The blog ofJonathan Pepin

Notes from Deep Work by Cal Newport [raw]


“In my retiring room I am by myself,” Jung said

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

the state of mental strain that accompanies deep work is also necessary to improve your abilities.

The reason knowledge workers are losing their familiarity with deep work is well established: network tools.

This state of fragmented attention cannot accommodate deep work, which requires long periods of uninterrupted thinking.

Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.

In an age of network tools, in other words, knowledge workers increasingly replace deep work with the shallow alternative—constantly.

Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.

Our work culture’s shift toward the shallow (whether you think it’s philosophically good or bad) is exposing a massive economic and personal opportunity for the few who recognize the potential of resisting this trend and prioritizing depth.

Deep work is not some nostalgic affectation of writers and early-twentieth-century philosophers. It’s instead a skill that has great value today.

The first has to do with learning. We have an information economy that’s dependent on complex systems that change rapidly.

The second reason that deep work is valuable is because the impacts of the digital network revolution cut both ways. If you can create something useful, its reachable audience (e.g., employers or customers) is essentially limitless.

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

Three to four hours a day, five days a week, of uninterrupted and carefully directed concentration, it turns out, can produce a lot of valuable output.

In this new economy, three groups will have a particular advantage: those who can work well and creatively with intelligent machines, those who are the best at what they do, and those with access to capital.

Two Core Abilities for Thriving in the New Economy

1. The ability to quickly master hard things.

2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.

If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive—no matter how skilled or talented you are.

The two core abilities just described depend on your ability to perform deep work.
To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction.

High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)