Reading Room

Book Review: Deep Work by Cal Newport

I just now checked the number of times I picked up my iPhone in the last 7 days: 664 times, the highest being on Friday: 124 times. My cellphone received 274 notifications in the last week, with an average of around 39 per day.

Crazy, isn’t it? But this is the reality we live in. We are distracted in a hyper-connected world with ever more attracting distractions. And while technologies are disrupting the productivity space by increasing productivity levels drastically across the value chain, the side-effects of these social technologies also reduce our productivity, hampering the quality of output significantly if not the quantity.

A 2012 article on Mashable estimated the cost of distraction due to social media at $650 billion per year. And that’s just for the US. But distraction is not just ruining our organizations and economies. It is ruining the quality of our lives and our relationships.

I think this is why this book by Cal should be read.

Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

What is challenging to you might not be challenging to me and vice versa. For a fulfilled life, hence, the following steps can help:

  1. Finding our purpose – something that challenges us on a daily basis.
  2. Finding time to focus on activities that serve our purpose without any distractions.
  3. Finding space at home and/ or in workplace where distractions are minimised.
  4. Adopting minimalism in our lives including digital minimalism – reducing our time on social networks, engaging in mindless debates.
  5. Reflecting and learning actively, regularly, and purposefully.

Cal suggests various paths in book that one may take to work deep:

A. The Rhythmic Method that calls for scheduled times in our day for working deep, the best time of the day being early in the morning when there are very little distractions from work or family or friends.

B. The Monastic Method that very few can actually adopt with our jobs and other responsibilities. It calls for disappearing for a period of time just like Bill Gates does two times a year for his “Think Week“. (I would have loved this method but hey, reality!)

C. The Journalistic Approach that advocates fitting in deep work whenever its possible. I think people in public facing roles might find this approach to be very useful.

End Verdict

While some of the tips may not sound original, this book serves the purpose of reminding us how living a distracted life is not the best use of our time on this planet. We can achieve so much more by doing less of the useless activities, reminders, and notifications.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: Read!

Buy the book on Amazon: Link

Read other book reviews:

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa

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