Key Takeaways from Deep Work

I recently read the book Deep Work by Cal Newport. The book is fantastic and helped me see ways to improve my work in terms of quality and productivity. Cal Newport defines deep work as:

“Professional activity 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.”

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Below are a few of my takeaways.

  1. Deep work is more satisfying and makes you happier than shallow work.
  2. Multi-tasking is doom. Our brains aren’t meant to multi-task, and we are terrible at it.
  3. Embracing boredom will make you better. Boredom ignites new ideas as the brain meanders through thoughts.
  4. Deep work requires intentional focus. Technology, people, or you will always get in the way of deep work if not accounted for and dealt with upfront.
  5. Deep work requires foresight – you can’t do deep work if everything is constantly on fire. You have to plan for the month, for the week, and for the day.
  6. Deep work requires ruthlessly eliminating shallow work. Shallow work is everywhere, like checking email every 30-minutes or doomscrolling through LinkedIn. 
  7. Schedule every minute of your day to get the most out of it.
  8. Deep work requires practice, be patient with yourself.
  9. We have finite willpower, we must use it well.
  10. Work/Life balance doesn’t just happen, it must be planned.
  11. Develop Deep work routines and rituals to help you get to flow and produce work that matters.
  12. The way to identify deep work is to ask, “How long would it take to train a smart person to do this as well as I would?” If it would not very long to train them on that task, it’s not deep work.