Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

May 8, 2017
author |
Cal Newport
year published |

In this strong self-help book, Cal Newport (So Good They Can’t Ignore You) declares that the habits of modern professionals—checking email at all hours, rushing from meeting to meeting, and valuing multitasking above all else—only stand in the way of truly valuable work.

According to him, everyone should practice deep work: “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.” Newport calls on psychology and neuroscience, as well as common sense, to back up his recommendations.

As to why people don’t already work this way, he implicates a cultural narrative that stresses activity over concentration and that encourages workers to follow the path of least resistance. Newport encourages readers to take breaks from technology, recharge with downtime, leave social media, and reply to emails more purposefully.

It’s tempting to blow off the message as the complaints of an admitted non-technophile, but Newport’s disarming self-awareness—“Deep work is not some nostalgic affectation of writers and early-20th-century philosophers”—and emphasis on a meaningful work practice that’s “rich with productivity and meaning” makes for an excellent lesson in focusing on quality rather than quantity at work.

—Publishers Weekly