Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Author: Cal Newport
Genre: nonfiction; productivity, work, self-improvement
In one sentence: for anyone who has problems focussing on their work or getting the stuff that matters done, look no further; this is the book for you.
Cal Newport divides our work into two categories: 1) Deep Work and 2) Shallow Work. The latter consists of emails, meetings and other rituals of the modern workplace. Some of those are unavoidable, but we should tame them, so we have more time for Deep Work, which Newport defines as follows:
“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.”
The author explains why the need for distraction-free concentration in today’s world is on the increase, while at the same time this skill is ever rarer to find and cultivate. This need is evident from a formula proposed by the author:
High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
In other words: without time spent engaged in Deep Work, one can’t deliver extraordinary results. Unfortunately for those looking for a quick fix, Newport makes painfully clear — both with guidelines, as well as examples from his own endeavors — why deep concentration is an ability that needs to be trained, not an internal switch you can simply flick on or off.
The good news is that this book is not merely an acknowledgement of the problem; it provides rules, theories and suggestions you can follow and apply to your own life and work. In today’s distracted yet competitive workplace, ignore this practical guide to Deep Work at your own peril!
“David Brooks summarizes this reality more bluntly: ‘[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants.’”
Quoting a quote from within the book, this one sentence sums up the reality of today’s world: without some planning, organization and solid work habits, no great thinking (and hence work) is ever going to get done.
Goes well with William Powers’ Hamlet’s Blackberry. Powers’ provides the underlying philosophy, Newport the practical guideline for making changes to your life (read my summary of Hamlet’s Blackberry here).
PS. In addition, it also goes well with the product our company develops: Saent.
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