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  • Deep Work

  • Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
  • Written by: Cal Newport
  • Narrated by: Jeff Bottoms
  • Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,149 ratings)
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Deep Work

Written by: Cal Newport
Narrated by: Jeff Bottoms
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Publisher's Summary

AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF 2O16 PICK IN BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP

WALL STREET JOURNAL BUSINESS BESTSELLER

A BUSINESS BOOK OF THE WEEK AT 800-CEO-READ

Master one of our economy’s most rare skills and achieve groundbreaking results with this “exciting” book (Daniel H. Pink) from an “exceptional” author (New York Times Book Review).

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep Work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep-spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there's a better way.

In Deep Work, author and professor Cal Newport flips the narrative on impact in a connected age. Instead of arguing distraction is bad, he instead celebrates the power of its opposite. Dividing this book into two parts, he first makes the case that in almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits. He then presents a rigorous training regimen, presented as a series of four "rules," for transforming your mind and habits to support this skill.

1. Work Deeply

2. Embrace Boredom

3. Quit Social Media

4. Drain the Shallows

A mix of cultural criticism and actionable advice, Deep Work takes the listener on a journey through memorable stories—from Carl Jung building a stone tower in the woods to focus his mind, to a social media pioneer buying a round-trip business class ticket to Tokyo to write a book free from distraction in the air—and no-nonsense advice, such as the claim that most serious professionals should quit social media and that you should practice being bored. Deep Work is an indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2016 Cal Newport (P)2016 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"This book changed my mind. It has moved me from 'find your passion, so that you can be useful' to 'be useful so that you can find your passion.' That is a big flip, but it's more honest, and that is why I am giving each of my three young adult children a copy of this unorthodox guide." (Kevin Kelly, senior maverick, WIRED magazine)
"'Do what you love and the money will follow' sounds like great advice - until it's time to get a job and disillusionment quickly sets in. Cal Newport ably demonstrates how the quest for 'passion' can corrode job satisfaction. If all he accomplished with this book was to turn conventional wisdom on its head, that would be interesting enough. But he goes further - offering advice and examples that will help you bypass the disillusionment and get right to work building skills that matter." (Daniel H. Pink, best-selling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind)
"Entrepreneurial professionals must develop a competitive advantage by building valuable skills. This book offers advice based on research and reality - not meaningless platitudes - on how to invest in yourself in order to stand out from the crowd. An important guide to starting up a remarkable career." (Reid Hoffman, cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn and coauthor of the best-selling The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career)

What listeners say about Deep Work

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So good. An essential read.

If you feel like you’re all over the place with your day and cannot get to what you need to do, this book is excellent. Very good discussion of the use of social media as well. Highly recommended.

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Too many anecedotal stories

I bought this book so I could learn more about distractions and their influence on productivity Maybe it's presented farther along in the book, however the first hour was all stories and no methods, I didn't like the narrator and was effectively told that you need to either be rich, work in computer software(like the author does) or be the top of your field to be successful. I didn't love it!

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6 people found this helpful

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Worth it but you might wanna skip to the second part: the rules

If you have listened/read a lot of self help book about productivity, you can skip the first part.

The second part « the rules » is so good, it’s worth your time.

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Pretty good

Learn how to say no, maximize your time and spend less time on social media

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Excellent with not just what (to do) but also how (to do)

An excellent book
- Excellent with not just what (to do) but also how (to do)
- Applicable to one’s personal as well as professional life

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Little things that I wish could be done better

It’s a really good book. It eloquently diagnoses and describes a big problem with the way civilization is developing, a problem that most of us over a certain age have likely felt was there but lacked the words to expose it.

I wish that:

1. The reader could have done enough research to sound as though he was familiar with the knowledge in the book - little things like not knowing how to pronounce “Csikszentmihalyi,” for example.

2. The reader had pronounced the letter L in “also” - he says “awe-so,” which might be a feature of his natural accent but in this context makes him sound further underexposed to academic writing. (I’m sure there were other examples of pronunciations I found jarring, but “also” occurs many many times in this book!)

Mr. Bottoms’ vocal quality itself is quite enjoyable, though often I wished he could have sounded a bit less cheery and a bit more connected.

I’ve heard similar issues in other Audible productions that have made the listening experience less enjoyable for me. But this is still a really smart and useful book and I’m glad I bought it.

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3 people found this helpful

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One of the best listens of the year

#Audible1 the author explains all concepts very clearly in a step-by-step fashion. The material isn't advanced but with numerous examples of application it is easy to see why the subject is important.

