I admit. I am one distracted dude. I procrastinate. I ponder. I review my to do list. I YouTube. I answer emails. I reply to slack messages. Then, I go and make coffee, promising myself that I’ll focus and do “deep work” when I return to my desk.

Back at my desk I realise it’s almost lunch time, and come to think of it, I do feel kinda hungry. But first let’s get some work done. “Hey, do you have minute?” I hear my colleague ask in our designer open office. “Sure” I reply reluctantly.

2 Hours later I find myself with low energy levels and wondering where the hell all the time went and I still have a pile of work to get through before date night with my wife and I haven’t had lunch.

Enter Deep Work

When I read Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, I was reminded about how our distracted lives and open plan offices is a recipe for shallow insignificant work.

Email, slack, skype and whatsapp, social media and chatterbox colleagues all make up this recipe of distraction. Now mix in a few deadlines, spouse and kids. Now slowly stir in exercise, personal development, hobbies, financial pressure… and I’m sure you can add a few more things.

Deep Work book on Audible App on iPhone

So what to do?

The author of the book, Deep Work, was kind enough to do some deep work himself and wrote a book for distracted individuals such as you and I. 

In his book, Cal Newport, reveals the new key to achieving success and true meaning in professional life: the ability to master distraction.

Deep Work is described as professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive abilities to the limit. These efforts create new value, improves your skill and are hard to replicate. 

Cal Newport goes on to explain that there are two core abilities for thriving in today’s economy.

  • First, the ability to master hard things quickly and
  • secondly, to produce at an elite level

In today’s economy the ability to do deep work is becoming increasingly valuable and increasingly rare.

Any task that you complete while in a semi-distracted state will likely be automated in the near future (completed by software programs and/or robots). Or the task will be completed by several thousand people around the world who are willing to do it for far less money than you are doing it for.

The more shallow work you do, the less rare and valuable your skills are, and the more likely you’ll be replaced by a cheaper alternative.

Here’s some of my takeaways from the book Deep Work:

One to two hours per day of uninterrupted carefully directed concentration can produce a lot of valuable output. As a consequence the few who cultivate the skill of going deep and then make it the core of their working life will thrive.

Definition of shallow work

  1. It is non cognitively demanding
  2. Often it can be performed while distracted
  3. It rarely creates new value in the world
  4. It is easy to replicate

Definition of Deep work work

  1. These efforts create new value
  2. It improves your skill
  3. Efforts are hard to replicate  
  4. Helps you to master hard things quickly
  5. Helps you produce at an elite level


Learning the discipline of deep work is hard – and that’s the beauty of it. Very few people are beating their minds and bodies into submission to do deep work  and that’s why I think the ability to to deep work is becoming the ultimate competitive advantage.

Listen to Deep Work now and tell me you’re thoughts inn the comments section below for being more productive and doing deep work.