Deep Work by Cal Newport is a book about productivity. Cal argues the ideal way to get more meaningful work done is by working deeply – working in a state of high concentration without distractions on a single task.
The book has 2 parts. The first part is about the idea of deep work, why deep work maximizes productivity and why only a few people practice it. The second part tells us the best way to do Deep Work and make it a standard practice in our lives.
To succeed you have to produce absolute best stuff you’re capable of, which requires distraction-free high productive work. That’s why Deep work is a skill of great value today.
Deep work – Cal Newport defines it as professional activities that are done in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to copy.
Shallow Work – Shallow work is the opposite of deep work. The tasks which are often performed when distracted. These tasks are noncongnitively demanding logistical tasks.
Deep Work Hypothesis: It tells us that ability to perform deep work is becoming rare and at the same time it is becoming extremely valuable. As a result, the people you cultivate this skill and make it the core of their working life will thrive.
Part 1: The Idea
Chapter 1: Deep Work Is Valuable
· If you want to thrive in the new economy, you will need two core abilities –
1. The ability to quickly master hard things
2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in term of both quality and speed.
· These two abilities depend on your ability to perform deep work.
· If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.
· The core components of deliberate practice are –
1. your attention is focused firmly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master
2. you receive feedback so you can correct your way of doing things to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.
· To learn hard things quickly, you must concentrate intensely without distraction.
· Law of Productivity:
High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
You can maximize the results by maximizing the intensity of doing it by per unit time spent working.
· Attention Residue –is when you’re doing one task but thoughts persist and intrude of another task. It when trying to accomplish multiple tasks. When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow— there is a residue of your attention stuck thinking about the original task. This residue gets especially thick if your work on Task A was unbounded and of low intensity before you switched, but even if you finish Task A before moving on to Task B, your attention will remain divided for a while.
· People who experience attention residue are likely to demonstrate poor performance.
· “To produce at your peak level, you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.”
· Do your hard intellectual and meaningful work in long, uninterrupted stretches
Chapter 2: Deep Work Is Rare
· The Principle of Least Resistance – In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviours to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviours that are easiest at the moment.
· Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many people turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of work in a visible manner.
Chapter 3: Deep Work Is Meaningful
· Who you are, what you think, feel and do, what you love – is the sum of what you focus on.
· To build your professional life around the experience of flow produced by deep work is a proven path to deep satisfaction.
· when you start to lose focus, your mind will tend to fix on what could be wrong with your life instead of what can go right.
· Theory of Flow – The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. If we give rapt attention to the things that are most important, and therefore also ignore things that are shallow and negative, we’ll experience our working life as more important and positive.
Part 1: A deep life is a good life, any way you look at it.
Part 2: The Rules
Rule 1: Work Deeply
· When we try to replace distraction with focus, it is not so simple.
· We have finite willpower, and as we use it in our day to day work it gets depleted.
· To develop deep work, we need to add routines and rituals in our working life designed to minimize the amount of willpower that is necessary to transition and maintain our start of the unbroken state of concentration.
· Use the following philosophies that you can adapt to work deeply.
1. The monastic approach. It means shutting yourself off completely, for example by moving to a cabin in the woods to write a novel, and not come back until it’s finished.
2. The bimodal approach. This prioritizes deep work above everything else. You could set a 4-6 hour block each day for deep work, for example, where you lock yourself in your office, similar to the monastic approach. However, once that block is over, you’re free to do everything else that might be on your plate.
3. The rhythmic approach. This chunks down your work into time blocks uses a calendar to track your progress. For example, you’d plan your week ahead of time and put 10 blocks of 90 minutes on your calendar, and make working with timed blocks a habit.
4. The journalistic approach. This is for people who have a busy daily routine, this works well. What you do is to simply dedicate any, unexpected free time to deep work.
· To maximize your success, you need to support your efforts to go deep. Simultaneously, this support needs to be systematized so that you don’t waste mental energy figuring out what you need at the moment.
· Don’t work alone. Theories indicate that isolate is not required for productive deep work. When pursuing innovation – collaborative deep work can yield better results.
· The Four Disciples of Execution (4DX):
1. Focus on the wildly important – More you try to do, less you accomplish. So, focus on the most important work.
2. Act on lead measures – There are 2 types of measures – lag measure and lead measure. Lag measure describes the thing you’re trying to improve. Lead measure on other hand measures things that will drive success on lag measures.
3. Keep a compelling scoreboard – When you keep a scorecard, you work differently. Record and track lead measures.
4. Create a Cadence of Accountability – It is the discipline where execution really happens.
· At the end of the workday, shut down your consideration of work issues until the next morning—no after-dinner e-mail check, no mental replays of conversations, and no scheming about how you’ll handle an upcoming challenge; shut down work thinking completely
· At the end of your workday, shut down everything related to your work until you get back to your work the next day. No checking your work mail, no mental replays of conversations, and no scheming about how you’ll handle your upcoming challenges. Shutdown work things completely.
1. Reason #1: Downtime Aids Insights
2. Reason #2: Downtime Helps Recharge the Energy Needed to Work Deeply
3. Reason #3: The Work That Evening Downtime Replaces Is Usually Not That Important
· Before you leave workday, complete the task you have left incomplete. If you don’t complete it, you will struggle to keep your mind clear of professional issues.
Rule 2: Embrace Boredom
· Don’t take breaks from distraction. Instead, take breaks from focus.
· Rule 1 Taught how to integrate deep work with rituals and routines, rule 2 will help you to improve this limit.
· To succeed with deep work, you should train your brain to be comfortable resisting distraction.
· Level of concentration required for deep work is beyond where most people are comfortable.
· Attention control: it measures one’s ability to maintain focus on essential information.
Rule 3: Quit Social Media
· The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection: Identify the main factors that determine success & happiness in your professional work. Adopt a social tool only if it has a substantially more positive impact than negative.
· Law of Vital Few: 80% of a given effect is due to 20% of possible causes.
· Quit social media, use only those tool that is beneficial to your professional work. People won’t care if you have posted an update or not.
· Give your brain a quality alternative, it will help you to resist distraction and concentrate on what is important.
Rule 4: Drain The Shallows.
· Deep work is exhausting because it will push you to the limit of your abilities.
· Schedule every minute of your day. We are spending most of our time on autopilot.
· The shallow work that increasingly dominates the time and attention of knowledge workers is less vital than it often seems in the moment.
Deep Work by Cal Newport Review: Cal Newport gives a compelling point of view why you should integrate deep work in your professional life. There are many theories mentioned in the book that help you understand the concepts clearly. Deep Work is a common-sense book than a self-help book. The ideas are not difficult to implement. The author has given some nice insight into how to concentrate and allow yourself some deep work which always is much more rewarding and satisfying than spending the time resource to shallow work. It is one of the best books that you can read.