Deep Work | Cal Newport

Deep Work | Cal Newport

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

Demonstrate differences between distracted work state and concentrated. Offers a set of rules to organize your own framework. Some rules are Captain obvious, such as restrict social media time, but benefits of concentrated state are explained in details.

🎨 Impressions

Nice and easy read. 4 evenings to finish the book

How I Discovered It

Got introduced as usual in the chat while looking for sources to complete my lecture on productivity for children.

Who Should Read It?

All who are addicted to social media and experiencing difficulties with their work, lost satisfaction or close to burning-out.

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

I am actively thinking about applying some things to improve my scientific work, especially if I’ve planned to write a book. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.

📒 Ideas

Before we start I think it is important to explain the difference between deep and shallow work.

  • DEEP WORK. Activities performed in distraction free manner in a state of extreme concentration that pushes your creativity and cognitive abilities to the limits. In the end these efforts create new value, improve your skills, and very hard to replicate.
    • The reason why modern knowledge worker are unable to enter the state of deep work or flow, if you wish, is network tools. FB, TW, IG, etc. They have ubiquitously penetrated all aspects of our lives. Some research states that we spend up to 60% of out time interacting with a gadget [2012 McKinsey] and 30% of our time has been devoted to answering e-mails, messages, etc. Welcome to shallow work age. ^79c0b6
    • [[How Much Data Do We Create Every Day The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read#^af85cd]]
  • Shallow work. Not demanding activities that could be done on an autopilot. Performed in a distracted state. This work doesn’t create value, puts stress from unresolved issues, and easy to replicate.
  • Ability to concentrate and fall into a state of a deep work has become a crucial skill and has a great value in modern world. There are exactly two reasons why:
    • Learning. Ability to leatn something fast enough in ever changing professional landscape.
    • Impact. To succees you have to deliver the best possible product, otherwise cheaper mediocre analogues will swallow your market share, ideas from your book, scientific ideas, etc.

Hypothesis. State of a deep work became rare among knowledge worker or any worker for that matter. It means that the value of workers that are able to be in this state is higher, their work has greater impact on the economy. As a consequence, those few who can cultivate this skill, will thrive and succeed.

Three or four hours of concentrated effort can produce value at an industrial scale, even for an individual.

  • In modern times, it’s not important how well can you process information, but also useful to be able to interact with intelligent machines. How fast and how thoroughly you can do this will determine your success. ^268c65

Core abilities for thriving in the new age of Economy are:

  1. The ability to quickly master new things.
  2. The ability to deliver at an elite level, fast and high quality results.
    1. Without delivery you won’t thrive no matter how skilled or talented you are.

To be able to do this you need to learn and improve fast, without it, you won’t prosper.

Deliberate intention to deliver and learn new things sprout out of two core roots:

  • Attention and focus on the task at hand. It’s either a subject at school, or skill you are tying to master, or book you are reading or article you are writing. Almost any activity known to a man.
  • Feedback, delivered with an extreme candor, therefore you can correct your course and approach in mastering the specific skill.
    Deep work equation. High quality work produced=timeSPENT*intencity of Focus.

Connectivity culture is easier than deep work. And it lives on two aspects:

  1. No quick responses to difficult questions. You have to wait and usually busy yourself.
  2. It’s easier to check inbox than to plan and proceed according to the plan.
    In the absence of metrics people fall back on what's easiest.

Feynman about reasons behind his irresponsibility:

«To do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time… it needs a lot of concentration… if you have a job administrating anything, you don’t have the time. So I have invented another myth for myself: that I’m irresponsible. I’m actively irresponsible. I tell everyone I don’t do anything. If anyone asks me to be on a committee for admissions, “no,”* I tell them: I’m irresponsible*.»

  • Knowledge work doesn’t have visible activity and usually looked sideways by colleagues and relatives, so we tend to do something visible instead of concentrating on the important.
  • This concept is obsolete. Knowledge work is not an assembly line and generating value is often at odds with activity and busyness. ^4011c9
  • Modern obsession with everything technological doesn’t take into account that it has been built by people with high level of mastery and craftsmanship. But those values are belittled on the premises that they nontechnological and old-fashioned.
    • The task of craftsmanship is not to generate meaning but to cultivate in a craftsman an ability to discern the meaning that is already there.

