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Notes from the book Deep Work

I read Cal Newport’s Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World back in 2016. I took some notes along the way and I recently realized that I often come back to them. I published them here for easy access and the ability to share with others.

Rule #1: Work deeply

Eudaimonia is a state in which you achieve your full potential.

Depth philosophies:

  1. Monastic - full and constant immersion, isolation
  2. Bimodal - weekly, monthly, or similar chunking
  3. Rhythmic - daily routine, chain method
  4. Journalistic - switching when time allows, but this requires focus and training

Make rituals and structure:

  • Where and for how long
  • Set up process and rules
  • Support with food, movement, resources

The four disciplines of execution (4DX):

  1. Focus on the wildly important
  2. Act on lead measures (vs lag measures)
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard. The author’s example is the number of hours he puts in every week.
  4. Create a cadence of accountability

Make room for downtime!

Rule #2: Embrace boredom

Don’t take breaks from distraction. Instead, take breaks from focus.

Schedule and limit online activities, both at work and at home.

Meditate productively. Work on problems in your head while on the go. For this there needs to be a structure, sort of preloading the stuff in your head.

Rule #3: Quit social media

Tool selection: does it provide any significant positive impact that is bigger than all negative effects? If the answer is no, remove it.

Don’t use the Internet to entertain yourself.

Rule #4: Drain the shallows

Schedule every minute of your day.

[Great creative minds] think like artists but work like accountants. — David Brooks in a NYT column

Control email.


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