Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

My rating: 5/5

Deep Work is a book about focusing. Given the barrage of distractions in today’s world, ranging from push notifications, social media and the expectation of responding fast to emails and work group chats, it becomes harder to do the type of work that requires deep focus.

The first few chapters talk about what deep work is and part 2 is about a few tips to get there.

  • The author recommends working at the same hours every day at the same place to create a temporal and spacial correlation to focusing.
  • A second recommendation is quitting social media that is not important to getting work done. Most of us have a fear of missing out when it comes to social media and assumption that our followers would notice the absence of our presence. He advocates for a trial of quitting social media for month to detox and placate how deeply entangled it is with our lives.
  • Cal Newport suggests that great work requires one to embrace boredom, to be bored enough to have epiphanies about your work, to listen to your mind in the shower or when waiting for your coffee. However, modern lifestyle encourages one to listen to music or check your notifications while waiting which naturally reinforces your mind to avoid thinking deeply. Focusing he claims, is like a muscle that needs to be trained and built.
  • A fourth recommendation is to drain the shallows, that is, to segment how you spend your time and cut out work that doesnt yield returns. The 80-20 rule suggests that you get 80% of your returns from just 20 percent of teh work, so increase the time allocation for that 20%.
  • Fifth, he recommends becoming harder to reach - by blocking off time for deep work when you’ll be unreachable, by filtering emails requiring them to be substantive, by setting expectation that you value quality over quantity of communication.

Must read for any young person chasing success today.