Updated: Sep 24, 2021
“Deep Work” by the brilliant professor Cal Newport brings a unique perspective on how to produce high quality work in a modern-day office, filled with fun distractions.
Specialising in Computer Science at Georgetown University, Cal’s daily work demands a rhythmic balance between focusing on his own goals and the needs of high-flying students. The necessity of finding time to work alongside his students lead Newport to coin and practice “Deep Work”, which unofficially means working prolonged periods of time using unparalleled focus to produce high quality output without distractions.
The underlying message of the book is to be systematically aware of bad habits while in the process of working. The author stresses that procrastination is a habit that can be controlled if we focus intently without distraction. This can be incorporated into our lifestyle if we purposely work on a hard task for a long time to reduce our attention residue.
It is made clear that Deep Work is an essential tool needed to thrive in the 21st Century. It adds a flair of elements from the boom of the 1920’s to bring around maximum efficiency under self-supervision. The problem lies when it is assumed that all figures are capable of successfully achieving Deep Work in controlled environments. For example, if we take a high-powered CEO who is stuck in meetings all day, how are they going to find themselves in a capable position of accumulating Deep Work? The average office worker who works in a closed environment can produce deep work in their closed space but if the office worker belongs to an environment where the room is open, they will find it difficult to deep work as distractions are rife.
In regards to the application of Deep Work, we are told that we require the ability to embrace boredom through simply powering through it. If we organise our day around our workloads, we know what we need to achieve, and distractions will be reduced. According to the author and other recognised theorists, having an organised day minimises the ‘need’ for boredom. Unfortunately, we as a species tend to ‘nod off’ when the going gets tough, but the author reiterates that we should embrace boredom when working through draining tasks to achieve Deep Work.
Overall, Deep Work incorporates brilliant elements of how to get sh*t done in the most efficient way possible. Those in positions of reclusive offices or those who are self-employed will find this book incredibly useful. There are principles that can be applied to both the professional and personal life if you can manage to get away for a short while. If you cannot get away and have obligations through other means (manager, CEO) etc. then this book isn’t really for you.
If we can take one thing away from this book; it is important to plan your working day into sub-categories. If we can add a “false deadline” to our working day, we are more likely to complete the task.