Deep work is the ability to push yourself to work for a long time period and push your capabilities to their limits. It’s so hard these days because it requires distraction‐free concentration in a distracted world.
This skill is the same skill that was used by Bill Gates to create Microsoft and jk rowling to finish the last part of the harry potter series and Cal Newport to write this book.

My commitment to depth has rewarded me. In the ten‐year period following my college graduation, I published four books, earned a Ph.D., wrote peer‐reviewed academic papers at a high rate, and was hired as a tenure‐track professor at Georgetown University.” – Cal Newport

Deep Work summary by Cal Newport


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The Four Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling

The Monastic Philosophy: This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations ( answering email, sorting documents, and running errands).

People who practice the monastic philosophy tend to have a well-defined and highly valued professional goal that they’re pursuing, and the bulk of their professional success comes from doing this one thing exceptionally well. It’s this clarity that helps them eliminate the thicket of shallow concerns that tend to trip up those whose value proposition in the working world is more varied.

The Bimodal Philosophy: The bimodal philosophy believes that deep work can produce extreme productivity, but only if the subject dedicates enough time to such endeavors to reach the maximum cognitive intensity.

The elimination of shallow work in this philosophy is only during deep work sessions. This is why the minimum unit of time tends to be at least one full day. To put aside a few hours in the morning, for example, is too short to count as a deep work stretch for an adherent of this approach. At the same time, the bimodal philosophy is typically deployed by people who cannot succeed in the absence of substantial commitments to non-deep pursuits.

The Rhythmic Philosophy: This philosophy argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit. The goal, in other words, is to generate a rhythm for this work that removes the need for you to invest energy in deciding if and when you’re going to go deep.

For example, let’s say you decided to do a certain activity (reading a book, going to the gym…etc), you take a calendar and a red pen, and every time you do that activity you mark on the calendar a big red X, so by the time, you start to see a chain and now your new mission is not to break the chain.

The chain method is a good example of the rhythmic philosophy of deep work scheduling because it combines a simple scheduling heuristic (do the work every day), with an easy way to remind yourself to do the work: the big red Xs on the calendar.

The Journalistic Philosophy: The Journalistic philosophy is the ability to rapidly switch your mind from shallow to deep mode and it doesn’t come naturally. Without practice, such switches can seriously deplete your finite willpower reserves.

This habit also requires a sense of confidence in your abilities, a conviction that what you’re doing is important and will succeed. This type of conviction is typically built on a foundation of existing professional accomplishment.

This approach is the main approach used by the author in his deep work scheduling as he says: “I face each week as it arrives and do my best to squeeze out as much depth as possible. To write this book, for example, I had to take advantage of free stretches of time wherever they popped up. If my kids were taking a good nap, I’d grab my laptop and lock myself in the home office. If my wife wanted to visit her parents in nearby Annapolis on a weekend day, I’d take advantage of the extra child care to disappear to a quiet corner of their house to write”.

Quit Social Media

A strategy used by Ryan Nicodemus in order to simplify his life. In more detail, this strategy asks you to ban yourself from using social media for thirty days. All of them: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, or whatever other services.

Don’t formally deactivate these services, and (this is important) don’t mention online that you’ll be signing off: Just stop using them, cold turkey. If someone reaches out to you by other means and asks why your activity on a particular service has fallen off, you can explain, but don’t go out of your way to tell people. The reason why I ask you to not announce your thirty-day experiment is because for some people another part of the delusion that binds them to social media is the idea that people want to hear what you have to say.

So after thirty days of this self-imposed network isolation, ask yourself the following two questions about each of the services you temporarily quit:

1. Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service?

2. Did people care that I wasn’t using this service?

If your answer is “no” to both questions, quit the service permanently. If your answer was a clear “yes,” then return to using the service. If your answers are qualified or ambiguous, it’s up to you whether you return to the service, though I would encourage you to lean toward quitting. (You can always rejoin later.)

This strategy picks specifically on social media because among the different network tools that can claim your time and attention, these services, if used without limit, can be particularly devastating to your quest to work deeper.

To summarize, if you want to eliminate the addictive pull of entertainment sites on your time and attention, give your brain a quality alternative. you will preserve your ability to resist distraction and concentrate.

Schedule Every Minute of Your Day

At the beginning of each workday, turn to a new page of lined paper in a notebook you dedicate to this purpose. Down the left-hand side of the page, mark every other line with an hour of the day, covering the full set of hours you typically work. Now comes the important part: Divide the hours of your workday into blocks and assign activities to the blocks. For example, you might block off 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for writing a client’s press release.

To do so, actually draw a box that covers the lines corresponding to these hours, then write “press release” inside the box. Not every block need be dedicated to a work task. There might be time blocks for lunch or relaxation breaks. To keep things reasonably clean, the minimum length of a block should be thirty minutes (i.e., one line on your page).

This means, for example, that instead of having a unique small box for each small task on your plate for the day —respond to boss’s e-mail, submit reimbursement form, ask Carl about report — you can batch similar things into more generic task blocks. You might find it useful, in this case, to draw a line from a task block to the open right-hand side of the page where you can list out the full set of small tasks you plan to accomplish in that block.

When you’re done scheduling your day, every minute should be part of a block. You have, in effect, given every minute of your workday a job. Now as you go through your day, use this schedule to guide you.

Meditate Productively

The goal of productive meditation is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally like walking, jogging, driving, showering…etc. And focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem. Depending on your profession, this problem might be outlining an article, writing a talk, making progress on a proof, or attempting to sharpen a business strategy. As in mindfulness meditation, you must continue to bring your attention back to the problem at hand when it wanders or stalls.

Cal Newport used to practice productive meditation in at least one of his daily cross-river treks while living in Boston, and as he improved, so did his results and he ended up, for example, working out the chapter outlines for a significant portion of his last book while on foot, and made progress on many knotty technical problems in his academic research.

He also suggested that you adopt a productive meditation practice in your own life. When he said: ” You don’t necessarily need a serious session every day, but your goal should be to participate in at least two or three such sessions in a typical week. Fortunately, finding time for this strategy is easy, as it takes advantage of periods that would otherwise be wasted (such as walking the dog or commuting to work), and if done right, can actually increase your professional productivity instead of taking time away from your work. In fact, you might even consider scheduling a walk during your workday specifically for the purpose of applying productive meditation to your most pressing problem at the moment.”


In the end, I want you to know that reading summaries is helpful (at least better than not reading at all). But, you will not get the full benefit unless you read the whole book. Remember: “reading a summary of a certain book is like watching a trailer of a movie while reading the whole book is like watching the whole movie.” 

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