Review: Deep Work, by Cal Newport

Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World is Cal Newport’s fifth published book. Cal is thirty three years old, a father of two young children, an assistant professor at Georgetown University and author of multiple academic journals. It’s fair to say that Cal Newport is a very productive person. He attributes this to a single key skill: the ability to sustain long periods of ininterrupted high focus. He calls this ‘Deep Work’.

Cal argues that modern life has created a population who are suckers for distraction. Our concentration is under constant attack from the lure or the twenty four hour news cycle and the never-ending stream of notifications from social portals such as Facebook and Twitter. This fragmentation of our attention and concentration, he argues, leads to a failure to reach our potential at work and home because we are unable to achieve ‘depth’ in our approach to difficult problems. I find Cal a little over zealous in his approach but there is no denying that there is much to learn from this book, especially for people like me who struggle to maintain productivity for extended periods of time in an environment which is prone to interruptions from various sources.

Those that read Cal’s Study Hacks blog won’t find massive amount of new information in this book, but for those that don’t it is a good primer of his philosophy towards meaningful work in a distracted world. The book is aimed at knowledge workers. I’m not sure who this group of people are, but there are plenty of strategies that I can, should and will apply to my own work. Worth a read. I award it four stars.

Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World is available from Amazon for £7.99 on Kindle.