Deep Work (Cal Newport) – Review

Information has never been available faster, better, and cheaper than it is today. But the new media have an enormous power of distraction. This affects the ability to concentrate on work and achieve top intellectual performance. Cal Newport analyzes this phenomenon in his book. With Deep Work, he presents methods with which we can regain control of our attention.

Hardly anyone knows how great the value of deep work really is. And whenever we are not sure, we take the path of least resistance, the path that feels best. It feels good and right to be available at all times and to answer incoming e-mails in record time. It feels good to be obviously busy. And because of that, Newport says, visible busyness serves as a proxy for productivity. Newport sees another reason for this widespread counterproductive behavior in our disturbed relationship with technology. Many people would assume that the new technology is automatically good for us, but that is not always the case

Many well-known scientists, company founders, and mentally demanding personalities appreciate the need for deep concentration because it is necessary to do extraordinary things. They distance themselves from distraction, for example by creating a distraction-free environment in a house in the forest, through long walks in nature, or their own home.

Use it or lose it

Unfortunately, we can unlearn concentration. The more often we let ourselves be distracted, the harder it is for us to immerse ourselves in something. But deep work will prove to be a key qualification to be able to survive in the modern, constantly developing information society. To do this, we will have to master two things that can only be done with the ability to concentrate fully. Process and learn new things quickly and distinguish useful from useless.

Modern technology makes concentrated work difficult. The smartphone is likely to have the greatest influence. For the first time in human history, it is now possible to immediately distract yourself from the slightest boredom and under all circumstances, for example when standing in line in the supermarket, waiting for an appointment, at a bus stop, or a stop at traffic lights. But the problem is, it triggers a reflex in your brain that automatically associates boredom with distraction. When you allow this connection, it can become incredibly difficult to stay focused on one thing. Whenever you have to concentrate deeply, on what is often perceived as boring, your brain is on the lookout for distractions and new stimuli. Your brain was suggested not to tolerate boredom. You trained it in that direction. That is why it is also beneficial to allow boredom at times.

Quit social media?

Without a doubt, Facebook, Twitter, and so on offer positive benefits. However, this benefit must be offset against the disadvantages. But that’s exactly what hardly anyone does. If they did, they would find that all in all there is a big minus and the harm is greater than the positive benefit in most cases.

Putting deep work into practice

It’s important to keep in mind that the ability to deep work is like a muscle that needs constant training. In the second part of the book, Newport shows some rules and methods for focused success in an increasingly distracting world. 

This book is probably the most important book I’ve ever read.

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