In the book, Cal Newport defines “deep work” as focused, uninterrupted, undistracted work on a task that pushes your cognitive abilities to their limit. In contrast, “shallow work” describes tasks that aren’t as cognitively demanding—like answering emails and attending unproductive meetings. These tasks don’t create much value and anyone can do them.

Some contemporaries refer to deep work and shallow work as reflective work and reactive work. However, regarding some tasks, the boundary between “reflective” and “reactive” can be confusing. For example, you may think that because emails require you to reflect on an adequate response, they count as reflective work—though they’re shallow work, by Newport’s definition.)

Over the past decades, the economy has moved away from brute force labor to analyzing and applying information. Newport explains that skills that succeed in the modern economy—like complex problem solving, data analysis, and computer programming—require deep work to learn and execute. He argues that your ability to do deep work will determine how much you thrive in the information economy. Ironically, the same technologies that built the information economy are depleting our ability to do deep work. Phones, emails, and addictive apps pull us away every few minutes. Thus, at a time when deep work is most important, it’s also most difficult

Note in this review, we’ll cover the three foundational ideas of deep work and learn about its benefits. Then, we’ll explore practices that will help you create a supportive environment for engaging in deep work.

…Stay tuned

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