Deep Work by Cal Newport

My notes of the new book of Cal Newport. He is a writer and a professor of computer science at Georgetown University.

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship.

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Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

Two core abilities for thriving in the New Economy: And the two depend on your ability to perform Deep Work.

1- The ability to quickly master hard things: To learn requires intense concentration. Deliberate Practice requires focused attention: (a) your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master, (b) you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.

2- The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed: Law of Productivity: High-Quality Work Produced= (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus). To produce at your peek level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.

The principle of least resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.

Busyness as Proxy for Productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.

Depth will become increasingly rare and therefore increasingly valuable. The myopia of your peers and employers uncovers a great personal advantage for you to systematically develop your personal ability to go deep – and by doing so, reap great rewards.


1 – Work Deeply:

Decide on your philosophy on depth, Ritualize (where and how long, how you’ll work one you started, how you’ll support your work), Execute (Focus on the wildly important, Act on lead measures, Keep a compelling scoreboard, Create a cadence of accountability), Be lazy with the non important and shutdown regularly.

2 – Embrace Boredom

Allow creative moment to happen. People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy, they’re can’t manage a working memory, they’re chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of the brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand. Your ability to concentrate is only as strong as your commitment to train it.

3 – Quit Social Media

The any-benefit approach to network tool selection: you’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don´t use it. The problem is that this ignores all the negatives that come along with the tools in question. Some glimpse of potential benefit as justification for unrestrained use of a tool.

The craftsman approach to tool selection: identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.

4 – Drain the Shallows

Schedule every minute, even moments for uncertainties. Quantify the depth of every activity. Keep a shallow budget. Have a fixed-schedule productivity. Become hard to reach.