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Cal Newport

Cal Newport’s Deep Work

An introduction of Cal Newport's definition of Deep Work, the four different philosophies and Roosevelt Dashes.

In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport makes the distinction between “deep” and “shallow” work.

Deep work must be done in a state of distraction-free concentration and pushes your cognitive capabilities to the limit.

Shallow work is non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted, such as reading email, doing a repetitive task such as formatting documents, or others.

Newport defines four philosophies to apply deep work for different lifestyles:

  • Monastic: cutting yourself from distractions completely;
  • Bimodal: alternating between a normally engaged life and monastic. For example, Carl Jung had a “normal” therapy practice in Zurich and a fully removed environment for writing in his retreat house;
  • Rhythmic: having a fixed time for deep work everyday, such as one hour in the early morning;
  • Journalistic: an advanced mode. Fitting deep work in your schedule whenever you can, with no specific format, just like a journalist reacting to intense demands;

Newport also defines the concept of Roosevelt Dashes, that are intense work sprints inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s brief and intense study periods. These are periods where you decide to do a task and focus intensively, free of distractions, to reach one major goal.

Deep Work philosophies are a great fit for a bigger productivity system for working remotely, for example.

Find more of our resources on the resources page, or specifically head to books, articles, reports and/or interviews.

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