Deep Work

by:  Cal Newport

I think if many of us are honest with ourselves, we likely spend far more time on shallow work than deep work. Largely because shallow work gives us a semblance of accomplishment. Completing small tasks, moving bits of information around, seems like we’re getting things done. “Busyness as a proxy for productivity.” But Newport argues, and provides examples, showing that deep work does not come from busyness, but from disconnecting and concentration. And while deep work is diminishing in much of the modern workplace, the need for it is greater than ever. He writes:

“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 second half of the book constitutes skills, routines, and behaviors you can utilize to develop the ability to perform deep work. Newport groups these into four rules. Newport suggests a variety of tactics meant to slice out distractions and “wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capacity.”

Newport’s suggestions are concrete. Although not all applicable to me, they made me think about how I can control distractions in my life, make time for what I value, and live out what I learned in another book on this shelf – The Power of Full Engagement.