“Deep Work” is a concept which is seemingly becoming popular among entrepreneurs since its inception by Cal Newport. Cal Newport is a prominent author and professor at the University of Georgetown, phenomenal for his best selling book, “Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success in a Distracted World”. In his book demonstrates the effect of deep work in transforming the work ethics and the adoption of four rules for inculcating the change. In this article we will discuss Deep Work summary, focusing on its concepts, importance and the key strategies of incorporating it in real life.
While working remotely, you tend to be diverted towards emails, online meetings, and chat sessions. You are under the apprehension of being outdated or ignored with the thought of avoiding the real-time or online communication medium. But at the same time, you are completely distracted from your regular thought process flow. Your cognitive thinking abilities are subsequently reduced hampering your productivity skills. In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport harps on these points and educates on how to avoid the distractions and concentrate on your task.
- What is Deep Work
- The Importance of Deep Work
- Deep Work Takeaways
Did you know? After publishing the book on Deep Work, Cal Newport has earned praises and accolades from several leading newspapers and news journals in the world. The prominent among them being The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, New York Times.
What is Deep Work?
“What is Deep Work?” Ever since the idea has been floored in the market by Cal Newport, it has been the curiosity of many remote professionals. Let us understand the definition of Deep Work as explained by the author.
Deep Work is essentially the capability of an individual to focus especially on a cognitive activity or task without being distracted and disrupted. It is in direct contrast with shallow work where an individual performs non-cognitive work in a distracted or disturbing environment. Deep work enhances your productivity, enables you to think logically with supporting facts and figures and instils a sense of self-confidence within you. Due to social media, remote professionals especially tend to defocus from deep-diving into a particular subject. It eventually results in a half baked solution devoid of high quality and innovativeness. In this article’s Deep Work summary, we will touch upon the improvement ideas and rules expressed by Cal Newport in his book.
Note: The author refers to different interesting and engaging stories while explaining the concepts and importance of Deep Work. He narrates the story of a pioneer in social media, who purchased a round trip air ticket in business class with the sole objective of writing a book free of distractions. He even talks about Carl Jung who constructed a tower made of stone in the forests to increase his concentration power and mental focus.
Importance of Deep Work
In this section of the article’s Deep Work summary, we will elaborate on the key points that drive the importance of Deep Work.
- Deep work for remote workers is essential in imparting significant value to their activities and tasks assigned. They harp on their brains’ intellectual capacity to think big. They nurture their minds to device strategies and solutions that create a phenomenal effect on the company’s future growth and roadmap
- Deep work for remote workers brings about significant improvement in their lives. They feel an immense sense of satisfaction from their accomplishments, prompting them to more and more cultivate the practice of Deep Work. The motivation level enhances that creates a positive impact on their productivity and efficiency.
- Deep work benefits the company and organizations, hiring remote workers for their operations. They can receive high quality and innovative solutions from the remote professionals which eventually brings significant improvement in achieving the company’s goals and objectives.
In the next sections of our summary of Deep Work by Cal Newport, we will discuss elaborately on the rules, the tips and the strategies that he has suggested for each of them.
Deep Work Takeaways
As we continue our discussion on the Deep Work summary, let us harp on certain key strategies, rules, and principles as elaborated and explained by Cal Newport.
1. Practice Deep Work
One of the key Deep Work tips is to practice the concept diligently and intensely. Question is, how can we inculcate and embed its essence within our brains? The key points to consider are:
- Focus on highly productive activities and tasks and eliminate non-value added tasks from your daily schedule of jobs. You need to segregate Deep work and Shallow work, concentrating more on Deep work to enrich your mind’s innovative power and strength.
- Devote your extra time in rediscovering and accumulating your thoughts on solutions rather than lazing out the day. Rest your mind in a cool environment and let your brain roll on different facts and figures to create miracles.
Cal Newport has defined 4 philosophies that guide an individual to practice deep work, namely The Monastic Philosophy, The Bimodal Philosophy, The Rhythmic Philosophy, and The Journalistic Philosophy.
The key deep work takeaways from the 4 philosophies defined by Cal Newport are:
- Arrange your yearly, monthly and weekly calendar to invest your time and effort on deep work, the activities that add value to your professional life. Remote professionals need to focus on this aspect more since they need to plan their schedules independently and stay focused without any disruptions at home.
- Predicting the activities and tasks daily is one of the essential deep work tips. It assists you in dividing your day into deep work hours and shallow work hours in a rhythmic fashion just like the beats of music. Smart and experienced remote professionals can adopt this habit with ease and comfort, thereby planning a productive and effective work schedule.
- People who generally do not have to engage in multi-tasking can dedicate their days to specific activities instead of engaging in multiple non-value-added tasks. They stay focused on a single subject area and keep on improvising them, adding significant value to the assignments along with any critical issues and problems.
- The toughest philosophy elaborated by Cal Newport is for the remote workers who are constantly on move and find it tough to dedicate scheduled hours between deep work and shallow work. The practice is suggested for experienced professionals only who are intelligent, smart and vigilant to identify hours between their work schedules for deep work. They can even adjust time and utilize the extra time for deep work.
Tip: As a beginner, it is advisable to devise a plan dividing the hours for deep work and shallow work. Once you inherit the habits of deep work, you can elevate yourself further in identifying hours easily in your daily work schedule for deep work. As you gain more experience, you can even switch smartly between deep work and shallow work and reap the benefits of this wonderful concept.
2. Collaboration with the Team
In this section of the Deep work summary, we will discuss how collaboration is extremely beneficial for remote professionals. Working in a remote environment tends to instigate individuals to think solo which may sometimes turn out to be a roadblock in the thought process as well as in crafting interesting solutions. Collaborating with peers, supervisors and experts within the organization enhances the thinking power, clears confusion and clarifications and often leads to qualitative and thought provoking discussions.
