The book I’ll be reviewing today is Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.
Cal Newport is a very interesting and well accomplished man. He is a Computer Science professor at Georgetown University, the author of six self help books, published 60 peer reviewed papers and a TEDx speaker all before the age of 40. Most interestingly, he has never had a social media account.
The book focuses on how fragmented our attention and concentration has become due to the use of social media and networking tools. Cal explains what deep work is, how to achieve it, how distracted we are as a society and the harm this brings us.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distractions on a cognitively (mentally) demanding task. Throughout the book, it is described as a ’21st century superpower‘ due to the distractions we continuously face day to day.
Cal hammers the importance of working deeply throughout the book by providing many examples of people who have undertook deep work and have become extremely successful. Their success came because deep work pushed their cognitive limits as they were free from distractions because they were allowed to focus on that one task.
Essentially, deep work is about working intensely, without distractions.
Successful people 🤝deep work
Cal provides insights into what some successful people have done to perform deep work. Some used email filters, others left social media or did something grand to force them to work deeply. For example:
- JK Rowling stayed in the 5 star, £765 a night Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh when finishing off the last Harry Potter book. Which is the highest rated book on Goodreads 12 years after it was published.
- Bill Gates stays in a cabin in the woods with no access to the outside world once a year to work on his ideas and think.
- Some people put questionnaires on their websites, refer people to their FAQs and put a clear disclaimer to what they will respond to before people can contact them. This helped them manage people’s expectations.
- My favourite story in the book was about Peter Shankman – a famous entrepreneur and author with ADHD who had less than two weeks to finish his manuscript. To complete it, he decided to book a $5,000, 30 hour round trip flight from New York to Tokyo. He got on the plane with nothing but his laptop, charger and phone and worked throughout the flight. When he arrived in Tokyo 15 hours later, he went through immigration, had a coffee in the business lounge and then headed straight back on a plane home for another 15 hours. He finished the manuscript only 30 hours after he had first left the USA. It is very extreme, but when you have to get grand things done, you have to do grand things.
All of this forced them to do work because they didn’t have any distractions around them, less people could contact them or a large amount of money was on the line which spurred them to focus.
What I liked about the book:
Cal thoroughly explained what deep work is, it’s importance, how to undertake deep work and the successful people who achieved great things because of it. The book motivated me to complete two blog posts in that week – What ever doesn’t serve you will be ripped away and is Self love the best love?
The book was quite informative and reinforced that social media and other networking tools we use for work are not as important as we think they are. “They’re cleverly marketed tools, that capture your attention, made by privately funded companies who sell your personal data to advertisers.” Which is true, social media is making billions from selling our data. It really made me question, if I need social media or if it needs me and the answer is yes to both as I am a blogger, if I didn’t blog anymore then it wouldn’t be worth the time I spend on it.
There are still many alternatives to social media tools but, they tend to be slower such as email and telephone.
What I didn’t like about the book:
It felt quite repetitive, but I guess it’s because he was reinforcing his points. Additionally, sometimes it felt like there were too many people mentioned and it could have been shorter. It wasn’t like The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Dr Meg Jay where she talked about her experience and her clients. This was more anecdotal like a newspaper article with extracts from other people’s experiences.
Do I recommend the book?
Overall, I do recommend Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. It showed me the importance of deep work, what you can achieve when you partake in it and reminded me that there are so many things in the world that are just distractions. However, we have to be wise, social media can be great especially as a blogger, content creator and business. We just have to ensure we are using it to our advantage, not just mindlessly consuming everything we see.
Buy it here*:
Alternatively you can listen to it when you’re on the move with Audible. Audible promotes constant learning and is an excellent way to gain knowledge without needing a physical book: Sign up here for a 30 day free trial
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