Summary of Cal Newport's "Deep Work" book
Here's my few raw notes :
Deep work : “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push cognitive capabilities to their limit”. For high skills, difficult to replicate. Shallow work : “non cognitive demanding, logistic-style tasks, often performed while distracted.” Low value, easily replicable Deep work hypothesis : the ability to perform a deep work is rare and valuable. Those who are capable will thrive. The core abilities : - quickly master hard things - produce elite level with speed Both depends on deep work Myelin : by triggering always the same paths, better signal -> more focus = more intelligence High quality work = time x intensity of focus Metric black hole : we don't actually measure value of tasks we perform Principe of least resistance : given that we don't actually measure value of our work, we do first what is easier : shallow work. Busyness as a proxy for productivity : in knowledge works, difficult to estimate our own value : a lot of shallow work makes false feeling of produced value Cult of the Internet : everything from the Internet (like facebook) is considered a piori as good in IT : hugh error. Neuroscience : what you are is the sum of what you focus on. Happier when we focus on flow activities. We need goals, challenges, feedback. We all have a limited amount of will-power so we need to save it for deep work. Profiles of deep workers: - bimodal : monastic-like activities for few days, shallow work during the rest of the time - rhythmic philosophy : moment reserved every day, use a chain method like a cross on the calendar : we want to avoid any hole in the chain. - journalist philosophy : switches between shallow work and deep work all the day long (hard) Ideas to help deep work: - grand gesture : leave habits, work in an hotel for ie - help serendipity by meeting people from others disciplines - stop to work the evening to let the unconscious mind to solve problems for you (less work = more CPU to solve problems in your mind background) - also rest because we all have a limited amount of available attention - perform of shutdown ritual every end of day (like saying 'work performed') -> brain conditioned to stop running thoughts. Otherwise, Zeigarnik effect (we remember better interrupted tasks because we want to solve it) - search boredom to help the brain to rewire - schedule the day by blocks, change blocks during the day if required Deep work meditation to solve complex problems: - Store variables of current state of the problem - ask question to force the brain to go to the next problem and no looping - fight distracted thoughts Memorization technique (see the book for more details) : imagine large objects in 5 rooms of our house, map the objects with a set of celebrities and imagine scenes. Each person maps a value (like a number of a card value) Avoid any-benefits tools like facebook, concentrate on craftsman approach : only consider tools that help significantly to reach the lead goals To determinate if a tool that help : - list the key activities you need to realize to reach the lead goals - for each activities, ask yourself if the tool helps or not 4DX (Four disciplines of eXecution) : - focus on widely import goals (measurable few goals) - focus on lead goals, not long term goals - use scoreboards - perform periodic summaries Law of the vital fews (Pareto principle) : 80% of a given effect is done by 20% of the possible causes During leisure, avoid using Internet, do high-level activities like reading literature Evaluate shallow work performed by week and confront it to your boss and ask him to validate. To determine if a work is shallow : how many months would it take to teach an hypothetical post graduate to make it ? Say "no" by default, provide vague explanation to avoid questions. Process centric e-mails to close the loop and free the mind : state clearly the next steps on every subject (every action) Avoid replying to e-mails on subject without interest, coming with too much work to reply etc..