Deep Work: 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.
“Deep work is not some nostalgic affectation of writers and early-twentieth-century philosophers. It’s instead a skill that has great value today.”
In order to produce the absolute best stuff you’re capable of, you need to commit to deep work.
“Human beings, it seems, are at their best when immersed deeply in something challenging.”
“To build your working life around the experience of flow produced by deep work is a proven path to deep satisfaction.”
“The differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”
“This new science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons, allowing the corresponding circuit to fire more effortlessly and effectively.”
“By focusing intensely on a specific skill, you’re forcing the specific relevant circuit to fire, again and again, in isolation. This repetitive use of a specific circuit triggers cells called oligodendrocytes to begin wrapping layers of myelin around the neurons in the circuits—effectively cementing the skill.”
“To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction.”
“When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow—a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task.”
According to Sophie Leroy, “People experiencing attention residue after switching tasks are likely to demonstrate poor performance on that next task,” and the more intense the residue, the worse the performance.”
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”
“At the end of the workday, shut down your consideration of work issues until the next morning—no after-dinner e-mail check, no mental replays of conversations, and no scheming about how you’ll handle an upcoming challenge; shut down work thinking completely.”
Reason #1: Downtime Aids Insights
Reason #2: Downtime Helps Recharge the Energy Needed to Work Deeply
Reason #3: The Work That Evening Downtime Replaces Is Usually Not That Important
“Schedule in advance when you’ll use the Internet, and then avoid it altogether outside these times.”
The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection: Identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.
“After thirty days of this self-imposed network isolation, ask yourself the following two questions about each of the services you temporarily quit: Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service? Did people care that I wasn’t using this service?”
“[Donald] Knuth deploys what I call the monastic philosophy of deep work scheduling. This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations.”
“[Carl] Jung’s approach is what I call the bimodal philosophy of deep work. This philosophy asks that you divide your time, dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else.”
“[The rhythmic philosophy] argues that the easiest way to consistently start deep work sessions is to transform them into a simple regular habit.”