Chris Porter's Reviews > Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Deep Work by Cal Newport
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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 in these deep periods of concentration that knowledge workers create the most value.

The barometer of success in our culture has become your level of business. The busier you appear, the harder you must be working. We've embraced shallow work that creates the illusion (to us and others) that we are being productive.

If you agree that the most value you can create is done when you laser focus in on one task, then Cal Newport's Deep Work has some rules for you.

Rule #1: Embrace Deep Work

Stick to a routine and create rituals. Work in the same place, at the same time, in the same clothes with the same coffee. These kind constants help you get it to the deep work state quicker.

Rule #2: Become comfortable with boredom.

The enemy of deep work is your mind's desire for distraction. That moment when you hit a mentally taxing part of your work you're going to feel the desire to check your facebook, have a chat with a colleague or open up your phone. This moment is crucial. Ignore the desire, fight through it, train your mind to laser focus.

You should partake in this mental training throughout your day. When you're on the subway you usually reach for your phone, right? Identify those moments of "boredom" and endure them. Sit still with your own thoughts.

In the beginning this will be difficult as we're so used to constant mental stimulation. Here is a handy hack: When you have a moment of boredom, and the desire to check your phone arises say this to yourself: "I can play with my phone, but only after I've waited 5 minutes".

This detaches the reward from the desire.

Rule #3: Quit Social Media

'nuff said really. At the very least, schedule your social media. There is an idea that our constant interconnectedness bring value to our lives and the counter argument is that social media has instead detached the production of value from attention. We now have a "you like mine, I'll like yours" agreement with our social network.

Rule #4: Drain The Shallows

Shallow work (as opposed to Deep Work) is nearly everything other than the specific task which you are uniquely suited to do that brings maximum value in to your would.

A writer writes books. Their shallow work would be: tweeting, email, meetings and book tours. Be merciless in cutting the shallow work from your life.

To identify how shallow a piece of work is ask yourself this question: How long would it take (in months) for a recent college grad (i.e somewhat smart) with no specialised training in my industry to do this job?

Those four rules and hundreds of other ideas and tips make up the book.

As a result of taking this concept serious in my own life, I now take the task that can add the most potential value to my life and I work on it in an un-interrupted session of deep work daily.

Brown noise headphones on, pomodoro timer open, facebook blocked and phone in
airplane mode.

And most importantly of all: my phone usage is now 30 minutes daily.
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Reading Progress

February 2, 2016 – Started Reading
February 3, 2016 – Shelved
February 5, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Stefano (new) - added it

Stefano FaNo Awesome review man. I had heard of these rules and some I already implement, but it's been a while since I do really deep work, so great timing and great reminder.

How about putting all these reviews in your own blog? CleverBooksReviewed.com? Then you can have an aff link to the book :)


Chris Porter Thanks. Glad it helped. I doubt I'd make site our if the reviews, but maybe I'll make a site because I'd like to improve my writing.


P.Marie Boydston Chris. Good job on reducing phone time to 12.5% of your original time though I would be interested to know if that is spent all at one time or broken up into smaller chunks? I tend to believe reading longer more substantive articles rather than snippets engages deeper thinking. All the new technology can offer richness to our learning experiences if we allow ourselves to let it soak in and think about it before moving on.


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