The short answer is YES; Cal Newport’s Deep Work book is worth reading repeatedly. Why? With automation and outsourcing taking over, we need to develop new skills and take our performance to the next level. And the key to success in this brave new world is deep work.
Newport’s new book guides us on mastering this essential skill. We can achieve fast, powerful learning and performance by focusing our minds intensely in a distraction-free environment. It’s like unlocking a whole new level of productivity and creativity.
Also, deep work is more than just another task. If you really commit to deep work, it can change how you do other things. You can work faster, spend more time with your family, and not waste time switching between tasks. Deep work doesn’t stop you from having a full life; it helps you have a better one.
So, if you feel your attention is being pulled in a million different directions and your productivity is suffering, it’s time to dive into the world of deep work.
You can also read Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism summary to complement this reading.
Table of Contents
Is Deep Work Real?
Deep work is not only real but also one of the most effective productivity techniques. Cal Newport, a famous author and computer science professor at Georgetown University, first introduced the idea of “deep work” in a 2012 blog post.
His 2016 best-selling book expanded on the concept. According to Newport, “deep work” entails:
- Focus on a task and give it your all to create something valuable and challenging. This type of work helps you grow as an individual and can’t be easily replicated.
- It is different from what you usually do with your day. In fact, if you don’t watch how you’re utilizing your time, it can easily slip away on activities that Cal Newport calls “shallow work.”
- Tasks that don’t require a lot of thought, like paperwork or admin stuff, that you often do while not giving it your full attention. Such endeavors offer no novel value to society and are simple to replicate.
- Nowadays and in the future, we must do more than just the bare minimum to excel. With all the information, we must stay on top of it and learn quickly to produce outstanding work.
- Deep work can help you achieve great things. Newport explains that it’s becoming rarer and economically more valuable. Those who dedicate their efforts to honing this skill will be successful.
How Many Hours Of Deep Work Per Day?
Newport suggests four hours is the maximum deep work per day. After all, our ability for deep work is finite, and it’s virtually impossible to do it daily. After that, our focus and attention span starts to dwindle. So make sure to set aside some downtime in the evenings and recharge – that way, you’ll be ready for the next day’s deep work session.
What Are The 4 Types of Deep Work?
Cal Newport outlines the importance of using different types of deep work – monastic, bimodal, rhythmic, and journalistic schedules. Even if you’re convinced of deep work’s benefits, you might need to learn how to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Considering the pros and cons, examine the differences between these four schools of thought:
- The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work. This is the most committed way to do deep work, meaning you focus on one high-level goal for your entire workday. Although it could bring great rewards, it’s not really practical for people who have to do different tasks in their job. Plus, it might mean you have to say ‘NO’ to any new opportunities that come your way.
- The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work. This type lets you balance your work and other things you value doing. It’s like being able to arrange your year, months, and weeks however you like, so you can make sure you get the deep work done while still having room for other stuff.
- The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work. This is for those with a consistent daily schedule. You can plan several hours daily for your deep work and use the extra time for other tasks. This way, you can get into a daily routine and make your work days more efficient.
- The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work. This might be a good fit if you’re always on the go. This approach requires you to pay close attention to your daily routine and pick up on when you can squeeze in some deep work, even if it’s just for a half hour or 2. But beware – this strategy is definitely not for newbies. You really need to have a good handle on deep work for it to be successful.
Choose a philosophy about deep work that works for you and your lifestyle. Feel free to mix things up and try different approaches until you find one that sticks.
What Are The 4 Rules of Deep Work?
To fully embrace the power of deep work, there are four fundamental rules that you need to follow. Adhering to these rules can eliminate distractions and maximize your concentration, ultimately achieving more in less time.
If you want to be more productive, make deep work a habit. This means eliminating distractions and concentrating on one thing at a time. Some distractions come from your own basic needs, like hunger or wanting to have sex. Others come from technology or social media, like checking your email or watching TV.
To avoid these distractions, you can create a deep work routine. This means taking a break from the world, shutting off email, and focusing entirely on your work. You can use any of the four types of deep work outlined above.
Once you figure out the best type of deep work that works for you, make it a habit by doing it regularly. Decide where you want to work and for how long you will focus. Plan how you will support your focus. You may need to eat first or go for a walk.
Think about how you will stay focused while working and how you will measure your progress. For example, you could ban yourself from using the internet until you finish your work or track how many words you write.
Sometimes it can be hard to pay attention to one thing for a long time because many other things, like phones or TV, can distract us. But when we need to do something that requires all our attention, we need to focus and not let distractions bother us.
Sometimes it can be boring to focus on one thing for a long time, but if we keep doing it, it will become a good habit and help us get things done faster and better.
Quit Social Media
Social media can be a great way to stay entertained and connected with others. However, it’s important to remember that there are also some downsides to using social media. Before using any social media tool, consider how it will impact your personal and professional life.
Consider whether it will bring you more benefits than drawbacks. If it does, then go ahead and use it. But if the negatives outweigh the positives, finding a different way to spend your time may be best. Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance!
Drain Shallow Work
Shallow work can take up valuable time and prevent us from doing crucial deep work. Deep work is tricky because it requires a lot of focus and energy. People usually only do about four hours of deep work daily, but they can work up to that level by starting in just an hour. This means we prioritize deep work and build our ability to do it effectively.
Many people think they work a lot and don’t watch much TV, but they might be wrong. Plan every minute of your day to ensure you use your time well. Do similar things at the same time. When you start using this schedule, you might estimate the time things take poorly and get interrupted. If that happens, make a new schedule.
Over time, you’ll get better at guessing how long things take. Plan extra time after an activity, so you can keep doing it if you need to or start something new if you finish early. Remember to also leave time for ideas that come up unexpectedly. It’s not about being too strict with your schedule but about using your time in a way that makes sense.
Is Time Off Good For Productivity?
The deep work technique isn’t just about what you do during work hours – it’s also essential to keep your off-hours activities in mind. Newport makes an excellent case for why taking breaks and giving your brain some rest is critical to make the most out of your deep work.
Regular time off is essential to ensure you can do your best work. Here’s why:
- Downtime boosts your brainpower. Have you ever experienced total frustration with a project, only to find the perfect answer when you revisit it the next day? Taking a break gives your brain the rest it needs to push through challenging activities with more clarity. As Newport puts it, “allowing yourself to take a break provides your subconscious with the necessary processing time to figure out the most complicated work problems.”
- Downtime fuels your ability to practice deep work. To regain focus, you must take a break from essential tasks. Instead, spend time with your loved ones, try a new recipe, or enjoy a walk in nature. Resist the urge to check emails or be on group chats – it won’t give your mind the proper rest it needs.