DEEP WORK BY CAL NEWPORT
DEEP WORK CAL NEWPORT – RULES FOR FOCUSED SUCCESS IN A DISTRACTED WORLD
In his book deep work, Cal Newport begins with an interesting story.
The author recounts how the psychiatrist Carl Jung once built a retreat in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, in a village named Bollingen.
In 1922, Jung wanted to revolutionize the field of psychiatry and “this goal required deeper, more careful thought than he could manage amid his hectic city lifestyle”
In Deep work we can see how Jung for example would wake up at seven a.m. then spend two hours of intense focus, undistracted writing in his office. And in the afternoon, he would mostly do nothing but meditation or long walks in the countryside.
Carl Jung practiced what the author calls Deep work: “Professional activities performed 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 replicate.”
The author takes not only Carl Jung’s example but also other prominent figures in several fields such as Michel de Montaigne, Mark Twain or recently, J.K. Rowling or Woody Allen.
All of these successful people committed to deep work. “The sixteenth-century essayist Michel de Montaigne, for example, prefigured Jung by working in a private library he built in the southern tower guarding the stone walls of his French château, while Mark Twain wrote much of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in a shed on the property of the Quarry Farm in New York, where he was spending the summer. Twain’s study was so isolated from the main house that his family took to blowing a horn to attract his attention for meals.”
Woody Allen for example worked without a computer and completed all his writing using a manual typewriter. “
J.K. Rowling, on the other hand, does use a computer, but was famously absent from social media during the writing of her Harry Potter novels”
And finally “Microsoft CEO Bill Gates famously conducted “Think Weeks” twice a year, during which he would isolate himself (often in a lakeside cottage) to do nothing but read and think big thoughts.”
A contrast: shallow work
While the successful people mentioned above all practiced deep work, what do we observe at the workplace? Most modern knowledge workers rarely go deep; they have fragmented attention and can’t fully focus on the task at hand.
Our culture shifts toward the shallow and most people practice what is opposed to deep work; shallow work.
Shallow Work by definition relates to “Non Cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”
The example of Jason Benn
Jason Benn left his job as a financial consultant to become a successful computer developer. The problem was that Jason didn’t know how to write code. He didn’t want to spend four years in college either as he didn’t have time. The problem then arose: How to learn a hard skill and do it fast?
“Learning something complex like computer programming requires intense uninterrupted concentration on cognitively demanding concepts—the type of concentration that drove Carl Jung to the woods surrounding Lake Zurich. This task, in other words, is an act of deep work.”
Jason adopted drastic methods such as locking himself in a room with no computer, just textbooks, notecards and a highlighter.
If it was hard for him at first to concentrate, he learned to focus overtime. He even regularly clocked five or more disconnected hours per day in the room, focused without distraction on learning how to program computers.
He adopted this strategy for two months before enrolling at a Dev. Bootcamp where he would have a hundred-hour-a-week crash course in web application.
Surprisingly, Benn excelled and ended up not only graduating on time, but also becoming the top student in his class.
Hard and deep work earned him success because “when Benn quit his job as a financial consultant, only half a year earlier, he was making $40,000 a year. His new job as a computer developer paid $100,000—an amount that can continue to grow, essentially without limit in the Silicon Valley market, along with his skill level.”
Deep work is a skill that has great value today. We live in an information economy which requires rapid skill acquisition and long-life learning. The job that existed yesterday might disappear tomorrow and a full department now can be automated with a simple program.
The author therefore advances the deep work hypothesis: “The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”
The goals of this book are twofold:
“The first, tackled in Part 1 is to convince you that the deep work hypothesis is true.”
“The second, tackled in Part 2, is to teach you how to take advantage of this reality by training your brain and transforming your work habits to place deep work at the core of your professional life.”
DEEP WORK BY CAL NEWPORT: PART 1: The Idea
Chapter One: Deep Work Is Valuable
In Deep work, Cal Newport highlights a great restructuration of the world economy. Millions of people will lose their job because ““Our technologies are racing ahead but many of our skills and organizations are lagging behind.” The rise of digital technology is transforming the labor markets in unexpected ways. Employers are becoming increasingly likely to hire new machines instead of “new people”.
