Adrian Stobbe

Deep Work - Cal Newport

7 minutes (1743 words)
Table of contents

🔗 Link : Goodreads

⭐️ Rating: 9/10

🔗🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. Finding focus to think deeply is a hard with the distractions of ubiquitous connectivity today.
  2. Concentration and focus can be trained and hugely supported through habits.
  3. Deep work makes happy and leaves more time for other things in life

🔗🎨 Impressions

🔗Who Should Read It?

Knowledge workers who want to be more productive at their work. Those seeking techniques and inspiration to find more focus and train concentration.

🔗☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

I strive to be excellent in my profession. This requires focused, deliberate practice. I therefore design my day to make full use of my concentration capacity by blocking it and removing any distractions. Rituals and routines should help me to stick to it.

🔗👷🏼 What do I want to apply to my life?

🔗📒 Summary + Notes

🔗What is Deep work and for whom is it?

🔗Focus on few things and fully engage with them

🔗Resisting shallow work is hard

🔗Deep work makes happy

🔗Find your deep work philosophy


🔗Techniques to foster deep work


Minimize the amount of willpower necessary to maintain unbroken concentration through preparation and routines: Where and for how long? try to have a dedicated place. Define an end time!

How will you work once you start?


Grand gesture:

Stay on track: 4 Techniques by Clayton Chirstensen:

#1 Focus on the Wildly Important

#2 Act on the Lead Measures

There exist lag and lead motivators. Lag motivators describe what you are ultimately trying to achieve, but they come too late to motivate persistence. Lead measures focus on the new behaviors that will help you reach your goal. Therefore, act on the latter. E.g. by tracking deep work hours.

#3 Track your metrics consistently

Log deep work hours consistently and evaluate how to improve and what to keep. Mark milestones and reward yourself.

#4 Create a Cadence of Accountability

Keep yourself accountable with weekly reviews.

Productive meditation:

Engage physically e.g. walking, jogging, driving, showering - and focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem. Its main purpose is to train deep thinking.

Steps to do before:

  1. Review the relevant variables (options)

  2. Define the next-step question using these variables ( How? What might go wrong?)

Example: “How am I going to effectively open this chapter?”. This provides a specific target for your attention. Be aware that we tend to repeat what we already know! Remind that you can come back to this idea later and bring the attention back. Initially we tend to derail our attention to other seemingly important tasks. Resists this urge! That’s the whole point of this exercise. The final step is to consolidate your gains by reviewing clearly the answer you identified.

🔗The mind needs rest

Some decisions are better left to your unconscious. For decisions that involve large amounts of information and multiple vague, and perhaps even conflicting, constraints, use your unconscious.

Rest doesn’t mean being lazy but switching to something else. In fact, I feel better the next day when I spent my leisure time doing other challenging things as opposed to hanging around lazily. → Substitute distractions with quality alternatives for the brain.

Spending time in nature can improve your ability to concentrate.

Trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day.

🔗Have a fixed Feierabend time

Finish work at five thirty: This strong break lets you avoid taking up shallow commitments. Be strict about not allowing professional concerns after workday shut down. Even short distractions might impede the shutdown advantages.

Have a shutdown ritual: Capture every incomplete task, so that you don’t need to worry about it after work.

Put more thought into your leisure time. What fulfills you and makes you happy?

Be pragmatic but critical about sticking to your schedule: an important insight or high drive to do an unscheduled task is a perfectly valid reason to ignore the schedule.

🔗Reduce the time on shallow tasks

Be intentional and selective about communication:

When writing emails, succinctly explain your concern and why the recipient should react to it. How can he benefit? Make a concrete proposal for how to proceed. Don’t leave open loops.


Concentration is like a muscle that requires practice. It gets very hard if you are used to being distracted → make consistent efforts instead of trying hard during a short period of time.

Ambitious self-imposed deadlines help to force concentration.

Schedule an occasional break from focus to give in to distraction, instead of forcing yourself to resist distraction during a time period.

Selective tool choices: Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts substantially outweigh the negative.

For each goal define the two or three most important activities to reach it.