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Review Cal Newport Deep Work

The book is about deep work, meaning focused hours of concentration to tackle complex tasks without distraction, its benefits, and how one can achieve it.

The concept of deep work is plausible and convincing and, to me, seems worthwhile to strive for as it enables excellence in demanding and complex situations. The book provides a clear depiction of the problem and provides pointers on how to achieve the state of deep work. For example, the author suggests to reduce (or eliminate) social media, for it leads to habitualised distractions, he proposes to embrace a strict schedule, incorporating quite hours (“predictable time off”), to maximise time without distraction, elaborating both pointers in more detail.

However, the author seems to exaggerate the value of his concept, when providing examples of its success. He likes to describe celebrities from science and economics, e.g. Bill Gates, who, seemingly, are experts of deep work, without the author considering other confounding factors leading to the mentioned celebrities success, that is, they are probably smart to begin with and are doing variety of things leading to their success. Additionally, the author contradicts himself, for example, arguing for a strict schedule and no after hours work on the one hand, and praising himself, how he is thinking clearly about his work in various out of work situations on the other hand. The self-praise, I agree with other reviews, is bothersome at times.

In total, this is yet another book, amongst others, about how to improve attention, concentration and focus, to tackle challenging tasks in an increasingly distracting environment, consisting of internet, smartphone and company. Since it does provide a few helpful tips and some hints of other valuable material on the topic, I can still recommend it as a quick read.