A Focus Opus
It’s official, today is the release of my new book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.
The book argues that deep work (focusing without distraction on a cognitively demanding task) is becoming more valuable in our economy at the same time that it’s becoming more rare.
The implication: if you’re one of the few to take advantage of this trend and cultivate a deep life, you’ll thrive.
Not only will you produce at quantity and quality levels that stun your peers, you’ll also find your work more meaningful and less exhausting.
To make this claim more concrete, consider me as a case study. As a longtime devotee to depth, I’ve been able to publish close to 50 peer-reviewed papers as an academic (earning over 2500 citations), write five books as an author (selling over 200,000 copies), and build a popular blog (300,000 page views last month) — all without working at nights and rarely working on weekends. The secret is my fanatic commitment to deep work.
This highlights an important point that I want to emphasize: This book isn’t a cranky screed about how kids these days spend too much time on the Facebook, and it isn’t a collection of warmed over suggestions about how you should turn off notifications on your phone and not check email first thing in the morning.
It instead calls for a radical transformation to your work life in which focusing with great intensity becomes your core activity, not an occasional indulgence.
With this in mind, the book then details specific strategies, divided among four “rules,” that you can use to accomplish this transformation — covering topics from focus training, to effective scheduling, to rituals and routines, to aggressive tactics for taming the tide of shallow obligations that constantly threaten to drown the typical knowledge worker’s day.
Give Yourself the Gift of Depth
To help you learn more about the book, I’ve included below an annotated table of contents and a link to a long excerpt.
In the meantime…
- If this topic sounds interesting to you — whether you’re a longtime reader of my writing or new to the party — please consider buying a copy of this book.
- If you already bought the book and found it useful, please consider buying copies for your friends or colleagues (if you do buy multiple copies, send me an email so I can thank you personally).
I’m proud of this book and believe it can have an impact on how we think about work in a digital age.
Deep Work is available now at Amazon (kindle and hardcover), Audible, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, or anywhere else books are normally sold.
Annotated Table of Contents
The book is divided into two parts. The first part makes the case for deep work, while the second part teaches you how to become better at this skill.
(Note: An extended excerpt from Chapter 1 is available here.)
In the introduction, I define the key terms deep work and shallow work and then detail the deep work hypothesis summarized above. I also tell the story of my own history with depth, starting with my arrival as a new graduate student at the Theory Group at MIT and continuing until the present day.
PART 1: THE IDEA
Chapter 1: Deep Work is Valuable
In this chapter, I make the argument that deep work is like a super power in the new economy, as it allows you to learn hard things quickly and produce output at high levels of quality and quantity. (Read an excerpt.)
Chapter 2: Deep Work is Rare
In this chapter, I address the elephant in the room: if deep work is so valuable, then why are so many organizations encouraging behaviors that discourage it (e.g., open office plans, constant connectivity, mandatory social media use)? I introduce the ideas of The Principle of Least Resistance, Busyness as a Proxy for Productivity, and The Cult of the Internet to help explain this self-defeating trend.
Chapter 3: Deep Work is Meaningful
In this final chapter of Part 1, I draw from neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy to make the argument that deep work is intrinsically satisfying and provides a much more meaningful work experience than jumping frenetically from one shallow task to another.
PART 2: THE RULES
Rule #1: Work Deeply
This rule details multiple strategies for regularly making time for deep work in your schedule and getting the most value out of these sessions. Among other things, you’ll learn how to find a philosophy for scheduling depth that fits the constraints of your particular job, how to build effective depth rituals, and how and why to implement shut down routines for the end of your day.
Rule #2: Embrace Boredom
This rule details multiple strategies for training your ability to concentrate. It’s motivated by the claim that focus is a skill that must be developed before you can do it with any effectiveness. Among other things, you’ll learn why it’s more important to schedule distraction than to schedule focus, how to meditate productively, and why you should approach your work like Teddy Roosevelt.
Rule #3: Quit Social Media
This rule details multiple strategies for aggressively limiting the sources of carefully-engineered distraction in your life. A core idea of this rule is that most people select digital tools using the any benefit mindset, which claims that you should use a tool if it can provide any benefit. This rule argues that you should instead use the craftsman mindset in which you only select the tools that provide the most substantial benefits to the things you find most important. Or, to simplify greatly: vastly fewer people should be using Facebook.
