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In Deep Work, Cal Newport presents a strong argument that deep work is necessary for one to thrive in today’s economy. By working in a focused and efficient manner, this allows someone to be the best in your field, such as a computer programmer or tenured professor. Despite this, the majority of skilled professionals in the office spend their time doing the opposite of deep work. Newport starts off the book by illustrating this common problem that isn’t brought up enough. New emails or messages fragment a person’s attention and then the person has to attend many meetings or perform administrative tasks. From these distractions, the person spends little or no time practicing deep work.
By highlighting the gravity of this issue, Newport makes it clear to readers that shallow work cannot continue anymore. Instead of only talking about the negative aspects of shallow work, Newport also elaborates upon the various benefits of deep work using both neurological and philosophical explanations. Besides considering the practical advantages of deep work, he also talks about greater satisfaction in one’s professional and personal life by performing deep work. I enjoyed Newport’s ability to look at deep work from different perspectives because his thorough explanations portrayed deep work as a lifestyle that had many applications.
Although it may seem that emails and constant connectivity is unavoidable in most companies, Newport provides realistic and applicable steps that readers can do to perform deep work. What I liked the most about the book is that Newport presents many types of deep work schedules his readers can use, such as rhythmic or journalistic scheduling. The author understands that most readers are not going to be working like a monk who is detached from the real world. This reveals deep work as something flexible and not limited to one style that we may have initially imagined.
Asides from mentioning a series of steps and general principles while doing deep work, Newport talks about habits and practices outside of work that can further improve one’s ability to do deep work. Although it may seem that Newport is a workaholic who will never give in to a break, in reality, Newport advocates for “laziness.” He doesn’t mean lazy in the sense of idly watching TV, but rather letting your mind do other activities after a long day of work like playing board games or cooking. At first, I didn’t understand why he supported the lifestyle of ending one’s workday before 5:30 PM. As I read the section, however, his argument that consisted of many reasons supported by psychological studies began to make sense. Downtime allows our brain to restore its energy levels. Even though you can work after dinner till midnight, the quality of your performance is pretty low and inefficient.
Although some of his rules may not appear to be related to deep work, they help one’s concentration and mental performance. The rules may seem easy to execute at first, but they need a lot more thought and consideration. For instance, Newport suggests that people should quit social media. He doesn’t simply tell people to leave these sites, but to use a nuanced approach towards considering the necessity of social media. He analyzes various websites such as Facebook and Twitter by considering the benefits lots of users mention (e.g. look at funny pictures or videos). Then, he tries to quantify how important these benefits are in the long term. Even though the chapter’s name is “Quit Social Media,” his attitude has applications in various parts of our digital lifestyle. Whether it is using LinkedIn or watching YouTube, we can also evaluate the positive and negative aspects of these sites.
In conclusion, Cal Newport does an excellent job of persuading readers how deep work has a lot more benefits than the common but unfulfilling shallow work. His advice is not solely a guide on how to do deep work when you are working. Instead, he encompasses a diverse range of practices to make your mind an Olympic athlete, ranging from embracing boredom to practicing productive meditation.