Image from Amazon Title: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Author(s): Cal Newport
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Category: Jobs Discussion
Amazon wrote:One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you'll achieve extraordinary results.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.
“Deep Work” has two parts. The first half of the book is to define terms and convince you that deep work is important. There was a good mix of concepts in there including references to deliberate practice and the principle of least resistance. SQL was used a a tool that requires expertise to master. I guess; but it is a basic tool in our trade. The author wrote that Scrum reduces adhoc messaging. I don't get this. Scrum does't encourage holding everything for the standup. But he also calls Scrum a status meeting so maybe this is just communication. Or he's thinking fo someone coming over and asking what you are working on every day?
The second half of the book is rules/ideas on how to get more deep work done. I found the differences between monastatic, bimodal and rhythmic work interesting. The idea of retraining your brain in avoiding multitasking even when not working and not trying to flee boredom was different. I think of productivity as when I'm not trying to be productive. But it makes sense that checking your phone every 5 minutes at home isn't helping.
The idea of scheduling internet use seems hard. We use the internet when coding to look stuff up. Maybe limiting to certain research sites is more practical for a programmer. I could definitely check email less.
The author lists travel as a type of shallow work. Maybe, but it is enjoyable up to a point. He then said an academic limited to 5 trips a year. So I think it was more a problem of too much travel than travel being bad.
I like the idea of thinking about how long it would take a bright college grad to learn a task as a measure of shallow vs deep work. And that shallow work isn't bad; just has to be planned/limited so it doesn't take over. The suggested 30-50% shallow work seems reasonable.
One thing I didn't like about the book is that the rules often get explained with someone specialized. An academic or CEO. I would have liked more examples of “average” people. I also found it odd that he discourages social media use yet has an active blog.