The trap of a free time

  • Most people assume that doing nothing makes them happy.
    • We want to work less and spend more time in hammock. But research from the FLOW book by presents us with another conclusion.
      • Free time highly unstructured and requires greater effort to shape itself into something that could be enjoyed. ^a04d41
        • Reading routine must be planned too. To get the best possible pleasure from reading it must be structured and predictable.
  • Again, let’s turn our attention to the craftsmen.
    • They don’t generate the meaning to outsiders, but more likely to cultivate it in themselves by discerning and decomposing what there is already.
  • Naval used to say that habit are bad, they are inconsistent, hard to maintain, lack the inner drive, so instead of habit he purposed to build systems and not to use tracker habits. [[Системы вместо целей]].
    • The same approach is mentioned by Cal Newport.
    • To develop deep work habits, you have to move beyond simple intentions and task management.
    • Forget routines and rituals.
    • Design instead your life in a manner that allows minimization of external distractions that drain finite recourses of willpower muscle.
      • Your environment must allow you to be in a state of unbroken concentration.
      • Switching between tasks puts on toll on your cognitive abilities.
  • Working deep is crucial to accomplishing any given task.
    • But what is often overlooked is the gap between what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.
    • This unknowledge it Taleb’s categories, trips not only companies.
  • As a suggestion that can serve you well, Cal advises not to say no to something trivial and inessential, but instead concentrate on saying yes to anything that arouses terrifying longing.
    • Allow this longing to crowed out everything else.
    • You cannot consider yourself effective unless you have stretched your mental capacity to absolute maximum and at the end of the day you experience sweet tiredness in the brain nerve.
  • Our brain is a machine that is running on fuel of habits.
  • To be precise, personality is built out of habits that we pick up during the lifetime.
    • ![[Системы вместо целей#^da4072]]
    • So when you feel bored, in the queue, at the receptionist’s stand awaiting check in, sitting comfortably in a car in the traffic jam, don’t pick up your phone for time killing.
      • You rewire your brain to a point where, it’s not ready for deep work, even if you regularly schedule time to practice concentration.
    • You can avoid being distracted by a phone, just by blocking time for distraction in your schedule.
      • Mentally train the brain to know that this kind of setbacks must be controlled.
  • Productive meditation, requires blocked period of time free of mental activity, and occupied with physical activity.
    • Jogging.
    • Walking.
    • Driving or riding.
    • Showering or taking a bath as in [[A Mind for numbers How to excell at Math and Science#^633a29]]
  • Focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem.
    • Remember that a well-defined problem has specific requirements. [Look up mind map from problem-solving section]
  • Beware don’t be lost in an infinite tool selection process.
  • An easy rule of thumb is to choose tool after the process of identifying core factors that bring success and happiness in professional life.
    • Adopt only tool of its has positive impacts on these factors. It benefits absolutely must overweight drawbacks that it puts on the table.
      • Every tool has positive influence and negative, balance careful.
      • Look at the time required to master it.
      • Complicatedness of usage.
      • How the new tool impacts others and is it organically intertwined with everything you already have.
  • As Barbara Oakley suggested before in [[A Mind for numbers How to excell at Math and Science#^419878]]
    • Cal echoes her and gives similar advice, but he also adds useful #howto .
      • Schedule your quitting time, and better to schedule all day.
        • I don’t agree that we have to schedule it, but let’s leave for a time being.
      • Plan the day not rigidly, invite some randomness into it, leave space for spontaneity. But it’s crucial to have a thoughtful plan about free time. ^2a810a
      • What will be done when nothing doesn’t need to be done?
        • Ask yourself, what is sensible for me to do with the time that remains?
    • A fixed schedule habit is highly effective, simple to adopt, and broad in its impact on everything else.
      • It’s not just habit, it’s meta-habit.
    • Schedule is locked in artificial and meaningful constraint. Which in turn allows to better approximate the more limited free time we all have as working professionals, parents and spouses.

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