Book: Deep Work
Author: Cal Newport
Deep work is the engagement in professional or intellectual activities with no distraction or disruption to the extent that this engrossment in the tasks at hand intensifies your cognitive abilities to produce quality work.
What is the theme of the book?
We live in an era full of distractions. We do not focus anymore, and our 24 hours pass by with no real value-added in any process we participate in. And when we retire to bed at night, we think we were doing well as we were so much busy, but our usage of busyness as a proxy to productivity has diluted our ability to create or add value.
What are the key messages in the book?
· We live in rapidly changing economics, which necessitates that we continuously garner skills to stand out and multiply our skills’ portfolio and the bank account. The only way to harness those skills is through deep work.
· Deep work enables us to finish tasks and learn formidable talents fast. If we struggle to learn a skill by spending, say, one hour a day, and this hour is interrupted by taking intermittent breaks, browsing the Web, checking Twitter, or Instagram’s feeds, we will take a long time to learn that skill. Instead, we can set ourselves in an environment for, say, two hours a day, free from any distractions; we will see that we got that skill developed and sharpened in a short period.
· Building on the point above, once we manage to have focused on learning, we will produce quality work at an elite level. For instance, if you are a university doctor, you will publish more research papers in select Journals than your fellow professors, publish more books if you are a book author, etc.
· Deep work is rare. But why is it rare? It is unusual because there is no time to focus in the workplace since the culture of connectivity has been perpetuated in the corporate world as an epitome of teamwork and leadership. It is inherently difficult to maintain our focus in an open-plan workplace, an exuberant number of meetings and committees, colleagues conversing next to us, etc.
· From neuroscience and psychological perspective, there is a connection between concentration and happiness. When we concentrate, we produce meaningful results. Furthermore, if we train our mind to focus and commit to deep work, we tend to spend so little time and energy on frivolous matters and conflicts, which could, in turn, lead to our happiness and emotional intelligence.
· Philosophically, deep work motivated by concentration and focus enables the worker to extract meaning from his/her craftsmanship. This meaning will pave the way for the discovery of the importance of life.
What are the author’s recommendations for deep work?
1) Work intensely: strive to minimize all sort of distraction
2) Ritualize: when you allocate time for deep work, apply the timing, space, and event your outfit religiously.
3) Do not take a break from distractions; take a break from focus
5) Quit social media
6) Enhance your memory. Read books and attend training for memory enhancement.
7) Apply the 20/80 rule to your timing of deep work
8) Do not use the internet for entertainment
9) Schedule every minute of your life
10) Quantify your work and its depth
11) Finish your job by 530pm
The book is easy to read and well structured. The key messages are exciting and illuminating. I highly recommend this book.