledge economy.
In a world blurred with email, social media and constant distraction, Deep Work is a practical guidebook for rethinking the way we approach important tasks and encourages us all to embrace the power of hyper-focussed creative flow-states.
Below are some of the key insights from the book.
- Deep Work is cognitively demanding important work (books, projects) while Shallow Work is cognitively easy non-important work (emails, meetings)
- Deep work helps us to (a) Quickly master hard things (b) Produce at an elite level which are increasingly important in the modern world.
- When you enter a deep state, you can use deliberative practice to raise your performance to superpower status.
- In the absence of clear objectives, people use busyness as a measure for productivity and follow the principle of least resistance. E.g. Marissa Mayer canceling home working because of login status.
- Neurological – Deep work has positive benefits for human neurology.
- Psychological – Deep work creates a flow state of engaged rewards.
- Philosophical – Deep work ties the craftsman to the fruit of his labour.
- We can work deeply using different tactics including (a) monastic mode (b) bimodal scheduling (c) rhythmic scheduling (d) journalistic opportunism (e) the grand gesture
- When deep working, execute like a business by (a) focussing on the wildly important (b) acting on forward metrics (c) keeping scorecard (d) holding accountable
- Downtime is also important for (a) scatter-focus states (b) recharging energy.
- Like an artist, create new from repeated routine. Set a schedule, block distraction, say no, meditate productivity and stretch yourself
- Select tools like a craftsman. Ignore the fallacy of a marginal benefit and be selective with social media, commitments and your energy.
- Use a process-centric email responding tactic to avoid wasted time in threads. Get to the end goal quickly if valuable or ignore otherwise.