Rule #4: Drain the Shallows
This rule details multiple strategies for reducing the number of shallow obligations in your professional life and then tackling those that remain with much greater efficiency. The motivating idea for this rule is that if you have too many shallow obligations on your plate, you’ll have no time or energy left for the deep work that really matters. Among other things, you’ll learn why you should negotiate a deep-to-shallow work ratio with your boss, why you’ll get more done if you stop working at 5:30 each day, and how to significantly reduce the time you spend in your email inbox.
I conclude the book with an unexpected take on Bill Gates’s rise to success (hint: he’s really good at deep work), and a final pitch for the value of a deep life as compared to the increasingly exhausting, and increasingly fruitless, swirl of shallow busyness that’s so common today.
89 thoughts on “The Book Facebook Doesn’t Want You to Read”
I commented on another post thread, but wanted to report that I’ve finished Part 1 of this book this morning. This is SUCH a fantastic resource, one that I know I’ll be coming back to time and time again. I’m working on a PhD in Neuroscience, and often find myself conflicted about what constitutes “work” in the knowledge arena compared to the physical and demanding work I grew up doing, on a small farm. This is peeling back the layers of my thinking, Cal, and I can’t thank you enough for that. Deleting the social media stuff feels a bit like standing at a professional precipice, so I look forward to your recommendations. Congrats on another home run, Cal!
Thanks Aaron. If you get a chance, consider leaving an Amazon review!
You got it!
Congratulations! I look forward to reading it. I’ve quit both Facebook and Reddit recently, thanks in part to your blog. Keep up the great work.
I love it! Never look back…
I’ve quit facebook entirely but reddit seems geared for addiction. How did you do it?
I quit Facebook by seeing if I could go without logging onto it for a day.
Then I tried 2 or 3 days.
Then I tried only going on at weekend.
Then I tried 7 days without going on it.
From there I quickly got to a month and once I had done a month without logging into Facebook I went ahead and deleted my profile permanently with no chance of retrieval.
Once submit the request to permanently delete your Facebook profile you have to NOT log in for 14 days. After that, it’s gone forever.
By the time I did this I hadn’t logged into it in about 6 weeks and so another 2 weeks was nothing to me by that stage.
This was back in February 2012 and it was gone by April 2012.
I have to admit though, I never accessed Facebook on my smart phone, only on through the web browser on my laptop.
If I was to recommend how I Facebook smart phone user implement a similar strategy to try and quit Facebook (or something equally distracting) The first step I’d recommend is deleting the app from your smart phone and only access these sites on a PC or laptop at the end of the day when you get home from school/college/work.
From there you can follow similar steps to the ones listed above.
I’m doing the same! The first step was deleting the app from my phone. It’s easier everyday to forget about Facebook. Best thing I have done for my productivity!!!
Have been waiting for months to buy this, but today the kindle version is not available on the Australian Amazon store – only the US one. Any idea when it will be available outside the US?
I am extremely interested to buy the book but I am facing a hard situation. The book is not available in kindle format at kindle store and I Live in Brazil and the hardcover format of the book take at least 8 weeks to get here. May you check the availability of the book in kindle format, please? Thanks,
I am looking for the kindle, too. I live in Singapore, and I move once in several years. So i prefer digital books.
I transfered my amazon account to USA . Now I can buy the kindle edition =)
Another Brazilian here, asking about when it will be available for Kindle.
I live in Brazil too. Bought it in Google Play.
P.S. Definitely worth it! Full of great ideas!
I am a Brazilian and purchased the kindle version. All you have to do is temporarily migrate your kindle account to Amazon US.
Hey guys, could someone please post the link for the kindle version? I cannot find it in the U.S. Amazon…
Got the book last night on Kindle. Thank you so much. Already read part 1. Love it. I also dropped from Facebook this week– I’m just too private a person. I am also trying to figure out what is the area at work that I would work on that would entail “deep work” from me.
Excellent. As I suggested to Aaron above, if you get a chance to leave an Amazon review, I’m sure others will find your opinion of the book useful…
Any chance of publishing the audiobook somewhere else? I’m trying to buy it, but it says I can’t in my country (Australia). I really want this audiobook!
When did you work on the book? Did it get slots of time between 9 to 5 or was it “after work” work?
Thanks for setting a good example!
