In Deep Work, Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, lays out his argument for focused work or what he calls deep work. The guiding principle Newport lays out is one that encourages the reader to engage in work that demands your full focus. By engaging in this type of work, one gains more intrinsically valuable and rewarding experience. Newport rightly points out that in our fast-paced and information-driven world, we can quickly become distracted, which leads to missed opportunities in both our personal and professional lives. He solution, deep work, so let us see how he defines said work.
Newport defines deep work as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capacities to their limit.” Current trends continue to push us all to do more and engage more as we are digitally connected at all times. This state of “rushedness” and distractedness is what Newport calls shallow work. Shallow Work is defined as “Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend not to create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.” In essence, Newport says, shallow work is most often than not the normal state of most people, but it brings limited value. Deep work, on the other hand, brings profound value and is the state most people choose not to operate.
Following four rules will help you embrace deep work:
1. Work Deeply
Make deep work a regular part of your life. Remove distractions and increase your level of focus. Many distractions come from within.
2. Embrace Boredom
People in today’s world suffer an addiction to distraction. The focus that deep work requires means that you must escape that addiction. Without distraction, however, you will suffer boredom. When trying to concentrate intensely, you will yearn for something to break the tedium. But if you stop fighting that boredom and recognize it as proof of your focus, you can make focused concentration a “habit,” something you do regularly because it is good for you.
3. Quit Social Media
Social media are entertaining and keep you in touch with people. These benefits are minor compared to what social media cost you. When considering the use of any social media tool, identify which factors create “success and happiness in your professional and personal life.” Use that tool only if it offers more benefits than negatives.
4. Drain the Shallows
Shallow work crowds out more valuable deep work. Deep work is exhausting because it pushes you to your limits. Most people have a maximum capacity of four hours of deep work a day. They have to build up to that level. Starting with an hour is not uncommon.
As I continue to study for my research-based around Paracletic Spirit-embodied leadership, it struck me that we (Christians) tend to treat the Holy Spirit as “shallow work.” What I mean is that we seem to take the time to pause rarely, and think cogni-theological (yes I made this up, if Digby can I can), in a distraction-free zone, as it comes to our leadership these days. I am wondering what deep work looks like as it relates to Paracletic Spirit-embodied leadership? As with every week, I am left with more questions than answers.
 Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016, 3.
 Fottrell, Quentin. “People Spend Most of Their Waking Hours Staring at Screens.” MarketWatch, Last modified August 4, 2018. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/people-are-spending-most-of-their-waking-hours-staring-at-screens-2018-08-01.
 Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016, 6.
 Newport, Cal. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.