Deep Work - Cal Newport

Deep Work - Cal Newport

Discover how to develop more focus on the tasks required in your daily life, being more productive and succeeded in a world full of distractions.

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People face more and more distractions or social pressures that lead them to superficial work. These are tasks that we often perform when we are distracted and that don't need much focus. Cal Newport shows in the book "Deep Work" lessons to improve your focus skills, raising your results!

The more you are on this superficial work, the less you will be involved in activities that require a lot of concentration, Cal Newport calls it deep work.

The author shows the argument for working focused, as it's something valuable that will help you achieve success in life, just as it helped Bill Gates start a billion-dollar industry in less than a semester.

Got interested to get big results with small changes? Don't waste your time and stay with us in this summary!

About the book "Deep Work"

The book "Deep Work", by the author Cal Newport, was published in 2016.

Cal Newport divided this book into two parts. First, he argues that, in almost all professions, keeping a focused job provides enormous benefits, including in personal life. He then presents the four rules to achieve this kind of work and turn it into habits.

It is, as the book cover says, an indispensable guide for those who are seeking success focused on a distracted world.

About the author Cal Newport

The author Cal Newport holds a Ph. D. in Computer Science from MIT and is a professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

He is also the author of the highly successful book "So Good They Can't Ignore You". Cal has a blog too, he always publishes there many interesting content, addressing ideas between culture and technology.

Accessing his website, you will be able to read about all his 6 books and other ideas that he likes to share.

To whom is this book indicated?

This book is suitable for all those who wish to have more focus on demanding cognitive tasks. People who are easily distracted by social media and technologies. It is also suitable for those who want methods that involve increasing productivity.

Main ideas of the book "Deep Work"

  • Multitasking is not good for productivity. By switching from the first being performed to another, our attention is tied to the first task;
  • Focused work is not the only skill that will be "valuable" in new economic thinking. There are people who succeed by being extremely distracted as their work does not require much focus, but this is increasingly rare;
  • A focused job is necessary because it takes your creative skills to the maximum;
  • What you choose to concentrate on exerts a force on your future attitude;
  • When you lose focus, your mind tends to focus on what could be wrong in your life rather than on what is right.

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[Book Summary] Deep Work - Cal Newport

Overview: Focused work

Initially, in the book "Deep Work", Cal provides the idea that in current economic thinking, there are two basic skills that, if you master them, will stand out:

  1. The ability to perform quickly a demand that has a high degree of difficulty;
  2. The ability to produce at a high level, with quality and speed.

But how to develop these skills? For Cal Newport, it will depend on the ability to perform a focused work, that is, work that requires complete focus and total attention and is linked to the way you will optimize your performance.

Unlike focused work, superficial work allows you to work while you are distracted, that is, it doesn't demand much from your mind.

To produce at the highest level of quality and quantity, you need to work for a long time, in which there can't be any distractions, performing only one task.

If you perform one task, without finishing it and begin another, you will not be able to completely disconnect from the first one, and with this your attention level drops, affecting your productivity.

However, there is a paradox. While the economy is demanding focused work, major business trends create barriers to it and lead to shallow work, as they diminish people's ability to focus deeply on work.

This is due to the new technologies developed, the use of e-mails and social media. We are inserted in the "culture of connectivity", which requires us to be connected all the time.

Taking the use of e-mails as an example, in the work environment, it is required to read and respond quickly to e-mails, even outside working hours, implying that you must be constantly connected.

Through researches carried out, it was concluded that this harms the well-being and productivity of employees. But why does it stay the same? Because we believe it's easier, our culture has developed a belief that if a behavior relates to the internet, then it's good.

The focused work is also related to the improvement of well-being. Science writer Winifred Gallagher has a theory that:

"Your world is the result of what you pay attention to, so consider the kind of mental world you build when you devote considerable time to the deep efforts."

If you have a focused job, it will prevent you from concentrating on noticing much smaller and superficial things. You will focus on what is going right, rather than worrying about what might be wrong in your life or other negative things.

Overview: The 4 rules to adopt a focused work

In this part of "Deep Work", Cal Newport provides 4 rules that will help you acquire a focused work:

Work Deeply

The willpower is limited and in order to maximize the amount of work focused, the author provides some strategies. You must choose the one that you identify the most and ritualize your choice to become a habit:

  • Monastic philosophy: Completely detach yourself from the world, eliminate all distractions present;
  • Bimodal philosophy: Alternate long periods of isolation for work with periods of "free time" to focus on other things;
  • Rhythmic Philosophy: Schedule focused works at the same time and daily;
  • Philosophy of journalism: Use some free time from your day and turn it into a focused work.

Accept boredom

We're exposed to distractions all the time. However, in order to be successful in the focused work, it's necessary to resist distractions, that is, to allow yourself to be at ease with boredom. Recognize it as proof of your focus.

Cal Newport provides the technique of "productive meditation", which consists of thinking deeply about your unproductive time.

"The goal of productive meditation is to take advantage of a period when you are physically, but not mentally, busy, walking, running, driving, bathing and focusing your attention on a single specific job."

For this technique to work, it must be recognized that it requires practice. Begin by initiating it at times that would otherwise be unproductive to consider a problem that you need to address without letting your mind change the subject.

Abandon Social Networks

When reviewing social media tools, identify which ones create "success and happiness in your professional and personal life". Use them only if (social networks) offer more benefits or if you lose something for not using them.

Cal Newport advises you to delete social networks for 30 days. After the 30 days of isolation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would those days of isolation have been better if I had been using social media?
  • Did anyone care that I wasn't using them?

The author also emphasizes not to spend your free time browsing social networks.

"If you give your mind something meaningful to do during all waking hours, you will finish the day happier and begin the next one more relaxed than if you let it plunge for hours into semi-conscious and unstructured net navigation."

Eliminate superficiality

"Once you've reached your focused rework limit on a given day, you will experience decreasing rewards if you try to concentrate more."

For the Cal Newport, no more than four hours can be spent in a true depth state, that is, in the focused work. He lists the advantages of scheduling your day, and one of them is that you can determine how much time you spend on surface activities.

Determine how much of your time you spend on "surface work". Most people spend between 30% and 50% of their time on this type of work, which involves, for example: attending meetings and/or answering e-mails.

To determine this time spent, you can schedule everything you do. At the beginning of each working day, create a schedule in blocks of at least 30 minutes. In this schedule, you must define both work tasks and personal tasks.

What do other authors say about it?

In the book "Focus", Daniel Goleman argues that practice only brings you closer to perfection if it's done intelligently, that is, if the person who is practicing uses that time to make adjustments and improvements. How much attention you employ during practice is crucial.

The author Greg Mckeown of the book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less", says that the multi-focus is a problem, using the same reasoning as Cal Newport. Since we can't focus on two things at once. And if you do that, it'll reduce productivity.

Finally, the book "Getting Things Done", by David Allen, shows how to manage your time in a way that increases productivity and reduces stress.

Okay, but how can I apply this to my life?

Start by eliminating distractions and allowing your brain to concentrate on one task at a time.

Respond selectively to emails and keep in mind that you don't need to do it quickly. Also, if after taking the "30-day social networking test" you realize that they didn't make any difference to you or anyone else, eliminate them.

Finally, apply the four strategies presented here to your life, so that you can achieve a focused work.

Did you like this summary of the book "Deep Work"?

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Book 'Deep Work'