Early in the mornings. Weekends. A lot while traveling (I travel a lot). Reasonable amounts of deep work, consistently applied, can over time produce something large…
Cal.. I am a big time fan of your blog and books.. I just want to imitate you in all aspects of my life. Though I am a housewife as of now but applying your methods in everything has made things easy and different for me. I was a big time procastinator but now I set my timings for everything.. say for cooking, cleaning, teaching my kid or washing the dishes. I also do some freelance work as a writer.. this too is a deep work for sure. I have written Facebook, Instagram. Just YouTube and a few blogs are what internet means for me now. I hope I am going the correct way.. I would like to know more about deep work for housewives and how they can apply it in their lives. it will be really helpful for me if you do a post or reply my comment.. as I want to spend my life doing mostly deep work.
For those struggling to buy kindle or audible versions overseas, I apologize if it’s not available. My publisher sells those writes country by country, so a lot of places don’t have them for now…
Still in the early part of the book, but it seemed the section on email misses a big reason for constant connectivity- competitiveness. In many cases, an email will be sent to multiple recipients, and those that respond first often decide how soem important issue will be handled, grab a plum assignment, or just look responsive. Not getting in there quickly can be bad for your career. I think this is why it worked at Boston Consulting, because the whole team had to shut off.
If a company tries to mandate email usage, people will find other ways to look responsive, like setting up a Slack channel. There will always be jobs where people are measured based on how fast they can respond to email or texts at all hours, but is that the type of job you really want?
Bought my copy from Amazon UK last night.
Long time Cal fan but my commitment to deep work has been limited to this point. My work setup (IT freelancer working at home) means that I’m able to set aside blocks of time to focus on a single task and remove all distraction.
I have been testing some deep work techniques since mid December. I would readily admit that distraction at work has been my achilles heel for many years – I’ve long wanted to change.
I’ve noticed feelings of guilt that I am not replying to emails / messages within minutes, failing to respond immediately to telephone calls etc, but on balance have noticed zero negative effects from putting an additional buffer between myself and this type of work to this point.
Deep work is my commitment for 2016.
Just placed my order! I am looking forward to reading your new book as your previous ones were incredibly helpful as well as your blog so I am convinced that this one will be as well.
You managed to achieve so much in so little time. I am not saying that did not include a lot of effort as I am certain it did, but as a student at a leading research institute I get to see so many people struggling to get where you are, people who have many more years of experience so I glad you published this new book as I am incredibly curious to learn more about your methods.
Good luck and happy new year!
An update for Australian readers: you should have access to kindle and audio books (the UK commonwealth rights are being handled by a subsidiary of my publisher and the book has the same publication date there as in the US). It seems kindle is working but audio is not, so I am getting in to that right now…
Hi. Just finished the book and I really like it. Just one small criticism: aren’t there an awful lot of men as examples, especially in the beginning but also throughout? Even if the historical examples might be skewed it seems that also your own interviewees are exclusively men. Just a thought for improvement in the future.
That said, thank you for a great book!
How do you compare your thesis on “deep work” with Tim Galleway’s extremely successful “Inner Game of …” series. He seems to suggest exactly the opposite of what you are saying. It would be interesting if you can throw some light on this issue.
Hey Cal, I first heard of you through Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative Podcast. I have found great expanses of undeveloped real estate in my creative life for your practical knowledge work about improving knowledge work. Deliberate practice is making its way onto my schedule, and I’m anxious to add deep work into my daily rhythm.
As a designer, my only gripe is with the cover design! haha. I’m sure you didn’t want to detract attention from the treasure within. Thanks again, Cal. You rock!
I got the book yesterday. I especially love the part about–if we can’t measure the impact of our work activities, then we’ll default to doing easy, less deep and less valuable work. So it seems important to study ourselves beyond the surface, and this book shows how.
Also, your last book “So good they can’t ignore you” –while most self improvement books are good or at least OK, this book is rare in that it caused me to change my approach to work–massively improving my business and personal fulfillment.
Thanks Carl — I always appreciate your comments.
And, of course, if you get a chance, leave an Amazon review!
I am really looking forward to get my book (ordered in Switzerland, will take one week more to get it…). I was already a fan from “So Good”, I hope to get now some tips on how to choose between thousands of deep work opportunities: As an academic too, I am still struggling to wisely distribute my deep work between writing papers (I have 4 in the row…), process data and program for it, setting up a new minor in my field, etc, etc.
How you manage to handle all that together is still a mystery for me… 🙂
But congrats, it is very motivating! And best of luck and inspiration for your next steps!
