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Deep Work

Deep Work

by Cal Newport

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Deep Work And Shallow Work

Deep Work And Shallow Work
  • Deep work means those professional tasks that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit done in concentration mode (no distractions)
  • Shallow work relates to the tasks that do not require much cognitive work (logistical-style tasks) performed while distracted most of the time. They don't bring much new value in the world and are easy to duplicate.

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The New Law of Productivity

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)

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The Principle of Least Resistance In Business

Without explicit feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward actions that are easiest in the moment.

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Busyness Is Not An Indicator Of Productivity

Knowledge workers usually lack explicit indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable at work, so they turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing multiple tasks in a visible manner.

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The 4 Deep Work Philosophies

  • Monastic: isolate yourself for long periods of time without distractions; no shallow work allowed
  • Bimodal: reserve a few consecutive days when you will be working like a monastic (you need at least one day a week)
  • Rhythmic: take 3-4 hours every day to perform deep work on your project
  • Journalistic: alternate your day between deep and shallow work as it fits your blocks of time (not recommended to try out first).

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Setting Up A Deep Work Routine

In order to have a deep work routine, you have to decide the following:

  • Where you’ll work and for how long.
  • How you’ll work once you start to work.
  • How you’ll support your work.

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Why Downtime Is Crucial

  • Downtime aids insights
  • It helps recharge the energy needed to work deeply
  • The work that evening downtime replaces is usually not that important

It's important to have a shutdown ritual, to ensure that every incomplete activity has been reviewed and that for each you have confirmed that either you have a plan you will follow for its completion, or it’s wirrten down and saved in a place where it will be revisited.

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Social Media Hinders Our Ability To Focus

  • Sending too much time on Social Media breaks up our time and reduces our ability to concentrate.
  • Social Media take away time you could be spending on higher-impact activities. It’s a zero-sum game.
  • If you want to eliminate the addictive pull of entertainment sites on your time and attention, give your brain a quality alternative.

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The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection

Identify the key elements that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life.

Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Cal Newport on better managing time

  • To-Do lists are useless. Schedule everything.
  • Assume you’re going home at 5:30, then plan your day backwards.
  • ...

Feelings are summary judgments

Most of the time we don’t second guess them, and even if we do, they often end up overwhelming us. 

Negative feelings are very powerful and harder to question: we identify with them effo...

Misunderstanding resilience

Resilience is most times associated with being tough. But that’s not gonna get you very far with feelings. Don't try to be invulnerable. Aim for flexibility instead.

You cannot avoid or resist all pain in life. But you can learn to live with your discomfort better.

"Solving" emotions

We have trouble dealing with feelings because the usual problem-solving rules don't really apply to them.

When faced with a problem, we can always avoid it or deny it. But attempting to resist negative feelings won’t work. Any attempt at suppression only amplifies them. We must go from avoidance to acceptance.

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