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A " Re Read" that you visit repeatedly

an absolutely amazing book. the tools within this manuscript can be applied in everyday life both in your personal and work environments.. Unlike other books, Cal Newport has written a guide that provides ideas to structure your work and personal lives in a way that enables you to achieve more in both. I have found my productivity has grown while my spare time has also increased, allowing me time to pursue hobbies and my fitness goals as well. thank you Cal!

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Potentially life changing.

The author encourages the reader to take control of their time and eliminate distractions. There are many practical tips to help focus on what is important and cut out what is not.

I recommend it to anyone who is serious about becoming more productive with their time.

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Life changing

Life changing book about how to be the productivity powerhouse that you have wanted to be.

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  • M.J.
  • 2016-11-17

Blocking off time each day to work without distractions will make you more productive

"Blocking off time each day to work without distractions will make you more productive" - This book

There, I just saved you another 7 hours.

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  • Michael
  • 2017-01-27

Formulaic Self Help

This is another book in the Formulaic Self Help Genre. The formula is: Propose an idea that everyone already agrees with, and take it to an extreme, then reference a handful of rich and famous people and claim they sort of follow your extreme proposal, then give a multistep program to implement your proposal in the reader's life.

Most books in this genre have the same weakness, they fail to point out that most people that follow their program are not rich or famous. Such books also don't discuss the many other rich and famous people who do the exact opposite of the proposed method, yet achieve greatness.

In this case, Deep Work is focusing and avoiding distractions while working. Good advice. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that have great focus and avoid distractions while working but don't achieve greatness, because they are focusing quite deeply on the wrong thing. There are also a lot of people who create best with many people working together in a dynamic and distracting environment. Some with rock music, others with 10 screens of continuous data.

I am an introvert and don't engage in social media (never read or sent a tweet, check facebook about 3 times/yearm very limited email). I think the advice given would work pretty well for introverts, I am not so sure about this working for other personality types and work styles.

If you are an introvert with a social media addiction, this book may be helpful to you.
For me it was not worth my time.

The narration was OK for a self help book.
The PDF is basically just a list of references.

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  • Anthony
  • 2017-12-06

Academics ONLY

If you work in any kind of operational environment, this is not the book for you. I really struggled through the first 4 chapters...straining to not give up. Those first chapters consist of the author referencing other academics, as if this was a research paper. I finally skipped that last half of chapter four. On to the good part, so I thought... Give me some rules, as the title explains. Well, those don't help either unless you work at a university and can lock yourself in an office for at least 5 hours a day. Let me sum it up, turn off your phone and email (wow, thanks...original idea there that is not in hundreds of other books, but yeah, good advise). Then, get rid of all of your social media....eye roll. He even talks about one "professor" who happily tells the world that he gave up all email on January 1st 1990....yeah, 1990.... Ok, now batch your work. Yet, another example of another "professor" that only teaches in the fall and researches in the spring and summer so he can "deep work".

I was looking for a couple pointers on how to "focus in a distracted world", and what I learned was that I need to become a university professor.

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  • Ethan
  • 2016-02-15

Waste of time

Let me save you a few hours, this books is worth about three blog posts. The first half of the books is about why Cal believes Deep Work matters. Skip it, it's fluffy stories and motivation. The second half of the book is about how to do "Deep Work" If it's never occurred to you to restrict or remove email and social media then perhaps it's useful to read. There's a tiny section on block scheduling and a short section on improving focus and attention that could be useful, but are better already covered by Newport's Study Hacks blog.

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  • Derek
  • 2016-05-17

1.5x pace

Recommend listening at 1.5x pace to keep engaged throughout. Some dry points, but worth finishing as there are several actionable recommendations and ways to re-imagine how we spend our work and extracurricular time.

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  • A curious visitor
  • 2018-09-14

Not too deep...

The premise of the book is great - and I fully agree with it. However, the contents are mostly common sense and I personally didn't find anything I didn't already know and wanted to, in this book. I already shared the author's opinion that deep work is important and desirable before I read (listened to) the book. Unfortunately for me, he spends a huge chunk of the book selling the concept, supported by research evidence no one really needs (do we really need the details of dozens of scientific research projects to believe that we get more done when we direct our undivided attention to one focused, deep work?) then proceeds to give okay, but far from groundbreaking advice, such as controlling your schedule, making yourself less accessible to distraction, ignoring social media, etc. The added value in the book would make for a very meaty magazine article, but sadly, it makes a very content-light book that feels padded, with little substance and nothing ground breaking. I believe that my opinion has to do with the fact that the author is in academia, where an original thought, a completed research project, a dissertation, a well documented academic paper, a lecture, etc. is considered a tangible achievement in and of itself, while I'm a business owner i.e. I either get stuff done others are willing to pay for or I don't eat. And deep work has always helped me with that, so I didn't need to be sold on that. If you are a creative or business owner, you don't need or have time for 40 pages to make a simple point. You need the get-to-the-point summary and then you go deep and execute - or you'll be in deep something else.

