Deep Work Summary and Review

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Let’s say, you’re running three or four businesses at the same time, and you’re the only one who makes all the decisions.

Now, let’s say, you’re only running one business where you’re giving your 100% rather than dividing your attention to multiple businesses.

So tell me, which one will give you a better understanding of business, less stress, better sleep, and more time to do more things?

Cal Newport talks about how these days people are more focused on multi-tasking rather than focusing on one task, doing one task at one time requires focus, and these days, people lack that focus.

It’s a book about deep work and how you can achieve the impossible by focusing on the most important task rather than doing everything at the same time.

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Deep Work Summary

The book is divided into two parts, The Idea, and The Rules.

  • PART 1: The Idea
    • Chapter 1: Deep Work Is Valuable
    • Chapter 2: Deep Work is Rare
    • Chapter 3: Deep Work is Meaningful
  • PART 2: The Rules
    • Chapter 1: Work Deeply
    • Chapter 2: Embrace Boredom
    • Chapter 3: Quite Social Media
    • Chapter 3: Drain the Shallows

Deep Work is one of those books that will teach you how you can get the most out of 24 hours. So if you’re one of those people, who struggles to focus on your work or even while studying then the Cal Newport author of this book will help you a lot.

Now, let me share with you what I have learned from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book, now Cal Newport also talks about the same thing but in a different way.

Formula To Manage Time

Everyone has 24 hours, so don’t complain that I don’t have time to do this or that because the reality is you have time.

Now, if you have time, let’s see how you can manage it like PRO…

1. Important task: These could be those task which doesn’t need your attention but are important, again, you don’t have to do them right away. 

For example, you have to go to the supermarket because you have a list of items which you have to buy for your home, this is important because you need those items but it’s not very important, so you can go for shop later.

2. Urgent Task: These are those tasks that require your attention right away. 

For example, You need to finish the project that your boss has given, you have a meeting that is very important for your business, or something else that is need to do right away.

3. Nor Urgent or Important Task: These are those tasks that are not important or urgent but you like doing them.

For example, you want to watch movies, and TV shows, go to parties, spend time with your friends, use social media, and many more. You don’t have to do all these things but you like doing them because it makes you happy.

Yes, that’s the same thing Cal Newport talks about in his Deep Work book, now, it does have some new techniques as well but the core idea remains the same which is to do the most important tasks first and everything can wait.

What is Deep Work?

Deep Work is those kinds of tasks that are distraction-free, for example, Writing an Article without doing anything else, not using social media, or checking emails. Focus on one thing at a time, no matter what happens.

Shallow Work is those kinds of tasks that are done without 100% focus. Let’s say, you’re reading a book and one of your friends sends a video link and you start watching that video, after 10 minutes you realize, oh, I was reading a book.

You got distracted by someone even after knowing that watching a video is not as important as reading a book.

Earlier I was part of the Shallow Work community till I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book, I have learned lots of things about work management and how I can do more in 24 hours.

Now, I only focus on one task at a time, when I’m writing an article, I only write, I don’t see my smartphone or open YouTube in the side window or anything else, one task at a time.

That doesn’t mean, I don’t use social media or YouTube, I do but not while working on impotent tasks.

Where To Work

Your ritual needs to specify a location for your deep work efforts.

This location can be as simple as your normal office with the door shut and the desk cleaned off.

If it’s possible to identify a location used only for depth-for instance, a conference room or quiet library-the positive effect can be even greater.

Regardless of where you work, be sure to also give yourself a specific time frame to keep the session a discrete challenge and not an open-ended slog.

For me, the location is my home office as I don’t work for anyone. I entered my office at 9:00 AM and started working on the task which I had selected last night.

Related: 15 Must-Read Books in Life

Yes, I plan my present day, a day before, this way, I don’t have to look for ideas or waste time.

My work hours end at 5 PM but if I feel, there is an important task left that I have to do it right away then I might work till 7 PM. This depends on how important the work is.

Mostly, I end my work hours at 5:00 PM.

How to Start Work

Your ritual needs rules and processes to keep your efforts structured.

For example, you might institute a ban on any Internet use, or maintain a metric such as words produced per twenty-minute interval to keep your concentration honed.

Without this structure, you’ll have to mentally litigate again and again what you should and should not be doing during these sessions and keep trying to assess whether you’re working sufficiently hard.

These are unnecessary drains on your willpower reserves.

Let’s say, I planned to write this article and I promised myself that, I would take a maximum of 2 hours to finish it and if I didn’t finish it then this would be pushed to the next day.

The reason is, that I will try my best to finish the work, and I don’t waste my time on anything else except writing this article.

Now, this doesn’t mean, I will rush to write, I will give my 110% to provide quality rather than focusing on 2-hour timer. The timer is there because I don’t spend much time on a single task.

Support Your Work

Your ritual needs to ensure your brain gets the support it needs to keep operating at a high level of depth.

For example, the ritual might specify starting with a cup of good coffee, making sure you have access to enough food of the right type to maintain energy, or integrating light exercise such as walking to help keep the mind clear.

Talking about myself, I start my work at 9:00 AM with a cup of coffee, I stopped drinking coffee on 25/10/2023, and yes, I no longer need caffeine to work which feels amazing.

Also, from that date, till now, I didn’t drink coffee, tea, or any caffeinated product which was kind of hard but now, I feel, it was a good decision.

Now, my ritual is kind of boring, I wake up at 5:00 AM, do exercise, read books, and jump on my work.

Deep Work Lessons

  • It’s always bad to work on multiple projects at a time, so always focus on one project at a time and give your undivided attention.
  • Choose how many hours you will work every day and once you reach the endpoint, stop working.
  • You need to have some sort of ritual before you start your work whether you decide which is the most important task or how many tasks you have to perform or even drinking coffee before you start working.
  • You need to have a to-do list for the day otherwise, you will waste lots of time performing an unimportant task that doesn’t add value to your dream.
  • Keep in mind, that you don’t have unlimited time. So leave your life as there will be no tomorrow, give your 100% to whatever you’re doing, and be in the present movement.

Deep Work Quotes

“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.”

“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”

“Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”

“What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.”

“As the author Tim Ferriss once wrote: “Develop the habit of letting small bad things happen. If you don’t, you’ll never find time for the life-changing big things.”

“If you can’t learn, you can’t thrive.”

“First, distraction remains a destroyer of depth.”

“High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)”

“The shallow work that increasingly dominates the time and attention of knowledge workers is less vital than it often seems in the moment.”

“Once you’re wired for distraction, you crave it.”

Deep Work Review

First, let me talk about myself,

I didn’t learn lots of things from the book, it mainly talks about how one should focus on one thing and avoid multitasking.

Now, if you’re that person who hasn’t read any productivity books then you might find Deep Work by Cal Newport helpful otherwise, the book has all the same ideas and techniques which was available in books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People & many others.

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