In their book “Race against the Machine”, a pair of MIT economists, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee emphasize that “this Great Restructuring is not driving down all jobs but is instead dividing them.”
“Though an increasing number of people will lose in this new economy as their skill becomes automatable or easily outsourced, there are others who will not only survive, but thrive—becoming more valued”
“Three specific groups will fall on the lucrative side of this divide and reap a disproportionate amount of the benefits of the Intelligent Machine Age”: the high-skilled workers, the superstars and the owners.
The high-skilled workers are the people who are good at working with intelligent machines.
The superstars are the ones who became stars in their field. Think about people like Usain Bolt or Tiger Woods. Their performance slightly differs from their peers but they still earn all the attention and all the credits in their field, those are superstars.
The owners are those with capital to invest in the new technologies that are driving the Great Restructuring. A venture capitalist for example funded Instagram who merely employed 13 people at the beginning but was sold for a billion dollars (and now evaluated at more than 50 billion dollars).
The current economy thinking argues that “the unprecedented growth and impact of technology are creating a massive restructuring of our economy. In this new economy, three groups will have a particular advantage: those who can work well and creatively with intelligent machines, those who are the best at what they do, and those with access to capital.”
The 3 groups mentioned above cannot solely explain the entire economic trend. Indeed, other groups exist. The point here is that by joining any of these groups, we can do well. It’s possible to join another group but our position will be more precarious in the long run.
An important question
In Deep work, Cal Newport then asks a fundamental question: “How does one join these winners?” He admits that most of us are unlikely to quickly amass capital overnight. What we can do however is to get access to the two others groups: those who can work well with intelligent machines and those who are the best at what they do.
How to Become a Winner in the New Economy
To answer that important question “how does one join these winners”, Cal Newport highlights two crucial core abilities for thriving in the new economy:
- The ability to quickly master hard things.
- The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.
So now, what’s the link between the book “Deep work” and these two core abilities you might ask? The author argues that the two core abilities depend on your ability to perform deep work.
If you want to cultivate these core abilities, you must first master deep work, a foundational skill which will help you learn hard things or produce at an elite level.
On one hand, technologies change rapidly and the process of mastering hard things never ends. We must be able to do it quickly, again and again.
On the other hand, “if you want to become a superstar, mastering the relevant skills is necessary, but not sufficient. You must then transform that latent potential into tangible results that people value […] if you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are”.
Deep work helps you quickly learn hard things
To acquire a new skill, Cal Newport coined the expression “deliberate practice”.
In the book “Talent Code”, deliberate practice can be defined as a process in which we work on a technique, seek constant critical feedback and focus ruthlessly on shoring up weaknesses.
“What deliberate practice actually requires. Its core components are usually identified as follows: (1) your attention is focused tightly 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 approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.”
“Deliberate practice cannot exist alongside distraction, and it instead requires uninterrupted concentration.”
A scientific explanation
We then might ask, “Why does deliberate practice work?”
Acquiring a new skill involves a deeper reality, a neurological process. In his book “The talent code” Daniel Coyle claims that “Every human skill, whether it’s playing baseball or playing Bach, is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse—basically, a signal traveling through a circuit. “Myelin’s vital role is to wrap those nerve fibers the same way that rubber insulation wraps a copper wire, making the signal stronger and faster by preventing the electrical impulses from leaking out.” Neurologists call it “the holy grail of acquiring skill”.
As we develop a new skill, an accurate practice gets the myelin thicker. The thicker the myelin, the better it insulates.
To make it simple, look at it this way: A person with a thicker myelin would have her firing speed like a 5G network at 500GO/s while a beginner will have it only at 128kbps. You would understand that there’s no latency but rather accurate and precise control from the professionals.
