Read. This. Book.
Only if you want to get a good understanding of what it takes to actually achieve things that matter, and to achieve things that are unique to your own abilities.
First of all, I loved this book. It spoke to me intuitively and discussed some really interesting research, case studies and theories that gave substance to some concepts that I already felt like I was aware of. Like getting permission to do things a certain way that you’d always kind of done them.
What is deep work?
Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capacities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
Deep work is about taking things to a level of concentration and efficacy that is near impossible to achieve without a conscious effort to do. Removing the distractions, not having 37 tabs open on your browser, sitting in an open plan office, having your phone going off next to you while thinking about what to make for lunch.
There is a lot of gold in this book, so if you are one of the people that wonders how some high achievers seemingly get 10 times more done that other people, even though we all have the same number of hours in the day, then check this one out.
The secret, along with most secrets, is consistency, dedication, focus, direction and lack of distraction. It’s a boring secret, but it is the secret to success in virtually every endeavour, anyone looking for a ‘quick fix’ might need to give this a miss, although by applying these principles you will no doubt reduce the amount of time it takes you to achieve your goals as you head there on a straight line, not taking distraction detours along the way.
Deep work output also differs from regular work, the application of deep work principles allows you to “Learn hard things” and Produce work at an elite level”. The output is different, the ability to create groundbreaking, world changing work is absolutely enhanced by the application of deep work principles. Allowing better work to be produced in a shorter amount of time.
Rather than focus on busyness Newport wants us to focus on output, removing distractions as they not only inhibit our ability to complete the task at hand, but they inhibit our ability to regularly get into a deep state of concentration. There are multiple strategies in the book to combat these issues. Planning deep work/no distraction time, blocking out time where you do not use the internet, scheduling your days around your output. These things allow us to do better, more meaningful work and achieve more. Ironically, it also can allow for more free time as the deep work times are so productive that one can take more completely free time rather than try and be ‘busy’ 24/7.
I recommend reading this one, so I won’t go through the whole book, it is written with beautiful economy and is an easy read. Practical explanations and great, useful strategies make the whole read worthwhile and it doesn’t take long. My favourite anecdote in it however is the discussion of what it means to actually be an expert in a field. Noting that SQL programming (a form of database management programming) is highly valuable but highly complicated. It requires a deep level of understanding, solid analytical skills and a lot of concentration to execute well. That in schools, the use of iPads to do homework and submitting projects via YouTube has as much relevance to programming/analytical computing value as playing with hot wheels cars has to being a race car driver.
We need to teach the principles of concentration, expertise, deep analytical thought if we want to improve the opportunities of future generations to solve complex problems, because in the real world, that kind of focus and output is actually highly valuable. Distraction doesn’t just limit output at the time of distraction, it leads to further difficulties with actually concentrating on anything at all. Practice deep work and get better at life.
Once again, I strongly recommend this book. Read it, apply it, be better and as always, Just Be Nice.
For more on Author Cal Newport you can check out his blog HERE
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports