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Life gets busy. Has Deep Work by Cal Newport been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, learn some key ideas now.
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StoryShots Summary, Analysis and Key Insights of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Cal Newport’s Perspective
Cal Newport is a professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University. In addition to his academic research, he writes articles and blog posts on the intersection of digital technology and culture. Cal has written for the New Yorker and the New York Times. He also has a long-running blog called Study Hacks, which receives millions of visits a year.
StoryShot #1: Unlike Shallow Work, Deep Work Increases Your Productivity
Deep work involves professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration for extended periods. This degree of concentration helps you push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, strengthen your skills, and are hard to replicate. In effect, deep work will optimize your performance and allow you to produce at a peak level.
The opposite of deep work is shallow work. Deep work is about focusing on one particular task that requires intense mental effort for a long time. On the other hand, shallow work is the kind of task that requires little mental effort and can be done while doing other activities. These efforts tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate. Examples of shallow work are answering emails, making phone calls, checking social media and attending meetings. Shallow work can sometimes be helpful. It allows for relaxation and breaks. But the problem is when we unconsciously prioritize shallow tasks over more important deep tasks.
StoryShot #2: Deep Work Is Valuable
Deep work is not the only skill valuable in our economy. However, it is one of the essential skills to acquire. When you are in a state of deep work, your output is unique and cannot be replicated by someone else. For example, if you can intensely concentrate and write useful code that is not easily replicable, you have produced something valuable.
If you want to be a winner in the new economy, there are two core abilities you must possess:
- The Ability to Learn Hard Things: The ability to learn complex topics quickly will play a key role in your attempt to master and perform any given skill. For example, becoming a world-class yoga instructor requires you to master an increasingly complex set of physical skills. To excel in a particular area of medicine, to give another example, requires that you quickly master the latest research related to relevant procedures.