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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  42,470 ratings  ·  4,104 reviews
One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you'll achieve extraordinary results.

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 w
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Grand Central Publishing
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Anthony Kim I read this book twice. It really impacted the way I do work.

I am a medical physicist, with responsibilities in the clinic as well academically.…more
I read this book twice. It really impacted the way I do work.

I am a medical physicist, with responsibilities in the clinic as well academically. After I read this book I stacked all of my rote clinical duties into two-week piles and plowed through them, leaving months to focus on my academic work as well as clinical projects that meant a lot to me.

I also have applied this at home with my writing, and likewise got way more productive.

It's a pretty good book. I view it as a wake-up call to a distracted world: just focus on one thing at a time and you'll be a happier, more productive person.(less)

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 ·  42,470 ratings  ·  4,104 reviews

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Adam Zerner
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overview: the thesis is that deep work is both rare and valuable in todays world. That's about 1/3 of the book. The rest of the book is practical advice on how to pursue deep work.

Part of me feels like a lot of what was said in the book is common sense. Particularly things that people know but can't find the willpower to do. I think that there is some truth to this. But there's also a difference between "knowing", and *knowing*. I think this book can help take a lot of people from "knowing" to *
Rachel Bayles
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
If you do one thing to improve your life this year, subscribe to Dr. Newport's blog and start reading his books. I would suggest starting with "So Good They Can't Ignore You" and then read "Deep Work." They compliment each other. The first helps you sort out what you should be focusing on, and the second one tells you how to make sure what's important gets done. Over the years I've read lots of productivity books, and the related literature. But his approach to work impacts me everyday, and noth ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Worth reading. Helped me make some drastic changes in my schedule. I will post an update how these changes went after six months.

What I learned: (spoiler alerts)

1. Figure out what is most valuable to your success.
2. Spend most of the time on it, mostly in the early hours of your day where your attention span is long.
3. Try to spend at least 3 deep sessions on it approx. 90 min each.
4. Almost anything other than your main task is a shallow task.
5. Bunch all the shallow tasks into one deep task.
Holger Matthies
Feb 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: self-help
It is easy to lose yourself in shallow work - I'll agree with the author. Other than that, there is very little of value or substance in this book. You might want to review your excessive tweeting. You might stop using Facebook altogether. You might abandon email.

The problem is that the real ideas (have sender filter their own email, take time away from office, take email sabbaticals) might work for specialists, freelancers, entry-level workers or academics, like the author. But not once does th
Feb 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This had a lot of valuable ideas about the importance of deep work and how to do it. Most people are going to buy into this concept easily enough, but Cal did a nice job further arguing it with some examples, various research, and so on...but this book also felt like a very good 100-page book that was stretched into a mediocre 260-page book. It's repetitive. And his research often relies on the "correlation = causation" mistake. For example, someone gives up social media, so instead of writing 4 ...more
Paras Kapadia
Apr 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
File under - Shallow writing that should have been a blogpost at best.

This book is mostly random commentary on other people's work and content. Almost nothing is original and no studies have been conducted by the author himself. The author's contribution is simply - this researcher found this, I do it this way and you should do it too.

The irony of this book is that the subject matter expert on deep work has produced such shallow content.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ideal advice for folks whose top priority is to achieve elite levels of professional success by capitalistic metrics -- namely by jumping through golden hoops very swiftly. The author, for one, is a professor whose goals are to secure tenure, publish a ton of highly cited academic papers, and win the equivalent of a Nobel prize. If your life goals sound similar, he's got tips for making it happen.

This book is less useful for people whose priorities include critiquing/reforming elitist institutio
Feb 26, 2016 rated it really liked it

Deep Work was a solid self-help/productivity book. Being a podcast junkie, I had heard the majority of things that Newport preaches in his book. However, I really appreciated his practical applications of how to enter into Deep Work, or 'the zone' as I call it.


