BookshelfJacob deGroot-Maggetti

Deep Work - Cal Newport

Summary: Cal Newport contends that in order to accomplish work that is valued by others, we have to engage in what he calls "deep work". He presents arguments for why deep work is important in today's world (e.g. with quickly changing technology, it's important to be able to learn new skills quickly), and identifies obstacles to accomplishing it (e.g. apps vying for your attention, expectations that you should respond to emails at any hour of the day). He then offers a range of suggestions to cultivate an environment where deep work is possible.

Thoughts: There are a bunch of useful ideas and suggestions here. Since reading it, I've limited the windows during which I check emails and social media, and (mostly) implemented an 8:30-4:30 workday, which has been fairly successful so far.

(The notes below are not a summary of the book, but rather raw notes - whatever I thought, at the time, might be worth remembering.)

Newport, Cal. 2016. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Grand Central Publishing.


Part I

Chapters 1 and 2

chapter 3 - Deep work is meaningful

a neurological argument for depth

A psychological argument for depth

A philosophical argument for depth

Part 2 - The rules

Rule 1 - Work deeply

Decide on your depth philosophy


Make grand gestures

Don’t work alone

Execute like a business

Be lazy

Rule 2 - Embrace Boredom

Don’t take breaks from distraction - take breaks from focus

Work like Teddy Roosevelt

Meditate productively

Memorize a deck of cards

Quit social media

Apply the law of the vital few to your internet habits

Rule 3 - Quit social media

Don’t use the internet to entertain yourself

Rule 4 - Drain the shallows

Ask your boss for a shallow work budget

Finish your work by five thirty

Become hard to reach

Posted: Nov 21, 2020. Last updated: Dec 19, 2020.