Deep Work Review
I recently finished reading “Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World”, by Cal Newport. This is an interesting book. Good for sure, and perhaps life-changing if you need and can integrate it’s advice.
Now the basic idea of deep work wasn’t new to me, as it’s been floating around the interwebz (and possibly many other places) since forever. So a couple of years at least. But just so it’s clear, this is basically a kind of distraction free work, happening regularly and for hours at a time, and which is the most conductive to achieving meaningful progress on hard problems. Implicitly this is a kind of work a knowledge or creative worker would need to do. But crucially, and this is a point in the book repeated often, working at that level is extremely rare in the modern world, thanks to the nature of the modern workplace - distraction heavy and context switch focused.
The main ideas of the first part of the book are that deep work is important and rare and provides an advantage to the person dedicated to it. There’s a part dedicated to how deep work helps you lead a meaningful life - in so much as you consider doing something you like - your profession - at the best of your ability as something worth striving for, then trying to do deep work will be a good thing overall.
The second part of the book focused on ways to achieve deep work. There’s a rundown of the approaches to deep work. This was good to read and understand, cause not everybody can live the life of an academic like the author does. And indeed, there’s even more extreme versions of deep work than what the author does - see Knuth’s almost total isolation from external disturbances. The heavy hitter is his recommendation to cut out social media almost completely. This was also something that hit very close to home, cause I think I’m a somewhat heavier used of this than I’d like and than I used to be. The strategy was also good - don’t make it zero, just put social media in a very strict time slot of your day and don’t allow it to escape there. Other good tips are focusing on the important work and keeping shallow work to a minimum. Again, boxing them in their own time is a must.
As I said, this was a good book with loads of good advice. But most of it needs to be slowly incorporated rather than being just done. Perhaps I’ll also keep track of what I try to do with this. So far, renouncing social media has been good - uninstalling facebook, Instagram and Quora was super easy and did buy me some extra focus. Things blowing up at work didn’t help with the other stuff however.