PS: I will post a review on Amazon.de once I have read your book
Thanks for the book, Deep Work. I completed my first reading (kindle edition) this morning as a “Dry Run” and must say I’m very impressed. By coincidence and NOT as a new year resolution, I will work with this book to the full extent to see the value I’ll get. I had already thought on using some of the tools/processes before reading and am glad to see them in the book.
I have scheduled a 90 day program to go through the book and will provide an honest feedback both here and on Amazon. I am an extrovert who’s adapted some introverted behavior. Since you’re an introvert, I want to test to see how my nervous system will adjust and adapt to the contents of your book.
Great job and thanks.
I just wanted to personally thank you Cal for making this blog. It has COMPLETELY changed the way I look at work and I have been reading much of your material. I hope to read this book one day! Thank you!
My copy arrived today and have excitedly begun to read it. I have long enjoyed your work, even when I disagree with it. (I make my Business Ethics students read “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” and it always provokes fruitful and spirited debate.)
On p. 7 on “Deep Work,” you make a provocative claim: “Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you _permanently_ reduce your capacity for deep work.” Do you have a citation for this sentence? I could not find one in the notes section in the back. I am curious to know what evidence there is for it.
I just started reading this book.
Some really good insights here, but some of the examples used obscure the quality of the principles.
This is ‘table stakes’ programming and doesn’t really need ‘deep thought’, and fits the work profile of “junior developer”, and so is a terrible example *for the ‘deep thought provides you an edge over other peers” idea*. The 100k salary is a very basic salary in the Bay Area, where cost of living is sky high, and 30 – 40 k would disappear in rent alone, before taxes.
Most good companies building such application take people fresh from college, give them 4 to 6 weeks training and have them contributing to live projects after that. To use programming as an example of deep work effectiveness, you need to get a top notch programmer, say John Carmack, and tell us how *he* works. Or find a programmer making 300k annually and tell us how *she* got to that position.
The Dev Bootcamp program he went through has a mixed (at best) reputation among programmers and people who hire programmers. see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7599475 for e.g, When the answer to “how long does it take a fresh college grad to do this job?” (to use Cal’s question to judge relative importance of things tbd) is “19 weeks” that is hardly an advertisement for “deep work”
That said, once I got past this example (which was really grating, since I am a professional programmer) , the book became much better.
Totally agree Ravi. I was tripped up with that anecdotal story too. I think there were tiny parts, like when the guy forces himself to be in a room with just the books to get into deeply learning programming, that was what Cal was trying to get at. But you’re right. I’d like to hear more on how the guy who developed Ruby on Rails solidified his craft.
Pretty sure the point of that story was he had basically no marketable skills before focusing on learning how to code.
Shows what even a short burst of intense focus can do.
One doesn’t learn programming by locking oneself into a room with no computers and learning off books and flashcards – which is what Cal reports the guy did. I mean yes you *could* learn that way, but it is a terribly inefficient way to do it. Maybe there are details missing here but *as stated* this is a terrible example *for “Deep Work in (learning) Programming”*.
I’d rather have a really really skilled programmer – say John Carmack or Linus Torvalds as an example rather than some junior dev who can hack together a CRUD site with RoR after 19 weeks of ‘training’. The fact that people can get hired with barely usable skills is more about the gold rush in San Fransisco than about ‘deep skills’. The guy discussed could be the exception, but there is nothing in the book to support the idea.
All that said, I did find the rest of the book tremendously valuable (Amazon review coming up soon). It is just that this particular example doesn’t (imo) hold up to scrutiny *for the principle being it is supposed to support*.
Really enjoyed the new book Cal. Lots of interesting case studies and very useful references to other published papers/books that expanded on some of the important points you make. Have already recommended it to numerous friends swamped in shallow work.
As a knowledge worker in an open-plan office with constant interruptions and distractions, dedicating any time during the working day to deep work is all but impossible. I’m experimenting with blocking out two hours before work every day to engage in genuine deep work.
I just have two questions. If, and it’s a big if, I manage to carve out 8-10 hours per week of deep work outside of office hours, do you have any suggestions for ways to enhance the quality of that deep work by complementing it with certain tasks during the busy working day? My second question is if I am not even trying to engage in deep work after 9am, in your opinion is it still important to disengage from social media and other such distractions for the rest of the day?
