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Deep Work (Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World) Hardcover – January 1, 2016
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"Manage Your Day-to-Day" by 99U
Stop doing busywork. Start doing your best work. | Learn more
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About the Author
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; 1st edition (January 1, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1455586692
- ISBN-13 : 978-1455586691
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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These books should be taken together as a whole because they give you the WHAT, the WHY and the HOW for being an elite knowledge worker.
So Good they Can't Ignore you shows you why building valuable and rare skills, which Newport calls "career capital" is the number one most important thing for finding a job you love (not "finding your passion"). Building that capital allows you to find a job where you can have creative control over your work and more control over your time, which allows you to do "deep work," aka deliberate practice (and the 10,000 hour rule for expertise, Gladwell, Ericsson and others). There are also 2 other factors, choosing a domain or mission or project where you will have a postive impact on the world, and choosing to work with people who you like being around, which aren't covered much but Newport assumes you should be able to figure out on your own.
Summary of what you need to be So Good They Can't Ignore You
1. Rare and valuable skills (aka career capital)
2. Creative control over projects
3. Control over your time (which allows you to do deep work, virtuous cycle)
4. Work that has a positive impact on the world
5. Working with people you enjoy being with
Here's the formula:
-Use deep work to learn fast and build up rare and valuable skills.
-Then apply these rare and valuable skills to the right projects so that you can build up career capital.
-Then cash in the career capital to get more creative and time control over your job.
-All the while, try to pick jobs and projects that have a positive impact and allow you to work with good people.
-However, these are usually also things that you need to trade in your career capital (rare skills and experience using them) in order to maximize.
-Don't try to save the world or have a big impact until you have the career capital to match. Otherwise you will probably fail. You have to earn all these perks via building career capital by using deep work.
So Good They Can't Ignore You doesn't spend much time explaining how to actually implement deep work (deliberate practice) into you life. It tells you to focus deeply, stretch yourself cognitively and get constant high quality feedback on your work/output.
That's where Deep Work comes in. Deep Work shows you exactly WHY deep work is so important (as opposed to Shallow Work), especially for modern knowledge workers, and why the way most people work, with constant interruptions from social media, email and their phones, is holding most knowledge workers back from being successful and competitive in today's job market.
The first part of the book argues for why Deep Work is important. If you have already bought into the idea, you can skim this part, but I found the examples and people he featured to be very interesting so it's worth a read. Just don't expect a lot of tactics until part 2.
Chapter 1 explains why deep work is VALUABLE. Our economy is changing, and the days of doing the same thing over and over for 40 years until you retire are over. Newport lays out an interesting theory for 3 types of workers, Superstars, Owners and High Skill Workers and makes a convincing and important argument for the importance in the future of being able to work at higher levels of abstraction and work with intelligent machines.
In this chapter he also makes a case for the two critical skills for knowledge workers:
1. Learning Quickly
2. Producing at an Elite Level
This conclusion informs the rest of the book. If you want to be good at these two skills, the most important thing to be good at is deep work.
Chapter 2 focuses on why deep work is RARE. He shows how distractions are becoming more and more common for knowledge workers, and that attention is becoming more and more fractures. Newport makes a good case for how complex knowledge work is often hard to measure, so managers measure busyness instead of output that relates to bottom line results (KPIs). Busyness as a vanity metric. People end up optimizing for looking busy instead of getting real work done, and everybody plays along with this charade.
Chapter 3 goes into why deep work is MEANINGFUL. Meaning is a key part of Newport's argument because the whole book links back to the Passion vs. Rare Skills debate…which is a better strategy for finding a job you love? If the job isn't meaningful, then deep work doesn't fully answer the question of how to best find a job you love. Newport give 3 theories on why deep work is meaningful, a psychological, neurological and a philosophical reason.
That's it for part 1.
In Part 2, Newport tells you how to implement deep work into your day to day life with 4 rules.
Rule 1 gives you a bunch of strategies and examples of how to integrate deep work into your schedule. He offers different strategies depending on what kind of work you do. The Grand Gestures part of this chapter is really good, you learn about Bill Gates Think Week and same famous authors who go to secluded islands or build cabins to get a lot of deep work done when necessary. There is also a section here on execution using the 4 Disciplines from Clayton Christensen's work. The point on lead vs. lag measures is really good.
Rule 2 covers the idea of embracing boredom. Newport gives a number of strategies for doing two important things: improving your ability to focus and eliminating your desire for distraction. At first these seem like the same thing but Newport explains why they are actually two different skills. For example, someone who is constantly switching between social media and infotainment sites can block off time for deep work but they won't be able to focus if they can't control their desire to always have instant gratification and constant stimulus. The point about making deep work your default, and scheduling shallow work in between is also a game changer.
Rule 3 is about social media sites and infotainment sites. This rule isn't as strategic as the other ones, it's mostly about making a side argument that these networking sites aren't as important is you think they are. He gives some good strategies for measuring what sites and services you should include in your day to day life based on the total collection of all the positive and negative effects. This sort of critical thinking and measurement usually doesn't get applied to these kind of sites.
Rule 4 is about draining the shallows, meaning going through the process of eliminating as much as possible shallow work from your daily schedule. This is more tactical chapter, (This and Rule 1 are the most useful of the 4) you learn how to plan out your day, how to stop from bringing your work home with you with an end of day ritual and how to manage your email so that you cut down on the amount of time you spend in your inbox each day. There is also a strategy for how to talk to your boss about deep work so you can get permission to re-arrange your schedule to be more productive.
