Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
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.
About Cal Newport
I’m a computer science professor at Georgetown University. In addition to my academic research, I write about the intersection of digital technology and culture. I’m particularly interested in our struggle to deploy these tools in ways that support instead of subvert the things we care about in both our personal and professional lives.
In my academic career, I specialize in the theory of distributed systems, which means I spend more time proving theorems than compiling code. To date, I’ve published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers that have been cited more than 3,500 times.
I started blogging at calnewport.com soon after the publication of my second book, and have been posting here regularly ever since. The blog is named “Study Hacks” because when I started it I was primarily writing advice for students. I famously, however, have never had a social media account (it turns out that this is allowed).
I currently live with my wife and three sons in Takoma Park, Maryland, in a cool old Victorian house that has a study with a fireplace and a custom-built library table where I do my deep work.
Note: This video wasn't made by either Cal Newport or us at VitaKea, however it is a really nice and quick discussion on the book by the folk at Board Studios.
Praise for "Deep Work"
“As a presence on the page, Newport is exceptional in the realm of self-help authors.”
—New York Times Book Review
“DEEP WORK accomplishes two considerable tasks: One is putting out a wealth of concrete practices for the ambitious, without relying on gauzy clichés. The second is that Mr. Newport resists the corporate groupthink of constant connectivity without seeming like a curmudgeon.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Deep work is the killer app of the knowledge economy: it is only by concentrating intensely that you can master a difficult discipline or solve a demanding problem.”
“What emerges most powerfully is the sense that it’s wrong to think of deep work as one more thing you’ve got to try to cram into your schedule. Truly committing to it, Newport suggests, transforms the rest of your time – so you’ll crank through shallow work faster, be more present in your home life, and eliminate time wasted switching between tasks. Depth, in short, isn’t at odds with a full life – it facilitates it. I’m persuaded.”
—Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian
A Quick KeaLad Commentary on Deep Work
Quite simply, if you can read, I recommend this book to you... and it doesn't even talk about supplements! But I very much believe establishing practices for Deep Work will out-value any other biohacks or supplements when it comes to getting done what you actually want done. That big project that you can't seem to finish. Art. Writing. Even just thinking through a line of thought.
All the biology optimising tricks in the world is useless if that hard earned capacity is directed towards the wrong things. Like a Ferrari which has thousands of dollars of servicing every year, and the very best performance fuel. Only to drive at walking pace in bumper to bumper traffic. Implementing Deep Work practices will help you take your own hard earned performance engine to the open road to run free and at optimal potential. And of course, combining Deep Work strategies with things like careful diet, exercise and supplementation... there you have a recipe for long and deep sessions of mental flow that is both good fun, incredibly productive, and anti-burnout.
As far as reading experience goes, it would fit under casual and enjoyable but not a "light read". It's not a technical manual, but it will leave you with plenty to think on that would warrant focused reading... you could even say, deserving of a session of Deep Work session. As someone with an electrical engineering background, I also really appreciate the clean structuring of how Cal presented the book. First half covering the concept of Deep Work and value it provides, second half going over strategies to achieve deep work.
This is one of the books that I read once yearly (so far read twice, will begin again soon!) as a reminder to keep my priorities in order and a check on how I spend my days.
Right now, this is perhaps my highest recommended book in The VitaKea Store. We all want focus, this is a tried and true method and even gets better the more you practice it, as opposed to building a tolerance. Only downside is the need for self control haha!
Your KeaLad, Thomas - VitaKea Caretaker 🌿