Book Review: ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport: Productivity

Deep Work: About the Book

‘Engaging and Substantive’, remarked the Wall Street Journal. Seth Godin calls Cal Newport ‘..a clear voice in a sea of noise, bringing science and passion in equal measure’. In his latest book, Deep Work, Cal Newport explores the rules for obtaining focused success in a distracted world. To call it a book about time management would reduce the power of his message. That said, the principle of managing your time better by being better focused is something we all desperately need.
This book was £14.99 and about 263 pages. It contains around 103,000 words which would take the average reader about 8.5 hours to read, with 60% comprehension.

Book cover of 'Deep Work' by Cal Newport

This review related to Newports book which expresses rules needed for success withing our world of distraction.


The thrust of what Cal is trying to tell us is simple. As you come to ‘talk’ with Cal over the time it takes to read the book, you understand that he has spent a long time wanting you to know this truth. From research to emotional intelligence, to logic, he tries and tries to convince, and does a good job. The simple truth is that we live in a very distracting world and struggle to give the time and focus on the things that matter. Those tasks that will make the real difference in our lives. To illustrate he uses a story that exaggerates the point wonderfully with a professor who does not have email. He simply closes himself away to work on his research so that he can publish more papers than anyone else.

Deep Work

This simple truth will not be new to any reader. They’ll know it intuitively. Their response will also be that it’s hard. I suspect citing, ‘But you don’t know my business’, or ‘My customers would never allow that’. Being ‘attached’ to our email is the biggest distraction of all, Newport argues. Of course, he’s right and the arguments come again and again, as to why he’s right. The real question is whether we are prepared to change. Even though the evidence is insurmountable, it’s easier to stay working shallow, believing that ‘doing email’s achieves the real difference we ought to strive to make.

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Final Thoughts

All in all the author makes a good argument, and it mirrors what Pareto tried to tell us all those years ago. That 20% of the tasks will achieve 80% of the difference. My advice is to read this book. However, know that reading the book will not achieve the change you wish to make. Only you can and only if you want to. Finally, I suggest starting by answering, ‘Why you are on the payroll?‘.

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