You have to move thru it


Any company, once big enough, becomes a religion





Take breaks from focused work; not from distractions

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Key takeaways

  • You want positive peer-pressure in your life
  • You must use places and planned routines to stay focused
  • Attention control is a muscle, build it up.
  • It is OK to not respond to people/things. Better to appear spacey then snippy!


  • Three types of people who will succeed in the future:
    • Those with access to capital
    • Those who work creatively with machines
    • Those who are the best in their field
  • There is shallow work and deep work (flow-state work)
  • In the new economy, you must quickly learn new things and produce at a high level (sort of an argument about labor markets becoming more fluid/efficient and thus competitive)
  • Deep work is the key to being successful in creating and being the best. Negatively, you must avoid shallow working and distractions.
  • Focused deliberate work is often the most meaningful work
    • Rather than generating meaning we are to cultivate it in ourselves and distill it from the places where it already is

How to work deeply

  • Work on a single task free from distractions by defining the task at hand and isolating yourself
  • You will need to deliberately practice deep work and get feedback to keep yourself producing at a high level
  • You must focus intensely without distraction
  • To do this you will need long interrupted stretches of work
  • Isolate yourself to focus
  • Enforce strict isolation until the task is done
  • high quality work = intensity of focus * time spent
  • Attention residue (erosion) occurs when you have too many simultaneous things going on and your background brain switches between them too often. This leads to poor performance.
  • In some jobs, constant connection is valuable currency. (How do these jobs compete?)
  • Even though you are not aware, your brain responds to distractions
  • We will tend towards behaviors that are easiest in the moment
  • Busyness is a bad proxy for productivity
  • One excuse to get out of commitments (busy work) — “I’m not responsible” this advice only feels good for when you are being courted rather than cajoled
  • Take breaks. Walks in nature are particularly good.
  • Don’t take breaks from distraction; take breaks from focus

How to start working deeply

  • You must be inspired by healthy stress and positive peer pressure
  • Find a place to brood
  • Have shallow chambers and deep work chambers
  • Use routines and rituals wisely
  • There is no recipe – you need your own philosophy that incorporates your own circumstances and
  • Find times to work (seasons, months, weeks, weekends, one full day)
  • The minimum time needed for deep work is one full day
  • Two types of deep work – rhytmic (in and out in 4 hours or so) and bi-modal

How to keep working deeply

  • Use positive peer pressure
  • Use visual aids (red X on calendar)
  • Block out every minute of your day to make sure you are focused. (This is a guideline not a strict schedule)
  • Discipline isn’t easy, you just have to keep at it.
  • At the end of each day take every “work item” (not your deep work) and put it on paper/to do lists. Externalize them and try to forget them. This way they won’t creep around in your attention.
  • “Check out” your computer. In essence don’t open it unless you have a specific purpose.
  • Attention control is a muscle. You can strengthen it.

How to avoid distraction

  • Have a goal and 3 things you must do to stay on track for your goal
  • Simply don’t respond to voicemails or emails unless they align with your goals
  • When you say no to things, don’t offer a consolation. Give it a clean break or “no”
  • Become hard to reach (quiz to answer on forms for example) — you have a right to control your incoming communication
  • Develop a habit of letting small bad things happen; otherwise you’ll never get to big things