Deep Work by Cal Newport is based on the basic idea that high-quality work is made of two things, time spent and intensity of work. Since we all have a limited number of hours each day, there’s only so much we can stretch in terms of long hours. Hence, we should focus on maximizing our input and improving the intensity of the work in these hours. He provides various action points on how to do it, combined with supporting examples for all points. He didn’t deter from the main idea of the book. And most of the points are easy to incorporate. That made the book practical and actionable.
Out of various ideas that he proposed, I borrowed about ten action items for myself. I tried to incorporate it into my work for the last month, and it did help me. The only roadblock I felt was being aware of these ideas. It will probably take some time to convert these ideas from actionable items into long-term habits.
The action items I worked on were (rephrased based on my understanding)
- Eliminate Distraction:
- Batching your work: Divide your work into small milestones
- Reduce connectivity: take your work offline, as much as you can
- Be offline: Reduce time on social media, stay offline as much as possible. If your work is based on online resources, download or save the work that can be done offline
- Focus on Important Stuff: Start prioritizing your work and focus on the high priority work
- Classify – Shallow and deep topics: Reduce or automate the admin or recurring work, as much as you can
- Find a Deep Work philosophy: There are 3 types of Deep work philosophy introduced. It has to be customized according to your working style
- Bimodal (Deep / Open)
- Chain Method (Working in a rhythm)
- Switch Method
- Decide a dedicated place for your work
- Decide the starting and ending time for your task
- Decide your process, how you will approach and proceed with the task
- Structured Goals
- Downtime/Shutdown: Compartmentalize, do some other work to take breaks, and relax
- 80/20 Rule: Evaluate which tasks are high impact and drop or deprioritize the low impact tasks for later
- Evaluate the use of Social Media: Optional, try to evaluate how SM is supporting you in your work and evaluate the daily/monthly usage justifies that benefits. Reduce the usage if input and output is not aligned
- Recognize Shallow work: Allocate the work and learn to say no to unimportant task
While I did find many action points, some of which I am still working on. There were a few points I cannot adopt pertaining to the nature of my work. For example, becoming hard to reach or quitting social media entirely. I don’t think it’s one size fits all, so it’s ok to customize the principles according to your work, as long as you can act on the core idea of maximizing your intensity of work.
Since Cal Newport is a researcher, he cited a lot of books. I am looking forward to checking out these whenever I get the opportunity to do so. I read one of the books that he cited, How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett.