Deep Work – Working Smarter, Not Harder

When we run into a book that mesmerizes us, we have the habit of recommending it to our coworkers. Great books make us grow and that’s something we always strive to do here at Teodesk.

This book left such an impression on us, that we decided to spread the word. Allow us to present to you:

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport!

A life-changing and most definitely: a work style-changing literature.

But first thing first. Let’s reveal a few things on Cal.

Cal Newport an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University. So far, he wrote six books, most of them inspired by the impact of technology on society. Two of those are already “superstars” among books that come handy in our industry, providing brand new concepts: it’s Digital Minimalism and Deep Work.

When he is not writing books, he supplies the online world with his exquisite essays on his popular website,

His work has been published in over 20 languages and has been featured in many major publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, Washington Post, and Economist.

His book about a new concept of Deep Work is a sort of a guide on how to develop the superpower of deep focus on cognitively-demanding tasks in a distracted world.

OK, now to elaborate it some more.

The main idea with deep work is to create a new value and improve your skills. It is important to underline that the concept is applicable to a real-word, not only offices and educational establishment.

But, we’ll stick to a business environment for obvious reasons.

A first thing the author does is divide our professional work into two categories:

  • Deep work
  • Shallow work

The ability to perform a deep work he calls the superpower of the 21st century. His own definition is this:

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.

The ability to concentrate without distraction on a demanding task is as rare as it is valuable. Therefore, a deep work will be that element that distinguishes those individuals and organizations that will thrive in the future, from those who will not “survive” what is coming.

So, it is about time to put some hard work to cultivate this skill.

On the other hand, shallow work consists of tasks that can be performed while being distracted. These include handling some not-so-important emails, meetings and other rituals of the modern workplace. Most of them are unavoidable, but nevertheless, we should deal with it so we can create more time and energy to dedicate to deep work. However, this is where we need to be careful.

If a significant amount of resources is invested into shallow work, it automatically reduces the capacity to perform Deep Work.

As Newport concludes, in the future of humanity, there will be only three types of people who will survive and prosper:

  • Owners of the capital (or those with access to it)
  • Anyone who can work with intelligent machines and technology
  • Superstars in their field of work

Deep work refers to the third kind. In order to become one of those superstars, we all need to develop two skills: the ability to quickly master hard things and the ability to produce at an elite level. In terms of both quality and speed, no doubt about it.

So, where can we insert deep work into this?

Well, it’s quite simple. It literally interlinks these two skills.

We all know how things we call hard can be complex and how much of our attention and focus they demand – without the practice of a Deep Work, these things will take even more time to learn, and mistakes will be made, be sure of that.

Here is something that might help with this issue:

The new law of productivity is:

So how come we are not all achieving successful Deep Work?

In Cal Newport’s words:

“Deep work is hard and shallow work is easier and in the absence of clear goals for your job, the visible busyness that surrounds shallow work becomes self-preserving.

4 basic principles of deep work

The implementation of deep work into our everyday lives is based on four basic principles:

  • One must engage in deep work itself

Add some smart routines and rituals to our working life. Like, isolating yourself for long periods of time without distractions, and practicing it in the future at regular intervals.

  • One must learn how to embrace, and not just avoid “boredom”.

This means that we must rewire our brain in order to be comfortable when resisting some sort of distracting stimuli. Try so-called productive meditation. Cal Newport said:

The goal of productive meditation is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally – walking, jogging, driving, showering – and focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem.

  • One must have a plan to “quit social media” (no matter how much it “hurts”)

Ruthlessly discard any website that doesn’t inherently contribute to a quality life. Simple as that. Hard as hell.

  • One should definitely have a plan to “drain the shallows”.

For example, group all “shallow” tasks into specific synergistic time blocks – such as emailing, printing, booking tickets, etc.

But, first thing first – read this book. It will get you closer to deep work and one step closer to success!

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