In Deep Work, the author tells a story of a young consultant who automates his work responsibilities using Excel macros. He then studied computer programming to increase his worth in the workforce. I, too, am a cons
“Deep Work is the 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.”
Cal Newport offers a very compelling argument as to the value of finding organising those periods when we all need to focus on the work/knowledge we need to obtain to further our professional goals and ambitions. Newport cites examples of key influential and high
Amir Tesla
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, amazing. This book is going to drastically help me reach the optimum level of productivity I've been seeking.

This marvelous book provides you with a great mindset, valuing deep work resulting in astonishing achievements.

The deep work book is organized in two sections:

1. The first convinces you of the importance and necessity of deep work in order to live a fulfilling and productive life.

2. The second part of the book begins to offer practical advices on cultivating a deep work rout
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Many good pts, but barely any women and a single unneeded Trump reference
Manuel Antão
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Dilettantes at Heart: "Deep Work" by Cal Newport

D Work?

Hang on a second, I just need to head over to the RTP1 to check on the weather. The rain that was forecast ten minutes ago might not be coming after all. Oh look, there's a cat juggling mice. I wonder what Donald Trump is up to. And there's someone talking shite about gun laws in the USA. He's wrong, he needs to be corrected. He's wrong again. And again. And again. What do you m
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
A shallow, poor quality book about deep work. The central idea is about scheduling distraction free blocks of time to help you reach a state of flow with your work so you can achieve more. The useful content could be summed up in about 10 pages. The rest of it is mind-numbing padding. For a guy who doesn’t want his time wasted, he wasn’t exactly respectful of his reader’s time. I grew quickly tired of hearing about how awesome this author is. Some of his comments on business versus academia are ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Cal Newport provides insight from his experience, research, and lessons from others on how to get in the flow of your work to be the most productive. I read this after his first book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” and “Deep Work” helped to build on the lessons in the first book.

In general, the key is to find a good work flow by stimulating you in whatever works best and finding blocks of time without interruption to get deep work done. This seems like a good way to be most productive and is on
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it

Say you were shoring up an ideology of service. Where besides abstract idealism would you draw from? Well, America's "me first" set has some very practical things figured out. Habits of mind that help them get "ahead" in the workplace.

This book is a great example of the kinds of literature they produce - it contains important information and some actually good critiques/ techniques for sharpening attention and the effectiveness of one's work. Newport is a very clear writer with a vast view of t
Chris Porter
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
The ability to focus is the new IQ.

I heard that somewhere, from someone smart (or someone with a low IQ who was over compensating).

I realised my ability to focus on one task had degraded horrendously since getting a new smartphone. Since December I've been enjoying this smooth user experience by paying constant homage to the little screen of joy.

The day my usage hit 4 hours I knew I had a problem.

Then I started reading Deep Work.

In a world of distraction the ability to deep work is king. It is i
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Background: Read this during the evenings while attending a scientific conference where I had to concentrate on lectures that I didn't understand 90% of, but still seemed fascinating.

This is not a masterpiece, it's not even a self-help book. You would expect someone that advocates deep work to have put a little bit of deep work into a book about it. It doesn't seem so. Maybe the author was too busy writing and publishing the nine peer-reviewed articles that he keeps claiming to have published wh
Emma Sea
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Newport's main building blocks here is the concept of ego depletion: that our willpower runs down the more we use it. More recent research has cast doubt on the original framing of ego depletion, but still it holds a deep sense of truthiness. Still, Newport's suggestions of ritualizing behaviors in order to minimize my likelihood of slipping into shallow work resonates with me.

It's noteworthy that the book is written for people whose day job involves deep work. If you're a peon during the
Carol (Bookaria)
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
In a world filled with constant distractions and interruptions, our ability to focus deeply and produce quality work has become affected. This book discusses the importance of deep focus and concentration in creating results at work.

I value the author's ideas and found them helpful. My perspective regarding interruptions has shifted and I'm working on managing distractions better which in turn will improve overall efficiency.

