Mindset Book Review: Deep Work by Cal Newport

by | May 7, 2022

This book has been around awhile and is often mentioned by writers that I respect and admire. I’m on a reading kick about the Attention Economy (the new economic system based on collecting predictive data from you and selling it to big business), and this book fit right in.

In short, we do better work when we do deep work – one to four hours of work on a single subject without interruption. And no interruption means no email, no phone calls, no distractions at all.

Newport surveys a lot of the information I’ve heard before – the idea of flow, the research that shows humans multi-task poorly, etc. He then relates his (and others) experiences of how that state of deep work has helped them excel, and gives ideas of how to best access deep work in our often scattered daily lives.

Overall, I’m glad I read it. I understood the concept already, and in my life I have a really hard time scheduling deep work (I’m a bookseller, editor, dad, etc,). One big takeaway that I did have, though, was how hard it is to get into a deep work state without constant practice, and that our brain can only do so much concentrating without recharging, and when we use that concentrating time on other things, we may not have it, even when we block out the time. This rang true for me as often, I will find myself with two uninterrupted hours, and yet have to fight myself to use the time for deep work, instead of goofing off, getting snacks, looking up some random fact that I’m convinced I need for my project. Yes, this is procrastination, but with careful planning and practice we can learn how to beat that impulse and engage in immersive work.

You can buy Deep Work Here.

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