It might seem a bit bold to call a book ‘life changing,’ but I can safely say that about Deep Work by Cal Newport. Due to a variety of factors, my work had reached a point where it no longer felt sustainable. No matter how many hours I put in, it simply wasn’t enough. I had read everything on the Internet about time management, but nothing I implemented from those suggestions made significant enough improvements.
Deep Work is one of those books that has been around for a few years and shows up on every must-read list. Since I was in the market for some better advice, I purchased several of the ‘classics’ including Deep Work. Before I had even finished reading it, my workday had greatly improved. By the end of the book, I couldn’t help but wonder how much more I would have accomplished had I read it sooner.
On the surface, Deep Work seems to be about how to get ‘into the zone’ to get more done, but it’s much more than that. The book covers what deep work is, vs shallow work; why we need both and how to determine when one is acceptable; how to obtain and maintain a deep work state; why we need the often overlooked ‘end time’ to a day; why we have unproductive impulses and actual exercises to manage them; and why a tool or task that provides some benefit isn’t enough, plus a wealth of more information that shifted how I approached each day. It managed to cover all these topics without vilifying social media, either.
Nearly a year passed, and I was starting to feel sluggish again. I knew I was losing some of the habits I had acquired up from Deep Work, so I read through it again. Not only did I get the pick me up I needed from the same great advice from the first read, but I discovered layers that build on those foundations. I’ve resolved to re-read this book every year because the mindset adjustment it provides is time well spent.