Deep Work by Cal Newport,
Grand Central Publishing, New York, 2016.
I am part of an alumni book club through Cal State- San Bernardino. These are my responses I posted for this book.
Responses to book by chapters
Before reading book
I am hoping this book is not the usual claptrap of “follow
my system and you will rule the world” that is so prevalent in the book stores.
I want it to teach me something new. I am a retired school teacher, so I had to
use organized systems to keep my sanity during busy, busy days.
1)My Response to the Introduction
He says there are two ways to work, shallow and deep. He says that the busyness
in our world with internet and phones being used constantly, have changed our
brains and therefore way we work. He proposes that turning things off and
giving yourself a place to do deep work without distraction will enable you to
accomplish more in less time. He says he has rules to use when doing deep work
and will share them in the rest of the book. He also says as those who know how
to do Deep work become fewer there will be a greater need for them.
His ideas sounds correct to me. I know when distractions are minimum in a
classroom, children can concentrate better. It has been suggested that
classroom walls be left empty to help students concentrate on their studies.
When I work, I usually have noise going on– the TV in my office is on, my
phone is close, and I answer it when it rings. When I work it usually turns
into white noise to cover the quiet in the house. The opposite of what he is
suggesting I would think. My sister goes to quiet study rooms to study her
college materials by herself on Sundays. She studies the rest of the time in a
noisy household with our mother, sister and her two kids running around. She
made straight As throughout her junior college years and received three AA
degrees. She is amazing. Deep Work idea seems to work for her.
2) I have already made changes to the way I work on reading and writing. When it is serious work and I need my brain totally tuned in- deep work- I turn the TV off now. I put my cell phone on the charger away from me. I place the work I am going to do first on my attack stack each night. I also have a tracking chart to fill out every day with what I have accomplished that day. I am going to try to make 6 pm my quit time, however I am out of the house MWF at 11:15 am and do not get home until after 8 pm. I feel the need to get some work done those evenings, too. I am going to set a hard stop time of 10 pm.
Chapter 1 Response
I know why students
have a hard time moving from one task or subject to another-.
It is due to attention residue. They require frequent reminders that a new task
is coming up. It is also why they will talk about the last class as they are
coming into your classroom. It makes transitioning from one subject to another
difficult in a classroom.
I also have seen,
when I am focused on reading and the world disappears around me, I have a
better understanding of what I read. I am able to take better notes. I also
tend to remember what I studied. I know when I am focused on an assignment, I
tend to move through the requirements quicker.
I am also trying to
cut down on the white noise makers such as the TV that is frequently on while i
am studying. I lose what is on the TV when I concentrate, so why have it on at
all? It can be on when I am doing the distractions such as email and Facebook.
I think the three
successful groups in the Great Restructuring are interesting.
High-skilled workers– workers with the ability to use and tease valuable
results out of complex machines. Are they good working with intelligent
machines, or not?
The Superstars– when talent is universally accessible, then those whoa
re at the top will be the most successful. The consumer will choose the very
best. These superstars will win the bulk of the market. An increasing number of
workers are competing with these superstars.
The Owners– These people have capital and buy companies and OWN them.
They have capital to invest in the new technologies that are driving the Great
It makes me glad I am
retired and not in direct competition for these new economy jobs.
The brain research
information he gives on practice is interesting.
Deliberate practice requires: your attention to be focused on a specific skill
to improve or idea to master and feedback is received so corrections can be
made. It cannot exist beside distractions, because it requires uninterrupted
concentration. It is an effective behavior. It makes changes in the brain and
forces circuits to fire repeatedly creating learning and memory.
Over all Chapter one
is a presentation of the research he has found to back up his own ideas on Deep
Work. It is an interesting chapter to read.
Chapters 2 and 3
I am not a fan of the
writer’s style either. He uses too many big words in long sentences, with a lot
of commas, and clauses. I read one sentence four times and even then I do not
think it quite made sense to me. This book is not for the uneducated masses or
the non English speaker just beginning to learn English.
Newport has one main
point to make and backed it up with three sub points.
Main point: Deep work is a better way to work.
Deep work is becoming less prevalent in the work place.
Deep work is need in the work place
Deep work cannot be quantified as valuable in the work place.
He has great example
throughout the book for each point he makes. He also has good research to back
it up. So now that he has backed up his statements with his research, let’s see
where he takes us.
i think the rhythmic
or the bimodal type of Deep Work would work for my lifestyle. I am currently
retired and am learning how to be a write and author on my own. I am also
starting two blogs and I am an administrator on a forum and facebook website.
I have to prioritize
my work now. There are things I need to do every day. My blogs require
something to be written on them every day or every other day to get people to
come to them. I am currently 10,000 words into a novel I am writing. I also
have two more book ideas sitting waiting for me to get to them. I am also
taking online blogging and writing courses. Plus I need to read, write and o
community things to increase my viewpoints as writer. I am going to make a list
of all of this and prioritize them. Someday I can ignore some things, others I
can work on others.
