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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World is a self-help book written by Cal Newport (author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You) published in early 2016, it is a must-read book.
Let’s began with describing what the title of the book means.
What exactly is deep work? It refers to professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities (brain-based skills) to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
The counter-part of deep work is described as shallow work.
Shallow Work are non-cognitively 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 the start, the author tells us about what deep work is and compares it with shallow work. His main idea is that the ability to perform deep work is becoming infrequent. However, as rare as it gets, its value is increasing.
Moving forward, Cal discusses why deep work is valuable.
Deep work is very valuable as it is the opposite of multi-tasking, which means all your focus is on one thing at a time. It maximizes productivity as you are entirely focused on one task without any distraction and with all of your energy being spent on only one factor.
Deep work is considered rare as shallow work (also known as multi-tasking) is easier so it seems to be supported by many businesses. In simple words, deep work is hard which is not chosen by a lot of people.
After the introduction and thoroughly describing and differentiating between deep and shallow work, the author Cal Newport talks about certain rules of deep work that one has to know about.
Rule#1: Work deeply
We need to make shallow work our enemy and add deep work in our daily lives to make things easier and more natural for us. It may be something that the majority doesn’t want to do as they will always choose the easier method but working deeply is the actual key to success.
Rule#2: Embrace boredom
Embracing boredom refers to training the ability of intense concentration. A person who does not need useless distractions at the slightest hint of boredom is the right person for deep work. We must not find little distractions such as checking our mail or texts again and again as this will become a habit and we will struggle to practice deep work.
Rule#3: Quit social media
Social media is a fine example of shallow working. One can not be completely focused on their work if they feel the need to hop on their phone every 2 minutes. Social media is not worth the time we waste on it. As far as shallow working is concerned, a lot of people are aware that we love to work non seriously while multi-tasking with our phones in our hands.
This may be way easier and more fun than deep work but the results that deep work get you will never be attained through shallow work. It is straight up wrong and we are unable to concentrate 100% as our mind is distracted shifting from one task to another or simply thinking about the urge to check our social media.
Rule#4: Drain the shallows
Draining the shallows refers to taking the shallow mindset out of your mind completely. To help achieve this goal, Cal guides us with directions such as scheduling every minute of our day. Quantifying the depth of every activity, or asking your boss for a proportion of shallow working you should be doing. Do not let things such as Answering E-mails, texting, making a phone call or other low value tasks get in the way of your work. These little distractions completely kill one’s concentration which makes it very difficult to practice deep work.
Cal talks about making deep work a habit. We need to make it a ritual and add it into our routine.
According to Cal Newport, there are four approaches to make time for deep work.
-The first approach is the Monastic Philosophy:
It involves maximizing deep efforts by completely eliminating or minimizing shallow work.
-The second approach is the Bimodal Philosophy:
The Bimodal Philosophy involves the belief of achieving extreme productivity through deep work. It can only be successful if enough time is dedicated to reach maximum cognitive intensity — the state in which the real advancement occurs.
-The third approach is Rhythmic Philosophy:
This strategy of doing deep work is based on the fact that you can do deep work on any given time of the day. Whenever you get free time, deep work can be done. It is known as Journalistic Philosophy because it involves thinking like a journalist, who is ready to write on deadline whenever the situation arises.
The author tells about multiple methods to achieve focused success so there is no excuse left to drop the shallow life and start adopting the deep work life. Whichever approach suits you best should be chosen according to your personality or lifestyle. However, the main aim of these approaches is to make deep work a part of your life. One way or another.
To conclude, the author mainly tells us about the importance and methods of deep work.
The title of the book includes that “It is a distracting world” but to counter that, deep work is the key to achieve focused success.