An expert in any field has practiced long enough, deep enough and deliberately enough to have their myelin thicker. This results in faster, stronger and more accurate movements from their parts. For example, Serena Williams or Kobe Bryant has thicker myelin that accurately controls their movements. On the contrary, a beginner has a sluggish and approximate movement because he’s got his myelin thinner.
This highlights why it takes time to build a skill. It is a natural process because the myelin isn’t grown overnight and it requires constant practices.
Once the myelin “wraps, it doesn’t unwrap”. Once we learn how to read Chinese characters, it is unlikely that we lose it, just when we learn to ride a bicycle.
The more we put time and energy in a specific activity, the more myelin we earn which in return gets us more skilled. And the more deliberate practice we need, the more relevant deep work will be.
In Deep work, Cal Newport underlines “This new science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit to fire more effortlessly and effectively. To be great at something is to be well myelinated.”
“To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction. To learn, in other words, is an act of deep work.”
Read my article “Develop a skill: how to be extremely good at something“
Deep Work Helps You Produce at an Elite Level
In Deep work, Cal Newport talks about Adam Grant, well known for his bestseller book “Give and take” was also the youngest professor to be awarded tenure at the Wharton School of Business at Penn in 2013. He’s also the youngest full professor at Wharton. Adam Grant produces at an elite level. As Cal Newport explains; in 2012 he published seven articles, in 2013 he published Give and Take while publishing other five excellent articles in major journals.
If there’s one secret to his productivity, it would be “the batching of hard but important intellectual work into long, uninterrupted stretches.” He’s been doing that on multiple levels. For example, he stacks his teaching into the fall semester so that Grant “can turn his attention fully to research in the spring and summer, and tackle this work with less distraction.”
“Grant also batches his attention on a smaller time scale. Within a semester dedicated to research, he alternates between periods where his door is open to students and colleagues, and periods where he isolates himself to focus completely and without distraction on a single research task.”
In Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy shares the main problem with interruption. A simple internet disruption takes about seventeen minutes for us to shift our total attention back to our task.
In Deep work, Cal Newport calls it attention residue and he emphasizes “When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow—a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task”
We then come to this formula for high quality work:
High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”
““People experiencing attention residue after switching tasks are likely to demonstrate poor performance on that next task,” and the more intense the residue, the worse the performance.”
The formula also explains why Adam Grant produces at an elite level.
“By working on a single hard task for a long time without switching, Grant minimizes the negative impact of attention residue from his other obligations, allowing him to maximize performance on this one task. When Grant is working for days in isolation on a paper, in other words, he’s doing so at a higher level of effectiveness than the standard professor following a more distracted strategy in which the work is repeatedly interrupted by residue-slathering interruptions.”
Chapter Two: Deep Work Is Rare
In Deep Work, Cal Newport highlights three business trends that go against the deep work principles.
- The open office concept that inspires collaboration
- Also the rise of instant messaging that encourages rapid communication
- And the push for content producers of all types to maintain social media presence
These trends became more and more common and turned out to be the new normal. Cal Newport emphasizes a paradox because we’ve just seen how valuable deep work is in our shifting economy. The reality in most companies however is completely different.
Open offices, for example, might create more opportunities for collaboration,* but they do so at the cost of “massive distraction,”
“Forcing content producers onto social media also has negative effects on the ability to go deep.”
“To summarize, big trends in business today actively decrease people’s ability to perform deep work”
Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive
If you push against the Eiffel Tower the whole day, you will be very busy but not productive at all. Most of the time, we assume that when someone is busy, it’s that he’s being productive. It’s rarely the case.
Tim Ferriss jokingly says “In fact, if you want to move up the ladder in most of corporate America, and assuming they don’t really check what you are doing (let’s be honest), just run around the office holding a cell phone to your head and carrying papers. Now, that is one busy employee! Give them a raise.”
And that’s the problem. In some situations, for a researcher for example, the indicator of productivity is clear because it’s calculated by the number of published papers. A content creator will be evaluated by the number of his posts; but in most corporate jobs, we don’t have these metrics.
