DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Newport
When reading this book, Newport mentioned the phrase ‘do the work.’ (111) The words “you must do the work” kept speaking to me. It’s a phrase often used by Iyanla Vanzant. Iyanla is a Life coach for many individuals, families, and celebrities. When she shares with the client what they need to do to move forward in their personal life and they are resistant, she would say “If you want your life to work you must be willing to do the work.”  Her phrase was speaking to the spiritual healing of one’s life, whereas, Newport was speaking to being successful and relevant in one’s career life.
Deep work is the process of working intentionally by learning difficult skills sufficiently and quickly. Newport defines it as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” (2) In our times, we have numerous distractions, specifically with the Internet and Cable.
Newport says, according to Hansson, “One should push current skills to their limit and produce unambiguously valuable and concrete results.” (32) Deep work is not for those who rely on willpower. You must have the desire to endure through the intense process and remain focused on purpose. You must but in the time necessary to produce and achieve excellent results. In his research of several individuals and their work, he was able to document that “if you can’t learn, you can’t thrive…” (32) He also presents an equation for deep work:” High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus). “ (40)
Newport presents in this book numerous theories and strategies for one to achieve deep work. Also, his research covered several executive leaders in many industries, for example, technology and communication. One needs to be creative and think outside the box. He points out that distractions debunk deep work. One must withdraw themselves from all distractions to be successful which include social media. As I continue to digest his information, it appears that the effect of distractions in our economy is similar to the effect of kryptonite is to Superman.
He outlines his research and theories into several themes and focuses. Based on my current situation, I chose to chew on his theories on writing: as a journalist. He shared thoughts on deep work rituals on writing as a journalist:
- Where you’ll work and for how long (119)
- How you’ll work once you start to work (120)
- How you’ll support your work. (120)
The location of where is work determines your deep of thought and commitment to the work. If you designate an area or location to pursue your deep work, it will nurture a successful product. To maintain progress, one should identify goals. Newport suggests identifying some words to complete in a specific amount of time, or don’t engage in the internet. (120) You must endure the process of deep work by stimulating your mind with coffee, exercise, food, and more. (121)
Newport does include the contra side to deep work labeling it as ‘shallow work.’ That addresses the work that’s necessary but can be time-consuming, so one needs to schedule a time limit. Shallow work includes emails, meetings and work environments.
As one prepares for academic writing, it requires deep work: thesis, research, word limitation, and time restraints. Scheduling time daily was a tool I used successfully in the fall semester, and I was able to achieve the goals. This past semester I found myself overwhelmed with shallow work that was necessary to my personal financial support and ministry.
This semester I will focus on ensuring that I have scheduled sufficient time for the deep work.
 Iyanla Vanzant, “Iyanla Vanzant Website”, accessed May 1, 2017, http://iyanla.co/.