Thursday, October 13, 2022

Recent reading: "Deep Work"

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success In a Distracted World
by Cal Newport

When it comes to self-improvement books, two being the most recommended these days seem to be Atomic Habits (which I haven't read yet) and Deep Work.

In Deep Work, author Cal Newport examines modern-day time wasters, with an emphasis on social media and e-mail. While he acknowledges the benefits these provide, he also argues that they provide constant distraction that takes people away from maintaining concentration on important work, especially those he refers to as "knowledge workers". 

Newport's system is not to completely give up social media and e-mail but to put them in their place and put restrictions on them. And while that might seem obvious, apparently it's not so obvious because people are constantly distracted by these things.

Newport walks the talk in that he is a Deep Work success story. He has managed to juggle being a college professor pursuing tenure, while writing books, publishing peer-reviewed papers, and raising a family without losing his mind. He also accomplished all this while keeping most evenings and weekends free for leisure time, and I think that might be one of the key things about his approach - he doesn't promote working 24/7, but making work time really count. 
For someone like me, for whom procrastination and wasting time are art forms, there was some useful and inspirational advice in this book. I will never be a deep worker on Newport's level, but it gave me a lot to consider to try to be at least a little more productive.
From the book:
Deep Work: 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.

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