When I read Digital Minimalism last summer and blogged about it, I knew I wanted to read more books by Cal Newport. As a computer scientist, he thinks very logically and presents information in a way that makes sense. Maybe I have missed my profession. Maybe I should have been a computer science major in college, because, I tell you, Newport’s mind presents information just the way I like to receive it.
Deep Work by Cal Newport is tremendous. If you do not read any other book this year, read Deep Work. It is not just about productivity. It is about changing who you are by the activities you engage in. Stop the shallow habits of thought and become intentional about the way you interact with the technology available to us today.
As a disciplined person, I love these books that tell you how to discipline yourself further. But I think these books are more for people who are not disciplined. If that is you, if you think of yourself as distracted and ADD, you need Deep Work.
My son read this book one month before I did (he is 15) and we quote things from the book to each other now. We have started taking walks together through our neighborhood – 15 minutes or so – because we both know that good things happen in the brain when you walk.
One day, he was stuck in his learning how to code. He just did not understand why his code was receiving a fail. We took a walk, he explained to me what the problem was, and, of course, I could not help him. But I listened to him. When we got back, he sat down and checked his code sequence again and found the error. He said it was “something stupid.” A walk can shake things out of you like that.
As a social media manager for three organizations, I feared what Newport had to say about social media. Personally, I am ready to quit Facebook and Instagram and the like, but… I can’t because it is my job. Well, to my relief, he suggested a few things you can do to minimize your interaction online.
You schedule your trips online for specific reasons and then you get off. I love it. No more frantic checking 10 times a day. I have spoken with the owners of these businesses and they are fine with me only checking online three times a day: morning, noon, and evening. If no notifications require action, I get off immediately. It takes only a minute. On the other hand, I spend a block of time once a month scheduling posts for the month – that is a different task, which saves me time, too.
Some of the tips he suggests are impossible to apply as a homeschool mom, but I know I am in this season only for five more years. Others I am already implementing because I have always been an organized sort of person and, besides, I have read books likes this one before.
And – can I tell you again? – I love the way Newport presents his material. First, he gives a story and a real person who applied a certain principle and how it worked for them. Then, he goes into research which proves this anecdotal evidence. Love it.