Deep Work

by Cal Newport

One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you'll achieve extraordinary results.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories -- from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air -- and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

Our thoughts on Deep Work

Few books have been as transformative for me as Cal Newport’s Deep Work. In an attention-deficit economy, we have lost our ability to focus and solve complex problems. As more companies embrace open offices, Slack, work-from-home policies and move towards building a remote team, our attention spans are only getting shorter.

When was the last time you were able to focus on one task, uninterrupted, for just 60 minutes? Or when was the last time you managed to “get some real work done”? In the first half of the book, Cal’s explains why deep work is so valuable and increasingly rare in today’s attention-deficit economy. Shallow work, on the other hand, is made up of non-cognitively demanding tasks that can be performed while semi-distracted. These jobs (and workers) are easily replicated and it’s a race-to-the-bottom for your career.

The ability to work deeply is perhaps the most valuable skill you can learn. It’s a skill that can be sharpened, practised, and leveraged in every aspect of your life. To master deep work, you can focus not just on “getting things done” but on “getting valuable things done” in less time.

Jason Fried’s company, 37signals (now Basecamp), was an early proponent of the value of deep work, cutting their employees’ workday to 4-days in 2012 and increasing productivity in parallel by promoting a distraction-free environment. More recently, Microsoft tested a 4-day workweek in Japan that led to a 40% increase in productivity by reducing distracting meetings, emails and “shallow” work.

In the 1980s, Bill Gates famously adopted his own "think weeks" where he spends two weeks alone in the forest twice a year. It is reported that he never missed these periods of deep work, no matter what was going on at Microsoft. Gates understands the value of Deep Work.

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work will teach you practical steps to fight for more deep work in your life and to focus on what’s important. Read this book and then listen to the audiobook—make it still and it will instil positive changes in your career, habits and life.

“Cal Newport is a clear voice in a sea of noise, bringing science and passion in equal measure. We don’t need more clicks, more cats, and more emojis. We need brave work, work that happens when we refuse to avert our eyes.”Seth Godin, author of Linchpin

Our favourite quote from Deep Work

If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.

12 recommendations for Deep Work

12 recommendation for Deep Work

Book Summary

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If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.

— Cal Newport, Deep Work