Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Reviewed on , book by Cal Newport

While always having held focus time dearly, I needed a reminder. In the same way as we feel most passionate about a subject (or value) immediately after finishing a book on it, I knew the importance of deep work to me had drifted… I wasn’t clocking the number of hours in flow I used to.

In the same way that reading ‘Quiet’ gave me permission to be an unapologetic introvert, “Deep Work” reinforced the need to make deep work number one priority most days. It reinforced my habit booking meetings with myself to protect uninterrupted stretches of time. It confirmed that I should not feel guilty not replying to poor messages, or feel guilty waiting hours to days to reply to others. It confirmed that ‘immediate responses’ required by myself or others is a symptom of lack of prudence, not a requirement to effectively get work done. That it can reinforce a reactive, shallow culture. It echoed the need to block Slack or Email for half-day increments, and not feeling bad giving people feedback that they’re being ruthlessly inefficient in their communication, requiring too much back-and-forth, wasting their time and mine. Just because you can easily have a 20 minute exchange back-and-forth doesn’t mean it wasn’t better served with two emails.

If you need a reminder, too, pick it up. The last star would’ve been granted for more research rather than anecdotes, but it served its primary purpose for me—I just wish I understood more of the neuroscience.