Deep Work – Cal Newport

Deep Work by Cal Newport is an amazing book that will certainly change my life.  The process is going, and I’m excited about where it will take me. It’s a book that I can’t really criticize because it’s so good

As something of a workaholic, I’ve had spurts where additional hours not only no longer produce value, but undo work I’ve done.  A case in point is the current state of the Simplifilm website.   I have done, undone, and redone it dozens of times and I’m not substantively closer to being OK. It’s consumed hours and yielded little extra benefit.

That’s because I’ve worked while distracted, while unfocused, and this means that the work suffers.  A little focus – at the expense of other things – is the way to go.

But Deep Work truly is at the expense of other things. If we are to make an amazing contribution we have to “drain the shallows.”

The book is divided into two parts: one “the case for Deep Work,” and two “How to Work Deeply (which also spends about half its time reinforcing the case for Deep Work).

The first part is for motivation. We learn why this matters, we learn how peer-reviewed academic journals have treated topics like concentration, performance and mental throughput.  (Beginners can practice a musical instrument for about an hour a day. Masters can rarely go past 4 hours.)

The main gist is that Deep Work is rare.

In Part II, we’re given more specifics. We’re given definitions and exhortations.

-work deeply (create habits that support it)

-quit social media

-drain the shallows

-have a quitting time (so you can go back)

-embrace boredom (which means that you can’t scratch the itch all the time to do things.

This book has started a curriculum for me of things that I’ve meant to catch up on.  I finished Scott Adam’s new book : How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. That book compliments this one. In that it provides an example/case study of a person who has optimized his life to work deeply.

The case for deep work is compelling. It’s our chance to in fact make a contribution that lasts longer than we do. It’s done through deep work, not merely getting better at “cranking widgets,” which has diminishing returns.

I’ve optimized my life to be able to be more productive. I’m working from home again, and I’ve got my things about me.  It’s time to make a big contribution.


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Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is writing this blog. He's a startup veteran, having built a company called Simplifilm. This blog is about things that he's starting to - but may not actually - think yet. It publishes irregularly.

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