5 Practices from Deep Work by Cal Newport That’ll Change Your Life

Nina Semczuk
7 min readDec 29, 2017
Deep Work by Cal Newport, published January 2016

Cal Newport might change your life.

In my case, he shifted how I should think about my career after I read So Good They Can’t Ignore You. I read the book while I was changing fields — leaving the Army to become a writer — after finding it on Derek Sivers’ book notes site. It was perfect timing.

I knew Deep Work would be just as good, if not better. And it was.

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My “to finish” roster has an avalanche of projects ranging from the artistic (screenplays, stage plays and personal essays) to the entrepreneurial (so. many. business. ideas!). I feel like I’m drowning under the things I want to do versus the time I have to do them. Not to mention, all the life-supporting drudgery that must get done like laundry, working, cleaning out the fridge, bathing and occasionally having a social life.

I knew I needed a system to get myself in the right state of mind to consistently create.

And, I needed a kick in the pants to keep my work train rolling. If I don’t get these occasional wakeup calls, it’s so easy for me to fall into the trap of reading about other writers and creators who are doing the thing I want to do, rather than just putting in the minutes and hours doing it myself.

Newport gives a number of tips that helps you create time and space for getting in the flow state. These are the ones I found most salient.

1. Distance yourself from social media.

Cull the Twitters, Instagrams, Facebooks of your social media life by ruthlessly discarding any site that doesn’t inherently contribute to a quality life.

Newport’s argument in this realm is that we’ve fallen for the “any-benefit approach.” This is when we think we’re “justified in using a network tool if [we] can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything [we] might miss out on if [we] don’t use it.”

This is the “why not?”approach, where we adopt Facebook or Instagram because hey, it’s there and family or friends have bugged us to join them on the network.

Nina Semczuk

Writer & editor & SEO person. Find my work around the web & here: www.ninasemczuk.com. Hiker, outdoor yoga teacher, and lifelong library lover.