Nenad Nikolić

I was interested in reading this book, but after reading a few comments I have second thoughts. is this another book that uses confirmation bias to "prove" its point? I stay away from books that have nice stories that fit what the author is trying to prove, so before I waste my time can someone please give me more info: is it possible that there are a lot of people who did "deep work" and failed?

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. 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.
Vigants Lesausks I am manager of a sales team and it means also reading contracts, negotiating some complicated deals and designing new sales processes.

Being able to find a time to focus on something that brings together all you knowledge, experience and task at hand is crucial to be great instead of just good "administrator" of a group of people.

This book confirmed many of things I was doing already and gave me ideas that I am actually doing now to gain back my "intelligent" time. I want to be useful for my team not only as a walking "google" where they can turn to get answers to whatever problem they have, I want to be rather designer of success - deliver new ideas, implement new efficient processes and way's of selling.
Book thought has lot of references to other books and is written in academic paper style rather than novel. Good thing it is like that and not like most of sales books, that rely more on author's fame and are more like religious book that convince you to jump out of window without actually proving that one can learn to fly on the way down! :)

DON'T expect easy read and novel like story.

DO expect verified advice and lot of references to other books that might help you to go deeper in some details.
Nancy Zonneveld He tells the stories of a few people who did "useless" deep work. One person studied old religious books every day, which was personal interest, not for his work. He didn't gain "succes" or discovered something new in those books... he probably experienced some personal growth... but he also noticed because of the practice with studying those books he was able to study MUCH (don't remember how much, but s remarkable change) better in his actual school study and because of that achieved huge succes.

And there is a story of how to remember a random deck of cards. Absolutely useless, but it will help your memory.

Or training yourself not to look on your phone when you have to wait 5 minutes. Doing this will not make you succesfull directly, but it will train your brain to stop looking for distractions, which will help you do deep work.

And he says you have to do some non deep work too. The maximum is around 70% deep work (where 50% is already also really good). Because if you go beyond the 70% you will probably be a loner that doesn't go out of the house and only working on your little project that no one else is interested in. In that case you will probably fail.

And of course not every article you write, or whatever job you do, will be the best article ever, but in the book there is proof that the ones living to opimize deep work in normal hours do better work (being published) than the ones making more hours.
Phil L. Deep Work insists that first and foremost, one must choose a "deep work philosophy", and indeed presents several approaches. My understanding is that depending on who you are (personality) and what your occupation is, some philosophies are better or worse suited for you, personally. The author actually encourages the reader to come up with their own personal take.

The vast amount of data and advice/suggestions you'll find is insightful, because it helps you reflect on how you want to proceed about doing your work (he claims, and I agree, that individuals and organizations often know 'what' to do but struggle on the 'how' to do it, this book is entirely, literally, about providing solutions in that regard).

So I don't think one can really "fail", nor does the book try to "prove" anything beyond showing real-world examples of how this or that individual managed to actually get their job/goals done. What you take out, and how you design your own philosophy and methodology for deep work, is left entirely up to you. There will be key, unvarying aspects obviously (e.g. you go "deep"), but from a CEO sitting in the middle of their team all day long, to a craftsman working alone in a quasi monastical life, there are infinite variations.

I think the book is filled with very useful tips and tricks and considerations on how to achieve whatever it is you're seeking, and in that sense, it's well worth a read. It only took two evenings for me to complete it, which is negligible compared to the benefits over the years I hope to reap from this read (and subsequent application of some of its advice, notably scheduling, email/social media behavior, and a general philosophy of such "deep work" that integrates with a larger concern of mine to develop a top-notch work ethic).

I can't really comment on other people, but in my humble opinion, those who failed at deep work didn't fail because of the book, but rather because they wouldn't put in both massive and smart effort. If anything, the book can only help, certainly not hinder one's achievements.
margaret I think it would depend on what you mean by 'failed'. His premise isn't only that deep work leads to success, but that it leads to a life well lived. He also is quite clear that our modern society is not designed for deep work and that figuring out how to do it is a major task. In fact, that's the whole 2nd half of the book....

If you're familiar with his blog & his previous books, it's very much a natural continuation of those ideas, backed by numerous references to Postman, Csikszentmihalyi and others.
Boni Aditya (1) Confirmation Bias - YES; He keeps asking us to quit social media citing super performers who live without network tools; In fact use the tools that are only useful for your goals and throw away the rest.

