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BOOK SUMMARY: “Deep Work” by Cal Newport

Here’s a concise but insightful summary of the book “DEEP WORK” by author Cal Newport. Read and learn the core message and key insights from this awesome book!

“Deep Work” vs “Shallow Work”

For author Cal Newport, it is possible to increase a person’s focus and to get more things done despite one’s busy schedule. This can be done through “Deep Work.”

First, let’s differentiate “deep work” from the so-called “shallow work.”

Shallow Work is work or task done while distracted. Example are washing the dishes while talking on the phone or preparing food while browsing through Facebook. Shallow work does not create much value and is relatively easy to replicate.

Deep Work, meanwhile, is performed in a state of “distraction-free focus” that pushes a person’s cognitive skills to their limit. As such, deep work efforts can hugely improve skills, create additional value, and are hard to replicate. Deep Work is essential to achieve focused success in a world that is constantly distracted.

Here are three Deep Work strategies that can help increase one’s ability to focus and to produce unique and quality results.

Deep Work Strategy #1: Schedule Distractions

Whenever your phone rings or buzzes, do you check it right away? If you do, you are actually training your brain to avoid deep work and to give in to distractions.

If you want to increase your focus, you need to set up boundaries for your distractions. One way to do this is to have a piece of paper nearby when you work. On this piece of paper, schedule when you will allow yourself to get distracted. If there are distracting thoughts that pop up in your head while doing work, write them down on this piece of paper.

This may be hard at first, but just like going to the gym or starting a diet, it is essential in building your ability to concentrate.

Deep Work Strategy #2: Deep Work Ritual

The second useful strategy is to develop a rhythmic deep work ritual. According to Cal Newport, if you want to get into the rhythm of doing deep work, the easiest way is to transform it into a simple and regular habit.

One way to do this to choose a particular time each day to go into deep work. The author claims early morning is usually the best time to do this since you are not yet drained by the day and no one is distracting you with requests. The time also serves as a trigger telling your body to go into a state of deep work.

Research shows that people new to deep work can do it for around one hour. Masters of deep work, on the other hand, can work and concentrate up to four hours in intervals of 60 to 90 minutes throughout the day. As you continue applying your deep work ritual, you will increase your ability to work longer and create better results.

Deep Work Strategy #3: Evening Shutdown Ritual

Sleep is the price we pay to be able to do deep work. To be able to get adequate sleep and be able to perform well the following day, Cal suggests that we apply an “Evening Shutdown Ritual” to our daily routine.

An Evening Shutdown Ritual should contain two parts: One is a list of unfinished tasks or projects that you want to get done the following day. The other part is to break down the task into small sub-tasks, making the big task easier to complete the next day.

Writing these things down will help to remove them off your mind so you can disconnect and sleep without having to think about the things you have to do.


Deep work is useful as it changes your brain and allows it to produce innovative and creative work that is hard to replicate. If you want to achieve “focused success” in a world full of constant distractions, start implementing Deep Work.

*** Is it possible to be rich and successful just by working 4 hours a week? Author Tim Ferris claims it is doable. Click to read a summary of his book The 4-Hour Workweek!

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