This book is about the importance of prioritizing the amount of time dedicated to oneself, in order to create advanced innovations and profit. A way to do this is what Newport called deep work, which involves ignoring social media, emails, and other distractions in order to dedicate oneself to work.
He is an assistant professor at Georgetown University, and has written other books about productivity.
He talked about implementing deep work during his college years and being successful.
How Does It Hold Up…?
One theme had to do with psychology, specifically with performance psychology. Newport writes about how the elderly tend to have positive emotions, because they already filled their lives with happiness. That state of mind can only be possible through the concept of flow, which means accepting the world in its state. A way to do so is to have a rapt attention, which worries nothing for the little things. Of course, deep work can be mentally exhausting, so it is best to be cautious of it.
Nonetheless, the art of discipline would be needed to maintain that deep focus. By ignoring the problems no matter how miniscule, it would enable you to stay completely focused on the task at end. This is why Newport suggests scheduling everything down to the minutes.
Of course, the sacrifice of focus has to do with the disconnection between business leaders and their employees. More specifically, it has to do with large companies like Yahoo who have decided to focus so much time on social media mastery, that they require their employees to be present on these sites. Newport brings up studies which show that the response to emails and posts severely undercuts productivity.
Another theme had to do with the notable people who use deep work as part of their personal productivity. Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, uses it. There are also other well-known people who have done it to maximize the amount of work they have produced, such as a director of a Kabul chapter of The New York Times who barely spends time on Twitter and spends more of her time researching pressing topics. Another was Richard Feynman who preferred to not to do administrative work and instead continue his in-depth research. Instead of receiving emails, Neal Stephenson prefers to be sent mail, meaning that every time he writes an email, he devalues his writing.
A way that I would judge a book’s intertextuality is if its principles and themes can easily be applied to other books. In Deep Work‘s case, there is definitely a lot of back-and-forth that would occur with other authors I have read.
It was interesting reading about how important it was to the neural pathways of the brain to intensely focus on a task. This is similar to what Matthew Syed wrote about. I can definitely see how this book would support Syed’s book.
Newport also mentions Matthew Crawford and his memoir about becoming a motorcycle mechanic. The latter’s point in his fulfillment of this trade in spite of his original PhD dream has to do with seeing oneself with the rest of the world in a material way.
This book also relates to the 6-Figure Bloggers book, because it was recommended by blogger Kelly George, who writes about the homeschooling niche. She explained that the book was important because it emphasized staying focused on the work at hand, not on social media. It is also helpful to her due to having five children to take care of. Indeed, a struggling mother was one of the people described in this book as following a productive schedule.
Connecting To The Previous Book
I was surprised to find that Newport made a reference to the 80/20 Pareto Principle when it comes to low-value and high-value work. This was exactly what Ferriss noted in that exact same context.
While Tim Ferriss focused on the organization and prioritization of work, Newport writes about the attention of work. However, what they ultimately have in common is when the discuss the advent of the knowledge worker in the face of an increasingly automated workplace.
At the introduction, what I found interesting was when Newport noted that knowledge workers are distracted by social media, yet are busier than ever. This definitely goes back to Tim Ferriss who noted the difference between being busy and being productive. By being productive, you are doing the important work only; whereas being busy simply means being present and doing all the work no matter how counterproductive they are.
Newport notes how reduced time checking emails and social media are vitally important to productivity. This is also a strategy shared by Ferriss, which he gets more in-depth about. Ferriss recommends using virtual assistants from trusted firms to handle email responses.
Newport provides a lot of historical analysis into this book, which bolsters the claim that deep work is vitally important. Of course, he does tend to veer off into talking about social media, particularly at the end.
Newport writes about how Carl Jung took advantage of the meditation practices he learned in India, by holing himself up in his Bollingen building. It had no electricity and no distractions, which allowed him to focus intensely on his work, which would eventually rival that of Sigmund Freud.
As for the Dominican friar Sertillanges, he foresaw the advent of performance psychology decades after writing about the intense focus put on a single task.
Another figure Newport mentions is Evgeny Morozov, who wrote about how the Internet was becoming like that of a cult, since it requires all attention towards it with no other alternative. By cult, Morozov himself called it an “uber-ideology.”
Although the language can get dry and a bit repetitive, Newport does provide enough rhetorical potency in order to get in-depth with the points he makes. I found it helpful that he emphasized the importance of such scholars, like Morozov by describing him as hypercitational.
Deep work can definitely help with creativity, specifically when it comes to learning a new skill, such as language-learning. More specifically, when you set aside distractions, you strengthen neural pathways when learning a new skill or coming up with new innovations. This was especially seen with Building 20 and the development of solar cells and fiber-optic networks.
This is an entirely experimental review template, so I want to separate creativity and innovation, by saying that creativity involves conceptualization, whereas innovation is creativity’s output. I hope that makes sense.
As for the concept of deep work, it absolutely is vital to innovation; perhaps even more important than creativity itself. The outputs are important, and you cannot produce an output without having a clear mind, no matter how creative you are. This was something well understood by Carl Jung, but also the MIT professor who produced so many papers within a small span of time.
Not only that, but as mentioned before, we would not have all the technology that we use today if it weren’t for Building 20.
I wish I could say that this would be completely relevant, however, at this point in history, we really have no other choice but to rely on social media whether we like it or not. A social media account means that the employee is a face in the company. There would not be any other way unless that employee was like that Ferriss mentioned, who has enough skills to leverage whatever demands they are willing to negotiate.
Inspiration To Myself
I hope that I can keep this book in mind, since it will probably change my relationship with time itself. Perhaps Newport and Ferriss would help in making sure that unproductive tasks become minimized.
This is the type of book that is needed for some strong reflections about how your daily life is spent. You can always recuperate money, but not time, because it is the only concept that will always be running out until death.
Recommend This To…
- Everyone who feels easily distracted. More specifically, I am more interested in appealing to those who feel overwhelmed by those distractions, whether it would be getting that right notification or always having enough built-up stress about maintaining an adequate social media presence.
- Crawford, Matthew B. “Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work.” Penguin. 2009.
- Ferriss, Tim. “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.” Expanded and Updated Edition. Harmony Books. 2010.
- Miller, Sally. “The Essential Habits Of 6-Figure Bloggers: Secrets of 17 Successful Bloggers You Can Use to Build a Six-Figure Online Business.” Sally Miller. 2018.
- Newport, Cal. “Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World.” Grand Central Publishing. 2016.
- Schramko, James. “Work Less, Make More: The Counter-Intuitive Approach to Building a Profitable Business, and a Life You Actually Love.” SuperFastBusiness. 2017.
- Syed, Matthew. “Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success.” Harper. 2010.
- Ynkawen, Michalangove. “4-Hour Workweek, By Tim Ferriss | 20 | 2022 Centobibliennial Reading.” Ynkawen. 2022.