Author Topic: Deep Work by Cal Newport  (Read 1210 times)

Tass

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Deep Work by Cal Newport
« on: October 20, 2017, 07:21:57 PM »
Hi everyone! I saw this book recommended on the MMM forums somewhere and I just finished it, but it doesn't appear that there's a specific thread for it yet. I'm interested in your thoughts, and whether you've put any of its "rules" into practice in your own life.

Overall I can easily see the similarities between this philosophy and the one we cultivate here: the analysis of how you're spending your finite resources and culling what doesn't improve your life, the argument of pleasure through action rather than through relaxation, and the broad willingness to go against the grain in pursuit of a better life.

I also found reassuring the reminders that distraction is an effect engineered by modern surroundings, not a personal failing, though it certainly takes discipline to combat (similar to middle-class consumerism). I was already in the midst of efforts to scale back my social media usage, and after reading this book I'm taking them farther (made various messaging apps harder to access on my phone, plan to restrict facebook usage to once a week, on top of already having heavily filtered what I see there).

I did feel, though, that the book was a bit heavy on career-focused achievement, especially at the beginning. Newport's philosophy relies heavily on the aim of extracting as much value from your brain as possible, which seems parallel but not identical to to an aim of leading the most enjoyable or most beneficial life possible (especially since, with career as a focus, "value" tends to mean "commercial value.") I found it contrasted with what I've read on the FIRE subforum about being able to enjoy a slower pace to life - Newport's life seems less full of nonsense, but no less jam-packed.

I may be interested in reading one of the books he mentioned, Rapt by Winnifred Gallagher (the woman who was diagnosed with cancer and argues for a life striving to focus attention in positive places).

Anyone else have responses to this book?

onewayfamily

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Re: Deep Work by Cal Newport
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2017, 04:39:42 AM »
I read this book soon after it was released, and I did enjoy it.

Your reference to him being quite career-focused etc. seems correct. He does mention in the book or maybe in a podcast that his field is very competitive and how there's basically continuous pressure to 'publish or die' and get as many mathematical proofs and citations out as possible, improving your academic rank and competing with others in your university and field.

Each to their own I suppose. If that's what he loves then it's great that he's found a way to focus on it most of his waking hours and remove all the noise from his life.

Einstein, Elon Musk all have the same 24 hours each day that we do, so choosing how you spend your time is clearly very important (obviously those 2 are both geniuses as well, but I think we are capable of great things in our way).
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Tass

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Re: Deep Work by Cal Newport
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 09:19:13 AM »
Your reference to him being quite career-focused etc. seems correct. He does mention in the book or maybe in a podcast that his field is very competitive and how there's basically continuous pressure to 'publish or die' and get as many mathematical proofs and citations out as possible, improving your academic rank and competing with others in your university and field.

Each to their own I suppose. If that's what he loves then it's great that he's found a way to focus on it most of his waking hours and remove all the noise from his life.

As a grad student in a STEM field, perhaps I found his account more alarming than most would...

Syonyk

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Re: Deep Work by Cal Newport
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2017, 08:19:42 PM »
I read this maybe 6 months ago, and loved it.

Being "not retired," and having a line of work that benefits from deep style work, I found it a very useful guide to how to engineer my life to work more deeply.  It's been quite useful.

...and whether you've put any of its "rules" into practice in your own life.

Yes, to the extent that I can.  2017 was a quest for reduced distraction for me, with some ups and some downs, but I'm generally less distracted than I was at the beginning of the year.

Quote
I did feel, though, that the book was a bit heavy on career-focused achievement, especially at the beginning. Newport's philosophy relies heavily on the aim of extracting as much value from your brain as possible, which seems parallel but not identical to to an aim of leading the most enjoyable or most beneficial life possible (especially since, with career as a focus, "value" tends to mean "commercial value.") I found it contrasted with what I've read on the FIRE subforum about being able to enjoy a slower pace to life - Newport's life seems less full of nonsense, but no less jam-packed.

That's the life path he's decided to go with, so... yeah, I would expect his book to be about how to get more out of your mind in the context of work.

I think it's relevant in any sort of pursuit that requires sustained focus - art, writing, engineering, whatever.  If you're totally retired, get up, harass the chickens, wander into town, etc, it's probably not as useful.  But for anyone who isn't at that state yet, it's pretty well required reading, IMO.
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FlyJ

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Re: Deep Work by Cal Newport
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2017, 04:27:56 AM »
Have read twice. People like Newport, who can focus for long periods and get things done, are my super heroes. Time waste is something I seem to struggle with (all of us, to different degrees, probably) and revisiting this book seems to point me back in the right direction. Newport has some good tips on his blog as well, and his ideas about social media and internet advertising are interesting as well. Those who haven't read the book can find some pretty good summaries of his ideas in various podcast interviews or blogs. Highly recommend.

Blackeagle

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Re: Deep Work by Cal Newport
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2017, 08:27:06 PM »
I've read Deep Work and found it very useful.  I've tried to put some of the things Newport describes into practice in my own life: scheduling my work every day and trying to reserve the most productive time of day for deep work (for me, it's mornings).  I've gotten great benefits from these.

Syonyk

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Re: Deep Work by Cal Newport
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2017, 08:45:46 PM »
People like Newport, who can focus for long periods and get things done, are my super heroes. Time waste is something I seem to struggle with (all of us, to different degrees, probably) and revisiting this book seems to point me back in the right direction.

His point is mostly that it's a learned skill...
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