Tip: Collaborative deep work between two individuals where you deliberate and harp on each other’s brains to extract the best is a powerful mechanism for increasing productivity and efficiency. It helps in achieving the deadlines of assignments faster and with good quality.
Deep work takeaways from working in a collaborative environment are:
- Your mind starts discovering new ideas and techniques for tackling a solution since you are exposed to varied suggestions from the team
- You gain knowledge on additional topics which turn out to influence your thought process positively
- Your solutions will attain high quality due to enhancement in deep work thinking abilities
- You can finish your assignments before time, innovatively handling the solutions and issues
3. Utilize Digital Tools and Avoid Social Media
While discussing on Deep Work summary, let us understand Newport’s recommendations for mastering the technique utilizing the digital tools wisely and distancing from the social media during the work hours.
Note: Newport defines two approaches, The Any-Benefit Approach and The Craftsman Approach, in his book Deep work on selecting the best digital tools. He stresses on identifying the benefits of the tools and understand the difference between positive and negative impacts on both personal and professional life.
The essence of the two approaches can be detailed as under:
- Identify the goals aligned with the company’s mission and objectives coupled with the project’s goals. Study and enlist the activities and tasks to be executed to achieve the goals and objectives
- The next important and big act is to select the online and digital tools which would help in achieving the value added activities. Strike out tools which would bring in negative impacts on achieving the goals
- Judge the impact of digital tools on your efficiency factor and productivity quotient. Does it bring in substantial changes in your regular day to day functioning and increase your credentials? If yes, then install and implement them fast in your laptops and computers or your mobile devices. Leverage their features in ensuring positivity in your activities. Remote professionals need to analyze the tools significantly since it’s critical for them to maintain and enhance their potential else they will fall behind in the competitive world.
- Newport emphasizes the elimination of digital clutter. It essentially implies the deletion of social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc from your mobile devices, laptops, and computers. These apps are the major distraction elements which prevent you from practicing or engaging in deep work.
- Spend your leisure time in cultivating your hobbies, interests and inherent skills instead of surfing through Youtube, Netflix or similar entertainment media. You can play some kinds of sports, go hiking or trekking, learn some musical instruments or some vocal music, read books or socialize with family and friends.
4. Reduce or eliminate shallow work
One of the precious points you need to remember while discussing deep work summary is to minimize shallow work as much as possible. Some amount of shallow work will always remain in our day to day life, for example, planning for a trip, claiming expenses, attend a child at home, etc. Certain shallow work is essential especially when you are working from home remotely. But the essence of the discussion is to identify the shallow work which curbs the thinking power or which are unnecessary and can be avoided easily. Eliminate those out of your professional life to invest time in deep work.
Key strategies to be adopted from Deep Work by Cal Newport:
- Divide the time between deep work and shallow work, estimating and assigning hours to each of the activities. You can realize the percentage of time and effort being spent on shallow work and try to curb them to gain additional hours for deep work.
- Provision for buffers for certain activities which tend to overshoot in the normal daily course and as per historical trends. This practice grows with experience and can vary depending on the work complexity. Remote professionals need to focus on this aspect more since they create and are responsible for their work schedules.
- Cal Newport suggests a brilliant method to prioritize activities through the grading system. You need to assign grades to the different tasks categorized under a deep and shallow worklist. To determine the grades, you need to analyze which tasks require focused attention and dedication, which tasks will add value to your work, which tasks are beneficial for your future growth and which tasks cannot be replicated once missed out. These questions will assist you in deciding the grades.
- Managers and leaders many times are unable to judge or are wrong in deciding the time required by their remote team members on different activities or tasks. If you face such kind of situations, then it is advisable to educate them on the activities under each of the categories and mutually decide and finalize the time that needs to be spent on the tasks.
Tip: Real-time communication can be the reason for continual distraction and deviation from the regular work schedule. The advisable solution is to shift to an asynchronous communication mode thus reducing the time spent on instant meetings or chats. To achieve this practice, it is very important to distinguish between the activities that need communication via real-time instant online tools and the activities that do not require an immediate response.
5. Focus on a fixed work schedule
In the book Deep Work, Newport mentions, “providing your conscious brain time to rest enables your unconscious mind to take a shift sorting through your most complex professional challenges”. Working aggressively and constantly for hours without adequate rest is not advisable. In due course, your brain will be fatigued preventing you to think logically and most importantly curb your out of the box thinking capabilities.
In this section of the deep work summary, we will discuss the strategies that can be adopted by remote professionals to follow a fixed work schedule diligently throughout the year.
- Limit your work-time to 8 hours fixing the start time and end time daily. Communicate the same to your supervisor and team for buy-in. Inform your customers too of the same. Remote professionals have an additional task to keep their families and friends aware of their work hours. Fixing the work hours relieves the mental stress and stigma of a human mind.
- During the work hours, invest your time and effort in deep work mainly and eliminate shallow work. This will assist in achieving the to-do activities within the specified and planned work schedule. You are assured of proper rest allowing your brain to re-energize for working on complex solutions.
- Do not respond to all emails, chats and instant messages. Learn and practice the habit of analyzing the importance of each conversation and respond accordingly. Critical messages and emails must be answered immediately not the others who can wait for the response. The trick is to determine which message or mail demands high priority or low priority. Our activities and response will entirely be dependent on how we rank the conversations.
By now, you must have understood the essence and concepts behind deep work. In this modern area, technology is changing at a rapid pace. The market demands and customer demands are changing day by day and sometimes we witness a drastic change in both the domain and technical spaces. If we start practising deep work, we can overcome the hurdles and increase our competency levels. The result is success in your work area of excellence.