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  • Oliver Nielsen
  • 2016-11-09

Taking a stance!

A great productivity book that takes a stance and offers concrete steps you can follow, to be more productive. *Productive* as in *increased creative output* – not "productive" as in David Allen's GTD, where productivity largely means "crankin' widgets and emptying your inbox" – a surefire system to "get busy – and *stay* busy – while feeling productive".

I recommend Cal's book to anyone entrapped in social media and/or email and IM. Especially those who're doing creative work like writing, artistic endeavours, innovation, etc.

If that's you, this book will set you free, unleashing your creative work, by giving it the space, time, energy and *respect* (from yourself) that it rightly deserves – and *needs* in order to thrive, evolve, grow, and be *shared* with the world, in a format that is *usefu*l to other people.

Drafts and ideas on your laptop is just that: drafts and ideas. To turn that raw material (of genius maybe) into something real and concrete: takes deep work. It is the *difficult* part. The crucial, tedious 80% of the creation process. Doing deep work requires dedicated time, space and energy. And taking a stance – respecting *yourself* and *your work* enough. To *do* the work. Your *deep* work.

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  • Rishi Agrawal
  • 2016-03-12

don't waste your time

1) This book could be condensed into three words: "focus is good"... done. No need to read the book now.

2) Too much of the book is anecdotal and not scientifically rigorous. I did deep work, so you should too. Bill Gates is rich and he does deep work, so you should too. Jk Rowling is a good author and does deep work, so you should too..

3) This book is flooded with the author's personal tips, which makes it feels incredibly amateurish. An example of this is when he goes into depth about his email filter and process. Don't get me wrong, process and discipline is the difference between the good and the great. I just don't care about your personal email settings at all. It's like listening to four hour work week all over again.. Blehhhh.

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  • ElleBee
  • 2018-11-29

So dang good! Realistic, eye-opening suggestions.

My summary of action items collected from this book plus ideas it inspired me to add:
#1: Distractions. Recognize that you are allowing yourself to be distracted (constantly checking in on your phone, email, Instagram). Set boundaries for your distractions; set a block of time for distraction-free deep work; have a piece of paper nearby to write down any distracting thoughts that pop up, then keep working. Quit/drastically reduce social media usage. Embrace boredom which trains your brain to stay on one track (and go deep).
#2: Make It a Daily Ritual. Schedule a block of time for deep work everyday and make it a ritual. start with 1 hour and work to increase it.
#3: Shut-Down Ritual. Perform an evening shut down ritual (like revisiting your to do list and making plans for tomorrow) after work and/or before going to bed.
#4: Attention Residue. Don't give in to multitasking or you'll suffer attention residue; where your attention on the new task is still smeared with thoughts of the other tasks.
#5 Ruthlessly say no to as much shallow work as possible. Rid as much shallow work from your daily set of obligations as you can (meetings, phone calls, emails, chatting, admin tasks). Unsubscribe from as many emails as possible. Choose to not reply to emails that dont meet the criteria described in the book. Get out of meetings that dont really need you there. Let coworkers chat with you a few mins but then tell them that you (or you both) need to get back to work. Take a hard look at your to do list, are there some tasks you can just not do and the world will still go on?

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  • Dominy family
  • 2016-01-16

Not as deep as I hoped.

What did you like best about Deep Work? What did you like least?

Best: Makes a great case that distraction is the cancer to working/thinking deeply.
Worst: Literally goes on and on and on and on about email. I felt like the book should have been titled - Deep Avoidance of Email.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

The various profiles of people who work deeply and find ways to thrive in a distracted society were inspirational and thought provoking. ....So more of that, less of the nauseating email avoidance strategies.

What aspect of Jeff Bottoms’s performance would you have changed?

His voice isn't really deep or commanding enough to create the credibility I'd like to hear in a self-help audio-book.

Any additional comments?

Avoid this book and get So Good They Can't Ignore You by the same author.

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