Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep Work by Cal Newport was a good read. The main thesis is to not get distracted and have distraction free zones to produce your best work. So switch off social media, take time for solitude and that’s when the best work shows up. The author defines deep work as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” There are also references to Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis' and their absence from Twitter as evidence that social media usage is unnecessary for writers though this may not be applicable to everyone.
The first chapter talks about why Deep Work is valuable. It requires two core abilities which will help you thrive in the new economy. They are the ability to master hard things and the ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed. There is also a discussion on deliberate practice.
The second chapter says that Deep Work is rare. This is because with the advent of so many distractions there are very few people who can focus on one thing at a time but that is needed to win big. There is a discussion on the principle of least resistance which says that in a business setting without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line most people will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.
The third chapter says that Deep Work is meaningful. Deep work facilitates flow and makes you feel you are doing great work.
Part 2 of the book is about the rules of Deep Work. The first rule is to work deeply. The advice is to build rituals and have a schedule to stick to. An effective ritual must consist of where you will work and how long, how you will work once you start the work, how you will support your work. There are four disciplines discussed here
1.      Focus on the Wildly Important – You should develop laser like focus to determine only what is deeply important to you and your business.
2.   Act on lead measures – Lag measures describes the thing that you are trying to improve. Lead measures measure the new behaviors that will drive success on the lag measures.
3.   Keep a compelling scorecard – Measure how you are making progress towards your wildly important goal.
4.   Create a cadence of accountability – Have frequent meetings to determine progress and ensure there is accountability.
The second rule is to embrace boredom. The advice is not to take breaks from distraction instead take breaks from focus. The third rule is simple is to quit social media. While I wouldn’t go that far what works for me is every time I log into Facebook I log out after I am done. This ensures I don’t check often and also I don’t have the apps in my mobile. So I have to go to the browser to log in. The fourth and final rule is to drain the shallows.
The whole book can be summarized in that the ability to focus without distraction is the key to your success.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.


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