Friday Book in a Page: Deep Work


Deep Work by Cal Newport

If you are feeling increasingly overwhelmed or distracted, don’t blame yourself.  It’s part of an epidemic caused by the rise in technology, says Newport.  And, the best news is that it’s fixable. Deep Work outlines the necessary strategies to combat this distraction and reclaim the focus necessary to effectively run your life and get the most of cognitively demanding tasks.

Key Messages of the Book:

  • There is no such thing as multi-tasking.  There is simply continuously switching over and back and forth from one task to another.  This results in an enormous loss of time as the brain needs to re-focus on each task to start again.
  • When we switch from task A to task B, part of our brain stays in task A, thus not allowing us to give task B our full concentration.
  • The first strategy for engaging in Deep Work is the monastic approach.  Sterilize yourself from all distractions and work on only one task at a time until completion.
  • The next strategy is the bimodal approach.  This involves setting a long period of time for the seclusion of work and then leaving the rest of your time free.
  • The third strategy is the rhythm strategy.  The strategy here is to create the habit of working in focus bursts of time - like 90 minutes and track your progress on a calendar.
  • The final strategy is the journalistic approach.  This involves taking unexpected time in your day to do focused deep work.
  • There is no right or wrong approach - but there is one that will work the best for you.  The key is to be intentional about which strategy you are employing and to stick with it.
  • Create rituals to support your strategy.:  define your space, define your boundaries and make it sustainable  (with food, water, exercise and sleep)
  • Understand that technology has trained our brains to crave distraction.  Productive meditation can re-wire this craving.
  • Schedule work time and free time and use your free time intentionally.  i.e. do you want to be mindlessly scrolling through Facebook?

Lasting Message: Cultivate awareness about how you spend your time.

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