“In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.”
Deep work is undervalued
“We live in an era where anything Internet related is understood by default to be innovative and necessary. Depth-destroying behaviors such as immediate email responses and an active social media presence are lauded, while avoidance of these trends generates suspicion”
“Deep work should be a priority in today’s business climate. But it’s not.”
Chapter Three – Deep Work Is Meaningful
“A deep life is a good life, any way you look at it.”
There is a connection between deep work and a good life. In Deep work, Cal Newport shares Ric Furrer’s story. Ric is a blacksmith and he specializes in ancient and medieval metalworking practices. If his work seems brutish, we can feel Ric Furrer’s passion for what he’s doing. Ric has found full meaning in his profession.
“Ric Furrer is a master craftsman whose work requires him to spend most of his day in a state of depth—even a small slip in concentration can ruin dozens of hours of effort. He’s also someone who clearly finds great meaning in his profession.”
The author argues that by embracing depth over shallowness, you can tap the same veins of meaning that drive craftsmen like Ric Furrer.
A Neurological argument for depth
As our brain is a survival mechanism, it always focuses on the negative rather than the positive.
As the author highlights “When you lose focus, your mind tends to fix on what could be wrong with your life instead of what’s right.” A workday driven by the shallow, from a neurological perspective, is likely to be a draining and upsetting day, even if most of the shallow things that capture your attention seem harmless or fun.”
“To increase the time you spend in a state of depth is to leverage the complex machinery of the human brain in a way that for several different neurological reasons maximizes the meaning and satisfaction you’ll associate with your working life.”
A Psychological Argument for Depth
The feeling of going deep in itself is rewarding. The author describes a state where you’re in the zone. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, one of the world’s best-known psychologists, calls this mental state flow.
In their research, Mihaly discovered that “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.”
They also discovered that “When measured empirically, people were happier at work and less happy relaxing than they suspected […] the more such flow experiences that occur in a given week, the higher the subject’s life satisfaction. Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging.”
There is then a great connection between deep work and flow because the first induces the second: “Deep work is an activity well suited to generate a flow state”.
To put it simply, the more you practice deep work, the more likely you’ll experience flow state and the happier and more satisfied of your life you’ll become.
All of the previous chapters argued how important deep work was. They answered the questions “why?” “Why is deep work important?”. Now comes the best parts, “how?” , what are the rules, the practical methods and tips that will help you create a deep work environment?
DEEP WORK BY CAL NEWPORT: PART 2: The Rules
Rule #1: Work Deeply
Decide on Your Depth Philosophy
There are many different ways to integrate deep work into your schedule, and it’s therefore worth taking the time to find an approach that makes sense for you.
The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling “which consists of maximizing deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations (some adepts of this philosophy would for example no longer have an email address). They completely eliminate distraction and shallowness from their professional lives.”
The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling: “This philosophy asks that you divide your time; dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else. During the deep time, the bimodal worker will act monastically—seeking intense and uninterrupted concentration. During the shallow time, such focus is not prioritized.”
The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling: “This philosophy argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit.“
The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling: You switch into deep work any time you have free time.
Concretely, how can we create a work environment designed “to help us extract as much value as possible from our brains?“
“The key to developing a deep work habit is to move beyond good intentions and add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower necessary to transition into and maintain a state of unbroken concentration”
The goal here is to create a system that will encourage deep work. You’ll need to create rituals and habits that will minimize the friction when you transition to deep work. Simply waiting for an inspiration rarely works and you won’t produce at an elite level otherwise.
It’s better to define and stick to where you’ll work and for how long, how’ll you work once you start to work (for example cut the internet), and how you’ll support your work (for example have light breakfast, setting a rewarding system to encourage the behavior etc.)
Make Grand Gestures
“The concept is simple: By leveraging a radical change to your normal environment, coupled perhaps with a significant investment of effort or money, all dedicated toward supporting a deep work task, you increase the perceived importance of the task. This boost in importance reduces your mind’s instinct to procrastinate and delivers an injection of motivation and energy.”