This book, and Newport's previous book So Good They Can't Ignore You, are some of the most important books you will read on planning your career.
Most people spend little to no time on these decisions, or just go with the flow or with how other people approach things, even though this planning process will affect the next 4 to 5 decades of their life.
Most people's thinking is still stuck in the industrial economy way of thinking…it makes sense thought, our education system is also stuck in this way of thinking. Deep work gives you a solid, actionable plan and doesn't leave anything out that I can think of.
1. Cal highlights actionable ways to 1) increase concentration and focus and 2) produce more work output. He specifically delineates between "shallow" low priority work and "deep" high-priority, high-payoff work and ways to identify which types of work fall into which category.
2. Cal anticipates more of the (valid) objections and nuances to his thesis than I've seen him do previously. I thought his discussions on professions like CEOs that might not be deep-work appropriate, different ways to think about what social media improves your life, and going off-schedule to pursue an insight made the book much more well-rounded and connected to life.
1. The book is written as if it's presenting "a new, flashy, grand theory of everything". It's not that. The idea of working in a deep, focused manner isn't a new one or one that would shock people (as the book's extensive citations show). But the book puts up a very intense battle against an army of straw men. I don't think you'd find anyone who disagrees with the general notion of working intensely on your priorities; it's making your life conducive to it (and getting done what you aim to get done when you sit down) that's the hard part. So the book feels more to me like ideas you'd share with friends about how to be more productive than a revolutionary new idea, but you have to wade through *pages* of why this is *life-changing* and *flashy* to get to the more useful actionable steps.
2. I think that deep work is a very large umbrella term that could be broken down. For example, the way in which brainstorming or writing an academic paper stretches your brain is very different from the way in which editing a paper (p. 228) stretches your brain. Cal identifies all of these as deep work, but more thought on how you attack very different types of deep work would be helpful. For example, the open-ended process of generating an idea and getting it on to paper requires a different process than the mind-numbing tedium of final paper edits. I would have liked more thinking through the "initial attack" and then the "follow-through".
Top reviews from other countries
The book does point out that deep work genuinely isn't for everyone - for different but related reasons, CEOs of huge corporations and carers of young children might be better off entirely working at the 'shallow' level. However, it does make excellent points about how routine administration, productivity checks and social discourse, especially using social media, are vampires of time and attention like nothing else. As well as being very useful for individuals, many managers could usefully read this book, to help empower workers to achieve more of real value and - and this point is not unrelated - stop constantly harassing them with administrative requests of little or no real importance. One important facet of this is it shows very persuasively how deep work is almost the opposite of long work, or overwork - working better decreases working time overall, with much better results. For employees, and intelligent employers, what is not to like about that? It really chimed in with my experiences in the organized working environment.
So highly recommended for anyone interested in how to work better on an individual level, or how work might be done better on an organizational level. I suppose I can't say better than that I actually made one set of the recommended changes immediately on finishing the book...
Deep Work is a common sense book than a self-help book. The crux of the book is that there are two kind of work we do. One is Deep work and the other is shallow work. Deep work is rare and hard. Shallow work is easy and ubiquitous.
What is Deep Work? Deep work is concentrating on a cognitively demanding work with zero distractions to produce quality work. Its demanding and helps provide valuable things to society that are hard to replicate or replace.
What Shallow work? Any work we do on auto-pilot. Replying emails , social media presence etc. These work are easy to replace and not valued much in society.
The book is dividend into two parts. Part I is about why Deep work matter and its scientific backing. Part II is how to achieve Deep work.
Part I doesn't have to try hard to convince us about the internet chipping away our ability to concentrate and contemplate. And provides all the necessary studies and research on internet and its effects on attention. Most of the critique are well ground and rational, and definitely not a luddite rant on the internet.
Part II is how to achieve Deep Work.
Discusses on what type of Deep work philosophy to choose.
Ritualising Deep work: Identify Location and time to do deep work. Adhere to rules and process to deep work. (like no internet)
4DX fundamentals: Focus unimportant things, Act on measures, Keep a scorecard, Create accountability.
Embrace Boredom:Don't take break from distraction. Instead take breaks from Focus. Schedule your internet usage. Structure your deep thinking.
Quit Social Media.
Drain the Shallows: Schedule your day in blocks in advance to focus on Deep work.
Although it follows the typical science/self-help format with familiar paragraphs like 'The Study conducted by University of X researchers on group of people in Y of the age Z in ABC environment agrees with my thesis', this is a potent work with strong common sense solutions to the ubiquitous problem of shallow work. My thoughts on self-help books remains unchanged. However I would highly recommend this book.
I bought it after reading the kindle sample. If you've read the kindle sample, you've read the whole book - nothing else is added.
Highly recommend to anyone, and it has wide relevance across many fields. Also very readable and entertaining. It is a joy to read and has plenty of interesting tales and case studies to make the book flow perfectly, whilst imparting the necessary wisdom.
To those saying that it is repetitive in the first part, I believe it is really necessary to convince us in all ways possible. Because everyone knows deep work is good just like everyone knows exercise and eating balanced diet are good but no one does them. You really need to be convinced in order to make permanent lifestyle change.