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Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

A New BookNewport_DeepWork_HC_web

I’m excited to announce my new book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

The book will be published on January 5th (though it’s available now for pre-order). In this post, I want to provide you a brief sneak peek.

My Deep Work Mission

If you’ve been reading Study Hacks over the past few years, you’ve witnessed my increasing interest in the topic of deep work, which I define to be the act of focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.

I firmly believe that deep work is like a superpower in our current economy: it enables you to quickly (and deliberately) learn complicated new skills and produce high-value output at a high rate.

Deep work is also an activity that generates a sense of meaning and fulfillment in your professional life. Few come home energized after an afternoon of frenetic e-mail replies, but the same time spent tackling a hard problem in a quiet location can be immensely satisfying.

There’s a reason why the people who impress us most tend to be people who deployed intense focus to make a dent in the universe; c.f., Einstein and Jobs.

Focus is the New I.Q.

Which brings me to my new book…

Deep Work is divided into two parts. The first part is dedicated to making the case for this activity. In particular, I provide evidence that the following hypothesis is true:

The Deep Work Hypothesis.
Deep work is becoming increasingly valuable at the same time that it’s becoming increasingly rare. Therefore, if you cultivate this skill, you’ll thrive.

The second part of the book provides strategies for acting on this reality.

Drawing on my own habits, the habits of other adept deep workers, and reams of relevant science, I describe how to improve your ability to work deeply and how to make deep work a major part of your already busy schedule.

In this second part, you’ll also find detailed elaborations of some of my more well-known ideas on supporting deep work, from time blocking, to fixed-schedule productivity, to depth rituals — in addition to many more tactics that I’m revealing for the first time.

More Information

If you want to learn more about the book, the Amazon page includes the full flap copy as well as the nice endorsements it received from Dan Pink, Seth Godin, Matthew Crawford, Adam Grant, Derek Sivers and Ben Casnocha.

You can also read this extended excerpt on Medium that discusses how a star professor uses deep work to dominate his field.

The book will be released on January 5th but is available for pre-order today on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

57 thoughts on “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”

  1. I’m very curious about what you are going to say about Deep Work in your book. I found the thoughts and bits in this blog interesting enough!

  2. Now, after reading the excerpt, two things come to my mind.

    First of all, Peter Drucker wrote 50 years ago that effective knowledge workers batch tasks together and work on tasks in long, uninterrupted sessions. For example, he recommended writing the zero draft of a business report in one strectch; the editing could be done during smaller time blocks.

    Or he recommended setting up a laboratory experiment in one long stretch, whereas the measurements could be taken during smaller time blocks once the experiment was working.

    So this is by no means new.

    The other question that comes to my mind is that in Straight-A and in some blog article, I think the one about discrete math, you recommend using “short cognitive bursts”, no longer than an hour.

    I’m wondering how these two seemingly antagonistic concepts go together; obviously, it is hard to maintain high concentration beyond the point of cognitive exhaustion.

    But then of course trying to produce something and trying to learn something new are not exactly the same thing.

    • I agree A.I., that producing something (creative process) and learning something new are “not exactly the same thing.” In fact, they are not even close to the same thing. Both use different parts of the brain; and each individual has different capacities and skills within each area. Personally, I could create/produce something all day and all night… but learning something new..?? I’ll tap out after an hour (especially if it’s not real interesting to me). Thanks!

  3. Congrats, Cal. I’ve been reading your blog for years. Your approach has been immensely helpful for me and has, in turn, enabled me to help others as well. Best of luck (but we know it’s not luck!) în everything.

  4. Cal, a question I’ve had recently about your approach to deep work…

    What about ‘desirable difficulty’? The recent finding that, say, alternating between studying calculus, history, and biology at 10-minute intervals is more productive than dedicating four hours to one topic. Or that mastering calculus in an environment full of distraction produces better long term retention.

    Do you address this in your book?

  5. I’ve just finish reading your book: “So good they can’t ignore you”. It was the first non-fiction book that I really can’t put down before reading all of it. It really change my opinion about passion. It’s a great book!

  6. Cal,
    Congrats. Can’t wait to read this.
    Loved your last one, “So Good…”, and then went on to read Steve Martin’s “Born Standing…..”
    Thanks for sharing your thinking and your approaches to life.

  7. Congratulations Cal,
    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I’m awaiting for your new book. Many thanks for your great blog and also the books.

  8. Cal – can’t wait to read the book. Can we expect to hear you on some podcasts soon talking about. I’d love to hear you on Tim Ferriss’ show–or even bigger ones like Lewis Howes’.

  9. Dr. Newport,

    Can’t wait for the new book..

    Loved ‘So Good’ so much. It really was an amazing read and it’s my go-to-bible when I lose motivation. Thank you for your work.

  10. Several of you have asked about kindle versions of the book for overseas markets. My understanding of how this works is that electronic rights are sold country by country. So if you live in a country that bought foreign rights to Deep Work (such as the UK, or South Korea, or China, etc.) then you’ll have a kindle version available. If you live in a country that hasn’t yet bought foreign rights, it’s not available. At least, I believe that’s how this works…

  11. Cal I am living in a country where the Kindle edition is not available. Some people overseas would like to read your work is there another way to get the book in ebook format for us?
    “So good they can’t ignore you” never became available here so we are here still waiting.

  12. Hi, are there any guide book or work book for DeepWork, since I am listening to it on

    Thanks & Love,

  13. Hi Cal,

    I have just finished reading your book, it has been great. I do have some questions about it, but I have no illusions about their chances of being answered. (By the way, a search function would be very appreciated in your blog, it would be kind of a sender filter)

    From a psychological and neuroscientific point of view, I think your definition of deep work collectively covers very different mental capacities (probably purposefully so). However, in terms of fatigue of the particular capacity and its recovery, I think they can be quite varied. For example, deliberate practice of a professional skill, like playing an instrument, studying for an upcoming exam (or programming, as in one of your examples), learning a new language, or creatively producing a paper are very different capabilities and I personally do not think that for example the 4-hour maximum rule of thumb would be equally applicable. From a personal example, I did in fact have to postpone reading your book, because I was writing my PhD thesis and learning a new language simultaneously and I did find that the two activities required somewhat different scheduling and resting patterns. I bet that you have also thought about these issues, could oyu maybe direct me to some further reading on this?

    Thanks and congrats again on your book!

  14. Found this book to be very timely and helpful, and I look forward to more of the kinds of good discussions (and self-evaluation) that my reading of it has already sparked.

  15. Hi Cal, this sounds amazing! It looks like you have a large potential audience of would-be e-readers! Do you have plans to go digital? If not, I would love to help you with that project!?

  16. Hi Cal, I just finished reading “Deep Work”. My question is How do you specifically apply the deck of card memory work to “trying to learn the guitar part of a song by ear?”
    I am a singer and would love to be able to learn song melodies by ear.
    Thank you.


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