Renting a coworking space for example is a grand gesture because you invest money in it. You also change your environment and this will motivate you to go into a deep work mode.
Don’t Work Alone
While open space offices encourage creativity, they can also distract us from deep work. Collaboration is crucial as you’ll benefit from these exchanges in terms of ideas, creativity and efficiency. But when it’s time to go into deep work mode, it’s better to find an appropriate space.
“We can, therefore, still dismiss the depth-destroying open office concept without dismissing the innovation-producing theory of serendipitous creativity. The key is to maintain both in a hub-and-spoke-style arrangement: Expose yourself to ideas in hubs on a regular basis, but maintain a spoke in which to work deeply on what you encounter.”
Execute Like a Business
Once a company has defined a strategy, they often adopt what Cal Newport calls “the 4 disciplines of Execution” abbreviated 4DX. Those are four disciplines that help companies successfully implement high-level strategies.
Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important: you’ll need to aim at a small number of “wildly important goals”, ambitious goals that will stretch and challenge you in some way.
Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures: the lead measures are the key performance indicators that will assess your progress.
Discipline #3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard: A scoreboard motivates you as you can track your progress
Discipline #4: Create a Cadence of Accountability: confronting one’s scoreboard with other team members for example. We can also have an accountability partner or a mentor.
In The power of full engagement by Jim Loehr, we saw how important it was to alternate between periodic full engagement and strategically chosen disengagement.
To perform at our best, we’ll need to have a batch of deep work alongside with a strategic disengagement time; which Cal Newport calls here “being lazy”.
There are four reasons that explain why a shutdown is profitable to your ability to produce valuable output.
Reason #1: Downtime aids insights
Reason #2: Downtime helps recharge the energy needed to work deeply
Reason #3: The work that evening downtime replaces is usually not that important
It’s important then to have a general strategy that will help you maintain a strict endpoint to your workday.
“Decades of work from multiple different subfields within psychology all point toward the conclusion that regularly resting your brain improves the quality of your deep work.”
Rule #2: Embrace Boredom
“The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained.”
Concentration doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t come out of a single practice but rather from a commitment to train this ability every day.
“Once your brain has become accustomed to on-demand distraction, […] it’s hard to shake the addiction even when you want to concentrate. “
In Deep work, Cal Newport presents different strategies that will first help you improve your ability to concentrate intensely; second, to overcome your desire for distraction.
Don’t take breaks from distraction. Instead take breaks from focus
“Schedule in advance when you’ll use the Internet, and then avoid it altogether outside these times.”
“Many assume that they can switch between a state of distraction and one of concentration as needed, but as I just argued, this assumption is optimistic: Once you’re wired for distraction, you crave it.”
“If you eat healthy just one day a week, you’re unlikely to lose weight, as the majority of your time is still spent gorging. Similarly, if you spend just one day a week resisting distraction, you’re unlikely to diminish your brain’s craving for these stimuli, as most of your time is still spent giving in to it.”
Work like Teddy Roosevelt
Identify a big task that requires deep work. Roughly estimate how long this task will take then “give yourself a hard deadline that drastically reduces this time”. If possible, get an accountability partner or commit publicly to the deadline.
As we work with a constraint, the positive stress will motivate you to work intensely.
“The goal of productive meditation is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally—walking, jogging, driving, showering—and focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem.”
Rule #3: Quit Social Media
The author highlights “two important points about our culture’s current relationship with social networks”. The first is that we acknowledge how distracting they are, they reduce our ability to concentrate. The second is our impotence in the face of social media’s trap.
While some people would adopt a radical approach by definitely leaving social media; the author recognizes the benefits and seeks a third alternative.
To Cal Newport, we should accept that these tools are not inherently evil, even vital to our success and happiness. At the same time, we have to objectively evaluate the downsides and limit our access to these tools.
