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Weekend Read: Deep Work by Cal Newport

True craftsmanship and innovation can only be honed when one dedicates the largest chunk of their workday to chipping away at the problem they need to solve. Click To Tweet

As a lover of fiction, I hardly read non-fiction and I certainly do not wander into the self-help section of any bookstore. But this book was on a Goodreads list created by a podcast host I love and respect. For those who are unfamiliar with the type of list I am talking about, it is like a curated playlist of sorts.

If I were to break it down in three sentences:

  • Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.
  • Shallow work is work performed while distracted without deep thought or exploration (the kind of work most of us end up doing in the age of social media)
  • Mastering the tools that allow for deep work is the key to finding meaningful success in the 21st Century.

Newport claims that email is the enemy of deep work as are all those notifications pinging away every few minutes on your devices. The short bursts of work you do between each ‘urgent’ email is not the way to succeed in the world we live in.

True craftsmanship and innovation can only be honed when one dedicates the largest chunk of their workday to chipping away at the problem they need to solve. That problem is different for everyone but it requires the same unflinching attention.

This is especially true of knowledge workers, the odd breed of labourers whose work happens on screens and exists in the world as intangible ideas, notions and…. blog posts. The knowledge worker’s life is filled with distraction, there is not enough time in the day to empty your in-tray before it fills up again.

The book asserts that to learn hard things quickly you must focus entirely without distraction. That may seem like a tall order, it is hard enough picking up a book and reading a few chapters but the book is full of examples of exceptional people who have cracked the code to deep work and found unbelievable success as a result. A doctor at the cutting edge of research and discovery in their field, a techpreneur and investor making millions in Silicon Valley, and a software developer who leveraged her immense talent to give herself freedom and her choice of eager clients.

Worth the read? Absolutely. This book might just change your life.

Joy Matiri

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5 responses to “Weekend Read: Deep Work by Cal Newport”

  1. […] This is not an article about learning a new skill in order to apply it to real life. No one in their right mind could trust me to put together an Excel sheet if they had a computer packages graduate at hand. I sought out to see if I could do well at something that did not come naturally to me and I think I did. I also learned that there is joy in doing something for the sake of doing it. And last, I learned that some barriers are entirely made up. […]

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