Book Review: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” and Why I’ve Been Gone

I kill books on Audible. I listen, I read, I listen, I read. I am always searching for something, whether entertainment or in this case, Raw Power.

Yes indeed, Iggy Pop has his place in between chapters of this book. Better than Adderall. Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World is a firecracker to jump start your working habits.

There have been so many distractions away from my writing, editing, and publishing. We bought an old farm house, I was in uniform, work, work, and more work. I love teaching but it takes away from what I should be doing. One day soon, I will change that dynamic.

Without Deep Work to help guide my priorities, I would have been lost. There are so many great quotes from this book as these are rules to live by:

“We tend to place a lot of emphasis on our circumstances, assuming that what happens to us (or fails to happen) determines how we feel. From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes…” ― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

“…what we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life.” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

“If every moment of potential boredom in your life—say, having to wait five minutes in line or sit alone in a restaurant until a friend arrives—is relieved with a quick glance at your smartphone, then your brain has likely been rewired…”

― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

A bit of the Book Description:

In DEEP WORK, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four “rules,” for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.
A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, DEEP WORK takes the reader on a journey through memorable stories — from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air — and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. DEEP WORK is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.
What I Liked About this Book:
 
During a recent project which I will highlight in a later post, I was forced OUT of my comfort zone in order to do what I love: the creation of a book from manuscript to market. I was responsible for the editing, layout, and final version of a great project- The Forge: Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program Workbook. I say out of my comfort zone because a textbook about Six Sigma wasn’t in my repertoire but when an old friend calls, you jump. I am also committed to publishing anything that is good. Most people who know me can tell that I’m game for anything.

 

At the height of the project, we moved, I was called to uniformed service, taught, and of course…there were challenges with the project. Deep Work gave me the focus that I needed to complete tasks in a meaningful way and avoid distraction.

Without this book and intended focus, I would not have been able to finish this textbook that needed to be in the world.

Of course, this meant shying away from social media, focused writing only on personal time, and a delay in the next Letters Never Meant to be Read book. These are sacrifices that we all make as writers/editors/publishers when there are things called priorities and that evil called time.

When I would have been Tweeting, Blogging, Posting, and making clever memes, I was packing boxes and taking the necessary steps toward the finished product: a book.

Deep Work is a recipe for success but it does not come without sacrifice or consequences. Interestingly, this blog only continued to grow readers in my absence on social media due to my back catalog. My books continued to sell, and the world still turned without checking my phone all the time. That is part of what the book is all about.

I still went on Twitter, I still checked on things from time to time, but I did not focus my attention on these efforts as I had in the past. This desperation and yearning will get you nowhere when there is real work to do. I have to thank the author for the focused attention and emphasis on downtime that the book suggests.

“Your goal is not to stick to a given schedule at all costs; it’s instead to maintain, at all times, a thoughtful say in what you’re doing with your time going forward…” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World 

“Less mental clutter means more mental resources available for deep thinking.” 
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

 

What I didn’t like about this book:

Deep Work is hard (whine) so be careful what you wish for. This is not a ding on the book but more of a concern for what we as a society consider Working. If you hold a mirror in front your day and find half filled with answering email and pointless meetings, watch out.

I could have used a few more tangible activities but I was able to read between the lines and accomplish what needed to be done by the concepts arrayed in the book. We can all say that about this type of book because people looking for something to help typically like to be force-fed.

I would love to have a writer’s version of this book as I think it would be extremely helpful (and it would sell).

 

What this Book Does for My Writing:

I tend to work on too many projects at once. In the past, I have been able to focus on some “low hanging fruit” and accomplish book projects that I knew could be a finished product in the allotted time.

Deep Work made me realize that when I write, I just need to write. Phone off, distractions gone, just me and the page. I knew this before but I have a hard time remembering that this peculiar activity makes me very happy and fulfilled. When I can be in the moment, spinning yarn, I am at my best and happiest. I also get better at my chosen craft. Deep Work is about that concentrated focus that will turn you into a master instead of a forever apprentice.

The book warns against telling people that you are headed for Deep Work. I made the mistake of announcing my awesome plans on Twitter half way through the book, not that anyone was paying attention. The point is that it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is The Forge textbook, Letters Never Meant to be Read II, the book I am writing with A.M. Hounchell, and his other manuscript that RWM will be putting out this fall.

If you are looking for a decent read to adjust your working habits and productivity, I certainly recommend the Audible Version of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

5-Stars

 

Advertisements

One thought on “Book Review: “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” and Why I’ve Been Gone

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s