Avoid the any-benefit approach to network tool selection
Most network tools are not indispensable, but oftentimes, we believe they are. The problem is that we ignore all the negatives that come along with the tools in question. Understand that “these services are engineered to be addictive —robbing time and attention from activities that more directly support your professional and personal goals”
Yet, “network tools are not exceptional; they’re tools, no different from a blacksmith’s hammer or an artist’s brush, used by skilled laborers to do their jobs better”
The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection
If there’s something that needs to be highlighted, it’s that all network tools weren’t created equal. There will be worse, better or best tools depending on our goals. Cal suggests identifying “the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.”
Apply the Law of the Vital Few to Your Internet Habits
What are the 20% network tools that will produce 80% of the results you’re seeking? Then ignore the rest.
Quit Social Media
To help you identify which network tool you’ll have to quit, the author suggests this little exercise.
– Ban yourself from using all of your social media for thirty days (do not deactivate them, don’t tell anyone either: “just stop using them, cold turkey”)
– After thirty days, ask yourself these two questions: “Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service?” and “Did people care that I wasn’t using this service?”
“If your answer is “no” to both questions, quit the service permanently. If your answer was a clear “yes,” then return to using the service.”
Don’t use the internet to entertain yourself
Don’t go on autopilot mode by letting your mind wander; figure out in advance the productive activities that will be beneficial to you.
The key is to make deliberate use of your time outside work for example by choosing to read books, spending quality time with one’s family etc.
“If you want to eliminate the addictive pull of entertainment sites on your time and attention, give your brain a quality alternative.”
Rule #4: Drain the Shallows
“Treat shallow work with suspicion because its damage is often vastly underestimated and its importance vastly overestimated.”
Schedule every minute of your day
Most of the time, it’s easy for us to go onto autopilot mode. To fight this tendency, Cal Newport suggests assigning blocks of time to focus on productive activities.
As described in “One thing” by Gary Keller, “Time blocking is a very results-oriented way of viewing and using time. It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done. Alexander Graham Bell said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Time blocking harnesses your energy and centers it on your most important work. It’s productivity’s greatest power tool.”
To do this, take a notebook or a calendar and divide your workday into blocks of time. Gary Keller for example recommends time blocking for your time off, for your deep work (which he calls your one thing) and for your planning time.
Quantify the depth of every activity
In this way, you’ll easily track down your shallow and unproductive activities. You can even use software tools like Rescue Time which quantify how much time you spent on productive tasks and on unproductive ones.
Finish your work by five thirty
The idea is to adopt a fixed-schedule productivity workday. You’ll have to “fix a firm goal of not working past a certain time, then work backward to find productivity strategies that allow you to satisfy this declaration.”
Become hard to reach
When people see that you easily respond to an email, they will send you even more emails. Conversely, if they think you’re that one person who never replies, they will adjust their expectations. The key here is to become hard to reach so that we can focus on our most important tasks.
Tip #1: Make people who send you email do more work: For example by hiring individuals who will filter your email.
Tip #2: Don’t respond: Some emails don’t really deserve a reply. As Cal Newport highlights, academics have a default behavior when they receive an email: they do not respond. It’s up to the sender to make the efforts to prove that a reply is worthwhile.
Deep work by Cal Newport: Conclusion
The notion of “Deep work” is not new as time management gurus have been advocating it, for example in Peter Drucker’s book “The Effective executive” where he talks about working in long, uninterrupted stretches of time that push you to your limits.
We think that being connected 24/7 is normal but we tend to forget how such behavior negatively impacts our productivity.
While Newport considers “deep work” as a fundamental skill in the changing economy, the author also highlights how our culture underestimates its importance. We saw that there are two core abilities for thriving in the New Economy:
- The ability to quickly master hard things.
- The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.
At the end of the book “Deep work” Cal Newport takes Bill Gates’ example as he is famous for having started a billion-dollar industry. Bill Gates however is less known for his “preternatural deep work ability”.
Gates likes to work with great intensity and length because deep work is “way more powerful than most people understand”.
As Winifred Gallagher said “I’ll live the focused life, because it’s the best kind there is.”