(2) Staying away from books that have nice stories that fit with what the author is trying to say - REALLY? No. The reason why authors use examples is to make it easy for people to understand their concepts and to keep them engaged. If the author were to only write their core concepts and theories - Often they would end up reading their own books. At the end of the day you have to understand that the author is try to sell a book filled with ideas - But the recent trend is to sell one idea in a book - because "why not?" They can write ten books that way - and sell ten ideas; If they put all the ten ideas in one books - They could only sell one book! So you are now burdened to read hundreds of books to cultivate a hundred ideas! Sad, but true! If you were to throw out all the books that have these short stories, that the author chooses to prove a point, you will end up throwing almost all the books on iTunes Library.
But I admire authors, that present short stories about cases where his theory backfired. i.e. I have read books where the authors clearly mention "what not to do" But in this case the author only concentrates on examples that favor his theories.

(3) DEEP WORK & FAILURE - YES; Deep Work != Success (Deep Work does not guarantee success) But, Deep work is the pre-requisite to success. If Success is a fortress you have to cross this moat of Deep Work, but just because you were able to cross the moat does not mean that you will be successful. Deep Work goes hand in hand with the 10,000 rule of malcolm gladwell - If you want to cross the 10,000 hour potential - It means that you should be able to give up everything for 10 years not just Internet, You should get rid of TV, Radio, FM, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Orkut, or whatever. They are just habits that are designed to be sticky. Either way if you don't have a goal - What is the point of not using all of this? The author does not concentrate on this population. He assumes that everybody had a goal ! That is far from the truth almost 80% of people have useless goals - i.e. will not produce any useful products or services! EITHER WAY THIS BOOK IS ONLY FOR WRITERS, EDITORS, SCRIPT WRITERS, TRANSLATORS, FINANCE INDUSTRY AND PROGRAMMERS, ONLY PEOPLE WHO WORK WITH KNOWLEDGE. Only for people who need to keep learning throughout their lives! Less than 10% of people need to do this - Thus this book is not really useful for everyone. This book is crap for people who work in an assembly line for example. They work like machines and do they really need this book? NO - Will they succeed by Deep Work? NO - Deep Work only works in fields that give exponential returns! Knowledge that keeps building on your old knowledge. DEEPWORK != SUCCESS; Success today is measured by the amount you make - THe amount you make need not depend on how much you learn or how much you make. If you sit at the top of a huge corporation, you make money by virtue - without really doing anything. Thus, you are successful by not doing anything i.e. by not disturbing the existing set up, you are a SUCCESS -How good is that?
Pankaj Suneja
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Vinil There is always something to be learned out of failure. Anything you learn or read will come in handy in some way or the other. One just cannot say when or how.
Omar Mizdaq Nenad I think that with any attempt or approach at self-improvement there will be many who 'failed'. What do you mean by 'failure', though? Did these people decide it wasn't the right approach for them? Or was it too difficult/impractical for them? Or was it the right message received at the wrong time? What is the overall % of readers who 'failed'? If you gained a few insights but didn't do everything that the author recommended, can that be called 'failing'? Of course, we can never know the answers to these questions, and I don't think they're really important. Clearly you are drawn to the promise of Deep Work, so I would suggest the only way you evaluate it is by reading it and deciding for yourself.

It's also worth bearing in mind that, to paraphrase Stephen Pressfield in his classic "The War of Art", that whenever we try to improve ourselves, the force of resistance will appear and use every method possible to sabotage our efforts, including giving us reasons to not even get started.

I'm reading it now, and I personally I think it's easily the best self-development book i've read since "Mastery". If I manage to implement even a tenth of what he recommends, I would consider it a priceless success and my life hugely improved. Wishing you good luck with your efforts.
Nate Yes. It's mostly a premise supported with examples. There's little to no effort put into providing opposing viewpoints or examples. With that said, though, I'm finding some value in the book, and many of the author's ideas resonate with my personal experience.
Doganalp Ergenc There should be some people failing this because it really requires a significant effort to get yourself on track, especially when you used to live with that many sneaky distractions that you may not be even aware of. I wouldn't accuse the author with "confirmation bias" for such possible examples. Moreover, nothing in this book is originally claimed by the author, they all are taken other scientific studies, self-help books, or -as it makes you suspicious- anecdotes from some inspiring and successful people.

I would see this book as a spark to inspire you to read and learn more about the topic, even following the references in the book. It definitely does not say the final word or prove anything.
Pvorona The author says that if your work is cognitively demanding and directly depends on "hard thoughts", i.e. engineering, science, math, and so on, the real value you produce is when you think deeply and uninterrupted. Which is common sense: if the only way to do your job is by thinking deeply, increasing amounts of time you do so will allow you to do more/better job.
Of course, it's not like that for all people. If you are a driver you don't need to produce hard thoughts and therefore this book is not of much value to you.
Brando read it. It's worth it.
Papaphilly I do not think fail is the right metric to measure. No matter how much time and effort one puts into a project, sometimes they do not work out for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the work habits. It is good advice with good techniques provided. Where the fail comes in is not the quality of work, but the ability to have time to focus on the work. You might have the time, but not the abilities. this work assumes you have the abilities to succeed and now need the time.
Image for Deep Work
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more