Overall, a great book about productivity.
Eva P.
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
The ideas - as far as I read- were good. But the too many examples of white men that have used those ideas first and succeeded, plus the fact that the writer disregards other variables (like all kinds of privilege, economic status, personal preferences etc) made me lose interest to even skim it to the end.
Mario Tomic
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Deep work is probably my favorite book I've read this year, and I can't recommend it enough. In the age of knowledge work, with so many things going on, the ability to do focus and do deep work is a precious asset to have. As Cal says: "Focus is the new IQ." We can all agree that there's just too many distractions happening around us, smartphones, apps, social media and all the things we're enjoying today have turned us into multi-tasking machines. Unfortunately for us, our brains aren't designe ...more
Wholly convincing exploration of why focus is valuable, why it has become rare, and how to cultivate it. Worried that you're an Old Person in an employment sector overrun with Millenials like software tech? You won't be after reading this. The perfect complement to It Doesn't Have to be Crazy at Work. While that book focuses on the org, this is completely focused on the individual. I'm excited to try out the suggested techniques and will report back in a few months on what I've seen in practice. ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the last years I have been on a quest to develop a more naturally flowing and productive way of life. The ability to focus, to prioritize and to rest is essential for someone who is engaged in an intellectually demanding job, has an unquenchable curiosity, and leans towards ambitious goal setting.

A first breakthrough came in the shape of the Personal Kanban approach. In contrast with a primitive and myopic to do-list driven routine, PK gave more context to time management decisions, provide
Mike Vardy
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Deep Work is an incredibly well researched and insightful book. Cal Newport has upped his game as an author — which is no small feat considering his past work has been phenomenal – with this latest effort.

The practical insights and thought that has gone into this book is well worth your time and energy. Newport has painstakingly crafted a tremendous arguments that proposes we spend more time on work that has greater impact in our lives (and the lives of others) and he also offers some tactical w
Feb 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: anne bogel
Shelves: audible
I give the content a 4. Many good things to consider and shift. Many concepts I want to discuss and implement.
Unfortunately, Newport only interviews men. It's so frustrating and the book loses value. It would have been so easy to interview some women about their deep work. Could have been so much more.
Willian Molinari
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, non-fiction
re-reading 2017
I will work on a new project and this book will be a perfect fit for the new work environment, so I decided to revisit it.

I wrote my book (Desconstruindo a Web: As tecnologias por trás de uma requisição) using Deep work and it was an amazing experience.

Embrace boredom is the most difficult practice from this book. I use my phone a lot but most of the time I'm listening to audiobooks or podcasts. Instant messengers are still part of my daily life, I have to schedule some time to us
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book as a pragmatic guide to ordering work and study. Having come of age during the mid-2000s when Facebook was just getting its wheels, I definitely allowed myself to be blindsided by the seduction of constant social updates. I probably spent the better part of the past decade somewhat handicapped by some form of addiction to notifications and updates of some kind. College for me was a time of near-constant distraction. I found that the only way to truly study was to print out th ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
So this is a 4 because this book is my mantra and my holy book in the War Against Open Offices. It wasn't super convincing (as I already believe in the God of Personal Privacy), but I did really like the bits about constructing your entire day and making your evening after work productive.

And yes, I picked it up because I am not achieving any of my non-work/non-reading goals and need Life Structuring advice.

I have been preaching the gospel to my colleagues.

(thanks netgalley!)
Cindy Rollins
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, audiobooks
On the one hand, I loved this book because it is a good reminder to limit distraction, but on the other hand it seemed not to take in some things about knowledge work that make this even harder, like the use of a computer for writing and the fact that ALL advertising is done online for most small businesses. Still you can't go wrong taking a step back from social media and the terrible distractions of this brave new world.
Kate ☀️ Olson
5 stars for a book that I can NOT stop thinking about. It's a book I don't necessarily fully agree with, but it's also a book that has changed my life in numerous ways in the past few weeks since starting it. My reflections and life changes are ongoing and I have already recommended this title to my entire school district staff because of the massive implications it has on student learning as well as adult success.

Someday I want to sit down with Cal and try to convince him that Instagram isn't
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Cal Newport is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, and the author most recently of Deep Work, a book which argues that focus is the new I.Q. in the modern workplace, and So Good They Can’t Ignore You, a book which debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. He has also written three popular books of unconventional advice for students. Hi ...more
“If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.” 68 likes
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.” 60 likes
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