I like Newport’s ideas of ritualizing your routine. I go to the kitchen, grab a
cup and ice, set in on my desk, put my heater on, and step up to the list of
things I want/need to do. When I taught middle school at the end of the day I
would always leave the next days plans on my desk, along with a “Do this!
list. I never left a messy desk at the end of the day.
I still think Newport
is wordy. This chapter on Rule 1 is extra-long. He takes simple, basic ideas
and makes them hard to decipher.
Rules 2 and 3
I sometimes have my
best ideas in the shower. It is a physically busy time and I mull over things
as I come clean often in more ways than one. A few of my best lesson plans and
story ideas came from a shower. I also follow meditation techniques when going
to bed at night. His idea of useful boredom resonates with me.
Meals eaten with the family and no devices out is an old fashioned idea
nowadays. Have you seen the kids and adults in restaurants on their cell phones
or game pads. I have been bad about using my cell during meals out with my
husband. I am making a public promise here and now to not use my device when I
am out with my husband eating a meal.
I still want to use my cell phone in the car as a passenger, since I am a
nervous passenger and need the distraction. Have you SEEN our California
Sitting at the doctor’s office waiting today, did I use the time to think about
the next part of my book I am currently embroiled in writing. For about two
minutes, then the phone came out with an excuse. Before I bought my Pixel 2
phone, I would not take my cell phone anywhere, I disliked the idea of being
tagged everywhere I went. Now I cannot leave home without the phone. Do I get
phone calls on that phone. Not really. Do I need to keep in touch on Facebook
that much? No,my life is not that exciting. Is Armageddon coming around the
bend and I need ongoing, breaking news? I have not heard about it. I do need
the phone along as an emergency aide. If something happens to me, I want my
medical information available, as well my SO called.
I played Facebook games for two years straight, almost all day. Farmville 2 was
a favorite. They took me away from my depressive thoughts and let me build
other worlds during a very tough time in my life. I realized in January of this
year I wanted to focus on my love of writing. I wanted to do something with my
poetry and ideas. I have not completely quit Facebook games, but most of my day
is taken up with writing goals and skills, reading books, and making a
community to be a writer in. It is a huge change from distractive work to time spent
doing deep work. I made the move before I even read this book.
I think it is instinctive in learners who crave knowledge to move into Deep
Work naturally. What do you all think?
I read Rule three today. I have come to detest this book. I find myself making changes to my life based on the ideas within the book. I also discuss its ideas with other people. However, I glare at the book on my desk and slap the cover. I want to take the book and bang it on the wall until the big words and jargon fall out of it, leaving the main points and examples for easier reading. I realize the author is a college professor way up in academics somewhere, however he sure put a lot of extraneous bs into this book.
2) I read Rule three today. I have come to detest this book. I find myself making changes to my life based on the ideas within the book. I also discuss its ideas with other people. However, I glare at the book on my desk and slap the cover. I want to take the book and bang it on the wall until the big words and jargon fall out of it, leaving the main points and examples for easier reading. I realize the author is a college professor way up in academics somewhere, however he sure put a lot of extraneous bs into this book.
I am currently
writing a story/book. I have given myself a hard deadline of May 31 to have the
1st draft done and be ready to take on the rewriting phases of it. I am working
on checking my email twice a day. I am also trying not to play so much on Facebook
games. My writing time is fast becoming sacrosanct to me. Let me write and do
not disturb, or the writing dragon will forget she is actually a kind person
and will bite your head off.
Now if I can get the stupid phone calls to cease and desist from telemarketers,
survey takers, and random organization who want money. They interrupt things
quite a few times a day. I act as our home secretary and answer the phone
first. I am a lot nicer than hubby is getting rid of the pests.
I also need to do things around our house. I have to clean up and out part of
my library room due to my mother moving in with us for ten or so days while
they have floors done in their house.
I also deal with a chronic illness everyday and am on dialysis three days a
week. This means a huge chunk of my time is devoted to taking care of my
So, yes, I can drain some of the shallow swamp in my life. Some things just are
what they are.
My Overall Response
I think in today’s world of busyness and
technology being put before everything else, Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, C.
2016, has recommendations that are useful to the group of information workers
that have just been hired, been in their careers for a few years, and are
technology based in their communications.
A lot of what he said in his book resonates with me. I have always tried to put first things first
when I work. Avoiding distraction and
working quietly was always used in classrooms as I grew up.
In today’s world there is a lot of noise
during a student’s day. They use
technology and teachers are told constantly to pick up their use of technology
in the classroom. Stay with he times
they are told. When we need to be teaching
deep work habits to our students. Teach
the value of following a thought to a conclusion and how to find things in a
book instead of using the internet.
Sometimes that slow research can lead to other avenues that are not
Newport is correct
when he says technology is rewiring our brains.
Look around at any place you go, people are wired into their
technology. He complains about Facebook
being a time sucker. I can attest to the
fact it is one. His suggestions throughout
the book of what to do and how to do it make sense. Working in a quiet atmosphere with no
distractions helped him. He says it will
This book is not the
claptrap I worried it would be. It does
not give a magic formula that promises to solve all your problems at work. Newport’s book promises there will be rewards
only through hard decisions to make changes in the way you work. Only through deep work can the effects of
technology and shallow work become less of a force in your work life.