2017 — Book 1 — “Deep Work”

“Deep Work — Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”

Cal Newport

This book held my attention through its 280 or so pages. The general ideas are:

  • Deep Work — work you perform which requires extended, deep concentration without distraction — adds the most value — to your company, your personal project, etc.
  • Most work environments actively battle against your ability to do Deep Work — from open office plans, to a culture of instance messaging and emails with expectations of immediate responses.
  • You need to force time for your own deep work — this can be getting out of the office and working somewhere alone, to hiding in a conference room, etc.
  • He tells the story of an experimental architect who has designed a “work place” specifically to encourage Deep Work — it has rooms laid out linearly, each design for deeper work. The first room is for relaxing and chatting, all the way to the fifth or so room which is design to be silent for working alone.
  • But you need to not only give yourself time for Deep Work, you also need to train your mind to handle this type of concentrated work. He gives some exercises for forcing yourself into deep work.
  • Newport also encourages fighting off distractions — from disconnecting from social media, to letting people know you will not be responding to email frequently, etc. Some of the ideas are not very realistic in a corporate world, but still make for good discussion starters.
  • He also recommends scheduling your day in a way to emphasize blocks of time you can use for concentrated work. Say, block out 2 hours in the morning for writing, then schedule and hour for “shallow work” — emails, meetings, calls, etc. I think this is more approachable starting point.