Episode#52 – Deep Work

Deep Work

by Cal Newport


The book in one sentence

“When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.”


My personal opinion

The topic behind Deep Work is not fundamentally new. But I liked it as a refresher to put some more deep work into my own schedule. Especially the beginning of the book is vey motivating why deep work is important.

Newport summarises the two core abilities for thriving in the new economy (actually, I think these are more timeless abilities):

1.) Learning (even better: understanding) fast as the foundation in a rapidly changing world.

2.) Execution and delivering results.

In order to stay relevant you need to master learning and execution “and because […] technologies change rapidly, this process of mastering hard things never ends: You must be able to do it quickly, again and again.”

Without implementing deep work and being aware of the possible distractions you will fall behind. And I can relate to this. Unfortunately. Haha.

How often do I find myself jumping from one task to another, jumping from one inbox to the next – email, LinkedIn, XING, WhatsApp, you name it – because it is easier to consume than to produce (even thoughts).

Newport explains why this way will undoubtedly lead to less productivity (besides that I for myself feel totally unsatisfied with the results at the end of such a day!).

“The problem […] research identifies with this work strategy is that when you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow – a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task. This residue gets especially thick if your work on Task A was unbounded and of low intensity before you switched, but even if you finish Task A before moving on, your attention remains divided for a while.”

But why we tend then to behave like this? Why do we jump from one task to the next? Well, Newport has an answer for that:

“Knowledge workers […] are tending toward increasingly visible busyness because they lack a better way to demonstrate their value.”

Again, if I like it or not, I can relate to this from my personal experience. In the short term it makes me feel better to switch constantly between my tasks or inboxes, having the impression that I catch every issue right when it appears, but in the long term my productivity and outcome decrease.

Deep Work is a great book about “focus” and it will persuade you to incorporate deep work sessions into your normal schedule. For me it was an inspiring reminder to structure my days and focus on producing results and not feeling busy.

I believe that in most professions and levels – no matter if junior or senior position – having time scheduled for deep work will make you more productive and, even more important, feeling more satisfied with what you do. Producing high quality results will make you proud of yourself, giving yourself the power during tough times.


To whom I would recommend this book

If you feel to distracted during your work, take a look at Deep Work. It will have some inspirational thoughts for you.


What I learned from this book

  • Being constantly available, receiving and sending mails, messages, etc. leads to decreasing work quality.
  • To dive really into a topic you need to focus on it with undivided attention. Otherwise, it is just scratching on the surface.
  • “If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive – no matter how skilled or talented you are.”
  • To make the most out of your deep work, you need continuous feedback about your results.
  • Using out-of-office responders are valuable tools to manage expectations if you book time for your deep work sessions.
  • “Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”
  • “The way to be a better comic was to create better jokes. And […] the way to create better jokes [is] to write every day.” – so keep executing!
  • Only if you schedule your deep work and stick to it, you will have more focus hours during your year.
  • Have a real ending for your working day to free your thoughts and get some rest for the next day.
  • “When it comes to e-mail, […] it’s the sender’s responsibility to convince the receiver that a reply is worthwhile.”


Want to read this book?

Check it out on Amazon.com – Deep Work by Cal Newport



Thanks to the publisher for printing such a great book!