Cal Newport

Cal Newport’s Deep Work

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.

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