Deep Work by Cal Newport was perhaps the nerdiest choice of audio book I could have made. And I don’t regret it for a second. He postulates that today, in our chronically distracted society, the ability to concentrate, to focus deeply, is what is valuable for the “knowledge worker”.
I heard about this book when Pat Flynn interviewed Newport on the Smart Passive Income podcast, and was instantly intrigued. His credentials are no joke. A professor at (honestly I forget what institution and could go look it up for you but honestly I don’t care that much), studied at MIT, has published 4 books (Including So Good They Can’t Ignore You, which a few of my friends on Good Reads have read and rated highly), and published 9 peer-reviewed academic articles in journals the same year he wrote Deep Work (whoa).
I was interested in reading this because I recently accepted a job as the Grant Writer for a very large and amazing non-profit. And grant writing, while certainly not rocket science, is a skill which requires many abilities. The ability to craft succinct, descriptive, persuasive narrative. The ability to research and discern which grant proposals are worthwhile. The ability to research within the institution and beyond for pertinent information. Hunkering down and writing the dang thing. Time management. Etc. Etc. Etc.
I was hooked when in the first twenty minutes Newport actually uses writing important grants to secure critical funding as an example of Deep Work. In the end, he admits that not securing an important grant that some of his colleagues were awarded was a huge motivator for his deep dive into Deep Work.
So… Yeah. I am so, so, SO happy that I feel like what I am doing between 8-5 actually really matters. But… Yeah. I’m also feeling the pressure (internal and external) that comes with that. Truth: I want to be amazing at my job. I really do. For the first time in my entire life, I feel like I have a professional career, not just a job. A career that, to do well in, requires privacy, focus, critical thinking, creativity, and concentration.
Cal is an anti-social media guy. You can watch his little Ted Talk about that (it’s easy to find on Youtube). I too have been less and less into Facebook and even Instagram. The scrolling addiction isn’t a thing for me anymore, and I’m hoping it never returns. I’ve even been blogging much less frequently. In many ways, this book was my permission slip to “log-off”. And it feels liberating. I haven’t deleted my accounts, and don’t really plan to. But I 100% agree that social media is often just a self-gratifying time-suck, and (let’s be real) shallow. True story: I love using Instagram as a digital photography tool, and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. But Cal definitely helped me understand a pretty basic truth: I have more important things to accomplish with my time.
If I ever want to actually begin the process of writing a book (hint: I have wanted to do this for years) I probably will have to put all social media on hiatus, because it really is a distraction.
Also, Cal explains how you could memorize an entire shuffled deck of cards in minutes. I am totallllllly going to try this! That is all for now. 🙂 ❤