Good questions. During the shallow portion of your day, you can do *support* work for upcoming deep work blocks. I don’t know what you do for a living, but in many jobs, there’s usually an aspect of gathering and organizing information that can then make it easier to dive in a produce something valuable next time you have a deep block open. Also, I do think it’s excellent practice ceding to distraction at all times of your day. If you want to check on your social media during the day, put aside a single time to do it. The key is not so much to not see social media, but instead to get practice not giving into boredom and jumping over to it every time your attention flags (see Rule #2: Embrace Boredom for a lot more on this).
And, of course, since you said you liked the book, consider writing an Amazon review!
I purchased for my kindle and hardcover for the library of the house. Like the others books. So good I read it three times..
The concept of deep work since the first post of this blog. I hope to start a slow and compressive reading today.
I live in Spain and the audiobook is not available in Audible and I didn’t see it in the iTunes Store. Please launch the audiobook as well international.
I love it! Thanks for the support.
The foreign rights are complicated, but I know the team at Grand Central (my publisher) is working hard to get the book in as many formats as possible in as many countries as possible.
I just got this book and read it in a single sitting, even though (or maybe because) I have a huge pile of work on my desk. I’m a musician completing my DMA (our version of a Ph.D.) with two teaching posts and two performing posts, so the “bleed” between shallow and deep work is a big issue for me. Last night I officially “shut down” at 7:30 (my day starts at 10) and was ecstatic – I usually just plug on endlessly past midnight and wake up mumbling something about how I hate everyone and everything.
One question – how do you deal with minor setbacks during deep work? I’m thinking of things like fatigue, a headache, maybe an upsetting conversation that distracts you. I’ve handled it both ways and found satisfaction with neither. On the one hand, if I power through, I usually don’t feel like I’m genuinely doing deep work, because I’m not totally engaged. On the other hand, if I’d planned to do deep work and don’t because of something like that, I feel like I’m not fulfilling my commitment to my work. A perfect example, I’d scheduled some deep work *right. now* because it was the only time I could fit it in, but I just drove through rush hour traffic for 45 minutes and am braindead. So I’m drinking some coffee and browsing blogs right now, hoping I’ll be up for it in a few minutes. Do you have ideas about that kind of thing?
Congrats on a great book!
I’m a big fan of your blog!
I’m a PhD Student in Brazil.
For studying, I use the pomodore technique and the spaced repetition.
So, I focus for 25 minutes and then I relax for others 5 minutes. Also, if I study for subject A on Monday, I’ll study for subject B on Tuesday and only on Wednesdsy I’ll return yo subject A.
Am I doing everything wrong to reach Deep Work?
I’m about halfway through the book and have to say I think it’s your best one yet. Coincidentally I’ve grown with your books as each one has been published, using the tools in Win at College throughout my college career, calling on So Good as I began my professional career, and now turning to Deep Work as I try to figure out how to bridge my existing skills with growing opportunities in my field that require building some new ones. One thing I’ve always been eager to see on this blog is a list of Further Reading or books you have found personally helpful to your professional and academic development. There are so many referenced in Deep Work that I’m thrilled to have added to my reading list and I’ve long since read the two on the blog’s homepage, but I’m curious if there’s any chance of a future blog post dedicated to recommended resources and further reading on the topics of deliberate practice, skills trumping passion, etc.? I understand if such a post might be misconstrued as endorsement for a particular title, but nonetheless I thought I’d ask!
Wow, you are one of the best writer.
I am a big fan of yours.
Balbir Singh (Author: Battle to Success)
I bought both a hardcover and eBook version of the book, might be your finest work yet! (Proud owner of 4 of your books now). “Talent is Overrated” and “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” have been my bibles for strategic thinking and some tactics, but I still felt like I was lacking in the execution department. This book has already done a lot for my thinking, and I’ve been able to put a lot of your advice into action.
One quick suggestion: it would be great to have an executive summary with the book that outlines the major points in the book. I take my own notes, but it would be nice to have an outline to refer to. I find a good executive summary really helps tie everything together. Personally, I wouldn’t even mind paying for a good summary.
Congrats on the book Cal! Looking forward to recommending it to and buying it for friends.
I am only half way through this book but love the message, it is so much in line with what I have realized and learned these last few years.
I have come to believe that my consultancy will only survive if me and my employees have time to be in flow and do deep work, spinning this believe off into an agile method we call TimeBlock – at the center of TimeBlock is the notion of giving makers time to be in flow every day.
Thanks for writing a book that helps me put words on why it is so important to be in flow.
