Martin Brochhaus

Deep Work by Cal Newport

March 03, 2019 ยป 3 min read

First of all, I recommend this book. It's pretty much common sense and it has some flaws, but if you are at a point in your life where you feel overwhelmed with the challenges that (work-) life throws at you and need to squeeze out just an inch of extra energy and motivation to reach your goals, this is a viable tool at best and a good little motivator at least.

This book has flaws, though. It is quite the irony, but given the title, this book is the opposite of deep. It is shallow. Every single chapter follows the same formula:

  1. The author cherry-picks some person (usually from the distant past), event, academic paper or study that makes an important point that fits the narrative.
  2. The author then assumes that this one piece of evidence is authorative and conclusive and that it sufficiently proves his point.
  3. Finally, now that we are convinced that the methods in this book are based on "scientific evidence", the author proposes a trick or tool or habit that would help to focus more on deep work.

All of the above is done in just a few sentences. This might be good, the book will definitely not waste your time with endless blathering. It might also be bad because if the examples don't exactly fit your current situation you might be left with more questions than answers. You will have to think for yourself on how to apply this to your life, but I personally think that is OK.

Like I said, I recommend this book. I have personally experienced everything described in this book at some point in my life and so I certainly know that it works. I don't need long pages of scientific evidence. Furthermore, I am fully convinced that today's "normal" smartphone and social media usage is creating immeasurable damage to our (and more importantly: our children's) brains. Society desperately needs a wake-up call and if this flawed book is the best I have in my library so far, then I will of course recommend it.

Who should read this book? I don't think that every job allows for deep work. Especially as a CEO or politician, i.e. a person that heavily relies on networking, being accessible, and being extremely well informed in order to see the big picture, deep work seems to be hardly possible. However, if you are a person that produces things and if craftmansship is required in your job in any form, then this book is for you!

Here's another thing: I believe in the projections made in the book "The Sovereign Individual". In the Information Age, very few will have great amounts of power and wealth. Since we will live in an age where anyone will be able to work from anywhere, you will have to compete with the entire global work force. The only way to stick out is to be better than everyone else. To make things worse, as we approach the Singularity, new crazy technology will pop up in shorter and shorter cycles and you will need to master that technology quickly if you want to stay relevant.

Being able to learn new and difficult things very quickly and being able to highly focus for hours and hours to solve difficult problems will be two crucial skills that you will need to have. You might think that you already have those skills, but deep down you know that you can always do just a little better. This book shows you various ways to do better.

Amazon affiliate link: Deep Work

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