I recently finished Cal Newport's bestseller book, Deep Work. Below are some notes on the book that I took along the way. They're points that I found particularly interesting or useful to remember.

  • Cal's more likely to hire new machines than new people; we are entering into an "Intelligent Machine Age"
  • 3 groups of people:
  1. high-skilled workers: are you good at working with intelligent machines or not
  2. superstars: thanks to remote tech, "winner take all" (Sherwin Rosen) - if n candidates with value of q_i, then maximize q_i
  3. the owners: those with access to capital
  • two core abilities for thriving in the new economy:
  1. ability to master hard things need deliberate practice - "the relevant neural circuitry will need to fire again and again, repetitively"
  2. ability to produce at elite level in terms of quality and speed p 40: high quality work produced = time spend x intensity of focus
  • p 62: Feynman calls him selves "absolutely irresponsible", and will not take administrative work
  • people are starting to turn to widgets created per unit time --> bad!
  • p 66: the things on the Internet things seem more important than they really are (a technopoly)
  • p 77: our brains construct our worldview around what we pay attention to - different models pay attention to different things
  • p 87: craftsmanship reopens the sense of sacredness in a responsible manner, the task is "not to create meaning, but to cultivate the skill of discerning the meaning of things"
  • p 113: rhythmic philosophy vs bimodal, working deeply as a habit on a daily basis
  • p 124: Michael Pollan and Dan Pink have "grand gestures" --> writing cabins in their backyard
  • p 134: try to aim for the hub and spoke model in collaborations
  • p 136: 4 disciplines of execution
  • focus on the wildly important the more you try, less you do let ambitious goals drive focused behaviour act on the lead measures measure your success keep a compelling scoreboard have a public place to track lead measures create a cadence of accountability regular meetings by the team
  • p 144: shut down work thinking after work --> your unconscious mind can help make good decisions
  • p 161: instead of taking breaks from distraction, take breaks from focus
  • schedule in advance when you'll use the internet, and then avoid it altogether outside those times
  • p 172: when you go on walks and such, you can practice productive meditation
  • be careful not to get distracted and of looping (when you keep replaying the easy bits to avoid the difficult part) structure your deep thinking with variables (know what they are, and store them well)
  • p 186: Don't use a networking tool just because you can identify any benefit of its use
  • take a craftsman approach (what are the core factors of success and happiness, do a pro/con list)
  • p 201: law of the vital few
  • 80% of the given effect is due to just 20% of possible causes
  • p 210: Bennett in his 1910 book, writes that the rest of someone's time, of 16 h should be seen as a way to spend time as through an aristocrat would (for self-improvement)
  • p 214: and no, just because you are putting your mind to something each hour of your day does that mean you'll be more and more tired every day's morning
  • p 223: suggests that we try to block each minute of the day
  • p 232: ask for shallow work budget
  • p 236: fixed schedule productivity --> strong encouragement to stop working at 5:30
  • p 238: deliberately do things that preserve happiness (exercise, family)
  • p 248: keep emails process-centric  
  • what project? what's the most efficient way to bring project to its end?