I enjoyed reading this book and found the advice in it quite compelling. I think I will gain a lot of value from implementing its strategies into my life.
Cal, I am curious, on average during your fixed schedule work day, how much of your time do you spend taking breaks vs. doing non-deep work beyond 4 hours of deep work?
I’m halfway done with the book and loving it so far.
I have a question regarding scheduling strategies that I hope you can clarify. Can you explain the difference between an ad hoc lack of scheduling deep work which failed Brian Chappell initially and the journalist philosophy of scheduling? Was Brian’s issue that he wasn’t yet ready for the journalistic philosophy or is there a fundamental difference that I’m missing? The journalistic schedule of Isaacson almost seems like a lack of schedule that you argue against with evidence from Baumeister.
Hello ! I bought the kindle version and read the big part 1 which gave me a lot of input. Really. I just realized how distracted I am at work. Amazing. I often feel the insatisfaction of not having a delimited work. So I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book, even if I already read a few parts here and there. But I have a question, yet. Do you believe that classical music could be a good thing for working (spacial kind of music with no lyrics like Bach, or gregorian music). Do you know for example if it affects the brain and allow it to work better.
Anyway, thank you for your work. I will take the time to leave a comment in the French Amazon.
One more thing : I just began to study the macros in Excel. A chapter in your book inspired me. And … I just wished I had read this book 2 years earlier.
If you are an academic or if you get your funding from the government (or both) then quitting social media is a simple decision.
However, if you are a competitor in the free market (and if you want to win) then you know that getting yourself and your product in front of an audience is key. Social media is where your audience is. You can ignore it and get by. However, if you want to crush it then you will embrace all media and get the attention you are presently lacking. Everybody’s number one problem in business is this: obscurity. Remain obscure at your peril.
Loved the book Cal! I’ve already put your suggestions to use and have put up a log sheet of deep focus hours on my refrigerator for mastering Ruby on Rails.
Only thing I was hoping for at the end of the book was a 1 or 2 page action sheet that put everything together in a simple “day in the life” way of what deep focus looks like.
Cal, Thank you for writing Deep Work. In advance, I already left positive feedback on Amazon tonight. Week one is complete after implementing a few of your suggestions. After watching your webinar on 1/4/15, I decided to implement a fixed schedule, one with three 4 hour deep blocks. I met with my staff, handed out printed schedules, and talked about how I was going to protect my schedule for Deep Work. They were some shock at first as they felt they wouldn’t necessarily have full access; however, I explained that wouldn’t be the case as I would make our time more effective. At the end of week one, I am happy to report huge success. In the three Deep Work blocks last week, I achieved some major milestones. In addition, two of my staff members independently came up to me today and asked what caused the shift as they were impressed. Your recent book was a large portion of what caused the shift. Thanks again.
I am a college student that has been following you since I was in high school.
Your blog posts slowly converted me over the years to plan out my time with careful consideration, but I never fully committed to leave social media because of the “any-benefit” excuses.
Recently I’ve become a minimalist (I enjoyed seeing this in your book), and fully understand that I should apply the “only keep what you need and love,” rules to my internet presence. Your book convinced me to finally quit something that was sucking my attention dry.
I thank you wholeheartedly for writing what needed to be written.
I heard you on the Art Of Manliness Podcast and really love the information you’re sharing. I also ordered your book – great stuff! Deep work is something I need help with. Looking forward to the read.
The new book “Deep Work” is now with me and I intend to post a review on Amazon once I finish reading. A brief glance at the contents has got me very interested.
On another note, Farnam Street published a very good piece on Charles Darwin and his style of “deep work” on Jan 11 2016 which throws light on how thorough Darwin was in his work.
I am enjoying the book very much and am working towards training my brain to focus and committing to deep work.
Some questions Cal. I am a musician, music major, and am also eating myself to write code. Learning to write code is not priority at the moment so a few minutes or a half hour a day is good but with the music I have to get in more than 4 hours of deep work. When you say that more than 3.5 to 4 produces diminishing returns do you mean that it is harmful to my learning? That it affects the 4 that I’ve already done that day?
As it is I am working from about 9 to 7 or 8 pm. Sometimes later and I need to do work on weekends also. I do tend to waste time and spend too much time on shallow work which means I don’t get everything done that I planned for that day. But even if I were to follow my planned day exactly, which is my goal, it covers 10+ hours. I don’t see any way around it. I do try and streamline my instrumental practice by combining, in a session, elements that overlap thereby killing two birds with one stone. Even so……
Enjoying the book and also got a lot out of Straight-A Student.
