“Deep Work: 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.”
“Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”
In short, because it maximizes the amount of productivity you can squeeze out of a certain amount of time.
And the reason for that is quite simple. Deep work refers to single-tasking, without distractions, in a state of intense focus, for extended periods of time.
When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow – a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task. This residue gets especially thick if your work on Task A was unbounded and of low intensity before you switched, but even if you finish Task A before moving on, your attention remains divided for a while.
If a newbie starts working deeply, he will not be working as deeply and for as long a time period as someone who’s been doing deep work for many months or years.
Don’t expect to be able to work deeply for hours on end in the beginning. You might only have the concentration and energy to do it for an hour or two a day. But slowly, slowly, as you keep honing in on the skill, you’ll be able to work deeply and produce massive amounts of work and reap all the benefits of deep work.
The hard part isn’t knowing that deep work is valuable. The hard part is actually doing it. Why? Because we’re addicted to distractions. We are suckers for multitasking.
The second part of the book is all about helping us deploy more deep work in our lives. To do that, Newport has come up with the following 4 rules:
Working deeply, due to its effortful nature, is the very thing most of us don’t want to do. Add to this an environment and culture that makes deep work difficult, and a finite amount of willpower that gets depleted as we use it, and you have a recipe for shallow work. To make deep work a staple in our day-to-day lives, we need to create rituals and routines that make things easier and more automatic for us.
Intense concentration is a skill that must be trained. Much like athletes who must take care of their bodies outside of their training sessions, you’ll need to take care of your concentration outside of your deep work sessions. If, throughout your day-to-day life, you give in to distractions at the slightest hint of boredom, you’ll struggle to develop the type of intense concentration necessary for deep work.
Social media is the prime example for shallow living. As Cal points out, just because it offers a little benefit, doesn’t mean it’s worth the time we give it. You simply can’t work deeply if you feel the need to hop on social media every couple of minutes. Due to its addictive nature, social media and deep living don’t go well together.
The Shallows is the name of a book written on the effects of the Internet on our brains and lives. Shallow work, if you recall, refers to answering emails, making phone calls, attending to meetings, and other inevitable but ultimately low-value tasks. If you’re serious about working deeply, you need to drain the Shallows – you need to schedule time for deep work and spend as little time on shallow work as possible. Don’t let shallow work get in the way of deep work.
Explore the World’s
Take Your Ideas
Just press play and we take care of the words.
No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.
2 Million Stashers
Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.
Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.
This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!
Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.
Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.
Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.
I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!
Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.
Read & Learn
Access to 200,000+ ideas
Access to the mobile app
Unlimited idea saving & library
Unlimited listening to ideas
Downloading & offline access
Supercharge your mind with one idea per day
Enter your email and spend 1 minute every day to learn something new.
I agree to receive email updates