I wrote a review of the book here: https://www.redgreencode.com/book-review-deep-work-cal-newport/
For a long-time Study Hacks reader, not all of the ideas are new. But it’s great to have it all in one place.
I am 25 now and I started reading your blog when I was in college looking for some more efficient study tips (almost 7 years ago, wow!) and I’ve kept up with your work since then. I identified with you because I also always wanted to be one of those Rhodes Scholars who also manages to attend all the campus parties! Ha ha the Rhodes scholarship did not eventually happen, but I have grown in so many ways since then and I have been amazed to see how you have grown over these years too!
I feel like I am growing with you- starting with those simple study techniques , college tips (apply to x number of scholarships per year!), time management- and now all the way to this radical deep work focus. Over the years your work has become more and more philosophical, and deeper… and I am interested to see where it will go next.
I feel like that about my own quest too- for the early 20 something me the Rhodes Scholarship was not about the Rhodes Scholarship itself but about what I wanted to be like from within. And that’s what life is all about, right? When we die? We want to aspire to all these external achievements and it’s great fun to go after them but eventually the real gift is something deeper within yourself 🙂
Okay, lots of luck! And if you’re gunning for a Nobel then yay for that- and good luck!
Waiting to read your book (after work).
I had a question for you. You mention Teddy Roosevelt as an example (in the excerpt). If you see his lifeline, he has hopped from one career to another. His focus on the current activity was exemplary from what I have read of him. But he kept changing jobs after a few years. Is not that against your philosophy of sticking to a career/ major because you have already acquired career capital in it?
I ask this because I am at a certain deciding point in my life, and I have followed your advice (from So Good) and stuck to my job for three years to build on my career capital (wonderful book by the way and revolutionary ideas in our current education and job landscape. Thank you again for writing it!).
Extremely excited about using Deep Work as required reading for a course I’m teaching on Organizational Behavior.
Cal – I chanced on a short citation in an Indian Newspaper last night, the read was riveting so I searched for the book, got a summary on your site, a sample from Amazon and have ordered the Kindle version, all in space 30 min or so! The concept and findings are absolutely relevant in today’s world full of distractions. I look forward to reading the full book, a bit of undisturbed ‘Deep Working’ if you may! p.s. I had penned a few thoughts some years back (on my blog) on Knowledge Worker Unproductivity in India, and your research is absolutely fantastic.
I loved “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”, and was eagerly awaiting the Deep Work audiobook.
Sadly Amazon won’t let me buy it because I live in Singapore.
Nor will Downpour.
What to do?
Thank you Cal (and Amazon! for bringing the book, Cal and his important work to my attention), I have just come across and, as ‘Deep Work’ is out-of-stock, ordered a copy and I am sure it will prove invaluable. I am in business and have steadfastly resisted Social Media, I don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, I do email and will leverage Google. I’m sure Cals work will help me stay focused on the important things about the live/work life we should lead today in this increasingly trivial distracted world full of ‘stuff’ and ever-more-nonsense that just gets in the way. I will be ‘connected’ to what matters and what is important ‘valuable service’ through focused commitment.
Hi Cal – a great book and a perfect development of ‘So Good…’ With regard to the craftsman mindset, if you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend ‘Round the Bend’ by Nevil Shute, to you.
Hi Cal, I am a Ph.D. Student considering an academic career (try to manage time and balance work and life) and was referred to your blog. I like your thinking and writings! I have a question on this article: if we quit Facebook, how do we keep in touch and interact with our friends, which maybe a good professional network ? We want to support and be supported by friends.
So the solution to deactivate Facebook and Linkedin because those are the biggest distractors and basically all instant messengers and become a loner.
I just wanted to personally thank you Cal for making this blog. It has COMPLETELY changed the way I look at work and I have been reading much of your material. I hope to read this book one day! Thank you!
wow thanks very good
I have this book on my to-read list already. But now I’m more eager to start. I hope I’m up to the challenge though!
And…this!! “Or, to simplify greatly: vastly fewer people should be using Facebook.”
I left Facebook a couple of years ago, and haven’t missed it one bit.
There ARE a few disadvantages, such as when some companies choose to release their videos only on Facebook, but I won’t go back. Sorry, Zuckerberg. 🙂